Who do TEFL teachers teach?
TEFL teachers teach English to people whose first language is not English.
EFL is mainly a British term meaning English as a Foreign Language.
And a similar term, ESL, is mainly an American term meaning English as a Second Language.
EFL/ESL teachers teach English around the world to people of all nationalities (except native-English-speakers), all ages, all education levels, and all economic levels and professions.
Two Broad EFL/ESL Divisions
Learners living in non-English-speaking countries (EFL)
Example: a Thai businessperson learning English in Thailand
In non-English-speaking countries there is a high demand to learn English, beyond what schooling may or may not be afforded by the state education system, from people of mostly young to middle ages largely but not exclusively in furtherance of their careers. They learn English within their home country, and those who can afford it may also travel on short-term (usually a week to a few weeks) "language holidays" to learn in English-speaking countries.
Learners living in English-speaking countries (ESL)
Example: a Brazilian living and learning English in the USA
Essentially, the demand to learn English in English-speaking countries comes from people who have immigrated or moved there from non-English-speaking countries. This group includes people who have chosen to make a new life in the country and others, for example, refugees. They may be of any age and ability, and they need English for practical purposes to function within the country. Sometimes, the teaching may be supported by government.
Below are the kinds of learners that TEFL teachers teach in general:
- very young children (3-6) in nurseries and kindergartens, and privately at home
Primary/Secondary School Students
- children and adolescents in primary and secondary schools.
Tertiary Education Students
- young adults in vocational and higher education institutions
- young adults in universities
Private Language School Students
- children and adults in language schools
Every city around the world has "language schools", which are usually private companies offering language teaching to anyone who will pay for it, either one-to-one, in small groups or in larger classes. These schools may teach "on site" (ie in the school), "off site" (for example at a client's premises, be it company offices or a private home), or "online" (ie by internet).
- children and adults employing teachers privately - whether at home, in a company office or at any convenient location
Summer Camp Learners
- children and adolescents in summer camps run during school holidays
- business people and office staff in corporate training departments (general and Business English)
Special English Learners
- particular groups such as military, police, medical staff etc