• Language experience approach:
An approach based on teaching first language reading
to young children, but adapted for use with adults.
Students use vocabulary and concepts already learned
to tell a story or describe an event. The teacher
writes down the information they provide, and then
uses the account to teach language, especially to
develop reading skills.
• Language learning requirements:
To learn language, students have four needs: They
must be exposed to the language. They must understand
its meaning and structure. And they must practice
it. Teachers should hold their students as able.
They should not over-explain or make things too
easy. Learning comes through discovery.
• Language skills: In language
teaching, this refers to the mode or manner in which
language is used. Listening, speaking, reading and
writing are generally called the four language skills.
Speaking and writing are the productive skills,
while reading and listening are the receptive skills.
Often the skills are divided into sub-skills, such
as discriminating sounds in connected speech, or
understanding relationships within a sentence.
• Learning burden: These are the
features of the word that the teacher actually needs
to be taught, and can differ dramatically from word
to word. Especially in lexis, the teacher needs
to reduce learning burden by, for example, reducing
the number of definitions and uses presented.
• Learning factors: For EFL teachers,
four factors outside aptitude and attitude affect
the rate at which a student learns a second language.
These are (1) the student’s motivation, including
whether it is instrumental or integrative; (2) the
amount of time the student spends in class and practicing
the language outside class; (3) the teacher’s approach
to teaching; and (4) the teacher’s effectiveness
and teaching style. The most important of these
motivators are the first two, which are also the
two the teacher has least control over. See also
“aptitude”, “attitude” and “TEFL vs. TEFL”.
• Lesson plan: An outline or plan
that guides teaching of a lesson; includes the following:
pre-assessment of class; aims and objectives; warm-up
and review; engagement, study, activation of language
(controlled, guided and free practice); and assessment
of lesson. A good lesson plan describes procedures
for student motivation and practice activities,
and includes alternative ideas in case the lesson
is not long enough or is too difficult. It also
notes materials needed.
• Lexis: See “language content”,
• Listening: See “language skills”.
• Look and say: Also called the
whole-word method, a method to teach reading to
children, usually in their first language; has been
adapted for second-language reading; words are taught
in association with visuals or objects; students
must always say the word so the teacher can monitor
and correct pronunciation.
• Metalanguage: Language used
to describe, analyse or explain another language.
Metalanguage includes, for example, grammatical
terms and the rules of syntax. The term is sometimes
used to mean the language used in class to give
instructions, explain things, etc. – in essence,
to refer to all teacher talk that does not specifically
include the “target language”.
• Model/modelling: To teach by
example; for example, a teacher who wants students
to do an activity may first demonstrate the activity,
often with a student volunteer.
• Motivation: In language instruction,
the desire to learn. See “TEFL vs. TESL”.
• Motivation paradox: Students’
main motivators are factors the teacher has little
control over (integrated versus instrumental motivation,
which heavily influence time on task), yet motivation
is critical to learning.
• Native speakers: Those who
speak English as their mother tongue.
• Needs assessment: Measurement
of what students need in order to learn language
and achieve their language learning goals; also
may include consideration of the school syllabus.
• Non-native speakers: Those who
speak English as an additional language. English
is not their mother tongue.
• Objectives: Also called lesson
objectives or aims; statements of student learning
outcomes based on student needs; objectives state
specifically what the students will be able to do
in a specified time period; objectives are measurable
and therefore involve specific and discrete language
• Oral: Related to speaking.
• Over-correction: Correcting
so much that students become reluctant to try out
what they have learned.
• Paradox of language acquisition:
The limited amount of comprehensible input that
children receive is mathematically insufficient
for them to determine grammatical principles, yet
somehow they are still able to do so.
• Passive vocabulary: Vocabulary
that students have heard and can understand, but
do not necessarily use when they speak or write.
• Passive: Opposite of active;
the false assumption that the language skills of
reading and listening do not involve students in
doing anything but receiving information.
• Peer correction: Also known
as peer review, peer editing, or peer feedback;
in writing, an activity whereby students help each
other with the editing of a composition by giving
each other feedback, making comments or suggestions;
can be done in pairs or small groups.
• Phonemic awareness: Awareness
of the sounds of English and their correspondence
to written forms.
• Phonology: See “language content”.
• Placement tests: Tests used
to place students in a specific language program;
such tests should reflect program levels and expectations
for students at each proficiency level offered by
the language program.
• Prescriptive grammar: Grammar
that is described in terms of grammar rules of what
is considered the best usage, often by grammarians;
prescriptive grammar may not agree with what people
actually say or write.
• Proficiency level: Describes
how well a student can use the language (often categorized
as beginner, intermediate or advanced).
• Proficiency tests: General tests
that provide overall information on a student’s
language proficiency level or ability; can be used
to determine entry and exit levels of a language
program or to adjust the curriculum according to
the abilities of the students.
• Rapport: Relationship, usually
a harmonious one, established within a classroom
between teacher and students and among students.
• Realia: Real or actual objects
used as teaching aids to make learning more natural;
can include forms, pictures, tickets, schedules,
souvenirs, advertisements and articles from English
magazines or newspapers, and so on.
• Recycling or spiralling: Sometimes
called the cyclical approach; the purpose is to
repeat language items throughout the syllabus; each
time a language item is encountered more detail
about it is added; this allows students to build
on prior knowledge.
• Register: Level of formality
in speech with others; register depends on the situation,
location, topic discussed, and other factors.
• Scan: To read quickly for specific
information; a reading stratagem.
• Skim: To read quickly for main
idea or general information; a reading stratagem.
• Social context: The environment
in which meanings are exchanged; can be analysed
in terms of the field of discourse, which refers
to what is happening, including what is being talked
about; the tenor of discourse, which refers to the
participants taking part in the exchange of meaning,
including who they are and their relationships with
each other (for example, teacher and students);
and the mode of discourse, which refers to what
part the language is playing in the particular situation
and what “channel” (writing, speaking or a combination
of the two) is being used.
• Sociolinguistics: Aspects of
culture that affect communication with others; examples:
social class, education level, age, gender, ethnicity.
Also, see “communicative competence”.
• Strategic competence: See “communicative
• Student and teacher: Teachers
have eight roles in the classroom. They are authorities
and sources of knowledge; entertainers; caregivers;
role models; counsellors and sometimes friends;
classroom disciplinarians; directors and managers;
facilitators, coaches and guides.
The most important person in the classroom is the
student. The teacher’s primary focus must be on
effective ways to have the student practice using
his or her language. Classes should be planned so
they enable the student to use just a little more
language than they are comfortable with. This is
known as “i+1” – an idea popularized by Stephen
Krashen. This formula is short for “comprehensible
input plus one.” Comprehensible input is language
the students can understand.
• Student feedback: Information
solicited from students by the teacher to assess
the effectiveness of the teaching-learning process.
• Student-centred: Also called
learner-centred, a way of teaching that centres
on the goals, needs, interests and existing knowledge
of the students. Students actively participate in
such classrooms and may even be involved in setting
learning outcomes. Teachers in student-centred classrooms
ask students for input on their goals, needs and
interests and on wat they know before providing
them with study topics or answers to questions (for
example, grammar rules). They may also ask students
to generate (help produce) materials. The teacher
is seen more as a facilitator or helper than the
dominant figure in the classroom.
• Structure: See “language content”.
• Student-generated material:
Teaching material to which the students have made
a major contribution; the language experience approach,
for example, uses student-generated material.
• Survey: To quickly read the
headlines, subheads, opening and closing paragraphs,
photo captions, pull quotes and other key materials
in an article to get a sense of meaning; a reading
• Syllabus or curriculum: The
longer-term teaching plan; includes topics that
will be covered and the order in which they will
be covered in a course or program of studies.
• Syntax: Sometimes called word
order; how words combine to form sentences and the
rules governing sentence formation.
• Tape script: A written text
which accompanies listening material; may be used
to make cloze passages or for student review.
• Task-based syllabus: A syllabus
organized around a sect of real, purposeful tasks
that students are expected to carry out; tasks may
include telephone use, making charts or maps, following
instructions, and so on; task-based learning is
purposeful and a natural way to learn language.
• Teachable moments: Times in
a language class in which the teacher realizes that
a point of information not in the lesson plan will
help students understand a language point; teachable
moments digress for a brief time from the lesson
plan and can be valuable in helping student learning
and keeping students engaged.
• Teacher talk: The language teachers
use when teaching; involves simplifying speech for
students; it may be detrimental to learning if it
is childish or not close to the natural production
of the target language.
• TEFL vs. TESL: TEFL is an acronym
for Teaching English as a Foreign Language; TESL,
for Teaching English as a Second Language. See a
fuller description at English language learning
and teaching. TEFL usually takes place in non-English-speaking
countries, while TESL takes place in the English-speaking
world. When we speak of English as a foreign language
(EFL), we are referring to the role of English for
learners in a country where English is not spoken
by the majority (what Braj Kachru calls the expanding
circle). English as a second language (ESL) refers
to the role of English for learners in an English-speaking
country, i.e. usually immigrants. This difference
is very important, because it strongly affects student
motivation. In particular, it affects their motivation