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Definition: TESOL from Greenwood Dictionary of Education

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) is a national organization for professionals who teach English to nonnative speakers within the United States or throughout the world. (acp)

Summary Article: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
from A Dictionary of Sociolinguistics

North-American term, usually found as the acronym TESOL. TESOL is a general term for the teaching of English to speakers of other languages in a range of contexts. It is increasingly more widely used than UK equivalents, Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), which distinguish different teaching contexts and the approaches associated with these (see ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE; ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE); and English Language Teaching (ELT), which, like TESOL, has more general reference. There is significant debate about which terms should be used because of the issues surrounding the status and role of English in different national contexts and globally (see CENTRE, PERIPHERY; LINGUISTIC IMPERIALISM; THREE CIRCLES OF ENGLISH). The teaching of English to speakers of other languages and the publication of relevant textbooks is a significant industry because of the global status of English and the demand for English teaching. It has given rise to substantial research, including second-language acquisition, the impact of different methods of teaching and learning, individual learner differences (see e.g. Ellis, 1997; Lightbrown and Spada, 1999.). There is also ongoing heated debate about the role and status of English globally, the relation between language and culture, the differential status between those teachers who are NATIVE and ‘non-native’ speakers of English (see Canagarajah, 1999; Penny cook, 1994).

© Joan Swann, Ana Deumert, Theresa Lillis and Rajend Mesthrie, 2004

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