ESL vs EFL vs English Language Learners


I am curious to hear from folks what you use when you refer to  English language learners?  Do your websites refer to ESL classes?  If not, what term do you use?  I know that the national trend has been to refer to English Language Learners  as opposed to ESL since many already know several languages.   How do you refer to the different levels of English learning as well? I am interested in standardizing these terms  in WI .




That's an interesting question.  I haven't thought about all the designations in detail until this post. 

I have always used ESL in my work but I am just getting back into reviving a VESL program from over 10 years ago (the development of the program stopped due to funding and the non-profit closed).  Back then we just used ESL and VESL to describe it so I too am curious what others use now.  For example, if you were to google a lesson plan for your class, would you actually search for "ESL lesson plans" or would you search with other designations?  That could be telling on where the trend is heading.  


Hi Christina, Thanks for this good question. I've also been thinking about this ongoing issue.  In addition to English language learners and English learners, recently I've observed some people using multilingual learners as a way to honor the many individuals who are adding English to their linguistic repertoire.  I'm somewhat unsure about this designation since I've wondered about the reality that many native English speakers are also multilingual learners. In addition to ESL and ESOL programs,  I've also seen the term English as an Additional Language in reference to programs that teach English.  At this point, I have been using ESOL programs and with regard to students,  English learners, but I want to remain open.

I'm interested in others' thoughts on this question.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition Group