ELT terms - defined and referenced!


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




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Eclecticism

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.

Example

"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."

Further reading

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.

http://tesl-ej.org/ej20/a1.html

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/knowledge-database/eclectic-approach

https://blog.tjtaylor.net/method-principled-eclecticism/

 

 

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/

 

Curriculum

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.

Example

Writing a curriculum for a particular learning situation involves understanding a lot about the context in which the teaching and learning will take place.

Further reading

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.

Nation, I.S.P. and  Macalister, J.(2010). Language Curriculum Design. Oxford: Routledge.

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

University Press.

http://www.professorjackrichards.com/wp-content/uploads/Curriculum-Approaches-in Language-Teaching.pdf.

Tomlinson B. (2012). Language Curriculum Design. ELT Journal 66/2.

White, R. (1998). The ELT Curriculum: Design, Innovation and Management. Hoboken, NJ.:Wiley.

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/blogs/admin/english-language-teaching-curriculum-evaluation-shafaghi-aliaki-hosseini-aghaei

 

Corpus/corpora

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).

Example

"The corpus shows this word collocates more frequently with slightly than with a little."

Further reading

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.

 

 

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/

 

 

Hot/cold correction

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.

Example

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.

Further reading

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.

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/error-correction-1

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/error-correction-2

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Portfolio assessment

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.

Example

"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."

Further reading

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.

https://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1769/Assessment-PORTFOLIO-ASSESSMENT.html

 

 

Portfolio

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.

Example

"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."

Further reading

European Language Portfolio http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/education/elp/

Nunan, D. (2004). Task-based Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/portfolios-elt

http://www.primarylanguages.org.uk/resources/assessment_and_recording/european_languages_portfolio.aspx

http://www.cup.cam.ac.uk/gb/elt/catalogue/subject/project/custom/item7108816/Kid's-Box-for-Spanish-Speakers-Language-Portfolios/?site_locale=en_GB&currentSubjectID=2562984

 

 

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

 

 

Objective

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.

Example

"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.

http://eltnotebook.blogspot.com/2006/11/setting-objectives-part-one.html

http://eltnotebook.blogspot.com/2006/11/setting-objectives-part-two.html

 

 

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

 

 

Metacognitive strategies

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.

Example

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.

Further reading

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.

http://hyxy.nankai.edu.cn/jingpinke/buchongyuedu/learning%20strategies%20by%20Oxford.pdf

Swan, M. (2008).Talking sense about learning strategies. RELC Journal,39 (2). 

 

 

Mediation

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.

Example

"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."

Further reading

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.

https://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/m-is-for-mediation/

http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/linguistic/Source/Framework_en.pdf

 

 

Lemma

A lemma is the dictionary or citation form of a word. Spoke, speaking, spoken, speaks are all forms of the lemma speak, for example

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.

Further reading

Knowles, G. and Don, Z. M. (2004). The Notion of a Lemma: Headwords, Roots and Lexical Sets in International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 9/1.

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.

https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-lemma-1691108 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Evaluation

This is the process of assessing the value of something by collecting data. Evaluation often leads to decision-making. Evaluation can be of teaching, learning, curricula, methods, exam impact, materials or other areas related to teaching and learning.

Example

When evaluating materials it is useful to collect not just teachers’ opinions but those of learners, too.

Further reading

Alderson, C. and Clapham, C. (1995).Language Test Construction and Evaluation. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.

Cunningsworth, A. (1984). Evaluating and Selecting ELT Materials. Heineman.

Cunningsworth, A. (1995). Choosing your Coursebook. Macmillan Heineman.

Kiely, R. N. &Rea-Dickins, P. M.(2005). Programme Evaluation in Language Education. Oxford: Palgrave Macmillan.

McDonough, J. and Shaw, C. (1993). Materials and Methods in ELT. Oxford: Blackwell.

Murphy. D (2000). Key Concepts in ELT: Evaluation. ELT Journal 54/2.

Sheldon, L. (1988). Evaluating ELT textbooks and materials.  ELT Journal 37/3.

Weir, C. and Roberts, J. (1994). Evaluation in ELT. NJ: Wiley

Williams, M and Burden, R. (1993) The role of evaluation in ELT project design. ELT Journal 48/1.

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

 

 

 

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

 


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