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for Today's Podcast

(to) wonder

inclusive (adjective)

(to) include

bilingual, trilingual

(to) place (somebody) in a class

native language

(to) search online

(to) go online

(to) do a search (for something)

(a) listing

(the) bottom line

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Code Name ESL

Hello!  Welcome to the popular ESL HELP! Desk, for fun help with English grammar and communication. 

Lately I've been wondering about ESL. We have ESL (English as a Second Language) and EFL (English as a Foreign Language).  At the ESL Help! Desk, we sometimes use the more inclusive expression "for Learners of English".  We want our community of listeners and members to include those living in an English-speaking country and those who are not. We want to include those who already have some English language skills and those who have few.


Many people who immigrate to the United States and who need to improve their English language skills may already know two or three other languages, so  English is not their second language but maybe their third or fourth or even fifth.  Many people who live in English-speaking countries outside of the United States, Canada, and Great Britain need lots of help with their writing and grammar. Many people in the United States grow up bilingual : They speak one language at home and another at school, or they may even have two different languages spoken at home.  Students from such families present a conflict for writing teachers, who do not always know into which writing classes to place these students: Are they placed in ESL classes, even though English is their native language , or are they placed in regular English classes even though they have many ESL-type problems in their writing and at home do not often read in English?

Language teachers often use the expressions L1 or L2 to refer to ones first language or ones second language. If you search online, you can even find L3!  L3 is common in countries such as Switzerland that are bilingual or even trilingual .

Then I began wondering if, perhaps, there is "Spanish as a Second Language" and maybe even "Japanese as a Second Language".  So I went online and did a search for "Spanish as a Second Language" and "espanol como lengua segunda" (ELS) and sure enough, there were listings!  You can try this in any language you speak:  Try "francais langue etrangere" and " français langue seconde"

The bottom line is that in every country of the world, people are learning to speak, read and write additional languages.

What's your story? We'd love to hear from you.

If you have any questions or comments about either this week's podcast, send them to us and include your email address. 

The ESL Help! Desk

Music Copyright, permission of Luca De Bernardi
Photo of Headphones Copyright Karl-Erik Bennion

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