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TEFL Glossary


Academic language: language used in the learning of academic subject matter in formal schooling context; aspects of language strongly associated with literacy and academic achievement, including specific academic terms or technical language, and speech registers related to each field of study.  Often the term "metalanguage" is used for language used to talk about language. 

Accent: This can mean word stress - control has the accent on the second syllable but we use it to mean the pronunciation used by some speakers - a regional or class accent

Acceptable Word Method: A procedure for scoring tests in which any response which (a) is grammatically correct, and (b) makes good sense in the context is given full credit as an acceptable answer.

Acculturation: The process of adapting to a new culture. This involves understanding different systems of thought, beliefs, emotions, and communication systems. Acculturation is an important concept for understanding SLA, since successful learning is more likely when learners succeed in acculturating.

Accuracy: Accuracy refers to the ability to produce grammatically correct sentences that are comprehensible.

Achievement Tests: Assessment instruments or procedures based on the objectives of a course, used to determine how much of the course content students have learned.

Accuracy order: Learners learn and produce the L2 with varying degrees of accuracy at different stages of development, perhaps corresponding to the acquisition order.

Acquisition: A term used to describe language being absorbed without conscious effort; i.e. the way children pick up their mother tongue.  Language acquisition is often contrasted with language learning. The internalization of rules and formulas which are then used to communicate in the L2. For some researchers, such as Krashen, 'acquisition' is unconscious and spontaneous, and 'learning' is conscious, developing through formal study.

Acquisition device: Nativist theories of language acquisition claim that each language learner has an 'acquisition device' which controls the process of acquisition. This device contains information about possible universal grammars.

Acquisition-learning hypothesis: According to Stephen Krashen, adult second language learners can develop second language learning. One method is learning, a conscious study of the forms of language. The other method is acquisition, or just picking up a language the way children do without conscious attention to forms. Krashen further argues that acquisition is far more beneficial in terms of producing fluent, natural communication in another language. Krashen also asserts that learning cannot change into acquisition.

Active Vocabulary: The words and phrases which a learner is able to use in speech and writing.Contrasted with Passive Vocabulary.

Active Voice: Sentences where the subject is the performer or doer of the action, not the receiver of the action. She washed the car. Compared to passive voice, The car was washed (by someone).

Additive bilingualism: a process by which individuals develop proficiency in a second language after or at the same time as the development of proficiency in the primary language L1, without loss of the primary language; a bilingual situation where t addition of a second language and culture are unlikely to replace or displace the first language and culture

Admissions Tests: An instrument or procedure used to provide information about whether or not a candidate is likely to succeed in a particular program. (These tests are sometimes referred to as screening tests.)

Advanced: A level of attainment where the learner has mastered most of the structures and functions of the language and is able to move freely through several registers - there may be a working vocabulary of in excess of 3000 words.

Affective Feedback: Affective feedback is when teachers (or anybody) display signs about how interested they are in trying to understand the student. These signs come in the form of gestures, facial expressions, and  intonations. Positive affective feedback will encourage the learner to continue even if it is clear that the listener cannot fully understand. Negative affective feedback will stop a learner from speaking entirely and raise their affective filter.

Affective Filter: This is an imaginary wall that is placed between a learner and language input. If the filter is on, the learner is blocking out input. The filter turns on when anxiety is high, self-esteem is low, or motivation is low. Hence, low anxiety classes are better for language acquisition. Another implication is that too much correction will also raise the affective filter as self-esteem in using the language drops.

Affective Filter Hypothesis: Krashen argues that comprehensible input is not enough to ensure language acquisition. Language learners also have to be receptive to language input and so they block the input. This blockage is referred to as the affective filter.

Aids to Teaching: (a)  Visual: Blackboard, whiteboard, overhead projector, realia, posters, wallcharts, flipcharts, maps, plans, flashcards, wordcards, puppets   (b)  Electronic:Tape recorder, TV or video player, computer, CD Rom, language laboratory.

Aligning Instruction with Assessment: Assessment strategies should be very similar to classroom instruction. It is important that lesson plans and assessments encompass the needs of all learners, including ESL learners. Teachers should plan lessons according to the learning styles of classroom students. Additionally, instruction needs to be conducted with assessments in mind. The format in which the material is presented should be the same technique used for assessment. For example, if a hands-on activity is used to teach the lesson, the assessment should include a hands-on type of evaluation. ESL students will be aware of and familiar with assessment expectations as a result of classroom routine.

Analytic Scoring: A scoring system in which the hypothesized components of the skill (often writing) have been analyzed, and it is thes components that make up the categories used in scoring.

Applied Linguistics: The study of the relationship between theory and practice.  The main emphasis is usually on language teaching, but can also bapplied to translation, lexicology etc.

Aptitude: The specific ability a learner has for learning a second language. This is separate from intelligence.

Approach:  A set of principles about teaching including views on method, syllabus and a philosophy of language and learning. Approaches have theoretical backing with practical applications.

AptitudeTests:  Assessment instruments which do not test someone’s skill in a particular language – rather they are intended to assess a person’s ability to learn any language.

Articles: English language has both indefinite (a/an/some) and definite (the) articles. Articles are one of the first parts of speech introduced to learners but one of the last to be acquired. The evidence suggests that articles cannot be taught, but are acquired over a long period of time.

Assessment standards: statements that establish guidelines for evaluating student performance and attainment of content standards; often include philosophical statements of good assessment practice (see performance standards)

Attitudes: Learners possess sets of beliefs about language learning, the target culture, their culture, the teacher, the learning tasks, etc. These beliefs are referred to as attitudes. They influence learning in a number of ways.

Audio-Lingual Method: Listen and speak:  this method considers listening and speaking the first tasks in language learning, followed by reading and writing.  There is considerable emphasis on learning sentence patterns, memorization of dialogues and extensive use of drills.

Audio-visual Aids: Props, pieces of equipment which help us to put across our teaching point. Lessons should not be built around the 'aid', but rather used as a 'helper'.

Aural Learner: Learners who benefit more from hearing input. Aural learners learn respond well to oral instruction as opposed to visual instruction.

Authentic Assessment: In order to accurately evaluate limited English proficient learners, testing strategies must mirror classroom activities. Lesson information is usually not presented to students in a multiple-choice format therefore; standardized multiple-choice tests are biased forms of evaluations for ESL students. Utilizing multidimensional assessments allow the ESL learner to experience success in a practical way. For example, if the ESL student comprehends the information in the classroom through the use of visuals, these same types of visuals should appear in the evaluation process. Authentic assessment allows the teacher to use classroom instruction to teach the material and to follow up on lessons by evaluating ESL students in a real and relevant way. A teacher made assessment that is aligned with classroom instruction will give ESL students opportunities to succeed while learning English. Examples of unbiased authentic methods of assessment include portfolios, teacher observations , self-assessments , scoring rubrics , anecdotal records, etc.

Authentic Language: real or natural language, as used by native speakers of a language in real-life contexts; not artificial or contrived for purposes of learning grammatical forms or vocabulary

Authentic Materials Unscripted materials or those which have not been specially written for classroom use, though they may have been edited.  Examples include newspaper texts and TV broadcasts.

Authentic Task: A task which involves learners in using language in a way that replicates its use in the 'real world' outside the language classroom. Filling in blanks, changing verbs from the simple past to the simple present and completing substitution tables are, therefore, not authentic tasks. Examples of authentic tasks would be answering a letter addressed to the lerner, arguing a particular point of view and comparing various holiday brochures in order to decide where to go for a holiday.

See  pedagogic tasks.

Authentic Text: A text which is not written or spoken for language teaching purposes. A newspaper article, a rock song, a novel, a radio interview and a traditional fairy tale are examples of authentic texts. A story written to exemplify the use of reported speech, a dialogue scripted to exemplify ways of inviting and a linguistically simplified version of a novel wold not be authentic texts.

See simplified texts.

Auxiliary Verbs Forms of the verbsbe, do and have which are used to create the different tenses in English: am/is/are/was/were eating/ being eaten; do/does/did eat; has/have/had eaten/ been eaten.





Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS): A component of second language proficiency which usually occurs on an informal level that precedes the more complex skills of cognitive/academic language proficiency occurs. If only an oral assessment of a student’s skills is taken, the student may appear proficient according to BICS. BICS are less abstract and more concrete than the more demanding cognitive academic skills.

Behaviouralism: This is the view that learning is a matter of habit formation. The learner mimics the language they hear, and positive feedbac ensures that accurate language use becomes a habit.

Behaviorist learning theory: This a general theory of  learning, developed by B F Skinner. It sees learning as the formation of habits. Environmental factors (input, teacher, classroom, etc.) are seen as more important than the student's mental, internal factors.

Benchmark Papers: Classic examples of papers typical of the levels they represent in a holistic scoring system. (These typical examples are also referred to as anchor papers.)

Biculturalism: near nativelike knowledge of two cultures; includes the ability to respond effectively to the different demand of these two cultures.

Bilingual Education: A program of instruction which uses more than one language as the medium of instruction.

Bilingual instruction:Provision of instruction in schoolsettings through the medium of two languages, usually a native ana second language; the proportion of the instructional day delivered in each language varies by the type of the bilingual education program in which instruction is offered and the goals of said program

Bilingualism Being able to communicate effectively in two or more languages, with more or less the same degree of proficiency.

Body language: The gestures and mannerisms by which a person communicates with others.

Bottom-upLanguage learning that proceeds from the most basic clocks of language, or language items such as words, then more complex structures such as more complex sentences and grammar, and finally to meaning. 

Bottom-up approach to language comprehension and production: This approach teaches the microskills first (e.g.grammar, vocabulary, sentince structure), before asking learners to use the language (communication). The focus is on the various components of the language first. Students then have to fit these together in comprehending or producing language.

Brain-Compatible Enviroment : Susan Kovalik integrates brain research findings, teaching strategies, and curriculum development to create a brain-compatible environment for all students, including ESL learners. This model consists of eight components: absence of threat meaningful content, choices, adequate time, enriched environment, collaboration, immediate feedback, and mastery. All of these factors empower a teacher to accommodate for the different backgrounds and needs of the students in a typical classroom. 

Bursts: Utterances spoken aloud in phrases when teachers break a paragraph in to sense groups, phrases, or clauses while reading a dictation.  See -  top down tasks




C -Test: A type of language test in which the students read a brief paragraph in the target language. The first two sentences are left intact and then starting with the second sentence, the second half of every second word is deleted.

CALL: Computer Assisted Language Learning.

CAT: Computer Adaptive Testing.

Categorical data: Characterizations that divide people or things into groups (such as “limited English proficient students” and “fluent English proficient students”). This type of data is also sometimes referred to as nominal data, because the labels serve to name the classes o groups of people or things.

CBT: Computer Based Testing.

CELTA: Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. This accreditation is comparable to a TEFL certificate. It is offered by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES).

CELTYL: Certificate in English Language Teaching to Young Learners.

Central tendencyThe patterns of how scores in a data ser group together, often with some cluster of scores in the middle. The three measures of central tendency are the mean (the average), the median (the middle score in a data set), and the mode (the most frequently obtained score in a data set).

Chants: Short repetitive songs or rhythms that can be implemented to introduce or reinforce lesson material for second language students. Educators can use chants in small or whole group activities to help ESL learners become comfortable with the process of language acquisition.

Cloze Procedure: An exercise where every fifth word (or sixth o seventh etc) is deleted rom a text. The interval between the deleted words should remain the same throughout the text.  The student then supplies the missing words, often relying on contextualization for help.

CLT: Communication Language Teaching.

Cognate: Cognates are words from different languages which are related historically, eg English bath - German bad or English yoke - Hindi yoga.  Beware False Friends however.

Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach: (CALLA) Developed by A.Chamot and M O’Malley (1987), CALLA is aintermediate and advanced transition program that permits LEP post-elementary students to acquire English fluency and content area mastery by teaching them unique learning strategies.

Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency Skills: (CALPS) A component of second language proficiency which occurs at the complex higher language acquisition level after the simpler Basic Interpersonal Cognitive Skills (BICS). According to V. Collier (1995), it may take at least four and as many as ten years for a LEP student to reach national grade-level norms of native English speakers in all subject areas of language and academic achievement, as measured on standardized tests. The span of time for acquiring CALPS is directly influenced by factors, such as: 1) age at arrival in a second language culture, 2) amount of uninterrupted schooling in the heritage language, 3) length of residence (See Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills [BICS].).

Cognitive Code: An approach in which a conscious effort is made to understand the Learning rules when learning a new item.  There is little concern with the formation of  habits as in the audio-lingual and direct methods; can be seen a deductive learning, cf inductive learning.

Cognitive feedback: Cognitive feedback is when teachers (or anybody) display signs that they understand what a learner is trying to communicate. Essentially, the listener is signaling, "I understand." or "I don't understand." Positive cognitive feedback sometimes has  negative consequence: Learners make mistakes, but because they are understood, they don't change their language habits.

Collocation: The tendency for words to occur regularly with others: sit/chair  house/garage.

Collocations: Words that tend to be associated with each other, or co-occur in sentences, such as salt and pepper, up and down wedding vows etc. Collocates are important in EFL because they help to explain why some learner language is grammatically correct and the meaning is apparent, yet the utterance seems strange - we don't usually say that.

Common Core: The central part of the course or syllabus; or the elements of a language vital to any teaching programme.

Communication Strategies: Strategies for using L2 knowledge. These are used when learners do not have the correct language for the concept they wish to express. Thus they use strategies such as paraphrase and mime. See - learner strategies and production strategies Communicative Approaches: Approaches to language teaching which aim to help learners to develop communicative competence (i.e. the ability to use the language effectively for communication). A weak communicative approach includes overt teaching of language forms and functions in order to help learners to develop the ability to use them for communication. A strong communicative approach relies on providing learners with experience of using language as the main means of learning to use the language. In such as approach, learners, for example, talk to learn rather than learn to talk.

Communicative Competence: The ability to use the language effectively for communication. Gaining such competence involves acquiring both socio linguistic and linguistic knowledge (or , in other words, developing the ability to use the language accurately, appropriately, and effectively).

Communicative Functions: purposes for which language is used; includes three broad functions: communicative, integrative, and expressive; where language aids the transmission of information, aids affiliation and belonging to a particular social group, and allows the display of individual feelings, ideas, and personality

Communicative Language Teaching: An approach concerned with the needs of students to communicate outside the classroom; teaching techniques reflect this in the choice of language content and materials, with emphasis on role play, pair and group work etc.

Comprehensible Input: When native speakers and teachers speak to L2 learners, they often adjust their speech to make it more comprehensible. Such comprehensible input may be a necessary condition for acquisition to occur.

Comprehensible Output: The language produced by the learner (the 'output') may be comprehensible or incomprehensible. The efforts learners make to be comprehensible may play a part in acquisition.

Concordances (or concordance lines): A list of authentic utterances each containing the same focused word or phrase e.g.: The bus driver still didn't have any change so he made me wait.  I really don't mind which one. Any newspaper will do. I

just ...know what they are saying. Any teacher will tell you that it's wrong.   See authentic Conditional: This is an if/then statement. For example: If you come late, call me. Will you go if I ask you? If I had a million dollars, I would buy kraft dinner?

Content-based ESL: a model of language education that integrates language and content instruction in the second language classroom; a second language learning approach where second language teachers use instructional materials, learning tasks, and classroom techniques from academic content areas as the vehicle for developing second language, content, cognitive and studyskills.

Content-centered education: Teaching language through content in areas such as math, science, and social studies. Language is no longer the main focus, but instead language is unconsciously acquired while focusing on other regular content.

Content Schemata: Background knowledge that leads you to predict information.

Content Standards: statements that define what one is expected to know and be able to do in a content area; the knowledge, skills, processes, and other understandings that schools should teach in order for students to attain high levels of competency in challenging subject matter; the subject-specific knowledge, processes, and skills that schools are expected to teach and students are expected to learn.

Content Words: Words with a full meaning of their own; nouns, main verbs (ie not auxiliary or modal verbs), adjectives and many adverbs.  Contrasted with structure words.

Context: the 'context' of an utterance can mean: i) "situational context"  - the situation in which the utterance is produced; ii) 'linguistic context' - the linguistic environment (the surrounding language).

Contextualization: Placing the target language in a realistic setting, so as to be meaningful to thestudent.

Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis: According to this hypothesis, L2 errors are the result of differences between the learner's first language and the target language, and these differences can be used to identify or predict errors that will occur.

Cooperative/Collaborative Group: a grouping arrangement in which positive interdependence and shared responsibility for task completion are established among group members; the type of organizational structure encouraging heterogeneous grouping, shared leadership, and social skills development

Cooperative Learning: When classroom students work in small groups toward social and academic learning goals. The small mixed groups allow an ESL student to feel at ease while learning English. Peers in the group support the new language learners as they discuss the lesson material in English. The group atmosphere provides a non-threatening environment for the LEP student while self-confidence is being strengthened.

Corpus: A bank of authentic texts collected in ordr to find out how language is actually used. Usually a corpus is restricted to a particular type of language use, for example, a corpus of newspaper English, a corpus of legal documents, or a corpus of informal spoken English. See text .

Coursebook: A textbook which provides the core materials for a course. It aims to provide as much as posiible in one book and is designed so that it could serve as the only book which the learners necessarily use during a course. Such a book usually focuses on grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, functions and the skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking.  See supplementary materials Criterion-referenced testing : An approach to testing in which a given score is interpreted relative to a pre-set goal or objective (the criterion), rather than to the performance of other test-takers.

Critical period hypothesis : The hypothesis that if somebody does not acquire a first language before a certain time (around puberty), they will lose the ability to acquire language. There are two versions of this hypothesis: The strong version states that language acquisition will be impossible after this point has been reached. The weak version states that acquisition will be difficult after this period has been reached.

Cross-Cultural Competence: ability to function according to the cultural rules of more than one cultural system; ability to respond in culturally sensitive and appropriate ways according to the cultural demands of a given situation.

Cue Cards: Cards with words or pictures on them which are used to encourage student response, or pair and group work.

Culture: the sum total of the ways of life of a people; includes norms, learned behavior patterns, attitudes, and artifacts; also involves traditions, habits or customs; how people behave, feel and interact; the means by which they order and interpret the world; ways of perceiving, relating and interpreting events based on established social norms; a system of standards for perceiving, believing, evaluating, and acting.

Culture free tests: Culture free tests or assessment instruments purport not to discriminate on the basis of a student’s non-U.S. culture. Many will agree that culture-free tests do not exist. For example, asking a student who was raised in the rural heartland about skyscrapers may produce an inappropriate response. Testing should measure what is intended to be measured, and not a culture-related perceived shortcoming.





Declension: The inflection of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives for categories such as case and number. The whole set of inflected forms of such a word, or the recital thereof in a fixed order.

DELTA: Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults.

Descriptors: broad categories of discrete, representative behaviors that students exhibit when they meet a standard.

Designer methods: One of many highly idiosyncratic methods that were developed in the 70's.

Diagnostic test: An assessment instrument or procedure that attempts to diagnose, or identify, a learner’s strengths and weaknesses, typically so that an efficient and appropriate course of instruction can be presented.

Dialect: The regional variety of a language, differing from the standard language, in grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation or idiomatic usage.

Direct Method: The most common approach in TEFL, where language is taught through listening and speaking.  There may be little or no explicit explanation of grammatical rules, nor translation into the mother tongue of the student - inductive learning rather than deductive.

Directionality: The direction of language used relative to the learner – wither receptively (in reading and listening) or productively (in speech and writing).

Discourse: A unit of language greater than a sentence.

Discovery activity: An activity which involves learners in investing energy and attention in order to discover something about the language for themselves. Getting learners to wotk out the rules of direct speech from examples, asking learners to investigate when and why a character uses the modal 'must' in a story and getting learners to notice and explain the use of ellipsis in a recorded conversation would be examples of discovery activities.

Drama: An excellent method to introduce role playing and acting out activities involving all students in the classroom to enhance language acquisition  for ESL students. Stories can be acted out to reinforce comprehension skills, as well as language skills, while the LEP learner absorbs the rhythm and meanings of words in the new language. A fun way to learn without inhibitions present.


: The intensive and repetitive practice of the target language, which may be choral or individual.








EAP: English for Academic Purpose.

EFB: English for Business.

EFL: English as a foreign language.

Elementary: Students at this level may have a vocabulary of up to 1000 words and will probably be learning or practicing present simple and continuous tenses, past simple and present perfect, will/shall, 'going to' futures.  They should be able to hold simple conversations and survive in everyday situations.

ELL: (English Language Learner) The term used to indicate that a student is learning English as a new language.

ELT: English Language Teaching.

Empathy: the educator may not be familiar with the ESL student's culture or language, a strong attempt must be made to validate the student's first language. It is very important that the teacher of an ESL learner empathize with the student's position. The instructor should try to imagine what the ESL student is experiencing after being immersed into a new culture and new language for the first time.

EOP: English for Occupational Purposes.

Error analysis: In this procedure, samples of learner language are collected and the errors are identified, described, and classified according to their hypothesized causes. The errors are then evaluated for relative seriousness.

Error correction: An important issue for ESL teachers is when and how to correct the errors of language learners. Some researchers feel there is no need to correct errors at all, as errors will auto correct. However, some researchers think that error correction is necessary. Among those who think it is necessary, there are those who say 'get it right from the beginning' to those who only care if they 'get it right in the end.' Different classroom theories propose different solutions for error correction.

ESL/E2L: English as a Second Language.The field of English as a second language; courses, classes and/or programs designed for students learning English as an additional language

ESOL: English to/for Speakers of Other Languages.

ESOL student: English to speakers of other languages; refers to learners who are identified as still in the process of acquiring English as an additional language; students who may not speak English at all or, at least, do not speak, understand, and write English with the same facility as their classmates because they did not grow up speaking English (rather they primarily spoke another language at home)

ESP: English for Special Purposes; eg for business, science and technology,   medicine etc.

EST: English for Service & Technology.

Experiential: Referring to ways of learning language through experiencing it in use rather than through focusing conscious attention on language items. Reading a novel, listening to a song and taking part in a project are experiential ways of learning a language.

Extensive Reading: Reading for general or global understanding, often of longer texts.

Extensive Reading or Listening: Reading or listening for the main idea or gist.

Extrinsic Motivation: Motivation through rewards such as points, candies, compliments, money, test scores, or grades. These rewards are externally administered and may inhibit learning in the long run, although seeming to be effective in the short run.







False Friends: cognate words, or words acidentally similar in form, whose meaning is rather different in the two languages, eg English gentle - French gentil.  English embarrassed  and Spanish embarrassado (pregnant)

Feedback: The response learners get when they attempt to communicate. This can involve correction, acknowledgement, requests for clarification, backchannel cues (e.g. "Mmm"). Feedback plays an important role in helping learners to test their ideas about the target language.

Field dependence/independence: Language learners differin the way in which they perceive, conceptualize, organize and recall information. 'Field dependents' operate holistically (they see the field as a whole), whereas 'field independents' operate analytically (they perceive the field in terms of its componenet parts). This distinction helps in the understanding of how learners acquire a second language (L2).

Filter: Learners do not attend to all the input they receive. They attend to some features, and 'filter' other features out. This often depends on affective factors such as motivation, attitudes, emotions, and anxiety.

Finely-tuned Language: Language which is equivalent to the students' knowledge, which they should readily understand.

First Certificate: Cambridge First Certificate: an examination which may be taken by students of a good intermediate level.

First conditional: This is an then/if statement about the consequences of a possible or probable future event or action.

Fluency: Fluency is the ability to produce rapid, flowing, natural speech, without concern for grammatical correctness.

Foreign language: A language which is not normally used for communication in a particular society. Thus English is a foreign language in France and Spanish is a foreign language in Germany.

Formal instruction: This occurs in classrooms when teachers try to aid learning by raising the learners' consciousness about the target language rules. Formal instruction can be deductive (the learners are told the rules) or inductive (learners develop a knowledge of the rules through carrying out language tasks).

Form-focused tasks: These tasks have a linguistic focus (grammar, vocabulary, etc.). According to this approach, a linguitic focus, in the form of grammatical consciousness-raising activities, should be incorporated into task design.

See Meaning focused tasks

Formulaic speech: This consists of phrases and expressions learned as wholes and used on particular occasions.

See patterns and routines

Fossilization: A poor habit of speech. When a student makes the same mistake, it is clear they have not understood the actual rule for a language items use. This happens especially when the error does not interfere with communication. Most L2 learners fail to reach target language competence. They stop learning when their internalized rule system contains rules difference from those of the target language. This is referred to as 'fossilization'.

Frequency: The input language contains a range of linguistic forms which occur with varying frequency. The learner's output also contains a range of linguistic forms used with varying frequency. There is evidence to show that input frequency matches output frequency.

Function Words: See structure words

Functional Approach:A course based on a functional approach would take as its starting point for language development, what the learner wants to do through language.  Common functions include identifying oneself and giving personal facts about oneself; expressing moods and emotions.

Functional English: Teaching English according to the function it used for, as opposed to it's grammatical rule. For example, a lesson based on functional English might group together the phrases: Why don't you...? I think you should... If I were you, I would...

Functional Syllabus: Language programs with function being the main organizing feature. The course content is based on functions and grammar is incorporated but not emphasized. A typical unit might be Complaints. The content of the unit would include: I am very disappointed that... You have made an error... I would like to speak to your supervisor...





Genre: a category of literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content (e.g., an historical novel is one fictional genre)

General Service List: A standard list of 2000 frequently used words as compiled by Michael West.  Regarded as a language core by many syllabus designers.

Global coursebook: A coursebook which is not written for learners from a particular culture or country but which is intended for use by any class of learners in the specified level anywhere in the world.

Grading: The order in which language items are taught.  Systematic grading may   reduce the difficulties of language learning by introducing the language in steps or stages.

Grammar-Translation: A method based upon memorizing the rules and logic of a language and the practice of translation.  Traditionally the means by which Latin and Greek have been taught.

Grammar translation method: The method has its roots in the teaching of Latin. The method focuses on translating grammatical forms, learning rules. Its focus is on accuracy and not fluency 

Grapheme: The written symbols for sounds in language; ie letters of the alphabet or a character in picture writing (as in Japanese kange).







Heritage language: The student’s native or primary language, Home Language Survey: A simple form, administered by school systems to determine the language spoken at home by a student. Such surveys are often in English and another language. The survey, by itself, does not determine English proficiency.

Holistic scoring: A scoring procedure (typically used in writing assessment) in which the reader reacts to the student’s composition as a whole; a single score is awarded to the writing.

Home language: language(s) spoken in the home by significant others (e.g., family members, caregivers) who reside in the child's home; sometimes used as a synonym for first language, primary language, or native language.

Hypothesis formation: According to this concept, the learner forms hypotheses about the target-language rules, and then tests them out. These are internalized rules, which are used in L2 communication.






IATEFL: International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language.

Idiom: an expression in the usage of a language that has a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements (e.g., raining cats and dogs)

Immersion Method: This simulates the way in which children acquire their mother tongue.  The learner is surrounded by the foreign language, with no deliberate or organized teaching programme.  The learner absorbs the target language naturally  without conscious effort.

Inductive Learning: Learning to apply the rules of a language by experiencing the language in use, rather than by having the rules explained or by consciously deducing the rules.

Inflection: The change in form of a word, which indicates a grammatical change:eg. behave - behaved - behaviour - misbehave.

Inferencing: This is the means by which the learner forms hypotheses, through attending to input, or using the situational context to interpret the input.

Innatism: This is the theoretical view that children have an innate knowledge of the structures of language. Children are born with a knowledge of Universal Grammar (or as called by Krashen a language acquisition device) that gives them access to the universal principles of human language. It is because of this innate knowledge that children can learn a complex language with

Input: This constitutes the language to which the learner is exposed. It can be spoken or written. It serves as the data which the learner must use to determine the rules of the target language.

Input hypothesis : According to Stephen Krashen the only way we can acquire language is by receiving comprehensible input. That is, we have to receive input that is just beyond our competence but not beyond our understanding.

Instumental motivation:Wanting to learn for the purpose of obtaining a goal such as a job. The learning is instrumental to doing something else.

Integrative motivation: When students want to learn a language to become part of a speech community (integrate). People who immigrate to new countries are some examples of people who may want to identify with the community around them. An important aspect of this form of language learning is using language for social interaction.

Interaction analysis: This is a research procedure used to investigate classroom communication. It involves the use of a system of categories to record and analyse the different ways in which teachers and students use language.

Interactional tasks: Tasks which promote communication and interaction. The idea behind this approach is that he primary purpose of speech is the maintenance of social relationships.

See transactional tasks Interactionism: This is the theoretical view that children have some innate knowledge of the structures of language but also require meaningful interaction with others to acquire language structures.

Interactionist learning theory: This theory emphasizes the joint contributions of the linguistic environment and the learner's internal mechanisms in language development. Learning results from an interaction between the learner's mental abilities and the liguistic input.

Interference: According to behviorist learning theory, the patterns of the learner's mother tongue (L1) get in the way of learning the patterns of the L2. This is referred to as 'interference'.

Interlanguage: The learner's knowledge of the L2 which is independent of both the L1 and the actual L2. This term can refer to: i) the series of interlocking systems which characterize acquisition; ii) the system that is observed at a single stage of development (an 'interlanguage'); and iii) particular L1/L2 combinations.

Intermediate:  At this level a student will have a working vocabulary of between 1500 and 2000 words and should be able to cope easily in most everyday situations. There should be an ability to express needs, thoughts and feelings in a    reasonably clear way.

Intensive Reading: Reading for specific understanding of information, usually of shorter texts.

Intonation: The ways in which the voice pitch rises and falls in speech.

Intrinsic motivation: .Motivation in learning that comes from within







Journals: A learning log where ESL students have the opportunity to record material learned in the classroom and write about feelings concerning their new language experiences. Teachers have a chance to closely observe the journal for academic progress and second language acquisition.





L.T.T.T: An abbreviation for Limit Teacher Talk Time L1: The mother tongue.

L2 A term used to refer to both foreign and second languages.

See foreign language : second language

LAD Language Acquisition Device; a term coined by Noam Chomsky to explain an innate psychological capacity for language acquisition.

Language awareness: Approaches to teaching language which emphasise the value of helping learners to focus attention on features of language in use. Most such approaches emphasise the importance of learners gradually developing their own awareness of how the language is used through discoveries which they make themselves.

See discovery activities

Language "chunks": short phrases learned as a unit (e.g., thank you very much); patterned language acquired through redundant use, such as refrains and repetitive phrases in stories

Language data: Instances of language use which are used to provide information about how the language is used. Thus a corpus can be said to consist of language data.

See corpus

Language Item: The smallest parts of a language, such as a new vocabulary word

Language Laboratory A room equipped with headphones and booths to enable students to listen to a language teaching programme, while being monitored from a central  console.  Labs may be Audio-Active (AA), where students listen and respond to a tape, or Audio-Active-Comparative (AAC), where they may record their own responses and compare these with a model on the master tape.

Language minority: a student who comes from a home in which a language other than English is primarily spoken; the student may or may not speak English well

Language practice: Activities which involve repetition of the same language point or skill in an environment which is controlled by the framework of the activity. The purpose for language production and the language to be produced are usually predetermined by the task of the teacher. The intention is not to use the language for communication but to strengthen, through successful repetition, the ability to manipulate a particular language form or function. Thus getting all the students in a class who already know each other repeatedly to ask each other their names would be a practice activity.

See language use.

Language proficiency: the level of competence at which an individual is able to use language for both basic communicative tasks and academic purposes

Language use: Activities which involve the production of language in order to communicate. The purpose of the activity might be predetermined but the language which is used is determined by the learners. Thus getting a new class of learners to walk round and introduce themselves to each other would be a language use activity; and so would getting them to complete a story.

Language variety: variations of a language used by particular groups of people, includes regional dialects characterized by distinct vocabularies, speech patterns, grammatical features, and so forth; may also vary by social group (sociolect) or idiosyncratically for a particular individual (idiolect)

Learning: The internalization of rules and formulas which can be used to communicate in the L2. Krashen uses this term for formal learning in the classroom.

Learning-centered: Language activities, techniques, methods where the students/learners are the focus. Students are allowed some control over the activity or some input into the curriculum. These activities encourage student creativity. Group work is one kind of student centered activity.

Learning-centered, student-centered: Language activities, techniques, methods where the students/learners are the focus and the teacher plays only a peripheral role. Students are allowed some control over the activity or some input into the curriculum. These activities encourage student creativity. Group work is one kind of student-centered activity. Having students design their own test is another learner centered activity. Individual styles and needs of the learners are taken into account. Learner centered education is thought to be intrinsically motivating and thus beneficial.  

Learning strategies: These account for how learners accumulate new L2 rules and how they automatize existing ones. They can be conscious or subconscious. These contrast with communication strategies and production  stratgies, which account for how the learners use their rule systems, rather than how they acquire them. Learning strategies may include metacognitive strategies (e.g., planning for learning, monitoring one's own comprehension and production, evaluating one's performance); cognitive strategies (e.g., mental or physical manipulation of the material), or social/affective strategies (e.g., interacting with another person to assist learning, using self-talk to persist at a difficult task until resolution).

Learning styles: The way(s) that particular learners prefer to learn a language. Some have a preference for hearing the language (auditory learners), some for seeing it written down (visual learners), some for learning it in discrete bits (analytic learners), some for experiencing it in large chunks (global or holistic or experiential learners) and many prefer to do something physical whilst experiencing the language (kinaesthetic learners).

LEP: (Limited English Proficiency) The term used to indicate a student's limited ability to comprehend or communicate effectively in English. A teacher can utilize the results of the IPT assessment to determine at what level information should be presented.

Lexical item An item of vocabulary which has a single element of meaning. It may be a  compound or phrase: bookcase, post office, put up with. Some single words may initiate several lexical items; eg letter: a letter of the alphabet / posting a letter.

Lexical Set A group or family of words related to one another by some semantic principle:  eg lamb, pork, chicken, beef are all different types of meat and form a lexical set.

Limited bilingualism: When a learner acquires conversational proficiency in both languages but does not attain native-like proficiency in either language.

Linguistic competence: a broad term used to describe the totality of a given individual's language ability; the underlying language system believed to exist as inferred from an individual's language performance.

Listen for the gist: Extensive or Top - down listening where the learner tries to understand the general idea even if she/he can't understand every phrase or sentence.





Manipulatives: Concrete objects used to demonstrate learning concepts. The use of manipulatives appeal to the ESL student's senses to enhance the meaning of the presented information. Students have the opportunity to hear, see, and touch manipulatives to promote the learning process and language acquisition.

Materials: Anything which is used to help to teach language learners. Materials can be in the form of a textbook, a workbook, a cassette, a CD-Rom, a video, a photocopied handout, a newspaper, a paragraph written on a whiteboard: anything which presents of informs about the language being learned.

Materials adaptation: Making changes to materials in order to improve them or to make them more suitable for a particular type of learner. Adaptation can include reducing, adding, omitting, modifing and supplementing. Most teachers adapt materials every time they use a textbook in order to maximise the value of the book for their particular learners.

Materials evaluation: The systematic appraisal of the value of materials in relation to their objectives and to the objectives of the learners using them. Evaluation can be pre-use and therefore focused on predictions of potential value. It can be whilst-use and therefore focused on awareness and description of what the learners are actually doing whilst the materials are being used. And it can also be post-use and therefore focused on analysis of what happened as a result of using the materials.

Meaning-focused tasks: These tasks focus on communication of meaning. Meaning-focused tasks do not provide practice activities which focus on individual linguistic components as a preliminary to engagement in communicative tasks. According to the meaning-focused approach, involvement in communicative tasks is all that is necessary to develop competence in a second language. see Form Focused Tasks

Method: How a language is taught. Method is made up of a set of techniques that usually reflect a certain philosophy of language teaching.

Micro-teaching: A technique used on teacher training courses: a part of a lesson is taught to  a small number of students.  A variation of this is 'peer teaching', where the 'students' are often peers of the trainee teacher attending the same course.

Minimal Pair: A pair of items differing by one phonological feature; eg sit/set, ship/sheep, pen/pan, fan/pan, pan/pat etc.

Modal Verb: Verbs which express the mood of another verb: will/would; shall/should; may/might; can/could; must, ought, need, dare, used to.

Modeling: The teacher of ESL students demonstrates the learning activity as the students watch. After showing the students what to do, the educator repeats the demonstration as learners follow along. Soon the students are capable of performing the task without hesitation. This type of modeling by the teacher helps the ESL student to be comfortable with the classroom activities and to know what is expected on assignments.

Monitor: Language learners and native speakers typically try to correct any erros in what they have just said. This is referred to as 'monitoring'. The learner can monitor vocabulary, phonology, or discourse. Krashen uses'Monitoring' to refer the way the learner uses 'learnt' knowledge to improve naturally 'acquired' knowledge.

Monitor hypothesis: According to Krashen's acquisition - learning hypothesis there are two ways to approach language learning: acquisitions and learning.  Acquisition helps us produce natural, rapid, and fluent speech. Learning, which is a conscious study of form, helps us edit this speech. The monitor or editor helps us to monitor our communication and self correct.

Morpheme: The smallest unit of language that is grammatically significant.  Morphemes may be bound, ie they cannot exist on their own; eg -er,un-, -ed, mis- ; or they can be free, as is ball in football.

Morphology: The branch of linguistics which studies how words change  their forms when they change grammatical function, ie their inflections swim -swam - swum - swimming - swimmer; cat - cats; mouse - mice; happy - happier - happily etc.  See also Syntax.

Motivation: This can be defined in terms of the learner's overall goal or orientation. 'Instrumental' motivation occurs when the learner's goal is functional (e.g. to get a job or pass an examination), and 'integrative' motivation occurs when the learner wishes to identify with the culture of the L2 group. 'Task" motivation is the interest felt by the learner in performing different learning tasks.

Multilingualism: ability to speak more than two languages; proficiency in many languages

Multi-media materials: Materials which make use of a number of different media. Often they are available on a CD-Rom which makes use of print, graphics, video and sound. Usually such materials are interactive and enable the learner to receive feedback on the written or spoken language which they produce.

Multiple Intelligences: Howard Gardner has developed a learning theory that involves eight intelligences that can be discovered in the classroom. Due to the fact that students, including ESL students, learn and process material in numerous ways. An instructor can adapt classroom activities according to the learning styles and different intelligences detected in the classroom the eight intelligences include: Linguistic, Musical/Rhythmic, Logical Mathematical, Visual/Spatial, Bodily/Kinesthetic, Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Naturalist. A teacher can plan lessons and assessments according to the types of intelligences found in the classroom.

Multisensory Activities: Planned lesson activities that tap into more than one of the bodily senses of ESL students. Learning can be enhanced through hands-on type activities that give ESL learners an opportunity to absorb information through their senses. There is a Chinese saying that helps teachers realize how important multisensory activities are: "Tell me, I forget; show me, I remember; involve me, I understand." ESL students need to be totally involved in their learning.

Mutilation: The process of deleting words from a text to create a cloze test.






Native language: primary or first language spoken by an individual

See L1

Natural Approach: Pioneered by Krashen, this approach combines acquisition and learning as a  means of facilitating language development in adults.

Natural order hypothesis : This hypothesis states that there is a natural pre-determined order in which we can acquire language, such as present tenses before past tenses.

Negotiation of Meaning: When learners interact with native speakers or other learners, they often have problems in communicating. This leads to interactional efforts to make mutual understanding. This is called 'negotiation of meaning'.

Nonverbal Communication: paralinguistic and nonlinguistic messages that can be transmitted in conjunction with language or without the aid of language; paralinguistic mechanisms include intonation, stress, rate of speech, and pauses or hesitations; nonlinguistic behaviors include gestures, facial expressions, and body language, among others



Order of Acquisition: refers to the order in which words are acquired by either L1 or L2 learners. Hypothesis that we learn certain types of words in a certain order and based on stages of development. 

Order of development: This refers to the order in which specific grammatical features are acquired in SLA. These vary according to factors such as the learner's L1 background and the learning context.

Over-generalization: Language learners often produce errors which are extensions of general rules to items not covered by the rules, e.g. 'I comed home'. this is called 'over-generalization.





PPP: An approach to teaching langauge items which follows a sequence of presentation of the item, practice of the item and the production of the items. This is the approach currently followed by most commercially produced textbooks and has the advantage of apparent systematicity and economy. However, it is based on the "linear" and "behaviorist" view of language learning, which researchers have shown to be incorrect. This approach ignores the cyclic nature of learning, and treats learning as a series of "knowable facts".

See language practice, SLA , language use

Pair Work: A process in which students work in pairs for practice or discussion.

Participle: All verbs come in four forms. The past participle is the simple past ending in 'ed' or may be irregular. The present participle end in 'ing'

base past past participle present participle

ex. clean cleaned cleaned cleaning eat ate eaten eaten

Passive Vocabulary: The vocabulary that students are able to understand compared to that which  they are able to use.  Contrasted with Active Vocabulary.

Passive Voice: A sentence where the subject is receiving the action. This is contrasted with the active voice where the subject is doing the action. To form the passive voice you use the verb 'to be' plus the past participle The merchant of Venice was written by Shakespeare. A man was taken to the police station.

Patterns: These are a type of formulaic speech. They are unanalysed units which have open slots, e.g. 'Can i have a .......?'

See formulaic speech and routines

Pedagogic task: In pedagogic tasks, learners are required to do things which it is extremely unlikely they would be called upon to do outside of the classroom. Completing one half of a dialogue, filling in the blanks in a story and working out the meaning of ten nonsense words from clues in a text would be examples of pedagogic tasks.

See real world tasks

Peer Group:Usually refers to people working or studying at the same level or in the same grouping; one's colleagues or fellow students.

Peer Tutoring: The teacher can assign a "buddy" to an ESL student to help during the silent period of language acquisition.  The English-speaking buddy helps the ESL learner with the daily classroom routines until the student is comfortable with the environment. Peer tutors can also help during small group activities to support the ESL student.

Performance standards: statements that refer to how well students are meeting a content standard; specify the quality and effect of student performance at various levels of competency (benchmarks) in the subject matter; specify how students must demonstrate their knowledge and skills and can show student progress toward meeting a standard.

Performance test: A test in which the learner’s response involves comprehending and producing language under the types contextual constraints that would be involved in performing one’s job. The authenticity of the stimulus material and the task  posed to the learner are central concerns in designing performance tests.

Performative asssessment instruments: Tests that combine the focus and task  specifically of primary trait scoring with the diagnostic information value of analytic scoring

Phatic Communion Phrases used to convey sociability rather than meaning.

Phoneme:The smallest unit of sound which causes a change of meaning: cattle - kettle /kæ

Phrasal verb: Two or three part verbs, usually with prepositions, that take on meaning of their own. Some examples include: to go out= to date to bring up = to raise to look after = to watch 

Placement test: An assessment instrument or procedure used to determine a student’s language skills relative to the levels of a particular program he or she is about to enter.

Plenary: full; complete; entire; absolute; unqualified .

Posive correlation: A situation in correlation analysis in which, as scores on one variable increase, so do the scores on the other variable. Likewise, as scores on one variable decrease, the scores on the other variable also decrease.

Pretest: To try out test items with native speakers, proficient non-native speakers, and/or students like those whom we actually plan to test before the items are deployed in a real test, the results of which will be used for decision-making purposes.

Process approach: The process approach focuses on the means whereby learning occurs. The process is more important than the product. In terms of writing, the important aspect is the way in which completed text was created. The act of composing evolves through several stages as writers discover, through the process, what it is that they are trying to say.

See product approach

Product approach: The product approach focuses on the end result of teaching/learning. In terms of writing, there should be something "resulting" from the composition lesson (e.g. letter, essay, story, etc.). This result should be readable, grammatically correct and obeying discourse conventions relating to main points, supporting details and so on.

See process approach

Production strategies: These refer to utilization of linguistic knowledge in communication. They do not imply any communcation problem and they operate largely unconsciously.

See communication strategies

Psychological distance: The term used to refer to the learner's overall psychological set with regard to the target language and its community. This is determined by factors such as language shock and motivation.






Rate of acquisition: The speed at which the learner develops L2 proficiency. This is different to the 'route of acquisition'.

Real Life Experience: Classroom experiences should include hands-on activities that are relevant to real world life. For example, situations presented in lessons should be related to life outside of school. These meaningful activities will help ESL students to realize the importance and the need for classroom and life long learning.

Real-world tasks: These are tasks which use "authentic" materials and situations. Learners are required to approximate, in class, the sorts of behaviors required of them in the world beyond the classroom.

See pedagogic tasks

Realia: Objects or activities used to relate classroom teaching in the real life. 'Real things' - the things found in the classroom such as pens, pencils and notebooks, windows and tables, and those that you bring in for simulation of some sort of real world activity. 

Receptive skills: When the learner is receiving incoming language (listening or reading).

Reliability:The extent to which a test measures consistently.

Route of development: L2 learners go through a number of trnsitional states en route to acquiring the target language rules. This is referred to as the 'route of development'.

Routines: These are a type of formulaic speech. They are units that are totally unanalysed and are learnt as wholes, e.g. "I don't know'.

See formulaic speech and patterns

Rubrics:Measuring scales that reveal to students what is expected of them on particular assessments. The teacher needs to display and model scoring rubrics being careful to adequately explain the assessment scoring information they represent. After an ESL student is comfortable with teacher made rubrics, unbiased authentic assessment can be implemented for evaluation purposes. The rubrics list the academic work involved and states the criteria expected for an exemplary score and the criteria for lower scores on assignments. A low score would indicate that less work and effort are involved on the students' part of the assignment. Students are given the opportunity to choose how thorough they want to make their assignment. The students are basically selecting whether they want to receive a high grade, middle grade, or a low grade. As a result, ESL students are actively involved in their own assessment.






Scanning:Looking for or listening for specific bits of information to answer a query. 

Scripts: These can be considered a type of formulaic speech. They are are memorized sequences of utterances which are more or less fixed and predictable, e.g. 'How do you do?'

Second conditional: This is an if/then statement about the consequences of an untrue, impossible, imaginary, or improbable future event or action.


If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would quit my job.(improbable) If I were invisible, I would play jokes on my friends.(imaginary) If I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I'd be rich.(untrue)

Second language: The term is used to refer to a language which is not a mother tongue but which is used for certain communicative functions in a society. Thus English is a second language in Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Singapore. French is a second language in Senegal, Cameroon and Tahiti.

See foreign language.

Second Language Acquisition: When ESL students are capable of internalizing the new language and communicating effectively. A process that involves early accommodations by the classroom teacher. The educator needs to implement modifications in classroom instruction until the second language learner has mastered English. Speaking English for simple communication will happen in the early acquisition  stages however; complete language acquisition between five to seven years.

Self-access materials: Materials designed for learners to use indepently (i.e. on their own without access to a teacher or a classroom). They are normally used by the learner at home, in a library or in a self-study centre.

Self-Assessment: Allowing ESL students to assess their own work and observe their progress. The teacher can conduct portfolio conferences with the student for assessment purposes. The students should be allowed to observe and comment on their collection of assignments. A self-assessment form may be used to record students' thoughts and feelings about the presented work. Students are given the responsibility to assess themselves and actively be a part of their academic success. – Procedures by which the learners evaluate their own language skills and/or knowledge.

Sheltered English: A teacher should use just simple phrases when instructing new second language learners so as not to overwhelm them with complex sentences. During this sheltered time, ESL students have an opportunity to hear the new language and improve listening and speaking skills while more of the language is gradually added.

Sheltered Instruction: Using simplified English in a classroom for students who don't speak English as a first language. Students do not specifically study English but receive content based instruction (such as math, science, or social studies) in simplified English. The language input from the teacher and textbooks is simplified to make it accessible to these students. There is some controversy about how long a student should remain in sheltered instruction.

Silent way: A designer method whereby the teacher remains mostly silent to encourage students to solve their own problems. Originated by Caleb Gattengo in the 70's, this method was meant to foster learning through discovery. Students were given cuisenaire rods and used these colored rods to figure out the patterns of language based on a few examples given by the teacher.

Simple Past Sub junctive Past: I was I wish I were. You were I wish you were. He was I wish he were. She was I wish she were. It was I wish it were.

Simplification: This refers to the way in which learners try to make L2 learning easier by limiting the number of hypotheses they form at any one stage of development, or by omitting grammar and/or prepositional elements in production.

Simplified texts: These are texts which have been made simpler so as to make it easier for learners to read them. The usual principles of simplification involve reduction in length of the text, shortening of sentences, omission or replacement of difficult words or structures, omission of qualifying clauses and omission of non-essential detail. It is arguable, however, that such simplification might make the words easier to understand but could make it more difficult for the learners to achieve global understanding of a text which is now dense with important information. It might be more profitable to cimplify texts by adding examples, by using repetition and paraphrase and by increasing redundant information. In other words, by lengthening rather than shortening the text.

Skimming: A top down or extensive reading activity where a learner quickly reads some material to find the gist of the material.

SLA: This is an abbreviatoin for Second Language Acquistion and is normally used to refer to research and theory related to the learning of second and foreign languages.

Social distance: This refers to the position of the learner with respect to the target language community.

Songs: A variety of songs can be implemented in classroom activities to introduce or reinforce content-area material. The rhythms and the repetitive words sung in tunes enhance the comprehension of the presented learning concepts for ESL students. ESL students tend to remember information through classroom song activities.

SPLD: An abbreviation for specific learning disability.

Stimulus material: Linguistic or non-linguistic information is presented to the learners is a test to get them to demonstrate the skills or knowledge we wish to assess.

Structural syllabus:A syllabus in which grammatical structures form the central organizing feature. A classroom organized structurally may present grammar from simple to complex. Teachers would teach grammar in the following order: Present progressive- Comparatives-Simple Past- Past progressive.

STT: Student Talking Time should be increase while TTT (teacher talk time)  should be decreased.

Student centered :see learner centered.

Subjuctive mood: This is a verb form used when talking about hypothetical, wishful, unreal, uncertain, imaginary, improbable, impossible, or untrue situations. Subjunctive mood has all three tenses but only two are still used in modern English: the present and the past. Of those two, really only the past subjunctive of to be is worth discussing in the context of EFL.

Subordinate clause: A clause that has a subject and predicate but does not express an independent idea. Also referred to as a dependent clause. Examples: While you were sleeping. Even though I am hungry.

Success of acquisition: This has to do with the level of proficiency that the learner finally achieves.See fossilization

Supplementary materials: Materials designed to be used taddition to the core materials of a course. They are usually related to the development of skills of reading, writing, listening or speaking rather than to the learning of language items. See coursebook

Syllabus: A syllabus in the content of a course and how it is organized.  






Target language: This is the language that the learner is attempting to learn. It comprises the native speaker's grammar.

Task : An activity where students are urged to solve some problem using language. This activity is open ended: there is no set way to accomplish their goal.

Task based: This refers to materials or courses which are designed around a series of authentic tasks which give learners experience of using the language in ways in which it is used in the 'real world' outside the classroom. They have no pre-determined language syllabus and the aim is for learners to learn from the tasks the language they need to participate successfully in them. Examples of such tasks would bes working out the itinerary of a journey from a timetable, completing a passport application form, ordering a product from a catalogue and giving directions to the post office.

See authentic tasks.

Task based learning: Teaching/learning a language by using language to accomplish open-ended tasks. Learners are given an objective to accomplish, but are left with some freedom in determining how to complete the objective.

Teacher-centered: methods, activities, and techniques where the teacher decides what and how something is to be learned.

Teacher observation: A very important aspect of authentic assessment involves teacher observations. The instructor has the chance to observe the progress or lack of progress of second language learners during cooperative learning activities. A teacher has the opportunity to observe first hand if the language acquisition process is happening in the classroom. Notes should be taken during observations to discuss what was seen and heard during classroom activities by the teacher. This pertinent data can be presented during student or parent conferences.

Teacher talk: Teachers make adjustments to both language form and language function in order to help communication in the classroom. These adjustments are called 'teacher talk'.

Teacher Talk Time: (abbr. TTT) The amount of time a teacher spends talking to his/her students in the classroom.

In order for a student to learn better, the teacher should limit his/her amount of teacher talking time in order to allow the students to increase their amount of Student Talking Time.

TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language (typically geared toward learning the language for specific purposes such as business and is learned by students living in non-English speaking countries).

TESL: Teaching English as a Second Language (typically geared toward learning the language for everyday purposes and is learned by students living in English speaking countries).

TESOL:Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Text: Any scripted or recorded production of a language presented to learners of that language. A text can be written or spoken and could be, for example, a poem, a newspaper article, a passage about pollution, a song, a film, an extrac from a novel or a play, a passage written to exemplify the use of the past perfect, a recorded telephone conversation, a scripted dialogue or a speech by a politician.

Third conditional:This an if/then statement used to talk about unreal situations in the past. In other words, it is used to examine what would have happened if the past had been different.


If I had known you were coming, I would have baked a cake. (In fact, I didn't know you were coming)

TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language.

TOEIC: Test of English as a Foreign Language.TOEFL is supposed to test English proficiency for international students who want to study abroad.

Top-down: Taking language from whole to part.

Top-down approach to language comprehension and production: The top-down view of language learning starts from use of the language. Study of grammar, vocabulary, etc. come later, once the learner has started using the language for communication. This utilizes knowledge of the larger picture, as it were, to assist in comprehending or using smaller elements.

See bottom up task

TPR/total physical response: A teaching technique whereby a learner responds to language input with body motions. "Stand up", "Sit Down", "Put the pen on the table". This technique was devised by James Asher.

Transactional tasks: These tasks are primarily concerned with the transfer of information.

Transfer: Knowledge of the L1 is used to help in learning the L2. Transfer can be positive, when the two language have similar structures, or it can be negative, when the two languages are different, and L1-induced errors occur.

TTT:   Teacher Talk Time






Universal grammar: A set of general principles that apply to all languages, rather than a set of particular rules.

Universal hypothesis: This states that certain universal linguistic properties determine the order in which the rules of a specific language are acquired. Thus, linguistic rather than cognitive factors determine acquisition.

Usage: The grammatical explanation of some language.

Use: Use is how the language is used in communication: The function of language.









an abbreviation for: V - Visual (to do with seeing) A - Auditory (to do with hearing) K - Kinaesthetic (to do with the body - touching, feeling and doing)

Variability: Language learners vary in the use they make of their linguistic knowledge. This can be systematic or unsystematic.

Vernacular style: When language users attend to what they wish to say rather than how they want to say it, and when they are performing spontaneously, they use their vernacular style. This is usually seen in everyday conversations.

VESL: Vocational English as a Second Language; Learning English to perform a job.

Visual Learners :  Learners who benefit more from right-brained activities. Visual learners learn best when they see as opposed to aural learners. The implication for ESL teaching is that visual stimulation accompanying lessons may have some benefit for some students.


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Washback :  The effect a test has on teaching and learning.

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Zero conditional : This is an if/then statement where a general principle is described or something that is generally true is described. It is often used where you are describing scientific fact. If you drop ice in water, it floats. Note, both parts of the conditional use present tense: If+ present tense sentence, then + present tense sentence. More Examples:

If you heat water to 100 degrees celsius, it boils. If you drop a piece of toast on the ground, it lands on butter side down.






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