ELT terms - defined and referenced!


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(Definitions written by Mary Spratt, edited by Alan Pulverness)



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C

CLT

This stands for Communicative Language Teaching. There is not full agreement as to the meaning of communicative language teaching. It is generally agreed that it refers to teaching language for use in communication rather than as an object of study. There is much disagreement, however, as to the methodology it should involve, with some experts advocating that the only way to teach communication is to put learners in situations where they need to communicate, while others believe that language study can also aid communication. Use of pair and group work and free use of language are typical of a communicative classroom. 

Example

When I first started teaching we used the structural approach, teaching vocabulary and structures mainly through drilling and exercises. When the communicative approach came along, we were expected to focus on functions, too, and also to use pair and group work and get students to use the language to communicate with one another. It was quite a challenge!

Further reading

Burns, A. and Richards, J. (2012). Pedagogy and Practice in Second Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Carter, R. and Nunan, D. (2001). Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Harmer, J. and Thornbury, S. Communicative Language Teaching

Howatt, A.P.R. with Widdowson H.G. (2004). A History of English Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Thornbury, S. (2006). An A-Z of ELT. Oxford: Macmillan.

Widdowson, H. G. (1978). Teaching Language as Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2010/08/15/c-is-for-communicative/

 

 

Cognitive

Related to mental abilities or skills. Cognitive is the adjective from cognition which refers to the mental processes of perception and thinking that our brains engage in.

Example

"Cognitive skills such as remembering, evaluating, analysing and creating are often classified into higher and lower-order thinking skills."

Further reading

Anderson, L.W. (Ed.), Krathwohl, D.R. (Ed.), Airasian, P.W., Cruikshank, K.A., Mayer, R.E., Pintrich, P.R., Raths, J., & Wittrock, M.C. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (Complete edition). New York: Longman.

Bentley, K. (2010). The TKT Course CLIL Module. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ellis, R. (1997). Second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Skehan, P. (1998). A cognitive approach to language learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

http://www.celt.iastate.edu/teaching/RevisedBlooms1.html

 

 

 

Coherence

In English language teaching coherence refers to the ways in which a piece of discourse ‘makes sense’ through links in meaning. It does this by using various internal devices such as logical sequencing, adherence to a particular genre, accepted forms of text structuring, but also by referring to accepted external conventions and ways of thinking and experiencing in the outside world, such as adherence to one topic, relevance between topics, shared knowledge.

Example

"A: That's the telephone.

B: I'm in the bath.

A: O.K."

(Widdowson, H. 1978, p. 12)

Further reading

Canale. M.and Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics, 1/1.

McCarthy, M. (1991). Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Widdowson, H. G. (1978). Teaching Language as Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/knowledge-database/coherence

http://www.onestopenglish.com/support/ask-the-experts/methodology-questions/methodology-coherence-and-cohesion/154867.article

 

 

Cohesion

This is the way in which language is used in written or spoken discourse to make it link together. Cohesion is achieved by using lexical or grammatical devices such as lexical fields, substitution, ellipsis, linking words, discourse markers, back (anaphoric) and forward (cataphoric) reference.

 Example

"'I never understand what he’s saying, so I bought a tennis racket.'

This sentence is cohesive through its use of a lexical field and linking words, but it’s not coherent – it just doesn’t make sense."

Further reading

Canale. M.and Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics, 1/1.

Cook, G. (1989). Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Halliday M. A. K. and Hasan R. (1976) Cohesion in English Harlow: Longman

Hoey, M. (1991). Patterns of Lexis in Text. Oxford: Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McCarthy, M. (1991). Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Widdowson, H. G. (1978). Teaching Language as Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/knowledge-database/coherence

http://www.onestopenglish.com/support/ask-the-experts/methodology-questions/methodology-coherence-and-cohesion/154867.article

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/knowledge-database/cohesion

 

 

Collaborate

This simply means working together with others. Learners can work together to achieve their learning aims by supporting one another in various ways. Teachers can also collaborate e.g. colleagues working together on assessment, lesson planning or course book selection. Collaboration amongst teachers and also amongst learners is a feature of CLIL.

Example

"In some classrooms you can see a collaborative approach to learning. Learners help one another by becoming ‘study buddies’ out of class, and in class they work together on tasks, helped by their teacher to develop collaborative learning strategies."

Further reading

Charles Hirsch, C. and Beres Supple, D.  (1996). 61 Cooperative Learning Activities in ESL. Walch Publishing.

Nunan, D. (1992). Collaborative Language Learning and Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ur, P.  (1999).  A Course in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

http://www.collaborativelearning.org/

 

 

Colligation

A type of collocation in which words are linked together at the level of grammar rather than meaning e.g. in a hurry, what about sending an email (what + about + gerund).  Michael Hoey says ‘The basic idea of colligation is that just as a lexical item may be primed to co-occur with another lexical item, so also it may be primed to occur in or with a particular grammatical function. Alternatively, it may be primed to avoid appearance in or co-occurrence with a particular grammatical function.’ (Hoey 2005:43).

Example

"Students sometimes make mistakes of colligation, for example: I know what do you mean; I don’t mind go work on Sundays."

Further reading

Hoey. M. (2005). Lexical Priming. London: Routledge.

Mitchell, T. (1971).Linguistic ‘goings-on’: collocations and other lexical matters arising on the linguistic record, Archivum Linguisticum 2.

O’Keefe, A., McCarthy, M., Carter, R. (2007). From Corpus to Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Thornbury, S. (2002). How to Teach Vocabulary. Oxford: Macmillan.

 

 

Collocation

Two or more words that occur together more often than on a random basis are said to collocate or to be collocations. Collocations may be strong e.g. blond hair. In strong collocations the words can rarely, if ever, be replaced by other words. Other collocations are weaker or weak e.g. grey hair. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with chunk. In this sense collocation can cover e.g.: phrasal verbs, compound words, idioms, fixed expressions.

Others use collocation to refer mainly to two- or three-word groups that frequently occur together. Corpora making use of concordance programmes have helped linguists find collocations in language and realise how very common they are.

Example

"To have a shower is a collocation in UK English and Australian, whereas to take a shower is a much more common collocation in the USA."

Further reading

Lewis, M. (1997). Implementing the Lexical Approach. Boston, Mass., Thomson Heinle.

McCarthy, M. and O’Dell, F. (2005). Collocations in Use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

O’Keefe, A., McCarthy, M., Carter, R. (2007). From Corpus to Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Walter, E. and Woodford, K. (2010).Collocations Extra. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

 

 

Communicative competence

Communicative competence refers to an ability to communicate that depends not just on linguistic ability but also sociolinguistic ability, including appropriate use of language, management of discourse and recognising cultural practices in communication e.g. who makes eye contact with who. The growing awareness of communicative as opposed to linguistic competence had a big impact on language teaching and was behind the development of the communicative approach.

Example

The use of video in the classroom has made it easier for teachers to focus on communicative competence, as they can show clips in which communication becomes problematic, for example, because the participants don’t follow cultural norms for turn taking, or use the wrong register and give offence. Video shows language in context and can lead to awareness and discussion of appropriacy.

Further reading

Bachman, Lyle (1990).Fundamental Considerations in Language Testing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Canale, M., Swain, M (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics (1).

Hymes, D. H. (1972). On Communicative Competence. In Pride, J. B., & Holmes, J. (Eds.),Sociolinguistics, Baltimore, USA: Penguin Education.

Richards, J. and Rodgers, T.S. (2001). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Savignon, Sandra (1997).Communicative Competence: theory and classroom practice: texts and contexts in second language learning (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Skehan, P. (1998). A Cognitive Approach to Language Learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/knowledge-database/communicative-competence

 

 

Componential analysis

This term refers to a way of classifying vocabulary. The Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics defines it as follows:

An approach to the study of meaning which analyses a word into a set of meaning components or semantic features. For example, the meaning of the English word boy may be shown as:

<+human> <+male> <- adult>

(Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics)

Example

Sometimes you see exercises, like this one, in ELT materials based on componential analysis:

  

 

lazily

purposefully

cautiously

with difficulty

forcefully

in a military context

in the countryside

in the city / at the seaside

stroll

+

 

 

 

 

 

+

 

stagger

 

 

 

+

 

 

 

 

tiptoe

 

 

+

 

 

 

 

 

amble

+

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

stomp

 

+?

 

 

+

 

 

 

stride 

 

+

 

 

+

 

 

 

saunter

+

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

promenade

+

 

 

 

 

 

 

+

tramp

 

 

 

 

+

 

 

 

march

 

+

 

 

+

+

 

 

parade

 

+

 

 

+

+

 

 

pace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ramble

+

 

 

 

 

 

+

 

hike

 

 

 

 

 

 

+

 

traipse

 

 

 

 

+

 

 

 

 

Further reading

Channel, J. (1981). Applying Semantic Theory to Vocabulary Teaching. ELT Journal /35.

Gairnes, R. and Redman, S. (1986). Working with Words. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Goddard, C. (2011). Semantic Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Richards, J. and Schmidt, R. (2010). Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 4th edition. Harlow: Pearson.

Rudzka, B.,.Channell, J.,  Putseys Y. and. Ostyn P. (1981). The Words You Need. Oxford:MacMillan.

Rudzka, B.,.Channell, J.,  Putseys Y. and. Ostyn P. (1985). More Words You Need. Oxford:MacMillan.

 

 

Compound words

Compound words are combinations of words which together form one part of speech and have one meaning. They are written as one word, hyphenated or as separate words. Compound words can be different parts of speech e.g. nouns, verbs, prepositions, adjectives.

Example

Some people don’t realise that groups of words like in spite of and without are compound words.

 Further reading

Kenworthy, J. (1987). Teaching English Pronunciation. Harlow: Longman.

Lieber, R. & Štekauer P. eds. (2009).The Oxford Handbook of Compounding, eds. Oxford:

Oxford University Press.

Plag, I. (2003) Word-formation in English, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Taylor, D. (1990). Compound Word Stress. ELT Journal 45/1.

Roach, P. English Phonetics and Phonology. Glossary: https://www.peterroach.net/glossary.html

Underhill, A. (2005) Sound Foundations. Oxford: MacMillan.

 

 

Comprehensible input

See Input hypothesis

Concordancer

A software programme that displays the words with which a word collocates.  The programme presents the words, usually listed alphabetically, in lines giving linguistic context with collocations to the left or the right of the word, as in this example:

Concordancers can be based on different sizes and kinds of texts. They allow researchers to study authentic language use.                           They can also be used by learners to see patterns, frequencies and possibilities of collocation in their own or others’ language output.

Example

"Once students get used to working with a concordancer they can find it really useful for spotting patterns and possibilities in                        language chunking."

Concordancers can be based on different sizes and kinds of texts. They allow researchers to study authentic language use.                             They can also be used by learners to see patterns, frequencies and possibilities of collocation in their own or others’ language output.

Further reading

Concordancers in ELT, Nick Peachey, https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/concordancers-elt

Cobb, T. (1997) The compleat lexical tutor http://www.lextutor.ca/

 

 

Conjunct/Disjunct

A conjunct is another term for a linker. A conjunct is a word or phrase which links a previous sentence or utterance to the next one by showing the sense relationship between them. Conjuncts may be conjunctions, adverbs or discourse markers.

A disjunct is an adverb used in a sentence as an attitude marker to indicate the speaker’s or writer’s point of view. A disjunct often modifies the meaning of the whole sentence. Confusingly, it is sometimes also referred to as a discourse marker.

Example

Then, however, in other words, as I was saying, but, although are all examples of kinds of conjuncts. They show different kinds of relationship between two sentences e.g. concession, contrast, result, summation. Here is an example of a conjunct showing a relationship of time: She filled up her car with petrol then went to the bank.

In the following sentence ‘Actually’ is an example of a disjunct: Actually, I’ve no idea what he meant.  It shows the speaker’s attitude to the rest of the sentence. Some other examples of disjuncts are frankly, to be honest, honestly, personally, fortunately.

Further reading

Parrott, M. (2010). Grammar for English Language Teachers, second edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Thornbury, S. (1997). About Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Thornbury, S. (2006). An A-Z of ELT. Oxford: Macmillan.

 

 

Conjunction

A conjunction is a class of word which joins words, phrases, sentences or paragraphs. There are two types of conjunction: coordinating and subordinating. The former join equal components whereas the latter join a main and a dependent component. Conjunctions, unlike conjuncts, are part of the sentence they appear in.

Example

Here is an example of a coordinating conjunction in a sentence: I went to the shops and bought something to eat. And, but, and or are common coordinating conjunctions.

Here is an example of a subordinating conjunction in a sentence: After I had gone to the shops I bought something to eat. There are many examples of subordinating conjunctions e.g. after, before, when, although, because, as a result of, due to.

Further reading

Carter, R. and McCarthy, M. (2006). Cambridge Grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge

University Press.

Parrott, M. (2010). Grammar for English Language Teachers, 2ndedition. Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press.

Thornbury, S. (2006). An A-Z of ELT. Oxford: Macmillan.

 

 

Connected speech

This refers to the production of speech as a continuous stream rather than as a sequence of separate sounds. In connected speech, individual sounds may be different from their citation pronunciation, as they are affected by processes such as assimilation, elision, liaison (linking) and shortening.

Example

It’s often quite easy to understand words in isolation, but when they’re part of connected speech they can be much more difficult to recognise. A classic example of this is ‘What do you…?’, which becomes /wɒdʒə/ in connected speech.

Further reading

Celce Murcia, M. Brinton, D., Goodwin, J. (1996). Teaching Pronunciation: A Reference for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dalton, C. and Seidlhofer, B. (2004) Pronunciation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Underhill, A. (2005) Sound Foundations. Oxford: MacMillan.

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/connected-speech-2

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/pron/features/connected.shtml

Learning English – I would like to buy a hamburger. Retrieved from

 

 

Connotation

A connotation is the emotional association attached to a word collectively or by an individual. For examples, dogs in some cultures have the connotation of being soft, loyal creatures. In other cultures they are considered dangerous and dirty. Knowing the connotation of a word is part of knowing a word.

Example

"My personal connotation for yoghurt is as something healthy, light and eaten at breakfast. For my mother it was something weird and unfamiliar."

Further reading

Gairns, R. and Redman, S. (1986). Working with Words: a guide to teaching and learning vocabulary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Klippel, F. (1994). Cultural aspects in foreign language teaching.  Journal for the Study of British Cultures. I/1.

Schmitt, N. and  McCarthy, M.  (ed.s) (1997). Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition, Pedagogy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tomalin, B. and Stempleski, S. (1993). Cultural Awareness.Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ur, P.  (1999). A Course in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/v-is-for-vocabulary-teaching/

 

 

Consolidate

When teachers or learners strengthen or reinforce previous learning they consolidate it. For example, a learner may go home and do memory games on the vocabulary they learnt in class that day, or a teacher might do a revision activity of a newly learnt skill. Lessons often contain a consolidation stage during which the teacher aims to reinforce new language or ideas introduced earlier on in the lesson.

Example

"I never remember language if I just meet it once. I always need to do additional activities that help me consolidate my learning."

Further reading

Skehan, P. (1998). A Cognitive Approach to Language Learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

https://www.teachers.cambridgeesol.org/ts/digitalAssets/110970_tkt_glossary_august_2009_final.pdf

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/knowledge-database/consolidation

 

 

Consonant

A consonant is a speech sound made when the air we breathe out is in some way blocked by an articulator (See Articulator). There are 24 consonant sounds in English, produced in eight different places in the mouth, as can be seen on the Phonemic Chart (See Phonemic Chart).

Example

I never think of / ŋ/ as being a consonant. It sounds more like a vowel. But in fact when you say it you can feel your glottis moving in and blocking the outcoming air.

Further reading

Roach, P. (2009). English Phonetics and Phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Thornbury, S. (2006). An A-Z of ELT. Oxford: Macmillan.

Underhill, A. (2005). Sound Foundations. Oxford: MacMillan.

http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/apps/sounds-right

https://esol.britishcouncil.org/content/learners/skills/pronunciation

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/pron/

 

 

Constructivism

This is the theory that knowledge is actively constructed by individuals rather than being the fruit of passive absorption of facts. According to constructivist theory each individual interprets and organises the knowledge they receive according to their own prior knowledge and experience of the world. This theory supports a learner-centred classroom in which learners are given the opportunity to explore, personalise and apply knowledge.

Example

CLIL often adopts a constructivist approach to learning through its adoption of group work, problem-solving and interactive learning.

Further reading

Dale, L. and Tanner, R. (2012). CLIL Activities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mercer, S., Ryan, S., Williams, M. (2012). Psychology for Language Learning: Insights from Research, Theory and Practice.  

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Williams, M. And Burden, L.A. (1997). Psychology for Language Teachers: a Social Constructivist Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Thornbury, S. (2006). An A-Z of ELT. Oxford: Macmillan.

http://www.lextutor.ca/cv/constructivism_entry.htm

 

 

Context

This term is used in ELT to refer either to the situational (where and when) context in which something happens, or to the language surrounding words in a sentence or utterance (sometimes called co-text). M.A.K. Halliday proposed that a situational context contains three components: field (subject matter), tenor (social relations between interactants) and mode (the way in which language is used), which strongly influence the register of language. The contexts in which languages are learnt and taught are also much discussed in ELT these days.

Example

"When we teach learners new language it’s important to put it in context – this helps them understand its meaning."

Further reading

Brown, H. Douglas. (1994) Principles of Language Learning and Teaching, 3rd Edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents.

Celce-Murcia. . (2001) Discourse and Context in Language Teaching: A Guide for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kramsch, C. (1998). Language and Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Holliday, A. with Martin Hyde and John Kullman (2010). Intercultural communication: an Advanced resource book for students, 2nd edition. Oxford: Routledge.

Thornbury, S. (2006) An A-Z of ELT. Oxford: Macmillan.

 

 


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