Accuracy refers to the ability to produce grammatically correct sentences that are comprehensible.
Assessment instruments or procedures based on the objectives of a course, used to determine how much of the course content students have learned.
Picking up a language through meaningful conversation the way children pick up languages. Acquisition will occur when a learner is exposed to meaningful, comprehensible input.
Things that you hope will be done or achieved during an activity or lesson.
A common and valid method of assessing second language writing or speaking. They can be very useful for grading and providing focused feedback.
English language has both indefinite (a/an) and one definite (the) articles. Articles are one of the first parts of speech introduced to learners, but one of the last to be acquired. The evidence suggests that articles cannot be taught, but are acquired over a long period of time.
A natural process in connected speech whereby sounds (i.e. phonemes) change or blend together based on the preceding or following sound. This change is made naturally by native speakers to facilitate pronunciation.
Connecting ideas and concepts together as they relate
to certain experiences. Association can help students remember new vocabulary
by connecting new words to words with similar meanings or by helping students
make their own personal connections.
Asynchronous Online Learning
Online lessons that
do not require students to be online at any particular time. These classes are
often pre-developed courses consisting of content or modules that students work
through without the real-time assistance of an instructor.
Resources that are used in English-speaking countries by native speakers. These are real-world selections produced for a native English-speaking audience, without consideration for the second language learner. Examples include newspapers, books, brochures, leaflets, menus, tickets, bank cards, library cards, etc.
An approach that
combines both traditional classroom teaching and online educational tools to
create a hybrid or “blended” learning experience.
Language learning that proceeds from the most basic parts of language, such as words, then advances to more complex structures such as complex sentences and grammar, before finally arriving at an understanding of meaning.
A morpheme that cannot stand on its own, but must be attached to another morpheme; the prefixes “un-“ and “re-“ are examples of bound morphemes.
Computer-Assisted Language Learning. Includes use of computer-based language programs such as ESL-specific software, educational podcasts, web pages, and CD-ROMs for educational purposes.
Documentation used to negotiate
with your students on the rules for the classroom and the consequences for
A group of words that always contains a subject
and a verb in combination.
Computer-Mediated Communication. Refers to using computer technology,
such as web chat programs or web conferencing tools (e.g., Zoom, Skype), to
communicate with others.
A word having the same derivation in two languages and that is similar in both languages, not only in meaning, but also in spelling and pronunciation; “information” is a cognate of the Spanish word “información”.
Understanding and using language effectively
(e.g., the student listens actively, initiates
conversation, and maintains speech with peers) in an authentic school or
Output-based tasks (e.g., role play activities
or paragraph-writing tasks) in a lesson that requires the use of target
Community Language Learning
A teaching approach focusing on
student-to-student and student-to-teacher relationships to establish a healthy
language learning environment.
Content-Based Instruction (CBI)
A teaching method that focuses on content or
contexts in which students would use English instead of solely focusing on
grammar. A topic or theme is chosen and all language aspects are taught through
that topic or theme.
When students work in small groups toward social
and academic learning goals. Small mixed groups allow ESL students to feel at
ease while learning English. Peers in the group support the new language
learners as they discuss the lesson material in English. The group atmosphere
provides a non-threatening environment for students and self-confidence is
(and possibly correcting) student errors in speech, such as mispronunciations
or grammatical errors.
Larger course aims for an extended period of
time as opposed to learning objectives, which usually state what a student will
be able to do at the end of a lesson. Course goals are often stated in terms of
broad course content and tasks, or what a student will do over the length of a course.
Categories reflecting attitudes in different
cultures that can be viewed on scales such as equality vs. hierarchy, direct vs.
indirect, individual vs. group, and task vs. relationship.
A series of stages (honeymoon, culture-shock,
adjustment, reverse culture shock) experienced by a person who is immersed in a
foreign culture. The length of each stage varies from person to person and
depends on previous travel experience, openness to new cultures, and
willingness to adjust.
People’s attitudes, beliefs, and core values that
constitute the main part of our cultural differences. Some examples include our
attitudes toward gender, social status, age, raising children, perception of time, role of family, etc.
Feedback provided after the fact, once a student
has finished speaking. It allows a teacher to provide constructive comments without
interrupting student speech.
A teaching approach in which different
instructional methods and techniques are implemented based on the individual
needs of learners.
A phoneme (sound) containing two vowel sounds, one gliding into the second one.
class of spoken or written language that connects speech or written text
together. In spoken language, for example, words such as “so” and “well” might
be used to connect ideas or shift the conversation. In written language, the
transition words “however” or “on the other hand” are used to show contrast.
Both the spoken and written examples function to connect or show a relationship
between past and future language.
An activity in which students repeat the same
(or slightly changed) words, phrases, or sentences after the teacher in order
to memorize the newly introduced language.
English as a Foreign Language. A program for
students learning English in their native country where English is not spoken (e.g.,
Korean students learning English in South Korea, or Polish students learning
English in Poland).
A technique that involves drawing language from
students rather than giving it to them.
English Language Learner.
A process of learning that encourages students
to learn by doing and then reflect on that learning. Realia and authentic
materials encourage experiential learning, as do activities like scavenger
hunts, case studies, and role plays.
Reading for pleasure outside of the classroom,
usually with texts that are below a student’s current level.
A word that appears to be a cognate of a word in
another language but is not; the Spanish word “embarazada” means pregnant and is, therefore, a false friend of the
English word “embarrassed.”
Fluency is the ability to produce rapid, flowing, natural speech, without concern for grammatical correctness.
A morpheme that can stand on its own and have meaning.
Grammar Translation Method
The written or spoken pattern of the grammatical
structure. For example, the form of the present continuous is subject + am/is/are + verb-ing (“Anna is singing”).
The semantic meaning of a grammar structure. For
example, the sentence “Anna is singing” includes the present continuous, which
communicates that the action started before now and is occurring at the present moment.
The pragmatic use of a grammatical structure.
For example, one common use of present continuous is the description of a
photograph or drawing: “In this picture, the kids are playing a game of soccer.
It is raining.”
Classroom visual aids including tables, Venn
diagrams, charts, timelines, and any graphic representation of a relationship
between a set of ideas.
Feedback provided at the moment something is
uttered by a student, which has the benefit of directing student attention to
an utterance right after it is spoken.
Indo-European Language Family
A language family of mostly European languages
that consists of 10 main branches. English derives from one of the main
branches, the Germanic branch.
A morpheme added to a word without changing the word’s part of speech.
Information Gap Activity
Reading for details, such as vocabulary, main
idea, inferences, and author’s tone and purpose.
The musical patterns of speech, either raising
(e.g., in yes/no questions) or falling (e.g., in statements and wh-questions).
International Phonetic Alphabet. A
Latin-alphabet based system of phonetic notation
devised to help standardize representation of the sounds of spoken language.
There are four language skills: listening,
speaking, reading, and writing. Listening and reading are receptive skills,
while speaking and writing are productive skills.
A word, a phrase, or a number of words that can
be considered to be a single item of vocabulary (e.g., bus, bus stop, school
A set of words that are connected in some way,
usually by type (e.g., different items of clothing, vocabulary describing the weather,
Another word for “vocabulary.”
A language systematically used to make
communication possible between people not sharing a first language.
Limit Teacher Talking Time. The idea that students should be more active in a lesson and do more of the talking.
Mobile-Assisted Language Learning. Includes the
use of mobile devices such as cellular mobile phones, tablets, etc. that are
used for educational purposes.
Concrete objects used to demonstrate learning
concepts. The use of manipulatives appeals to ESL students’ senses in order to
enhance the meaning of the presented information. Students have the opportunity
to hear, see, and touch manipulatives to promote the learning process and
Lesson input (usually a reading text or
listening passage) that includes target language within a meaningful context.
The language used to describe language items
(e.g., grammar terminology) or used in class to give instructions or explanations.
Two words that contain all the same phonemes
(sounds) except for one (e.g., sheep and ship, or rice and
lice). Minimal pairs are useful for practicing discriminating between
two difficult phonemes (sounds).
An ESL teacher demonstrates the learning
activity as the students watch. After showing the students what to do, the
teacher repeats the demonstration as learners follow along. Soon the students
are capable of performing the task without hesitation. This type of modeling by
a teacher helps ESL students become comfortable with classroom activities and
helps them to know what is expected on assignments.
The study of word structure, root words, new
word creation, word changes, and morphemes that go into building words.
Using questionnaires and interviews to find out what
students need or want to study.
A type of communication including body language: gestures, eye movement, posture,
appearance, facial expressions, body contact, etc. Nonverbal communication can
vary from culture to culture.
Things that you hope will be done or achieved by
the end of an activity or a lesson.
A sentence where the subject is receiving the action. This is contrasted with the active voice, where the subject is doing the action. To form the passive voice you use the verb “to be” plus the past participle.
The Merchant of Venice was written by Shakespeare.
A man was taken to the police station.
Project-Based Learning. A teaching approach that
consists of using projects – usually research projects – to further learning in
Two- or three-part verbs, usually with prepositions, that take on a different meaning than their separate parts suggest. Some examples include:to go out with = to date / to bring up = to raise a topic in conversation / to look after = to watch
Praise for correct or well-spoken utterances or
speech, something that can be motivating for learners. Positive feedback is
more effective when it is more specific and might include something like
highlighting correct grammar or improvement in pronunciation.
Understanding when language is appropriate to
use according to the context or situation surrounding it, which is often a
question of formality.
A bound morpheme placed at the beginning of a
word that alters the meaning of the word or root it is attached to (e.g., the
prefix “un” in unmoved means “not.”).
A teacher’s relationship or connection with their
students based on learners’ positive feelings for their teacher.
Materials that have been developed with the second
language learner specifically in mind; they generally accompany ESL/EFL texts
or are produced by the teacher for specific students.
The combination of stressed and unstressed parts
of a sentence.
An activity during which students imagine
themselves in a situation outside the classroom (e.g., in a restaurant), and
play the role of someone else (e.g., a waitress), and use language appropriate
to this new context. The situation, characters, and problem (task) may be
written on role play cards by the teacher to encourage more creative scenarios
and better language production.
A theory stating that a student brings in his or
her own knowledge and experiences when trying to read or listen to a
Schwa /ǝ/ is the smallest English vowel sound.
It is the most frequent vowel sound in continuous (connected) speech, yet it
never carries stress.
Second Language Acquisition (SLA)
Individual phonemes (i.e., sounds) of vowels and
The meaning of language,
such as a word’s common synonyms, definition(s), and metaphorical meanings.
A designer method whereby the teacher remains mostly silent in order to encourage students to solve their own problems. Originated by Caleb Gattegno in the 1970’s, this method was meant to foster learning through discovery. Students were given Cuisenaire rods and used these colored rods to figure out the patterns of language based on a few examples given by the teacher.
One distinct part of a lesson, commonly a single
A grouping strategy that involves putting
students together according to their language ability, either mixing strong and
weak students, or grouping them at the same level.
The syllables in words that are longer, louder,
and higher-pitched. At the word level, stress
falls on syllables. At the sentence level, stress falls on content words
(e.g., nouns, verbs, adjectives, and sometimes adverbs) while function words
(e.g., pronouns, determiners, prepositions, and auxiliary verbs) are
A bound morpheme attached to the end of a word
that often changes the word’s part of speech, and sometimes its meaning, but (in the case of inflectional
morphemes) can also simply change nouns to plural or indicate a change in verb
A humanistic teaching method where instructors
strive to create an environment conducive to learning by utilizing tools such
as relaxing wall colors, background music, and artwork.
People’s behaviors, actions, and practices, such as language, manners, customs, food, music, clothing, art, literature, and body language.
Synchronous Online Learning
Classes that take place entirely online and have
a component which requires the student and teacher to both be online at a
specified time. Synchronous courses can include phone conferencing, video
conferencing, or chat.
The study of how words function together to
create units like phrases, clauses or sentences. This includes word order, sentence formation,
question formation, and parts of speech (articles, nouns, verbs, etc.).
An activity where students are urged to solve
some problem using language. This activity is open-ended; there is no set way
to accomplish their goal.
A specific tactic used to carry out a chosen
Total Physical Response Storytelling. Similar to
TPR, TPRS is a technique that gives opportunity for comprehensible input in the
classroom by using body motions and gestures. Through storytelling, TPRS
provides more context than TPR and also allows for grammar to be taught on a
The grammatical explanation of some part of language.
sound feature produced by the vibration of the larynx (vocal cords). Sounds are
voiceless when vibration is absent. For example, If you have your
students touch their larynx at the same time as saying /z/ or /v/, they will
feel a vibration. On the other hand, if they say /s/ or /f/, no vibration will
be felt. All English vowels are voiced, but some consonants are voiced while
others are not.
An activity done at the beginning of a lesson in
order to greet students and engage them in the lesson. This might include
review of previously-learned material or activation of background knowledge and
schema for the current lesson.
Writings posted online can also allow multiple
users to add content and edit the work. Wikis can help facilitate collaborative
writing and group projects.
A low-tech classroom visual aid featuring key
vocabulary terms and possibly corresponding pictures for the current unit of
study. Categories of word walls include high-frequency words, literature-based
word walls, and content-area word walls.