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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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." 

Further reading

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.




Open pairs

This term is used to refer to a classroom interaction pattern in which two students talk to one another across the class so that other students can listen to what they are saying. This pattern is used particularly to demonstrate how to carry out an activity or task, or to act as feedback on an activity or task just completed.


"I often use open pairs in my class before the learners start an activity. I ask two students to carry out the activity in front of everyone else. In that way the others see what to do and also hear what language they could use."

Further reading

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

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