When I first decided that traveling and perhaps teaching abroad, were things that I would be interested in; I came across my first real challenge that came in the form of a decision- ? [w]hich is better, EFL or ESL??. After reading through the various websites, I came to the conclusion that there was in fact, no difference between the two. I arrived at this conclusion, impart, because whenever I saw them listed on the web, let?s say for jobs for instance, that they would invariably be shown together, e.g. ?EFL/ESL Teachers needed.? So, I?ve decided to write my essay on the difference between the two, not only because I have to, but to also answer the question whose true answer has eluded me up until this point. According to James W. Porcaro, the author of Functional grammar in EFL literary translation, the EFL seems to ?offer students of English as a foreign language a unique opportunity to further their skills and style of written expression in English.? At first glance, this article seems to imply that the EFL would be best suited for students who already have little to no grasp on the English language. I came to that initial assumption because the article seemed to also highlight the use of student translations. To be more specific, the author, James W. Poraro, suggests that in order ?to demonstrate the complexity of language generated and utilized by students in their English translation products and thus the effectiveness of literary translation instruction for the development of students? written expression and writing competence in English.? A long quote to be sure, however it brings out the fact that there is a high level of literary processing going on, on the students? part. In one instance, the story Umbrella, written by Yasunari Kawabata (a Nobel Peace Prize winner), was mentioned as a story that students were expected to translate from L1 to L2. To me, there just seems to be more of a focus placed on the student to not only speak English, but to ?think? and to process assignments in English, in an EFL format.

The true differences became apparent once I stumbled across the EFL vs ESL, which I found on I guess I never thought to simply type in EFL vs ESL before, had I, I would have had the answer to my question a long time ago. In the article, my previous belief was confirmed, that belief being that EFL courses are designed for those countries where ?English is not the native language spoken. ? Even more useful to those who would like to know the difference between the two programs, was the example of Quebec and certain parts of California. Quebec, since it?s population speaks French (even though the Canadian national language is English), would be a case for ESL-because Quebec has basically isolated itself, choosing as a whole to only speak French. California provides a unique case that can, according to the website and my own experiences there, be argued both ways. The ESL student, the article says, will learn English to survive in a country where English is needed to function as a working, contributing member of society; whereas EFL students are often there because they want to be-or, rather they stand to make more money, social positioning, etc. Personally, I believe that both can be used interchangeably. I don?t believe as the author of this article does, that the two are mistaken for being the same thing- rather, as I said; I think employers realize that having a Native speaker from either program will help their students, school, or business tremendously.

Author: Kendall Thomas

Date of post: 2006-08-30