EFL vs ESL: Difference and Comparison

English is a global language. This is because almost every person takes English as their second language. After all, it is easy to communicate where ever you go since someone or the other knows to speak English.

It has been estimated that around 1500 million people English speakers are there worldwide. There are countries where they have English classes from their school itself, but at the same time, some have to take extra English classes to master the subject.

EFL and ESL are types of English courses that people take so that they can manage the language wherever necessary accordingly. So, here we will discuss the differences between both.

Key Takeaways

  1. EFL (English as a Foreign Language) focuses on teaching English to non-native speakers in non-English speaking countries. In contrast, ESL (English as a Second Language) teaches English to non-native speakers in English-speaking countries.
  2. EFL courses emphasize grammar and vocabulary, whereas ESL courses focus on conversational skills and cultural integration.
  3. ESL learners have more exposure to English in daily life, whereas EFL learners rely more on classroom instruction.


The difference between EFL and ESL is that the EFL course is where the students are given extensive classes on English. On the other hand, basic learning is taught in ESL. Both, the courses have variants in learning as well as teaching, because the purposes are different. Hence, we can understand the depth of the learning of English.


EFL is the language skill course where the knowledge about the English subject is given widely. Such courses are common among the people who want to have proper education upon the English subject.

Generally, the learners of such courses are living in a country where there they require English for their means of survival. It is a beneficial course for the people who move into a non-English speaking country.

On the other hand, there are places where English is their native language and the outsider who wants to communicate is either shy or uncomfortable to communicate.

And hence, ESL is the best course for them as it helps in improving the speaking skills of the person and later they can easily communicate everywhere. The person of this course might know the language partially.

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonEFLESL
ImportanceThe people that use English as their EFL language, learn it as they have to survive in those countries where the subject is non-dominant. ESL is the language that allows most of the students the opportunity to communicate with the co-existing people around them.
ExposureEFL students use English as a path to survival. For day-to-day hassle with English, ESL is the best language course.
ChoiceEnglish is not an option for EFL, as they are bound to learn. ESL is their choice and priority.
Learning ProcessA wider range of data from grammar, phrases, sentences, etc is taught in this course. ESL helps to comfortably communicate, basic learning.
PracticeFluency is a must in EFL, and therefore practice is the key to the success.ESL is engaged in more social and cultural practices.

What is EFL?

EFL is an English course. When a person learns or teaches English as a foreign language then they are under the EFL course.

Generally, this course is selected by a person whose English might be the second language and they might speak their native language in general. The abbreviation EFL stands for English as a Foreign Language.

Therefore, the non-English speakers are categorized in this group. The person who chooses this course learns this course in the hope of their survival as they need this course to learn the basic teachings so that they can face the other English speakers.

The countries such as Russia, Japan, India, etc use English as their non-dominant language is EFL.

This course has greater significance for the non-native speakers as it gives them the to communicate with the other native people as it makes their life a bit easier in those countries where English is spoken popularly.

The EFL students learn English as they are already living in a country where English is non-dominant. Only for survival purposes in the country do they learn this course as we all know English is spoken globally.

To have a sense of unity with others, this course helps the learners more and more.

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What is ESL?

English as a Second Language is the term that stands for ESL. Since English is spoken globally it is very necessary to have fluency while speaking the language.

Therefore, the people who are more interested to learn their respective native language in a broader range than ESL is the correct for you all. The speakers already know about the Language, but in deeper notes, this course is being taught.

It helps to justify the cultural and social norms of the subject.

ESL tells that English has been chosen as their second language in their respective course, as the student wants to know about the language so that he/she can speak comfortably and make others learn the language.

Australia, the UK, etc are the countries that have a dominance of English.

This course helps to improve communication skills and also includes the basic general knowledge of the native states. ESL s purposely chosen by the students without any external force like any other subject.

If someone wants to learn it in a wider range that ESL will help them a lot. It completely vanishes the problems of speaking. Hence, the English dominating countries have the course for academic education.

Main Differences Between EFL and ESL

  1. The main purpose of learning the EFL language is to adjust to the countries where they can partially understand it. On the other hand, more knowledge is acquired through ESL.
  2. Through the EFL language, people can get communicate with each other, as it denotes to be a means of survival. On the other hand, intensive learning of English can only be accomplished by ESL courses.
  3. EFL is simply a mode of survival. On the other hand, people select the ESL course for depth learning.
  4. The main goal of choosing EFL is to learn things such as grammar, phrases, sentences, etc. On the other hand, ESL helps in improving fluency.
  5. For becoming a pro in an EFL course, one needs to practice harder. On the other hand, students get to know more about the native culture and social life of the countries.
  1. https://nagoya.repo.nii.ac.jp/?action=repository_action_common_download&item_id=10017&item_no=1&attribute_id=17&file_no=1
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1944-9720.2004.tb02178.x

Last Updated : 25 November, 2023

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