As in any specialized profession, the world of ESL/EFL/ELL has its own unique terminology. I quite regularly come upon words that I’m not familiar with.

I thought a short “The Best…” list might be useful for readers.

I haven’t found one glossary of these kinds of terms that I would consider “complete” and accessible, so I’m listing a few of them.

Here are my picks for The Best Guides To ESL/EFL/ELL Terminology:

ESL Glossary From Bogglesworld

ESL Terminology From State University of New York — Courtland

ELT Terminology, Abbreviations & Acronyms From

Common TEFL Confusions is sort of a glossary-plus for ESL/EFL teachers. It’s very good and is from They also have a good glossary.

The American Institutes For Research has a good document titled Common ELL Terms and Definitions.

Colorin Colorado has a good glossary.

An ELT Glossary comes from An ELT Notebook.

The NILE ELT Glossary is also good, though you have to register (for free) to access it.


Here’s a glossary of terms related to immigration and education.

Clarifying Multilingual Terminology is by Jana Echevarria.

Here are three Ed Week articles:

Map: How States Describe Their English Learners

The Debate Over English Learner Terminology, Explained

The Evolution of Terms Describing English Learners: An ELL Glossary

What is ESL – A Guide For Teachers is from We are Teachers.

Other suggestions are, as always, welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.