First Language English and English as a Second Language

Jasmine Short

So, what is ESL? And how do you go about teaching it? Initially we need to dispel the myth that first language English is ‘better’ than English as a second language: they serve different purposes. Find out more about what each type of English means below:

What is FLE?

What is FLE? First language English, or FLE, is for native English speakers wishing to master their mother tongue and emphasises the appreciation of literature, analysis and response to wide ranging genres of fiction and non-fiction texts.

What is ESL?

On the other hand, what is ESL? Second language English, or ESL, is for non-native speakers wishing to master English in an academic or school environment. Learning English as a second language focuses on effective use of English, building a wide range of vocabulary and the necessary skills to communicate effectively through speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Teaching English as a Second Language

We should next learn to think of first language English as ‘Mother Tongue English’ and English as a second language as ‘Academic’ or Global English. Each require different teaching strategies, are aimed at different groups of learners, but the ultimate outcome of both approaches is competence in English.

So what are the different courses available? And what can you expect to gain from each?

Primary learners wishing to access first language English materials at stage one are expected to be able speak English fluently and possess simple reading and writing skills. Learners taking stage one Global English are not expected to have fluency in English, but should be able to understand simple commands, and have some skills in letter and word recognition and formation.

Learners completing the Mother Tongue English course will develop a good understanding of English, be able to respond to a wide range of different types of texts, and gain an appreciation of the major writers of English fiction.

And finally, learners completing the Global or ‘Academic’ English course will develop a good understanding of the language, be able to respond in correctly structured English to a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts, and develop the vocabulary and skills to access and respond to the major academic or school subjects.

Remember an A is an A no matter what the subject! Looking to find out more? Further your knowledge on both subject matters by using our English as a second language and first language English resources.