ELT terms - defined and referenced!


Welcome to the NILE ELT Glossary

   

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We hope this is useful for you and your NILE Online course.

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




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Idiom

An idiom is a formulaic expression with one overall meaning. It is often not possible to work out the meaning of an idiom just by looking at its individual words, as idioms often carry a lot of cultural meaning, for example she made a real dog’s breakfast of her homework; a little birdie told me you’ve had some very good news. There are several different kinds of idioms such as phrasal verbs, similes, metaphors, proverbs and euphemisms.

Example

"My English is pretty fluent but I still have problems understanding idioms. What does ‘let’s go for a whirl’ mean, for example, or ‘I really like chilling out with friends’?  It’s not easy to learn this kind of English at school."

Further reading

Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd edition. (2006). Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

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

McCarthy, M. and O’Dell, F. (2002) English Idioms in Use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

http://www.visual-idioms.com/

 

 

Lower Order Thinking Skills (LOTS)

Thinking skills are often divided into higher order thinking skills (HOTS) and lower order thinking skills (LOTS). Lower order thinking skills include remembering, understanding and applying. Generally speaking, LOTS involve focussing on and absorbing information, and less manipulation of information than HOTS do. (See Higher Order Thinking Skills). The division of thinking skills into HOTS and LOTS was made initially in the late 1940s by a committee of educators in Boston, Mass. chaired by Benjamin Bloom and colleagues. This taxonomy (known as Bloom’s Taxonomy) has been revised several times.

Example

"‘Tell me what you did in the holidays’ or ‘Describe your family’ are typical ELT LOTS questions. An example of a HOTS question might be ‘What do you think of that film’?’ or ‘Compare your town with London’. You don’t need to think so hard for LOTS answers and the language you need to use is often simpler."

Further reading

Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., Airasian, P. W., Cruikshank, K. A., Mayer, R. E., Pintrich, P. R., Raths, J., Wittrock, M. C. (2000). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Pearson, Allyn & Bacon.

Biggs, J. B. and Collis, K. (1982). Evaluating the Quality of Learning: the SOLO taxonomy. New York, Academic Press.

Bloom B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc.

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

http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html

http://strobertwiki.wikispaces.com/HOTS+vs+LOTs

 

 

Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS)

Thinking skills are often divided into higher order thinking skills (HOTS) and lower order thinking skills (LOTS). Higher order thinking skills include analysing, evaluating and creating. HOTS  involve greater manipulation of information than LOTS do. The division of thinking skills into HOTS and LOTS was made initially in the late 1940s by a committee of educators in Boston, Mass. chaired by Benjamin Bloom and colleagues. This taxonomy (known as Bloom’s Taxonomy) has been revised several times.

Example

"Teachers are sometimes criticised for asking too many low level LOTS questions in their classes and not asking enough HOTS questions which really challenge learners to think about the information they are given rather than just absorbing it passively."

Further reading

Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., Airasian, P. W., Cruikshank, K. A., Mayer, R. E., Pintrich, P. R., Raths, J., Wittrock, M. C. (2000). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Pearson, Allyn & Bacon.

Biggs, J. B. and Collis, K. (1982). Evaluating the Quality of Learning: the SOLO taxonomy. New York, Academic Press.

Bloom B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc.

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

http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/blogs/sakilandeswari/higher-order-thinking-skills-hots

 

 

Grammar translation

A method of language teaching in which students study rules of language, then test out their understanding of these rules through doing exercises on them. Students also translate texts in the L2 into their L1. This method was very popular in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, being gradually replaced by methods which focussed more on use of the language.

Example

"I learnt Latin at school – I spent my time learning rules, doing grammar exercises, then translating passages by Caesar, Virgil and others. I now know this was called the grammar-translation method. I loved it!"

Further reading

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

Scrivener, J. (2011). Learning Teaching, 3rd edition. Oxford: Macmillan.

 

 

Summative assessment

The assessment of learning that takes place at the end of a course of learning to see how much of the syllabus covered each learner has learnt.

Example

"It’s quite difficult to design summative tests – they’re meant to reflect what you have taught from the syllabus, but some things are really quite difficult to test, so the test doesn’t always reflect the syllabus well enough."

Further reading

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

Harmer, J. (2007). The Practice of English Language Teaching. Harlow: Pearson.

Hughes, A. (2003). Testing for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Monitoring learner progress through formative and summative assessment:

 

 

Formative assessment

Making judgments about the success of learning while it is taking place rather than once it is over. The purpose of formative assessment is to help the teacher (or learners) decide what should be taught next, and possibly how, based on analysis of the needs of the learners as revealed by the assessment. Formative assessment is often informal, with the teacher listening to or looking at learners’ performance and possibly taking notes. Learners may be unaware that it is taking place.

Example

"Formative assessment really helps me see how well my learners, and individual learners in particular, have learnt something. To help me focus and remember I often use a checklist to monitor them while they are doing groupwork."

Further reading

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

Boyle, B. & Charles, M. (2013) Formative Assessment for Teaching and Learning) London: Sage

Cummins, J. and Davison, C. (2007). International Handbook of English Language Teaching, Part 1. New York: Springer.

Harmer, J. (2007). The Practice of English Language Teaching. Harlow: Pearson.

Hughes, A. (2003). Testing for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/knowledge-database/formative-assessment

 

 

Feedback

This term has two meanings in ELT. It refers to the responses that we, as listeners, give to a speaker e.g. eye contact, exclamations, interruptions, in order to encourage or discourage them from continuing.

Feedback also refers to the comments a teacher or other students make in class on a learner’s / learners’ performance. This feedback can be positive or negative.

Example

"I found him quite difficult to talk to because he never reacted to what you said – he kept his eyes down, never nodded, showed surprise or anything – you just got no feedback from him."

Further reading

Rinvolucri, M. (1994) Key concepts in ELT: feedback. ELT Journal 48/3. Oxford University Press.

Spratt, M., Pulverness, A., Williams, M. (2011). The TKT Course Modules 1, 2 and 3. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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

https://www.cambridge.org/elt/ces/methodology/feedback.htm

http://www.stevedarn.com/?Writings::GME%3A_Student_Feedback_on_Tasks_and_Activities

 

 

Discourse analysis

The study of how sentences and utterances join together to make ‘wholes’, i.e. study of the various ways in which sentences or utterances achieve coherence and cohesion.

Example

"Discourse analysis has made us aware of all the different cohesive devices there are in writing, for example, conjunctions, backward and forward referencing, substitution.  Knowing about these things helps us to teach learners to write better."

Further reading

Celce-Murcia, M,. & Olshtain, E. (2000).Discourse and Context in Language Teaching. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Hatch, E. (1992).Discourse and Language Education. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Johnson, K. (1995).Understanding Communication in Second Language Classrooms.New York: Cambridge University Press.

McCarthy, M. (1992). Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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

http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/0107demo.html

 

 

Discourse

This refers to stretches of connected written or spoken language that are usually more than one sentence or utterance long. Seeing stretches of language as discourse rather than sets of grammatical patterns allows us to analyse it for both the internal linguistic links it contains and the external links it makes to our knowledge of the world.

Example

"When I learnt English at school we rarely used language as discourse. The teacher limited our language use mainly to short sentences. We certainly never looked at things like coherence and cohesion."

Further reading

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

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

Thornbury, S. (2005). Beyond the Sentence: Introducing Discourse Analysis. Oxford: MacMillan.

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

http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/d-is-for-discourse/

 

 

Differentiation

When teachers recognise the different needs of their learners and try to meet them by catering for different abilities, interests or learning styles. This is done through use of a range of different tasks, inputs and outputs. Differentiation has a big influence on lesson planning and the choice of materials and tasks.

Example

"It has become more important for teachers to bring differentiation into their classrooms as they have increasingly acknowledged the range of abilities, interests and backgrounds of learners."

Further reading

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

Prodromou, L. (1992) Mixed Ability Classes. Oxford: Macmillan

Scrivener, J. (2012). Classroom Management Techniques. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tice, J. (1997) The Mixed Ability Class. London:Richmond Publishing.

https://elt-resourceful.com/2012/02/17/ideas-for-providing-differentiation-that-dont-involve-writing-different-materials-and-a-different-plan-for-each-student-in-the-class-2/

 

Controlled/restricted practice

Controlled/restricted practice is the second stage in Presentation, Practice, Production (PPP). This kind of practice involves students in using target language in a guided and restricted way in which they have little choice over what language to use. Examples of controlled practice activities are repetition and substitution drills. This kind of practice is aimed at providing learners with strongly guided support in their use of newly or poorly learnt language items.

Example

"Sometimes I try to disguise controlled practice in guided role plays or pair work. I give students prompts so they can’t make mistakes. It’s more interesting like that rather than just doing choral drills."

Further reading

Scrivener, J. (2011). Learning Teaching, 3rd edition. Oxford: Macmillan.

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

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

 

 

Audio-lingual

The audio-lingual method focussed on drilling key language structures orally. It was popular in the 1950s and 1960s, and derived from the behaviourist belief that repetition helped form habits. Although it has since been shown that repetition is not key to learning language, the method continues to be used by some teachers, often as a part of PPP (Presentation, Practice, Production).

Example

"We used to spend lesson after lesson repeating lines in dialogues, as a class and individually. It probably helped our memories, but we never used the language freely, and it could get boring."

Further reading

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

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

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

 

 

Awareness-raising

A technique used by teachers to make students aware of features of language or of language learning strategies. Becoming aware of something is part of noticing it.

Example

"When our teacher taught us new vocabulary she used to ask questions like: What was the vowel sound in that word? Where is the word stress? The questions helped to raise our awareness of things we might not have noticed otherwise."

Further reading

Carter, R. (2003). Key concepts in ELT: language awareness. ELT Journal 57/1. Oxford University Press.

Oxford, R. (1990). Language Learning Strategies: What Every Teacher Should Know. New York: Newbury House Publisher

Schmidt, R. (1993). Awareness and Second Language Acquisition. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 13. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/knowledge-database/awareness-raising

 

 

Assessment for learning

This kind of assessment is often contrasted with assessment of learning. It aims at promoting and encouraging learning rather than just evaluating or assessing it, seeing assessment as a means of identifying  what learning needs to be focussed on next. It often takes the form of formative assessment during lessons and encourages learner autonomy as a way of achieving its purposes.

Example

"Sometimes I video students doing group work, then we evaluate their performance using a checklist. Then together we decide what we need to focus on in the next lessons to help them move forward. This is assessment for learning – they like it and so do I."

Further reading

Stoynoff, S. (2012). Looking backward and forward at classroom-based language assessment. ELT Journal 66/4.

CfBT Assessment for Learning: effects and impact https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED546817.pdf

Black, P. & William, D. (2001). Inside the Black Box: Raising standards through classroom assessment https://www.rdc.udel.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/InsideBlackBox.pdf

Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B & William, D. (2004). Working Inside the Black Box: Assessment for learning in the classroom https://jaymctighe.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Working-Inside-the-Black-Box.pdf

 

 

Reflection grid

This is a grid or table often containing columns with these headings:  name, description, aims, comments. It can be used by learners or teachers to record and comment on points in a lesson. It is designed to aid reflection and evaluation on learning / teaching, with a view to possibly introducing changes.

Example

"The teacher gave us a reflection grid and during the lesson we jotted down our feelings and opinions on the different things we had done. Then at the end of the lesson we discussed what we had written. It was a good way of getting solid feedback and thinking about what helps you to learn best."

Further reading

Murray, D. and Christison, M.A. (2011). What English Language Teachers Need to Know, Volume 11. Abingdon: Oxon: Routledge.

Richards, J. and Lockhart, C. (1994). Reflective Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/The-Reflection-Grid-6266266/

 

 

Part of speech

A part of speech is the grammatical function a word or phrase has in a sentence or utterance. Parts of speech have distinctive grammatical or morphological features.  In English, common parts of speech are: noun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, exclamation, pronoun, conjunction. Words can function as more than one part of speech e.g. a record, to record. Another term for part of speech is word class.

Example

"You have to work out the parts of speech of ‘that’ in this sentence before you can understand the sentence: That that that that man used was right." (E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.)

Further reading

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

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

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

 

 

Recall

To remember something, often with the help of prompts or clues.

Example

"To recall new vocabulary I often try to use a clue – for example, the Italian for ‘bell’ is campana – if you say it slowly hanging on the ‘n’, to me it sounds just like a big bell ringing. When I hear a bell ringing now, the word campana often automatically comes into my mind."

Further reading

Bilborough, N. (2011).  Memory Activities for Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nation, I.S.P. (2001). Learning Vocabulary in Another Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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

Takac, V.P. (2008). Vocabulary Learning Strategies and Foreign Language Acquisition. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

 

 

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

 

 

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/

 

 

Praise

This is when we express approval or admiration of something, for example, This meal is absolutely delicious. Well done, cook! Teachers are often encouraged to praise their students but there is quite a lot of debate about what is the most productive and effective type of praise.

Example

"My teacher always used to praise us, saying things like Very good or Well done, even to students who gave the wrong answer – I found it rather confusing."

Further reading

Chaudron, C. (1988) Second Language Classrooms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gebhard, J. and Oprandy, R. (1999). Language Teaching Awareness.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Scrivener, J. (2012). Classroom Management Techniques. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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

http://carolread.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/p-is-for-praise/

 

 


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