ELT terms - defined and referenced!


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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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RP

This stands for Received Pronunciation. It refers to the standard pronunciation of British English that shows no regional features. RP is sometimes known as BBC English. Although RP is subject to change and is spoken by a small minority of British people, it is widely used in recording for ELT materials.

Example

There is not full agreement on what RP is. Some say it is ‘educated English’, some that it is ‘upper class English’. Is the Queen’s accent RP or not, for example?

Further reading

Crystal, D. (2005). The Stories of English. London:  Penguin.

McArthur, T. (2002). The Oxford Guide to World English. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Roach, P. (2004), "British English: Received Pronunciation", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34/2.

Trudgill, Peter (1999). The Dialects of England. Oxford: Blackwell.

Whatever happened to Received Pronunciation? J.C. Wells: http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/wells/rphappened.htm

Academic English – Professor David Crystal on standard vs. non-standard English

http://www.bbc.co.uk/voices/yourvoice/feature2_4.shtml

 

 

Rhythm

The regular beat at which a language is spoken, and which in English is achieved through the use of stress and weak or no stress.

Example

Try saying these sentences, following the stress marks* given

(ˈ = primary stress; ˌ = secondary stress)

This should help you feel their rhythm:

|Breakfast

He had |breakfast

The |news |paper

He |read the |news |paper

|After he had |breakfast he |read the |news |paper

Further reading

Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton, D. and Goodwin, J. (1996). Teaching Pronunciation. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.

Couper-Kuhlen, E. (1993). English Speech Rhythm:Form and Function in Everyday Verbal Interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.

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

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

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/rhythm

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

Question Tag/Tag Question

A question tag is a clause usually containing an inverted subject and an auxiliary or modal verb, and inserted at the end of a statement. It turns the statement into a question or a request for confirmation, depending on its intonation, with a rising tone indicating a question and a falling tone signalling a request for confirmation. A question formed by adding a question tag to the end of a statement is called a tag question.

Example

Here are some tag questions that use different question tags:

He left last night, didn’t he?

She can’t swim, can she?

Nobody understands, do they?

You’ll bring it tomorrow, won’t you?

Further reading

Parrott, M. (2010). Grammar for English Language Teachers, 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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

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

 

 

Plosive

A plosive is a type of sound produced by air popping on one of the speech organs as it is released (See Speech Organ). The plosive sounds in English are /p/, /b/, /t/, /d/, /k/, /g/.

Example

In my experience learners of English rarely have problems producing the plosive sounds. Is that what you have found with your students, too?

Further reading

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

Marks, J. (2012). Delta Teacher Development: Pronunciation Book. Peaslake, Surrey: Delta.

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

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/articles/pronunciation

http://allphonetics.blogspot.co.uk/2008/05/plosive-story-p-b-t-d-k-g_14.html

 

 

Phonology

This term has various meanings. The Longman Dictionary of Teaching and Applied Linguistics defines it as follows:

1     another term for PHONEMICS

2     (for some linguists) a cover term for both PHONETICS and PHONEMICS

3      The establishment and description of the distinctive sound units of a language (PHONEMES) by means of DISTINCTIVE FEATURES

(The Longman Dictionary of Teaching and Applied Linguistics, p.435)

Example

As a teacher of English I found it very useful to study phonology. It helped me to understand what sounds there are in English and where and how they are pronounced. This helped me develop ideas for how to help my learners with their pronunciation.

Further reading

Carr, Philip (2003).English Phonetics and Phonology: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.

Ladefoged, Peter. (1982) A Course in Phonetics (2nd ed.). London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

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

Roach, Peter (2009). English Phonetics and Phonology, 4th edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://linkingphonetics.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/cambridge_p_roach_english_phonetics_and_phonology_nopw.pdf

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

http://www.phon.ox.ac.uk/jcoleman/PHONOLOGY1.htm

 

 

Phonemic chart

A chart showing the phonemic symbols for a particular language arranged according to whether they are vowels or consonants and their place and manner of articulation.

Example

The British Council’s Sounds Right phonemic chart can be downloaded for the iPad from https://itunes.apple.com/app/sounds-right/id387588128?mt=8 and for the PC from http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/sites/teacheng/files/TEphonemic.zip

There are different ways in which the phonemic chart can be used to help learners with their pronunciation.

Further reading

Kelly, G. (2000). How to Teach Pronunciation. Harlow: Longman.

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

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

http://www.macmillanenglish.com/phonemic-chart/

http://www.phonemicchart.com/

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/using-phonemic-chart

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/sounds-the-pronunciation-app/id428243918?mt=8

Macmillan Pronunciation Skills videos with Adrian Underhill

Introduction:

The Phonemic Chart, Part 1:

The Phonemic Chart, Part 2:

 

 

Phonetics and phonemics

Phonetics is the study of all the speech sounds used in all human languages. The IPA chart (See IPA) represents these sounds. Unlike phonemics (also known as phonology - see Phonology), phonetics is not concerned with the sounds of individual languages. It studies the production, transmission and reception of speech sounds in all languages. Phonemics studies those sounds which are meaningful (i.e. which may distinguish between one word and another) within one language.

Example

We learn from phonetics that there is a sound called a glottal stop. But we learn from phonemics, not phonetics, that the glottal stop does not change meaning in standard English and that it is therefore not a phoneme in standard English, but an allophone (See Allophone) of /t/.

Further reading

Carr, Philip (2003).English Phonetics and Phonology: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.

Ladefoged, Peter. (1982).A Course in Phonetics (2nd ed.). London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Roach, Peter (2009). English Phonetics and Phonology, 4th edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

 

Morphology

This is the study of the use of morphemes (See Morpheme)  to form words. Morphology shows us how different kinds of morphemes combine or operate singly to form words.

Example

Here are a few things we learn from morphology:

-          words can contain just one morpheme e.g. dictate, book, compare, persuade

-          words can contain more than one morpheme e.g. dictation, books, comparison, persuaded

-          morphemes may or may not be able to stand alone e.g. these morphemes can stand alone: on, net, can; these morphemes can’t stand alone : im-, -tion, -ed

Further reading

Carstairs McCarthy, A. (2001) An Introduction to English Morphology: Words and Their Structure. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Carter, R. and McCarthy, M. (1988). Vocabulary and Language Teaching. London and New York: Longman.

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

Schmitt, N. (2000). Vocabulary in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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

https://busyteacher.org/9530-my-brother-is-very-success-teaching-morphology.html

http://blog.britishcouncil.org/2013/05/31/three-myths-about-english-spelling/

’ology 80s retrieved from

 

 

Diphthong

A diphthong is a sound in which one vowel sound glides towards another, as in /bɔɪ/, /seɪ/, hɪə/. In RP English there are 8 diphthongs.

Example

You can see the RP English diphthongs in the top right hand corner of the phonemic chart, which you can find (with audio) at http://www.englishclub.com/pronunciation/phonemic-chart-ia.htm

Further reading

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

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

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

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/sites/teacheng/files/TEphonemic_GreyBlue2_0.swf

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

 

 

IPA

This acronym stands for International Phonetic Alphabet. The IPA provides one symbol for each sound produced across the different human languages. The IPA chart shows these sounds in relation to one another. Any one language will only use a subset of all the sounds on the IPA chart. To see the IPA chart, click here:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:IPA_1024x768.png

Example

Most language teachers don’t know all the symbols used on the IPA chart. It’s often simpler and more useful for them just to know those used in the language they teach.

Further reading

International Phonetic Association (1999). Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.

Jones, D. (1988).English Pronouncing Dictionary, 14th ed. London: Dent.

Ladefoged, P. (1990). "The Revised International Phonetic Alphabet". Language 66/ 3.

Laver, J. (1994). Principles of Phonetics. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Pullum, G. K., Ladusaw, W.A. (1986).Phonetic Symbol Guide. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

 

 

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/

 

 

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

 

 

Bilabial

This term from phonology refers to the place, i.e. the two lips, where certain sounds are produced. In English the bilabial sounds are /p/, /b/, /m/, /w/.

Example

Bilabial sounds, such as /m/ and /b/ are usually among the speech sounds that babies first produce.

Further reading

Kelly, G. (2000). How To Teach Pronunciation. Harlow: Longman.

Ladefoged, P., Maddieson, I.(1996).The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell.

Marks, J. (2012). Delta Teacher Development: Pronunciation Book. Peaslake, Surrey: Delta.

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

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

 

 

 

Articulators (speech organs)

This is a term from phonology which refers to ‘a part of the mouth, nose or throat which is used in producing speech e.g. the tongue, lips, alveolar ridge etc’ (Longman Dictionary of Teaching and Applied Linguistics, p.33). Articulators are also known as speech organs. There are two kinds of speech organ: active and passive.

Example

When we learn to speak a foreign language we sometimes need to learn to use some articulators in different ways, for example, to pronounce the /θ/ phoneme in English, many learners have to place the tongue in a way to which they are not accustomed.

Further reading

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

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

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

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

http://teachingenglish.britishcouncil.org.cn/article/phonemic-chart

 

 

Word family

This word is used in two different ways. It can refer to words which all derive from the same base word e.g. produce, productive, production, product. Many test items are designed round changing a word in a word family to another in the same family.

It also refers to words that share a form in pronunciation, such as the words in many nursery rhymes.

Example

Here is an example of a test item focussing on changes to base words in word families:

Word family elt.oup

 

https://elt.oup.com/student/result/engupp/b_vocabulary/unit01/1a?cc=us&selLanguage=en

Here is an example of a nursery rhyme based on words with shared pronunciations:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again

Further reading

https://www.google.com/search?q=word+family&sa=G&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ei=TkheU_6TO4KiO4DGgPgO&ved=0CDAQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=899

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/rhymes/wordfamilies/

https://elt.oup.com/student/result/engupp/b_vocabulary/unit01/1a?cc=us&selLanguage=en

Bauer, L. and Nation, P. (1993). Word Families. International Journal of Lexicography 6/4: https://www.pdffiller.com/jsfiller-desk16/?projectId=333956463&expId=5487&expBranch=2#c9a5d00684dd7c93147fd63eaaa3e449

Nation, P. and Waring, R. Vocabulary Size, Text Coverage and Word Lists in in Schmitt; N.and  McCarthy, M. , (1997). Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition and Pedagogy,Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 

http://www.fltr.ucl.ac.be/fltr/germ/etan/bibs/vocab/cup.html

 

 

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.

 

 

Use / Usage

These terms are used in linguistics in contrast to one another to describe ways in which a person knows language. In usage a person knows about language or items in language abstractly as a component in a language system. In use, a person knows how to use language for communication. This distinction which focuses on the difference between knowing about language (usage) and knowing how to use language (use) was critical in the development of language teaching, away from grammar translation and towards a communicative approach. Henry Widdowson introduced and developed this distinction in 1978.

Example

Some people used to criticize grammar translation, saying that it was too usage-oriented. Nowadays some people criticise communicative language teaching saying it is too use- oriented.

Further reading

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

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

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

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/knowledge-database/language-usage

 

 

Thesaurus

A thesaurus is a reference book of words organised according to their similarity of meaning or belonging to the same lexical set. The purpose of a thesaurus is to help us find the word that best expresses what we want to say. A thesaurus can provide a very rich resource for drawing a mind map. This is why there are several visual thesaurus computer programmes.

Example

Click here to see an example from a thesaurus for the word ‘Money’.

Further reading

Davidson, G. (2002). Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases. London: Penguin.

Information about Roget's Thesaurus on Wikipedia

http://graphwords.com/

Visual mind maps: http://www.visuwords.com/

 

 

Synonym/Antonym

A synonym is a word with the same or very similar meaning to another word e.g. simple / easy; quickly / fast. Words are rarely complete synonyms of one another, differing in style or collocation e.g. to spend time with v to hang out with. An antonym is a word which is the opposite in meaning to another word e.g. rude / considerate; get off / get on, but, once again, there are not many complete antonyms because often they cannot be used as alternatives in all contexts.

Example

There are lots of games, puzzles and exercises in ELT based around synonyms and antonyms. Learning a word’s synonyms or antonyms does give you the impression that you know that word better, in my opinion.

Further reading

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

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

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

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/presenting-vocabulary

 

 

Stem

The stem of a word is the part that never changes and to which any inflections or affixes are added. A word stem may or may not have the same form as a word’s lemma. (See Lemma). A lemma is the citation form of a word so it always looks like a word, whereas a stem is the part of the word that is added to. For example, take is a lemma, but tak- is the stem for this word, but for the word run both the lemma and the stem are run.

Example

To have an idea of what a word’s stem is can be useful for producing correct spelling. You add –ing to tak, for example, not to take to make the –ing form of take.

Further reading

Carstairs McCarthy, A. (2002). An Introduction to English Morphology: Words and Their Structures. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Matthews, P. (1991). Morphology 2nd Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

http://blog.britishcouncil.org/2013/05/31/three-myths-about-english-spelling/

http://www.fb10.uni-bremen.de/homepages/hackmack/Kiel/morph/web4.pdf

You Tube Video: http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/seminars/spelling-myths-and-enchantments

 

 


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