Number one for English language teachers

Survival Guide: Surviving acronyms

Type: Article

The world of English language teaching (ELT) is awash with acronyms! Here’s a collection of the most common ones.

“I’m an NS EFL teacher, specializing in EAP. Right now I’m teaching a F2F course for IELTS, and I’m doing a GE course tied to the CEFR in a VLE.”

When you join a profession, you need to understand the discourse of its members. This involves technical terms, jargon and especially acronyms and abbreviations. The world of English language teaching (ELT) is awash with the latter! Become fluent in them all and you’ll be able to hold your own at any teachers conference!

Different kinds of English:

  • ELT English Language Teaching
  • ESL *English as a Second Language
  • EFL *English as a Foreign Language
  • ESOL *English for Speakers of Other Languages
  • ELF English as a Lingua Franca
  • EIL English as an International Language
  • EAP English for Academic Purposes
  • ESP English for Specific Purposes
  • GE General English
  • BE Business English

Note: Acronyms marked with a * can be preceded by a T, which stands for Teaching.

Teaching methodologies:

  • CLT Communicative Language Teaching
  • TBL Task-Based Learning (see also TBI)
  • TBI Task-Based Instruction (see also TBL)
  • TPR Total Physical Response
  • CLIL Content and Language Integrated Learning (see also CBI)
  • CBI Content-Based Instruction (see also CLIL)

Language learners:

  • NS Native Speaker
  • NNS Non-Native Speaker
  • L1 Language one (or first language, mother tongue)
  • L2 Language two (second language)
  • SLA Second Language Acquisition
  • YL Young Learners

Organizations for teachers:

  • IATEFL International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language
  • TESOL Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • SIG Special Interest Group

Ways of organizing a lesson:

  • PPP Presentation Practice Production
  • ARC Authentic Restricted Clarification
  • ESA Engage, Study, Activate
  • OHE Observe, Hypothesize, Experiment
  • TTT Test, Teach, Test

English language exams referred to more commonly by acronyms:

  • TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language
  • TOEIC Test of English for International Communication
  • PET Preliminary English Test
  • FCE First Certificate in English (also called First Cert)
  • CAE Certificate in Advanced English
  • IELTS International English Language Testing System

Teacher training acronyms:

  • TKT Teaching Knowledge Test
  • CELTA Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults
  • CertTESOL Certificate in English Language Teaching to Speakers of Other Languages
  • DELTA Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults
  • DipTESOL Diploma in English Language Teaching to Speakers of Other Languages
  • CertTEB Certificate in Teaching English for Business

Education Technology acronyms:

  • F2F Face-to-face
  • LMS Learning Management System
  • MOOC Massive Open Online Course
  • PLN Personal Learning Network
  • VLE Virtual Learning Environment

    The following two are almost out-of-date but still used.
  • CALL Computer-Assisted Language Learning
  • OHP Overhead Projector

Miscellaneous acronyms:

  • CEFR Common European Framework
  • TTT Teacher Talk Time
  • STT Student Talk Time


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Learning Teaching

A superb textbook for initial training courses and a no-nonsense handbook for practising ELT teachers.

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