TEFL Glossary

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A Levels  (Advanced Levels) are the exams UK school pupils take on leaving school aged 17-18. They usually take three subjects. A student with a good pass at A-level is considered ready to start studying that subject at university. People studying for an A-level in a foreign language are at upper-intermediate level.

abstract noun

A noun which refers to an abstract idea (e.g., peace, love, understanding) rather than something tangible. See concrete noun.


Correct use of a language system in terms of grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. In teaching we are trying to help students achieve both accuracy and fluency.

accuracy-based activities

Accuracy-based activities are classroom (or homework) activities whose main focus is producing, selecting or perceiving correct forms (compare with fluency-based activities).


The process of getting to know a language through exposure to it, rather than through consciously studying it. Young children acquire their first language. A distinction is often made between language acquisition and language learning, though people who are studying a foreign language probably acquire a large proportion of it, i.e., get to know it without consciously studying and memorising it.


A word which describes a noun. E.g., an old man, a difficult question, or my hair is red. .


A word or phrase that describes an adjective, verb, or another adverb. Adverbs express time, manner, place, frequency, or degree, e.g., then, slowly, there, sometimes, extremely

Sentence adverbs, or adverbial phrases (such as frankly, honestly, in my opinion) can be used to modify (comment on) whole sentences.


What the teacher intends the students to learn in a lesson.


A sound formed by putting the tip of the of the tongue against the alveolar ridge - at the front of the roof of the mouth,  just behind the the top teeth. (t, d, s, z)

anaphoric reference

A word in a text (written or spoken) that refers back to an earlier idea in the text.

E.g., I spoke to Charlie this morning. She sounded a bit unhappy.

See also cataphoric reference.

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