Myths and Misconceptions about Second Language Learning: What Every Teacher Needs to Unlearn
University of California, Santa Cruz
People are always asking us to explain the difference between ELL and ESL. As a parent or student, you may be wondering that as well! Here is the difference, along with some other terms you might have heard along the way.
ELL: “English Language Learners”. This refers to anyone who does not use English as their primary language. It can refer to someone who has just moved to the US, or to someone who has been here for awhile, but still struggles with aspects of the English language. This term is used most commonly in school systems in Michigan.
ESL: “English as a Second Language”. This also refers to anyone who does not have English as their primary (or first) language. The reason why I do not use this terminology is because it assumes that English is only someone else’s second language, when it could be their third, fourth, etc. language that they are learning.
TESOL: “Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages”. This refers to me! 🙂
ESOL: “English for Speakers of Other Languages”. Some states use this term instead of ELL. Again, this refers to anyone who does not use English as their primary language.
LEP: “Limited English Proficiency”. Again, referring to those who do not use English as their native language. You will see this term used mostly in government documents.