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ESL : English as a Second Language


English as a second language is becoming increasingly more important and essential to inter-global communication. Having a firm grasp on the four principle elements of the English language (reading, writing, listening and speaking) will give you an enormous advantage in both the academic and vocational world today. English has become not only the widely accepted language of commerce and trade, but also a common language for social interaction.

There are about 320 million people whose first language is English, 450 million people whose second language is English, and about a billion people in the world who understand English. This means that if you speak English you can communicate with over one fifth of the world’s population. (Source- Graham & Lowe, English Language For Beginners, 1998 p.146, from The Sunday Times Word Power Supplement 1993 part 3).


English may be an international language, but that doesn’t mean that everyone speaks it the same way. Once upon a time, Standard English (SE) from Britain, also known as "Queen’s English", was the most prestigious and widely known English in the world. Today, however, that is not the case. Almost every Anglophone country has its own SE now. This gives the language a broad spectrum of flexibility, while at the same time making it difficult to standardize English programs.

For example, if an American were to say to an Englishman, "I like your pants," the Englishman would probably burst into laughter. "Pants" in British English means "underwear"; the British word for "pants" is "trousers". Differences such as this can provide for many amusing conversations between Anglophones from different parts of the world.

Due to the broad exposure of British English and American English, these two dialects tend to be the most widely used. This does not however exclude other dialects, such as Australian, Canadian, Caribbean, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, South African, or even an Asian English dialect.

(Source- Graham & Lowe, English Language For Beginners, Writers and Readers Publishing, Inc. 1998)


When choosing a program you should make sure that you know its intensity, what skills and level of ability it will give you, what is included in the cost (i.e. books, room, board etc.), and if it is officially recognized.

For help in deciding what type of program is right for you in the UK go to:

In the U.S.A go to:

Other comprehensive websites that give links to the universities and colleges that offer English Language Programs: - Commission on English Language- gives a list of accredited English Language Programs in the U.S.A. - American Association of Intensive English Programs- once on the site go to "member programs" then "choose from map" then pick the state where you want to study - Consortium of University and College Intensive English Programs in the U.S.A. - programs in the UK - programs in Ireland - programs in Australia , - programs in New Zealand - programs in Canada , - programs in South Africa - TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)- provides English proficiency testing worldwide - IELTS (International English Language Testing System)- for students who want to study in UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand - Educational Testing Service- news, employment opportunities, College and Universities, and tests (GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, etc.)

When searching for language programs in other countries, type the key words "English Language Program". If you type "ESL- English as a Second Language" with an American-based search engine you may get hundreds of American sites relating to a currently hot political issue regarding elementary and secondary bilingual education.


Teaching English in a foreign country is a great way for Anglophone students to experience other cultures between semesters or after graduation. For more information check out these sites:


ELP- English Language Program

ESL- English as a Second Language: learning English in an English speaking country

EFL- English as a Foreign Language: learning English in a non-English speaking country

ESOL- English for Speakers of Other Languages

TESL- Teaching English as a Second Language: allows you to teach English in English speaking countries

TEFL- Teaching English as a Foreign Language: allows you to teach English in non-English speaking countries

TESOL- Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages: allows you to teach English anywhere

(Source- &


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