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AfL: Assessment for Learning

Amideast: US non-profit to promote understanding between the US and the countries of the Middle East, with projects including English-language learning and EFL teacher training. It celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2012. Although independent, much of its funding comes via the US State Department

Anglo: the English-speaking minority in the francophone Canadian province of Quebec

anglophone: English-speaking

AoL: Assessment of Learning

Arab League: also known as the League of Arab States; countries which cooperate on English language education; includes Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and the Syrian National Coalition

ASEAN (ASEAN Economic Community): A bloc of Asian nations - Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma) and Vietnam. A single, integrated ASEAN Economic Community is due to be in place by the end of 2015, with many of its countries seeking to improve their English proficiency in readiness for this.

auxilario: English language teaching assistant on a Spanish government scheme working in schools, usually recruited from the US or Canada on a student stipend and student visa

awarding body: current politically correct terminology for an exam board

BC/British Council: The BC is the cultural arm of the UK's diplomatic efforts. While many of its activities are funded by the UK government, its English schools abroad generate income. It also has Teacher Centres in many countries, offering resources to local Englsih teachers. Some BC officials have UK diplomatic passports. It was founded in the 1930s in an attempt to win over neutral countries in the build-up to World War Two. “English language innovation” is the section of the BC that deals with English language teaching

Becas Chile: huge Chilean government programme for study abroad

Bill 101: the law governing the official use of French and English in the officially francophone Canadian province of Quebec. It includes requirements for some public signage, notices and announcements to be in French rather than English.

boutique chain: a smaller chain of language schools, usually with five or fewer schools in it.

BRICS: Brazil, Russia, India, China

Cambridge English (until recently Cambridge Esol): the award body that produce Celta, Delta (see below) and  the 'Cambridge suite' of English language exams, which include First Certificate English (FCE), Certificate of Advanced English (CAE), Proficiency, and others

CEFR: Common European Framework of Reference for Languages - thd Council of Europe's scale of languages across European languages

Celta: Certificate in Teaching English Language to Adults - an entry-level qualification for English teachers

Chatham House Rule: a core principle that governs the confidentiality of the source of information received at a meeting. The rule originated in June 1927 at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, also known as Chatham House. Since its refinement in 2002, the rule states: 'When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.'

CIC/Citizenship and Immigration Canada: Canada’s national immigration department

Cienca Sem Fronteiras: Science Without Borders (SwF) - Brazil's enormous scholarships programme for study abroad in STEM subjects

City & Guilds: an awarding body for English language exams

clearing: in England, before they get results, conditional acceptance of school leavers for entry to university based on predicted results.

CLIL/Content and Language Integrated Learning: In the EU, the practice of teaching school subjects eg history, geography, science, through the medium of a foreign language, often English. Known in Belgium as immersion linguistique or the taalbad ("language bath"), known in the south of France as 'European studies'

code-switching: the practice of switching from one language to another, often in mid-sentence, among bilingual people with shared languages

Comenius: former European Commission programme that subsidises teacher development and methodology courses for state school language teachers within the EU travelling to another EU country for a course, now subsumed into  Erasmus+.

the Commission: the European Commission, the EU civil service

Common Core Standards: US federal education initiative to align diverse state curricula by following the principles of standards-based education reform

Council of Ministers: all the ministers for the EU member states with a particular portfolio; in most issues of the Gazette, refers to the ministers of education

crore: 10 million in English language news reports in Indian or Pakistan. See lakh below

  1. dalit (India): so-called "untouchables" in Hindu religion, with a status beneath the caste system

CSI: Central and Southern Iraq – Iraq excluding the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government area. CSI makes up around 80 per cent of Iraq, and includes the cities of Baghdad and Basra

Culture and Education Committee – with the unfortunate short form of its name CULT,  this is the Committee of the European Parliament responsible for, among other things, the Erasmus+ programme.

Delta: Diploma in Teaching English Language to Adults

Department of Education/D of E: the US federal equivalent of a national ministry for education. Although education policy is largely left to the 50 states, the D of E has a civil rights enforcement arm that sometimes brings proceedings against School Boards deemed to provide poor services

the 'Dip': Diploma-level English language teaching qualificiation for experienced teachers, the Delta, Trinity Diploma or equivalent

DoS, Director of Studies: the academic director of a language school

DTOM: Stands for Direct Teaching Operations Manager

EAP: English for Academic Purposes - pathway programme

EC: the European Commission, the European Union civil service

EEA; European Economic Area: comprised of the European Union as well as Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. Most EEA residents have many of the same rights within the EU as EU citizens

EFL: English as a foreign language

ELICOS: English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (Australia)

ELL: English language Learner (in the US) OR early language learning

ELLiE: Early Language Learning in Europe (research project), a vast longtitudinal study of language learning among young learners

ELT: English language teaching

ELTon, The ELTons, ELTon award: the ELT Oscars, awarded by the British Council, but an increasing number of winners are from outside the UK as well. Awards are £1000 and/or an etched glass trophy, depending on the award category. Cambridge ESOL sponsors the prizes, one of the prizes is sponsored by Macmillan.

ELSWDs: English Language Students with Disabilities, in the official terminology of the US Department of Education

EMI: English-medium instruction – courses taught in English, mostly at universities

English Opens Doors: huge Chilean government programme for English learning, includes scholarships abroad, recruitment and proper training of young native speaking classroom assistants, and English langauge "winter camps"

Erasmus+: European Union-funded youth and education mobility programme administered by the European Commission, pronounced 'Erasmus Plus.' It currently includes exchanges between schools and for university students,  professional development courses for language teachers, Erasmus Mundi (programmes including an exchange outside the EU;) , part of the Youth Education Sport Europe (YES Europe) programme of the European Commission. Erasmus+ was previously known under the working title 'Erasmus for All'. The former sub-programmes Erasmus, Socrates, Grundtvig become Erasmus + in 2013.

EU: the European Union

Eurozone: EU countries that use the Euro currency; includes Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain

francophone: French-speaking

gaokao/gao kao/gao ko: China's national education ministry system of competitive exams for undergraduate university entry. As of late 2015 it includes English as a compulsory subject, with a reformed 'new gao kao' (including compulsory English) due to be in place by 2017.

Grundtvig: former European Union adult education, now part of Erasmus+.

Hispanic/Latino: The distinction between Latinos and Hispanic people is vague and not legally defined. 'Latino' suggests Latin America and generally denotes people with origins in the mainland Latin American continent: a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race. 'Hispanic' has also been used to denote the culture and people of Spanish colonization of the Americas countries formerly ruled by the Spanish Empire, usually with a majority Hispanophone population. Collectively known as Hispanic America, this region includes Mexico, the majority of the Central and South American Spanish speaking countries, and the Spanish-speaking island-nations of the Caribbean. Hispanic is also used by people in the United States who are of Hispanic American origin (Hispanic and Latino Americans). Cultural elements (Spanish names, the Spanish language, Spanish customs, etc.) and people known as Hispanic can also be found in other areas that were formerly part of the Spanish Empire, such as in Equatorial Guinea in Africa, or in the Spanish East Indies. We direct those with half an hour to spare to the (complicated) definition of Latino and Hispanic on Wikipeadia.

hogwan: An after-school cram school in Korea where school students have extra tuition to prepare them for tests in subjects including English

Home Office: UK government department, includes the UKBA

Homeland Security: the US Department of Homeland Security, includes border security and management.

IATEFL: International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, the UK association for English as a foreign language teachers, with a considerable network of affiliate organisations ('associates') worldwide; also a conference held annually in the UK in April

Indian Institutes: Science-based universities, usually for postgraduate study only, in India funded by the Union Government (New Delhi-based central government) via the University Grants Commission (UGC). Some are beginning to accept undergraduates. These include the Indian Institutes of Science and Indian Institutes of Technology.

Indian sub-continent/the sub-continent: Indian, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, bordered by the Himalayas in the North. These countries send many international students abroad.

IWB: Interactive white board

J-1: student visa for the US

K-12: in the US and other countries, refers to education from kindergarten (usually age five) to twelfth grade (usually age 17-18); the equivalent of years spent in primary and secondary schools

KASP/King Abdullah Scholarship Programme: vast Saudi government scholarship programme to send students abroad

the Kingdom: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

KSA: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

KSAT (also CSAT): University entry tests for third year high school students in Korea, taken by 700,000 in a single eight-hour day on the second Thursday in November. It includes an English paper.

KRG: Kurdistan Regional Government, the fully autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq

Leonardo/Leonardo Da Vinci programme: A former European Commission programme that subsidised work experience placements and apprenticeships in workplaces in another EU country. It has now been subsumed into the Erasmus + programme.

L1: first language/mother tongue

L2: the second language

lakh: 100,000. Lakh appears (frequently) in English-language articles in India and Pakistan when referring to student numbers or educational budgets, etc. In the much more logical Indian counting system, based on the ancient Sanskrit language, whenever a number has a zero added on the end, the name changes completely changes, thus avoiding the billions/millions confusion in English. So 11 lakh students is 1.1 million students, the number who took the state English exam in the Indian state of Karnataka in 2012. See crore.

lusophone: Portuguese-speaking; "Lusophone Africa" is Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau.

MOI: medium of instruction (the language that subject classes are taught in).

MoU: Memorandum of Understanding (between universities, agencies of governments in different countries for ELT project partnerships, etc.)

Mercosur: economic and political agreement between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela

No Child Left Behind (NCLB): the US federal act brought in during 2001 aimed at improving the educational attainment of the most disadvantaged children, including ELLs. As of 2013, being replaced by the Common Core Standards.

NEAS: National ELT Accreditation Scheme; the national body that provides accreditation and quality assurance for English language programmes in Australia

NIBs: news in brief

NLD: non linguistic disciplines, academic or school subject classes

Nordic countries/the Nordics: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland

OECD: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; they publish the PISA survey of education in each country and their education systems' rankings in the world

OELA: The US Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition, the federal body with responsibility for national policy on English Language Learners in US public schools

Organisation of American States (OAS): organisation of the 35 independent states of the Americas

peak body (Australia): an organisation which represents an entire sector of industry or the community to the government, often incorporating other organisations in that area

PLAB - a test in communication skills and 'bedside' manner for UK doctors, using roleplays

PQ: Parti Quebecois; political party in Canada's only officially French-speaking province of Quebec (includes the city of Montreal), which strongly advocates the use of French as the province's first language, and the downgrading of English in the province. In a minority government in the province's National Assembly as of early 2013

PSE: Pre-sessional English: In the UK, courses of usually three or six months at a university language centre aimed at improving students' English up to the lelts or equivalent score in English proficiency that they need for direct entry to a degree course

REA: Right to Education Act (India):  legislation that guarantees access to school for  low-caste and poor children in India, including access to grant assisted places at fee-paying English medium schools

SAR: Hong Kong SAR, HKSAR: Hong Kong Special Autonomous Region, the former British colony of Hong Kong, which joined the People's Republic of China in 1997, and retains considerable autonomy over its education system, which uses Cantonese and English as it medium of education. Arrangements for Hong Kong SAR nationals to get visas for some countries are easier, such as the UK

SATs: US standardized college entry exams

Scaffolded immersion: the US equivalent of CLIL

Scandinavia: Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Denmark and Sweden are in the European Union

School board: a community-level committee in charge of publicly-funded schools (US)

School district: a geographic district, the publicly-funded schools of which are administered together (US)

Science Without Borders (SwB): enormous Brazilian government scholarship programme for the study of STEM subjects abroad, known as Cienca Sem Fronteiras in Portuguese. As of Autumn 2015, it has been frozen for new applicants.

Selts (Secure English Language Tests) – tests of English proficiency approved for visa applications for the UK by UK Visas & Immigration. The current list of SELTs, from April 2015, is here.

SES: Socio-economic status

Sheltered instruction: the US equivalent of CLIL

Shengen/Shengen visa: students going to study in a Shengen country are issued a student visa for that country only and may need Shengen visas to travel to other Shengen countries. The Schengen Area is currently the EU member states Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Germany, France, Malta, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and outside the EU Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein, Switzerland and Iceland

Southern Cone: Argentina, Chile, Uruguay. They have some cooperation on education exchange initiatives

STEM: the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths

TAFE: Technical and Further Education sector (Australia)

TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language, refers to teaching English to students whose first language is not English

Tefler: a person who teaches English as a foreign language (see TEFL above)

TENOR: Teaching of English for No Obvious Reason (satirical)

TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages; also the TESOL convention, held annually in North America, usually the US, in March

Tier 4 visa (UK): student visa

TLA: Three-Letter-Acronym (satirical)

TOSS : (Indian English) Teaching of Soft Skills; English for social situations, small talk, polite conversation, interview skills, customer service, etc. Fashionable around 2008, the term seems to have fallen out of popular use already

TPR: Total Physical Response; a teaching approach

Trinity, Trinity College London: an awarding body for English language and ELT qualifications, which include the Certificate in TESOL, the Trinity Diploma and others

The TESOL Foundation: US association for English as a foreign language teachers, with a considerable network of affiliate organisations worlwide

UCLES: the now defunct body that became the Cambridge Esol qualification board

UGC: University Grants Commission; the central government funding body for India's national universities and the Indian Institutes

UK/the United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland. These are the ‘devolved constituent parts’ or ‘nations’ of the UK. They all have their own educational systems, but visa regulations are for the whole UK

UKBA/UK Border Agency: the UK’s immigration department, responsible for border controls and issuing foreign student visas. Part of the Home Office. As of Spring 2013, about to be split into two bodies, one for visa administration and one for immigration enforcement

Union Government (India): the central government of India, based in New Delhi, as opposed to its 28 states, which are responsible for education

Union Territory: one of seven territories in India run directly from New Delhi

vernacular: In Asia and Africa, the local language as distinct from English, French or another official language or medium of instruction.

VET: Vocational Education and Training

YES Europe: Youth Education Sport Europe, the EU mega-programme that includes Erasmus+.

YL/Young learner: learners under 18


For more acronyms definitions and examples of how to use them in context, you can also go here.