I want to know which is correct

  • teacher of English


  • English teacher.

8 Answers 8


If you put the accent on the word "teacher", then it means "a teacher from England." If you put the accent on the word "English", then it means "a teacher who teaches English".

Or in another way, if you say "a teacher of English", then it means a teacher who teaches English. If you want to say a teacher who comes from England, then a clearer way would be "a teacher from England."

  • 1
    And now, which one is correct? It's a good answer, so I don't want to -1 it, but since it doesn't directly answer the question, I think I should (but I won't). Jun 20, 2011 at 12:44
  • 6
    They are both correct, but "English teacher" is idiomatic. You won't often hear a native English speaker say "Teacher of English" except to differentiate from a teacher of some other subject (and you won't often hear "speaker of English" either).
    – njd
    Jun 20, 2011 at 13:54

Very slight difference in meaning here:

"Teacher of English" can refer to anyone who is teaching English, to anyone.

"English Teacher" has the connotation that it is someone who is in the Education system, is paid, and has a class of students to teach to.


John is a teacher of English. He is just really good with English, so he can instruct basically anyone.

Jane is an English teacher. She works at my school.

  • 1
    I might have agreed, if you had said or, not and. (Education system? class instead of one-on-one?) The difference in connotation, which I suspect you are trying to get at, is that English teacher has a stronger suggestion that this is the person's job. (Your use of paid gets at that, but the job of an English teacher might be pro bono.)
    – Drew
    Aug 24, 2014 at 21:49
  • I agree. It implies that you have a position in an organization. Aug 24, 2014 at 23:11

Both are grammatically correct, and which one to use will depend on the context.

teacher of English: This makes an explicit reference to the subject. It doesn't matter if the teacher is from England or not, it just cares about the fact that the teacher teaches English.

Examples where teacher of English is used:
http://inspiringenglishteacher.sg/ (its funny to see here how the award is for Teachers of English but the URL is a contraction of "Inspiring English Teacher")

English teacher: This can be ambiguous depending on the context because English can relate to nationality or to the subject English. If such an ambiguity is not possible in your context, English teacher is shorter, easier to pronounce and the natural choice of words. It would even sound a little awkward if you, at your own school, should refer to your English teacher as your teacher of English.

Examples where English teacher is used:


Either can be correct if used in the proper context:

Case #1

"I am a teacher of English. Teaching the language is my profession and I am current unemployed."

Case #2

"I am an English teacher. Teaching the English language is my job at Linwood School."

Case #3

"I am an English teacher. My nationality is English and I have a position as Instructor of Anatomy at the University of Warwick."

If the context is Case #3, I recommend removing the first sentence completely to avoid confusion.

  • If we are referring to it as a teacher who teaches English, then would "English", in the phrase "English teacher" be a noun or an adjective. If it is an adjective, is it an attributive adjective?
    – User384789
    Apr 26, 2018 at 12:25
  • @personallearner the phrase is a noun phrase that consists of noun+adjective.................since English appears before the noun it is attributive. Apr 26, 2018 at 12:32
  • even if the teacher is not from England but only teaches English? thank you
    – User384789
    Apr 26, 2018 at 12:34

It is my belief that an English teacher is a teacher who teaches English and a teacher of English is also a person who teaches English. The difference is in the native tongue of student not the native tongue of the teacher.

When a student addresses a teacher for any particular subject he or she says, "My Math teacher" or "My English teacher." However, looking at this from how the teacher teaches and to whom the teacher is teaching. For example a teacher teaching English in America to students and their first language is English, this teacher would say "I'm an English teacher." However, when the teacher is teaching students whose first language is other than English would usually say that they are a teacher of English as a second language.

As for myself, I am a teacher of English as a second language. An ESL teacher is different from an English teacher. We are both teachers of the English language, but we use very different techniques in teaching our English lessons. Thus, the difference is in who the teacher is teaching not where the teacher is from.

  • (Not my downvote) You made a worthy distinction between an English teacher to native speakers and an ESL/EFL teacher. An English literature or language teacher is not the same as a "teacher of English" or a teacher of English as a second/foreign language.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 6, 2013 at 7:25

The phrases "English teacher", and "Teacher of English", surely both refer to the subject being taught rather than the nationality. This will become obvious when one considers the phrases Geography teacher, Maths teacher etc.

For example, my mom and sister are both English teachers (really). They are also English-speaking, since English is their first language (as it is mine). However neither of them are English. My mom is Scottish, and my sister (and I) are South African.

Perhaps there is some confusion because the word "English" means both a language and a nationality. So it may depend on the context: whether the question about the teacher is where she was born, or what subject she teaches. It's possible that the question is about her birth-place, but it's much more likely to be about what she teaches, else you may just have said "English person" who happens to be a teacher as well.

  • 1
    If we are referring to it as a teacher who teaches English, then would "English", in the phrase "English teacher" be a noun or an adjective. If it is an adjective, is it an attributive adjective?
    – User384789
    Apr 26, 2018 at 12:25

Teacher of English means a person who teaches English as a subject,but when you call someone a English teacher,it means that the teacher is an English person

  • 4
    No. This is incorrect. An English teacher to mean a teacher of English is very common usage in AmE. As the leading answer in votes states, it depends upon context and the spoken emphasis.
    – David M
    Mar 9, 2014 at 18:32
  • @DavidM is right.
    – Drew
    Aug 24, 2014 at 21:43

Of English is an adjective prepositional phrase. To say I'm an English teacher implies you're from England or you're an English citizen.

  • 6
    -1. English teacher does not imply that you are from England or an English citizen. It is ambiguous, precisely because of the possibility that it can mean a teacher of English. (The same ambiguity does not exist for Biology teacher.)
    – Drew
    Aug 24, 2014 at 21:42
  • if we are referring to it as a teacher who teaches English, then would "English", in the phrase "English teacher" be a noun or an adjective. If it is an adjective, is it an attributive adjective?
    – User384789
    Apr 26, 2018 at 12:55

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