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TEFL VS. TESL at UC Irvine

The difference between TESL and TEFL can be minimal or significant depending on the program and course content offered by a particular school.

At University of California, Irvine: 

TEFL is used for teaching language learners in a foreign country context. Since you are teaching English in a foreign country, there would be little or no language support for the TEFL teacher. It would be the task of the TEFL teacher to be skilled in acquiring resources and equipping the EFL students in this resource-poor context. The students also usually are homogeneous, which means they all usually speak the same first language. This is the typical context for foreign language teachers teaching in foreign countries.  

On the other hand, TESL is usually taught by teachers who usually have more experience in the English-speaking public/private school context. They are usually more familiar with the policies of public/private school districts towards ESL learners. Teaching ESL requires a slightly different skill set. The students are usually heterogeneous as they come from all over the world. There are many opportunities for language practice outside of the classroom as well. This is the biggest difference for an ESL teaching context.  

Granted the core content is very similar. They share the same disciplines, and the same issues and challenges.