What is TESOL?

What is TESOL?

From An Introduction to TESOL--A global education association 

TESOL—Teaching English to speakers of other languages—is the acronym that refers to the profession, as well as its largest professional organizion.

A Profession

The field of TESOL involves a professional activity that requires specialized training. The fact that someone speaks English does not by itself qualify that person to teach it, especially to those who are learning English as an additional language. TESOL Focuses on how to use English as a world language and how to understand and become comfortable with the various cultural practices of English-speaking people.

English language educators work all over the world, in various contexts in the public and private sectors. They work in countries where English is the dominant language, as in Australia, Canada, England, and the united States, as well as in countries where English is spoken as a foreign language, such as Japan and Saudi Arabia.

In English-speaking countries, English as a second language (ESL)teachers work with immigrants and refugees at all levels of the education system – primary, secondary, higher – as well as adult education in community colleges and community-based programs. In higher education settings, ESL teachers work with international students in intensive and semi-intensive English language programs. In countries in which English is an additional language, English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers also work at all levels of education. Their special charge is to find creative ways to build English into the lives of learners outside the classroom. Their objective is to make language study meaningful even if the language will not necessarily be used for practical, daily communications.

There has also been increased interest in the specialized area of English for specific purposes (ESP), which focuses on language skills required for certain academic fields (e.g., engineering, medicine,computer science) as well as business and vocational settings.There has also been increased interest in the specialized area of English for specific purposes (ESP), which focuses on language skills required for certain academic fields (e.g., engineering, medicine, computer science) as well as business and vocational settings.

A Specialized Field of Study

Teaching ESOL is a multifaceted, academic discipline requiring training in linguistics, second language acquisition, language pedagogy,methodology, materials development, testing and research, curriculum and syllabus design, program administration, and cross-cultural communication. Professional preparation in TESOL is available throughout the world. In the United Sates alone, there are more than 200 institutions that offer BA, MA and PhD programs to train TESOL professionals. Similar training is available in England, Australia, Canada, and other countries.

Although a teacher education program may have the acronym TESOL in its name, it refers to the discipline in a general sense and does not indicate that the institution is affiliated with the association. TESOL, the association, does not endorse or lend its name or logo to individual programs. TESOL does not have institutional members; rather, it is an individual membership association.

A Professional Association

The global professional association, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL), headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, in the United States, has more than 13,500 members in over 140 countries and is recognized as a nongovernmental organization (NGO) of the United Nations Department of Public Information. Its mission is to ensure excellence in English language teaching to speakers of other languages.

To engage its members and colleagues in ongoing discussion of current issues, ideas, and opportunities in the field of English language teaching, TESOL publishes two serials: a scholarly, refereed journal (TESOL Quarterly) and a magazine offering articles of interest to teachers across the profession (Essential Teacher). Books, professional papers, and other resources on a wide range of theoretical and practical topics sustain sound professional development. TESOL’s electronic resources include an extensive Web site, an overview of employment opportunities (Placement E-Bulletin), and a newsletter with timely links related to the field (TESOL connections).

TESOL’s annual convention, usually held in March in North America, is regarded as the foremost professional development opportunity for practitioners and other English language teaching professionals. Each year, 6,000 – 8,000 participants gather for this weeklong event, which offers full-length papers, workshops, poster sessions, materials exchanges, plenary speakers, product exhibitions and networking opportunities. Throughout the year, TESOL conducts professional development symposia, workshops, and online sessions for participants around the world.

For More Information:

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc.
700 South Washington Street 
Suite 200 
Alexandria, Virginia 22314-4287 

Tel. +1-703-836-0774 
Toll Free 888-547-3369
Fax +1 703-836-7864


Retreived June 18, 2007, from