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(Definitions written by Mary Spratt, edited by Alan Pulverness)
A lemma is the dictionary or citation form of a word. Spoke, speaking, spoken, speaks are all forms of the lemma speak, for example
When students start using a dictionary they sometimes can’t find the word they want because they don’t realise they need to look for the citation form of the word, its lemma. They need training in helping them to do this.
Macaro, E. (2003). Teaching and Learning a Second Language. New York:Continuum.
N. Schmitt, and M. McCarthy, eds. (1997). Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition and Pedagogy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
A process in which a participant in an interaction is not concerned with expressing their own views, opinions etc., but accepts the role of facilitator, helping to facilitate the communication between interlocutors who are having difficulties, for whatever reason, in communicating with one another. In ELT, mediation can refer to aiding communication between learners, to learners helping other learners to communicate, to focussing on the role of mediation involved in certain jobs (e.g. relaying messages) or to the teacher adapting imported cultural teaching techniques and methods to the culture of the learners. In 2001, the Common European Framework of Languages included mediation as a component of communicative competence.
"When I went on a training course in the UK, there were things about everyday living there that were different from what we do back home. Our teacher was always willing to answer questions about cultural differences we’d noticed. She acted as a bridge between us and the culture, mediating between the two."
Cook, V. in Odlin, T. (ed.) (1994). Perspectives on Pedagogical Grammar. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Council of Europe. (2001). Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge University Press.
Ellis, G. (1996). How culturally appropriate is the communicative approach? ELT Journal 50/3.
These are the learning and thinking strategies we use in order to choose which lower level strategies to use to achieve something. A visual learner might, for example, decide that they would learn much better from looking at a diagram about a process rather than by reading the accompanying text about the process. In this example, looking at the diagram is a comprehension strategy, whereas choosing to look at the diagram is a metacognitive strategy, i.e. thinking about the best way to learn. The main metacognitive strategies are planning, prioritising, setting goals, and self-management.
When teachers teach metacognitive strategies they need to be aware that learners have different learning styles, so what is the best strategy for one student to learn may not be best for another.
Cohen, A. D. (1998).Strategies in Learning and Using a Second Language. Harlow, England:Longman.
Hismanoglu, M. (2000) Language Learning Strategies in Foreign Language Learning and Teaching. http://iteslj.org/Articles/Hismanoglu-Strategies.html
Oxford, R. L. (1990).Language Learning Strategies: What every teacher should know. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
Oxford, R. (2003). Language Learning Styles and Strategies: An Overview.
Swan, M. (2008).Talking sense about learning strategies. RELC Journal,39 (2).
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.
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
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.
’ology 80s retrieved from
This term has two main meanings in ELT, one related to assessment and the other to lesson planning. In relation to assessment it refers to types of assessment for which there is only one correct answer and for which the assessor doesn’t therefore need to use their judgment to decide on the value of the answer. Examples of objective test formats are True/ False, multiple choice, matching, gap-fill.
In relation to lesson planning, an objective is a specification of what a teacher intends the learners to have learnt, or be able to do better, by the end of the lesson. It is sometimes used interchangeably with learning outcome in this meaning.
"The advantage of objective tests is that each item is short and clearly targeted, but their disadvantage is that they don’t really test use of the language."
Davies, A. Brown, A. et al. (1999). Dictionary of Language Testing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hughes, A. (2003). Testing for Language Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Richards, J. (2013) Curriculum approaches in language teaching: forward, central and backward design. RELC Journal, 44/1.
Spratt, M., Pulverness, A., Williams, M. (2011). The TKT Course Modules 1, 2 and 3. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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)
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.
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.
A portfolio is a collection of a learner’s work submitted as a whole and sometimes organised with an index, agreed assignment components and reflection sheets. In ELT, portfolios can contain written work such as essays, emails, reports or video and audio recordings, project work and PowerPoint slides. Portfolios are mainly used for assessment. They are also sometimes used in teacher development. A teacher portfolio might contain a CV, some lesson plans, a statement of beliefs about teaching, an action plan, reflections.
"An advantage of portfolios is that they allow the learner to express themselves more fully and the teacher to get a fuller idea of a learner’s performance than tests can reveal. A disadvantage is that they can take a long time to mark."
European Language Portfolio http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/education/elp/
Nunan, D. (2004). Task-based Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Portfolio assessment involves the assessment of a portfolio of work submitted by a learner. The portfolio may contain compulsory components or be decided on by the learner. The components may include both oral and written work as well as reflections on that work. Assessment criteria are usually used to guide the marking of portfolios so as to stop the marking becoming too subjective.
"For my Spanish course we had to submit a portfolio – I put in it all the reports I’d written as well as corrected versions of them, videos I’d shot as part of my project, and all my project work – questionnaires, tables of findings, photos I’d taken, recordings of interviews. I felt it gave a really rounded view of what my Spanish is like."
Hamp-Lyons, L. and Condon, W. (2000). Assessing the Portfolio. New York: Hampton Press.
Hughes, A. (2003). Testing for Language Teachers, 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
O’Malley, J. M. and Valdez Pierce, L. (1996). Authentic Assessment for English Language Learners: Practical approaches for teachers. Boston, MASS.: Addison-Wesley.
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).
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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.
Hot correction is when the teacher (or a peer) corrects the learner during an activity. Cold correction is when the teacher presents the learners with their mistakes for correction after an activity has taken place.
We are often told to avoid hot correction as it interrupts learners’ fluency. But I think that a teacher can interrupt subtly by using gestures or facial expressions. Students can often relate to this kind of hot correction better than to the more detached presentation of their errors in cold correction at the end of an activity.
Bartram, M. and Walton, R. (1991) Correction. Stamford, CT: Cengage.
Li, S. (2014). Key Concepts in ELT: Oral Corrective Feedback. ELT Journal 68 (2): 196-198
Lightbown and Spada (2006). How languages are learned, 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Seidlhofer, B. (2011) Understanding English as a Lingua Franca: A Complete Introduction to the Theoretical Nature and Practical Implications of English used as a Lingua Franca. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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).
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.
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.
Corpora are collections of spoken and/ or written language that are stored and processed electronically. Corpora are used in corpus linguistics to find patterns in language use e.g. the collocations of words, grammatical structures in spoken language, word frequencies, types of error. Corpora in ELT can contain a range of different types of texts or be based on particular genres e.g. ESP texts, or on proficient speaker or learner English. Examples of English language corpora are the British National Corpus (BNA), Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), Cambridge English Corpus (CEC), the Louvain Corpus of Native English Essays (Locness).
"The corpus shows this word collocates more frequently with slightly than with a little."
International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, John Benjamin Publishing.
Carter, Ronald & McCarthy, Michael (1995): Grammar and the spoken language. Applied Linguistics 16:2, 141-158.
Cheng, W., Warren, M. & Xu X.F. (2003). The language learner as language researcher: putting corpus linguistics on the timetable. System 31:2, 173-186.
Granger, S.; Hung, J. & Petch-Tyson, S. (eds) (2002). Computer Learner Corpora, Second Language Acquisition and Foreign Language Teaching. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
O’Keefe, A., McCarthy, M., Carter, R. (2007.) From Corpus to classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sinclair, J. ed. (2004) How to Use Corpora in Language Teaching, John Benjamins Publishing.
This term is used to refer to syllabus (See syllabus), learning objectives, methods of assessment, teaching methods and materials.
The term is also sometimes used synonymously with syllabus.
Writing a curriculum for a particular learning situation involves understanding a lot about the context in which the teaching and learning will take place.
Christison, M and Murray, D. (2014). What English Language Teachers Need to Know,
Volume 3. New York and London: Routledge.
Graves, K. (1996). Teachers as Course Developers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nunan D. 1994. The Learner-Centered Curriculum. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nunan D. 1996. Syllabus Design. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Richards, J. (2013). Curriculum Approaches in Language Teaching: Forward, Central, and
Backward Design. RELC Journal 44/1
Richards, J. (2001). Curriculum Development in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge
Tomlinson B. (2012). Language Curriculum Design. ELT Journal 66/2.
White, R. (1998). The ELT Curriculum: Design, Innovation and Management. Hoboken, NJ.:Wiley.
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.
"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."
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.
An approach to teaching and learning which does not adhere to any one recognised approach but selects from different approaches and methods according to teacher preference and also to the belief that different learners learn in different ways and different contexts, and that therefore no one approach or method is sufficient to cater for a range of learners. Eclecticism is sometimes criticised as being too random and having no guiding principles. This criticism has given rise to Principled eclecticism which attempts to keep the flexibility of eclecticism while including in it principles of teaching and learning.
"Some teachers appreciate the freedom and flexibility that eclecticism allows them in their teaching, while others prefer the clear teaching guidelines that using one particular approach or method can provide."
Kumaravadivelu, (2012). Towards a post-method pedagogy. TESOL Quarterly Volume 35, Issue 4, pages 537–560.
Larsen-Freeman, D. (2000). Techniques and principles in language teaching, 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.