ITA Online - Glossary


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Mobile-Assisted Language Learning. Includes the use of mobile devices such as cellular mobile phones, tablets, etc. that are used for educational purposes.

Entry link: MALL


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 language acquisition.

Entry link: Manipulatives

Meaningful Input

Lesson input (usually a reading text or listening passage) that includes target language within a meaningful context.

Entry link: Meaningful Input


The language used to describe language items (e.g., grammar terminology) or used in class to give instructions or explanations.

Entry link: Metalanguage


How a language is taught. A method is made up of a set of techniques that reflect a certain philosophy of language teaching.
Entry link: Method

Minimal Pairs

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).

Entry link: Minimal Pairs


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.

Entry link: Modeling


The smallest meaningful unit in the grammar of a language that cannot be further divided. For instance, unhappy has two morphemes, “un” which means not and “happy” which means joyful. Both of these two morphemes carry meaning and cannot be further divided.
Entry link: Morphemes


The study of word structure, root words, new word creation, word changes, and morphemes that go into building words. 

Entry link: Morphology

Multisensory Activities

Planned lesson activities that tap into more than one of the senses. Learning can be enhanced through hands-on activities that give ESL learners an opportunity to absorb information through their senses. There is a Chinese saying that describes the benefits of this: “Tell me, I forget; show me, I remember; involve me, I understand.” ESL students need to be totally involved in their learning.
Entry link: Multisensory Activities