ESL Speakers

Discussion in 'English Only' started by chipulukusu, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. Hello, I wish to ask you a question that is maybe more formal than substantial.
    I know there are ESL teachers and ESL students. But what about ESL speakers?
    An ESL-speaker is someone who has got a certification attending an ESL course or is simply someone who happens to live and work in an English-speaking country, no matter how (from terrible to perfect) he speaks English?
    If I happen to live in the UK but I've never received any formal education in English, and I apply for a job in the States or in Australia, can I say, in the application, that I am an ESL speaker or am I saying something wrong?
    Thank you very much!
  2. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    I think you'd just say "I speak English." You could also say "fluent in English" if you are indeed fluent. Saying you speak it doesn't imply that you've had formal training.
  3. Ok, thank you Kate, so I understand that I should not use "ESL speaker" in a CV if I want to suggest a certain level of knowledge of English.

    I think I will simply scrap this term from my vocabulary... in fact I see it as useless. It seems like it can indicate someone who speaks anything from a "perfect non-fluent English" to a "terrible fluent English"!!:)
  4. Tazzler Senior Member

    American English
    Is not having any formal education in English possible? I agree. You don't need to have any official qualification. If your language skills are not up to snuff it'll show...
  5. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I wouldn't say ESL speaker either. If you wanted to, you could say 'I speak English as a second language', but that of course does not clearly indicate your fluency.
  6. Hi Tazzler, I was speaking in general, but I don't think it is impossible... I personally haven't attended any English class since I was in junior high school in Italy, and considering that people of my age were more likely to study French than English at school, I could as well have never been taught English.

    In fact my written English is helped by my school years, but my spoken English has very little if anything to do with what I learned at school. Sorry, but I'm leaving you with the doubt about how bad my spoken English is!:)
  7. Thank you natkretep, I was suspecting this, but now I know it for sure.
  8. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    ESL says nothing about proficiency. It simply means the speaker or student has English as a second language and an ESL teacher teaches them. They could all be terrible at their English and still English is the second language!
  9. This is exactly the information I needed, thank you very much!
  10. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Another problem with "ESL" is that despite being a popular buzzword, it's neither unique nor necessarily precise.

    How can we assume that it's a "second" language. What if it's a third or fourth?

    Moreover, initialisms on virtually the same subject are rampant.

    ESOL is far better. (English for speakers of other languages)

    You can find more than you probably want to know at:
  11. Hi sdgraham, thank you for the link, this Wikipedia entry seems to me very honest in pointing out the difficulties for ESL/ESOL students. Very useful indeed.
    And thank you for the new (for me) word initialism. I've never heard it for acronym.

    EDIT: I've also found on Wikipedia (see Acronym) that some make a distinction between acronym when the initials are pronounced as a word (e.g. NATO) and initialism when the initials are pronounced as a string of letters (e.g. FBI). Now I understand that you have used initialism in this second stricter sense:).
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013

Share This Page