An ELT Glossary : EFL

EFL : English as a Foreign Language

Definition : The term EFL is generally used in British contexts to refer to a situation where a learner is learning English, usually in his or her own country, for purposes other than living in an English speaking country or because it will be the medium of instruction in his/her current or future studies in other subjects.


  • Learners at  school or university in their own country for whom English is an obligatory or chosen academic subject
  • Learners in their own country attending a course at a private language school.
  • Learners attending a short, intensive course (eg a summer course) in Britain or elsewhere, before returning to their own country.
NB : In American contexts, the terms ESL and ESOL are often used in the same way, though in British usage they have a different meaning.