ELT terms - defined and referenced!


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




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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.

 

 

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

 

 

Delexical verb

These are verbs that when used with their common collocations have little meaning of their own, the meaning coming from the collocation as a whole e.g. to have a shower, to take a bath, to make a mistake.

Example

Delexical verbs in collocations are a good example of the importance of learning chunks of language rather than trying to work out the meaning of each single word.

Further reading

Lewis, M. (1993). The Lexical Approach. Brighton: Language Teaching Publications.

Hill, J. (1999) Collocational Competence. ETP/11.

Willis, J. and Willis, D. (1996). Challenge and Change in Language Teaching. Oxford:

Macmillan Heinemann English Language Teaching.

 

 

Emergent language

This is language which is a fruit of the learning process rather than taught language. It occurs as learners, in an effort to express themselves, experiment with language they haven't as yet fully mastered. Many experts suggest that teachers would do better to support learners’ emergent language rather than presenting them with language they have not yet shown a need for.

Example

Dogme is an approach to teaching that recommends teachers work with learners’ emerging language by providing opportunities for use and giving feedback, rather than working with a pre-set syllabus.

Further reading

Larsen-Freeman, D. (2003). Teaching Language: From Grammar to Grammaring. Boston:Heinle & Heinle.

Meddings, L. and Thornbury, S. (2009). Teaching Unplugged: Dogme in English Language Teaching. Guildford: Delta Publishing.

Thornbury, S. (2005) Uncovering Grammar. Oxford: MacMillan.

https://languagemoments.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/dealing-with-emerging-language/ 

https://michaeljedwards.weebly.com/blog/the-emergent-classroom-and-english-language-development

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/not-unit-5

 

ELF

This stands for English as a Lingua Franca, and refers to the use of English in international communication. Certain scholars have suggested that as English has become a lingua franca between people from a range of L1s, features of its use such as particular pronunciations and grammatical constructions which would previously have been considered non-standard and ‘wrong’ should be accepted rather than corrected, providing they do not cause a breakdown in communication, as they are a mark of the L1 learner’s identity There is much debate in ELT about the research base for ELF’s findings and their implications for the classroom.

Example

If you listened to two non-native speakers of English talking together you might hear them regularly  pronouncing the article ‘the’ as /də/ or /zə/ yet obviously having no problem communicating with one another. ELF proposes that if that’s the case there is no need to insist on ‘correct’ pronunciation with the corresponding loss of learner identity that correction can lead to.

Further reading

Seidlhofer, B. (2005). Key concepts in ELT: English as a lingua franca. ELT Journal 59/4.

Jenkins, J. (2012). English as a Lingua Franca from the classroom to the classroom. ELT Journal 66/4. http://www.scribd.com/doc/125335514/Jennifer-Jenkins-English-as-a-Lingua-Franca-from-the-classroom-to-the-classroom

Jenkins, J. (2000).The Phonology of English as an International Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Walker, R. (2011).Teaching the Pronunciation of English as a Lingua Franca. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Widdowson, H.G. (2003).Defining Issues in English Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

http://www.macmillandictionaries.com/MED-Magazine/January2005/26-New-Word-ELF.htm

Chit Cheung Matthew Sung (2013). English as a Lingua Franca and its Implications for Language Teaching http://jalt-publications.org/jj/articles/3436-perspectives-english-lingua-franca-and-its-implications-english-language-teaching JALT Journal, Vol. 35, No. 2, November 2013

 

Etymology

The study of the origins of words and how their meaning, use and form have evolved over time.

Example

I studied the etymology of Italian when I was learning Italian at university – it was all about the patterns of change that words and sounds had followed across the centuries. At the time I found it incredibly dry and boring, but now it helps me to work out the meaning or pronunciation of some words I don’t know.

Further reading

Crystal, D. (2007). Words Words Words. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hogg, R. and Denison, D. (2006). A History of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/8824676/From-Riddle-to-Twittersphere-David-Crystal-tells-the-story-of-English-in-100-words.html

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/aug/31/spell-it-out-crystal-review

http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/culture/english-language/the-history-english-ten-minutes

 

 

Grammar dictation

The terms grammar dictation and dictogloss are used interchangeably to refer to a technique for developing students’ grammatical competence.  The technique involves dictating a text to students at normal speed while students copy down what they can of what they hear, leaving gaps for the parts they have not been able to write down for whatever reason. Then the students in pairs or groups compare what they have written and  try and complete their version of the text. The teacher may choose to then repeat this process. At the end students are given a copy of the original text to compare with their text and discuss the differences. The thinking behind grammar dictation is that it encourages students to think about both meaning and grammar, and make grammatical choices based on working out intended meanings.

Example

In my experience students are always discouraged when you do grammar dictation for the first time. They find it hard. But over time, they come to like it and appreciate how much they learn from it.

Further reading

Wainryb, R. (1990). Grammar Dictation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

http://www.onestopenglish.com/skills/vocabulary/phrasal-verbs/phrasal-verbs-teaching-phrasal-verbs-using-an-oral-text-and-personalizing-new-phrasal-verbs-tips-and-activities/144984.article

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/dictogloss

 

 

Grammatisation

This is a teaching technique, also known as grammaticization, in which students are given key words, e.g. from a dialogue or text that have just read or are about to read, and asked to add ‘grammar’ words to these key words to produce a text that makes sense. Behind this technique is Diana Larsen-Freeman’s idea of ‘grammaring’, the skill of relating form and structure to meaningful units.

Example

I like doing grammatisation with my students and they like it too. I just give them key words in the correct orderfrom very short texts and they have to fill in the ‘grammar’ words. They find it quite intriguing how many meaningful combinations you can get from a few key words. Sometimes they get really involved in defending the meaning of their sentences.

Further reading

Larsen-Freeman, D. (2003). Teaching Language: From Grammar to Grammaring. Boston: Heinle and Heinle.

Thornbury, S. (1995). Uncovering Grammar. Oxford: MacMillan.

Thornbury, S. (1998). The Lexical Approach: a journey without maps? Modern English Teacher 7/4.

Batstone, R. (1994). Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

 

Hyponym

Hyponym is a term used to describe a lexical relationship between words. Hyponyms are the words that are examples of a particular category, for example, pens, pencils, paper, sellotape are all hyponyms of the category, stationery. Hyponyms form a large part of lexical sets.

Example

At beginner and elementary level we often teach hyponyms of everyday categories such as members of the family, types of shop, items of clothing, days of the week, types of food, colours, types of leisure activities. At the end of last term I divided my class into groups and gave them each an area of vocabulary, a superordinate. They then drew mind maps, posters or other drawings with all the hyponyms they could think of for their area. They drew some great things, for example, people in national dress from different countries of the world to illustrate different items of clothing.

Further reading

McCarthy, M. (1990). Vocabulary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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

Nation, I., (2000). Learning vocabulary in lexical sets: dangers and guidelines. TESOL Journal/9.

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

Yule, G. (2014). The Study of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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

 

 

 

 

IATEFL

This acronym stands for International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language. Its aims are to ‘to link, develop and support English Language Teaching professionals around the world’ (http://www.iatefl.org/). IATEFL’s main activities are organising an annual conference for teachers and local seminars, awarding grants and scholarships, publishing a newsletter and magazine, and putting on webinars.

Example

Teachers come from all over the world to attend the IATEFL annual conference. It gives them an opportunity to give a talk on an area of interest, or to listen to a wide range of speakers speaking on a wide range of ELT related subjects. It is also a great opportunity to meet teachers from different countries and to visit a well-stocked resources exhibition.

Further reading

http://www.iatefl.org/

Conference video: http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/

https://www.facebook.com/iateflonline

 

 

Imperative

The part of the verb used to give orders or instructions. In English the positive form of the imperative  is the base form without ‘to’ e.g. brush your teeth, keep quiet, drive carefully. Its negative form is don’t/ do not + base form e.g. don’t worry about that, don’t forget your keys, don’t lose it.

Example

It’s quite important to teach the register of the imperative in English. Learners sometimes think it’s the same as a polite imperative in their own language and don’t realise that in English it can be quite direct and abrupt.

Further reading

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

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

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

https://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/grammar-games/imperatives

 

 

Inflection

This refers to the process of adding a morpheme to a word to change its grammatical meaning (e.g. tense, person) but not its word class. In English it applies particularly to verbs, nouns and adjectives.

Example

Some languages make heavy use of inflections, German, Greek and Turkish, for example. This makes it a challenge for learners to speak these languages accurately – a language might, for instance, have at least seven different inflections for nouns: singular, plural. nominative case, genitive, vocative, dative, accusative. What a nightmare for those seeking to achieve perfection!

Further reading

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

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflection

 

 

 

Mandative subjunctive

This is the use of the subjunctive ‘in a subordinate clause that follows an expression of command, demand, or recommendation’ (http://grammar.about.com/od/mo/g/Mandative-Subjunctive.htm), for example: they recommended that he get some work experience /she suggested he dress more smartly. It is formal in use and contrasts with the formulaic subjunctive in which the subjunctive is used in a chunk as part of a fixed expression e.g. heaven forbid, so be it, come rain come shine.

Example

The mandative subjunctive is rare in English, but not in some other languages. You really need to get a feel for when to use it – in romance languages it’s often used to express doubt, wishes or commands. Is it used in your language? When?

Further reading

Chalker, S. (1995).Dictionary of English Grammar. Oxford University Press.

Leech, G. and Svartvik, J. (2003). A Communicative Grammar of English, 3rd edition. Oxford:Routledge.

http://grammar.about.com/od/mo/g/Mandative-Subjunctive.htm)

http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/s-is-for-subjunctive/

 

 

Modality

This is the way in which we express our attitude to what we are saying. We often associate modality with verbs (obligation, possibility, ability, necessity etc) but modality can also be expressed through adjectives, adverbs and nouns. This latter is called lexical modality.

Example

In the sentence He may come tomorrow we see modality expressed in the modal verb may. We can use lexical modality to express this too e.g. Perhaps he will come tomorrow (modal adverb), there’s a chance he will come tomorrow (modal noun), it’s possible he’ll come tomorrow (modal adjective).

Further reading

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

Fachinetti, R., Krug, M.G/ Palmer, F.R. (2003) Modality in Contemporary English. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

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

 

 

PARSNIP

This is an acronym for Politics, Alcohol, Religion, Sex, Narcotics, -Isms and Pork. It refers to the common practice amongst publishers and exam boards of excluding sensitive or taboo topics from the content of their products so as not to give offence and to facilitate the sale of these products.  Some people believe that this practice is one factor contributing to the lack of real meaning and relevance that is sometimes noted in ELT materials.

Example

When you get to know a class, you become aware of their sensitivities and interests. You’re then in a good position to judge how much or what parts of PARSNIP to adopt or ignore when choosing materials or topics to use in class.

Further reading

Gray, J. (2002). ‘The global coursebook in English language teaching’. In Block, D., and Cameron, D. (Eds.) Globalization and Language Teaching. London: Routledge.

Block, D. and Cameron, D. (2002) . Globalization and Language Teaching. London:Routledge.

Harwood, N. (2010).  English Language Teaching Materials: Theory and Practice. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.

Meddings. L. (2006). "Embrace the Parsnip" http://www.theguardian.com/education/2006/jan/20/tefl4

http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/t-is-for-taboo/

 

 

Participles

This is a grammatical term that refers in English to two parts of a verb: the present participle(e.g. studying) and the past participle (e.g. studied). Participles are non-finite parts of a verb, meaning that they don’t in themselves indicate time.

Example

Here’s an example of a mistake my students often make with the grammatical meaning of the present participle: Walking along the beach, the sun was bright and hot.

With the past participle their main problems seem to be remembering irregular forms, and their pronunciation and spelling too.

Further reading

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

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

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/knowledge-database/participles

 

 

Phoneme

This is the smallest unit of meaningful sound in a language. A phoneme can distinguish one word from another e.g. /bæd/ vs /bed/. In English Received Pronunciation (RP) there are forty-four phonemes, twenty-four are consonants and twenty are vowels.

Example

Learning the phonetic script and understanding the phonemic chart can really help you teach individual phonemes to students. Often there are just a few phonemes that students have trouble pronouncing - usually because they don’t exist in their L1.

Further reading

English Pronunciation in Use, Elementary/ Intermediate/ Advanced. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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

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

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

http://www.thepoke.co.uk/2011/12/23/english-pronunciation/

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

 

 

 

Preposition

Preposition is a grammatical term for a word that shows a relationship between events, people or things such as time, proximity, place. Prepositions represent a word class/ part of speech. In English they are numerous, usually come before nouns or pronouns and can be used literally or figuratively.

Example

Prepositions can be easier to learn if they are taught as part of a chunk e,g, on time, at home, in pairs, look forward to, but unfortunately they are not all or always used in common chunks or collocations.

Further reading

Lindstromberg, S. (2010). English Prepositions Explained. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.

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

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

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

http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/grammar-reference/verbs-prepositions

 

 

Prescriptive

Prescriptive is a word used to describe an attitude to grammar that says what grammar should be used. Prescriptive grammars are based on an idea of what grammar should be used rather than what grammar is actually used. ‘Prescriptive’ is often contrasted with ‘descriptive’. Descriptive grammars describe how grammar is actually used.

Example

Prescriptive grammars of English used to tell us things like: you can’t use verbs of feeling in the present continuous, you can’t put a preposition at the end of a sentence, you can’t use that as a relative pronoun to refer to people. In fact, when you hear people talking they do things like that all the time e.g. I’m loving it, I don’t know which class she’s in, the student that I need to talk to is….….

Further reading

Cameron, D. (1995).Verbal Hygiene. London: Routledge.

Huddleston, R. (1984). Introduction to the Grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Strevens, P. (1978).In Honour of A.S. Hornby. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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

http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/p-is-for-prescriptive/

 

 

Pronoun

A pronoun is a word that is used instead of a noun to represent that noun. In English, pronouns are a word class/ part of speech and there are several kinds: subject (e.g. he, they), object (e.g. him, us), relative (e.g. that, which), reflexive (e.g. ourselves, itself), indefinite (e.g. no one, none), possessive (e.g. our, their), interrogative (e.g. which, what), demonstrative (e.g. this, those), reciprocal (each other, one another), quantifiers (e.g. all, one).

Example

Students often don’t realise how important pronouns are to understanding spoken or written language or to expressing themselves clearly, particularly in writing. Pronouns are really important in establishing the cohesion of a text.

Further reading

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

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.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/topic/pronouns

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/pronouns

 

 


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