English Teaching Abbreviations Explained

Three foreign language students write in English on a chalkboard at their ESL school

Ian Taylor / Design Pics / Getty Images

You might be a bit confused by all the English teaching abbreviations that are used in the profession. Here is a list of the most common English teaching abbreviations that are used in the profession with an emphasis on ESL/EFL teaching.

The main difference between these is that ESL is English taught to foreign-language speakers living in an English speaking country like the U.S., Canada, England, Australia, etc. English as a foreign language, on the other hand, is taught to those wishing to learn English for their study, work, or hobby needs, but who live in countries where English is not the primary language.

Teaching Abbreviations to Know

Here are some more important abbreviations related to teaching, teaching certificates, and English exams:

A-C

  • AAAL: American Association for Applied Linguistics
  • ACTFL: American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
  • AE: American English
  • BAAL: British Association of Applied Linguistics
  • BC: British Council
  • BEC: Business English Certificate, the Cambridge business English exam certificate
  • BrE: British English
  • BVT: Bilingual Vocational Training
  • CAE: Certificate in Advanced English, the fourth Cambridge Exam, the standard in English examination throughout the world outside of the U.S., where the TOEFL is preferred
  • CALI: Computer-Assisted Language Instruction
  • CALL: Computer-Assisted Language Learning
  • CanE: Canadian English
  • CAT: Computer Adaptive Testing
  • CBT: Computer-Based Teaching
  • CEELT: Cambridge Examination in English for Language Teachers, which tests the English competency of non-native English teachers
  • CEIBT: Certificate in English for International Business and Trade for advanced levels
  • CPE: Certificate of Proficiency in English, the fifth and most advanced of Cambridge's series of exams, roughly comparable to a score of 600 to 650 on the TOEFL
  • CELTA: Certificate in English language teaching to adults, the Cambridge/RSA Teaching Certificate also known as C-TEFLA

D-G

  • DELTA: Diploma in English language teaching in the Cambridge/RSA Language Teaching Scheme
  • EAP: English for Academic Purposes
  • ECCE: Exam for the Certificate of Competency in English at low levels at Michigan University
  • ECPE: Exam for the Certificate of Proficiency in English at the higher level at Michigan University
  • EGP: English for general purposes
  • EIP: English as an International Language
  • ELICOS: English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students, Australian government registered centers teaching English to overseas students
  • ESOL: English for Speakers of Other Languages
  • ESP: English for Specific Purposes (business, tourism, etc.)
  • ETS: Educational Testing Service
  • FCE: First Certificate in English, the third of Cambridge's series of exams, which is comparable to a score of 500 on the TOEFL and 5.7 on the IELTS
  • GMAT: Graduate Management Admission Test, which measures general verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills
  • GPA: Grade Point Average
  • GRE: Graduate Record Examination, an evaluation test for graduate admission to colleges and universities in the U.S.

I-N

  • IATEFL: International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language
  • IPA: International Phonetic Association
  • K12: Kindergarten through 12th grade
  • KET: Key English Test, the most elementary of Cambridge's series of exams
  • L1: Language 1 or native language
  • L2: Language 2 or the language you are learning
  • LEP: Limited English Proficient
  • LL: Language Learning
  • MT: Mother Tongue
  • MTELP: Michigan Test of English Language Proficiency
  • NATECLA: National Association for Teaching English and other Community Languages to Adults (UK)
  • NATESOL: National Association of Teachers of English for Speakers of Other Languages
  • NCTE: National Council of Teachers of English
  • NLP: Neurolinguistic Programming
  • NNEST: Non-Native English Speaking Teacher
  • NNL: Non-Native Language

O-Y

  • OE: Old English
  • OED: Oxford English Dictionary
  • PET: Preliminary English Test, the second of Cambridge's series of exams
  • RP: Received Pronunciation, the "standard" British pronunciation
  • RSA/Cambridge C-TEFLA: Certificate of Teaching English as a Foreign Language to Adults, a professional qualification for prospective EFL teachers
  • RSA/Cambridge D-TEFLA: Diploma of Teaching English as a Foreign Language, the advanced qualification for EFL teachers who have already completed the C-TEFLA
  • SAE: Standard American English
  • SAT: Scholastic Assessment (Aptitude) Test, a pre-university entrance exam in the USA
  • TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language
  • TEFLA: Teaching English as a Foreign Language to Adults
  • TEIL: Teaching English as an International Language
  • TESL: Teaching English as a Second Language
  • TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language, the most common English proficiency exam for North American universities and colleges, also accepted by some British universities and employers as proof of English proficiency
  • TOEIC: Test of English for International Communication, pronounced "toe ick"
  • VE: Vocational English
  • VESL: Vocational English as a Second Language
  • YLE: Young Learners English Tests, the Cambridge Examinations for young learners