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Skidmore College
The Philip Boshoff Writing Center

Terms: ELL? ESL? EAL? ... for Your Reference

Terms for English language learning and teaching remain in flux, and Skidmore uses several terms concurrently. All the terms below are used on campus and have essentially the same meaning.

ESL (English as a Second Language) and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) are older terms but are still widely recognized.

EAL (English as an Additional Language) reflects the possibility of fluency in more than two languages besides English.

ELL (English Language Learning/Learner), a newer, broader term, can refer to the process of  learning English or to the learners themselves. ELL is increasingly the preferred term.

TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is a subfield of linguistics. Faculty seeking ways to support students whose primary language is not English might search for TESOL resources.