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.

anticipated problems

The problems that the teacher predicts (anticipates) might arise in a lesson. The teacher should decide how to deal with these problems when planning the lesson.


 A word which carries the opposite meaning to another (e.g., black/white, fat/thin).


A way of teaching which is informed by certain beliefs about how languages operate and how they are learned. An approach is not as prescriptive as a method, which demands teachers to use particular procedures and techniques in the classroom.


It is a sound usually classed as a consonant (in English), but not a true consonant because there is no complete closure or restriction stopping the flow of air (/r/, /l/, /w/ and /j/). It is also called a semi-vowel. 


Articles are a type of determiners. They are placed before nouns. Broadly speaking, articles help the reader or listener understand which one(s) of a set of things we are talking about. There are three choices of articles: definite: the (Look at the horse), indefinite:a/an (We saw a horse), and no article: (I like horses).


See organs of speech.


A  method of foreign language teaching. See Unit 8.

authentic materials

These are listening or reading texts/materials that were produced for native speakers; they were not originally intended to be used for language teaching.

authentic practice

See freer and free practice.


An auxiliary verb is a verb used in conjunction with a main verb to form tenses, questions and negatives. In English, the primary auxiliary verbs are do, be, and have: Do you like coffee? You are working hard. I haven't been there.

These three verbs can also act as main verbs.

The full name for modal verbs is 'modal auxiliary verbs.' They operate in the same way though the meanings they convey are different.


bare infinitive

It is usually just referred to as 'infinitive without to,' e.g. 'go' and 'be', rather than 'to go' and 'to be'.

base form

See infinitive.

base word/form

See word family.

Berlitz Method

A language teaching method developed by Berlitz language schools. (See Unit 8.)

bi-lingual education

See Content and Language Integrated Learning.


A sound formed by putting the two lips together (/p/, /b/ and /m/).

body of the lesson

Generally all lessons should have a warmer-body-plenary structure. The main part of the lesson is the body. The first and final stages are the warmer (or lead-in) and the plenary. The body is normally further divided into separate stages.

bottom-up processing

Trying to build up an understanding of a text (written or spoken) by starting with the smallest units – letters or sounds –  and building these up to understand the words and grammatical structures in the sentences. The reader then tries to understand how the sentences relate to one another and so on. This process includes decoding and word attack skills.



Certificate of Advanced English - a Cambridge English examination for students at C1 level.


Computer Assisted Language Learning

caregiver speech

Caregiver speech is the simple language used to address young children. It is also referred to as child-directed speech, and it is sometimes called 'motherese.'

cataphoric reference

When a word in a text refers to another one which occurs later in the text. E.g., Because he was feeling unwell, James decided to go back to bed. Here he refers forward to James.

See also anaphoric reference and exophoric reference.


Competency-Based Language Teaching. In this approach, learning goals are defined 'in terms of precise measurable descriptions of the knowledge, skills, and behaviors students should possess at the end of a course of study.' (Richards & Rodgers, 2001, p.141).


See concept checking.


Common European Framework of Reference. System used for describing a learner's ability in a second or foreign language.

Certificate of Advanced English

See CAE.


Certificate of Proficiency in English

See CPE.

child-directed speech

See caregiver speech.

choral drilling

Drilling is when students repeat a word or phrase modelled by the teacher to practise pronunciation or help memorise structure. Choral drilling is the whole class or a group repeating together (in chorus).

chunks of language

A large proportion of the language we produce seems to be memorised 'chunks of language', rather than original creations generated through combining our grammatical and lexical knowledge. Examples are the _____er, the _________er (as in the bigger, the better), you must be joking, to cut a long story short.

See the Lexical Approach.

classroom contract

An agreement, negotiated with students, on how students should behave.


See Content and Language Integrated Learning.


See Community Language Learning.

closed pairs

This is when all the students in a class  work in pairs at the same time (compare with open pairs).

closed question

A question which can be answered just with 'yes' or 'no'. To encourage speaking in language lessons, it is better to use open questions.


See Communicative Language Teaching.


Cognates  are words from different languages which have the same origin. (So we recognise them!)


A coherent text is one in which the ideas are logically linked to form a unified whole. See also cohesion, cohesive devices.


The lexical and grammatical linking used within a text to achieve coherence. See also cohesive devices.

cohesive devices

The means by which a text is made coherent. These include referencing and the use of discourse markers.


(of vocabulary) - frequently occur with another word. E.g., freezing collocates with cold.


See collocate.

Common European Framework of Reference


common nouns

All nouns that are not proper nouns.

Communicative Approach

See Communicative Language Teaching.

communicative competence

It is the ability to successfully communicate and understand messages in the target language.

Communicative Language Teaching

Communicative Approach or Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) . CLT had become mainstream by the 1980s and remains the approach that most syllabuses claim to follow today. CLT sees that the primary goal of language teaching and learning is communicative competence: the ability to successfully communicate and understand messages in the target language. Grammatical accuracy is seen as less important than the successful communication of meaning. This approach believes that grammatical competence will be acquired through use of the language for communicative purposes.

Community Language Learning

Community Language Learning (CLL) is a teaching method developed byCharles Curran, a professor of psychology and a counsellor. Essentially, the method consists of using psychological counselling techniques in the language classroom. The teacher is referred to as the 'knower'. The knower's role is to assist the learners to articulate what they want to say in L2. When an individual student is ready to say something, s/he says it to the knower in L1 and the knower translates the message into L2.


Comparative are grammatical forms used to express comparisons. Most commonly, this is adjective+er+than. E.g., My brother is taller than my mother. For some adjectives, more and less are used instead of -er. E.g,  This city is more beautiful than my home town. (See Units 4 and 7).

"(Not) as...as " is another common comparative form: My mother isn't as tall as my brother.

Competency Based Language Teaching


comprehension questions

Questions designed to help students understand, or to ascertain whether they understand, the content of, typically, a listening or reading text. You might also use comprehension questions to check their understanding of a conversation, a film etc.

Do not confuse with concept questions!

comprehension skills

Comprehension skills refer to the ability to comprehend language through listening or reading.

concept check questions

Questions designed to check that students understand the concept (essential meaning) of a new piece of language - vocabulary or grammar. Concept check questions  are sometimes referred to as CCQs.

Also referred to as concept questions or concept checking.

concept checking

Using concept questions to check that students understand the concept (essential meaning) of a new piece of language - vocabulary or grammar. Concept check questions  are sometimes referred to as CCQs.

concept questions

Questions designed to check that students understand the concept (essential meaning) of a new piece of language - vocabulary or grammar. Concept check questions  are sometimes referred to as CCQs.

Also referred to as concept check questions (CCQs) or concept checking.

concrete noun

See noun.


Conditional sentences look at the result of a hypothetical situation. They consist of two clauses: the condition (or if-clause) and the consequence (or result).

Condition: If you do that again,

Consequence: I will go home.

They normally use the word 'if'. However, in more formal English, the subject and a modal auxiliary verb may be reversed to form the conditional. For example, Should you see her, say hello. See Unit 7 for more details. 


A conjunction is a word used to connect clauses or words in the same sentence (e.g., and, or, but, because, so). It may also be referred to as a linking word, connecting word, or connective.

connected speech

The way language sounds when it is spoken naturally. This involves various sound changes, such as elision, assimilation and catenation. See Unit 3.

connecting phrase

See linking.

connecting word

See linking.


See linking.

Content and Language Integrated Learning

(CLIL) The target language is not formally taught as a foreign language. Students study some or all of their academic syllabus (science, maths or history) in the target language.

It is also referred to as Thematic Learning, bi-lingual education or immersion.


A particular situation in which a specific piece of language is used. Context may change meaning.
E.g., I posted a letter.  I posted about that in my blog. 

Teaching new language in context (contextualising) makes it easier for learners to understand the meaning of that language and the way in which it is used. 


See context.


See fricative.

controlled practice

The accuracy-based activities that are aimed at enabling students to practise producing new language correctly.  The focus is on producing correct grammatical forms, accurate pronunciation, or the correct use of new vocabulary. You may also see this referred to as restricted practice.

coordinating conjunction

It is a conjunction used between clauses in a compound sentence.

copula verbs

Also spelledcopular. See linking verbs.


A corpus is a collection of written texts. Corpuses are often used for linguistic research, for example, to find out what words commonly collocate with a particular word.

correction code

It is the use of symbols when correcting students' written work to indicate what type of mistake they have made.
E.g., T indicates using the wrong tense.

correction spot

It is a point in the lesson, usually after a fluency activity, where the teacher goes over errors students have made during the activity.


'Certificate of Proficiency in English' is a Cambridge English examination for students at C2 level. It is often referred to as 'the Proficiency.'

cultural knowledge

It is the knowledge about a culture. Cultural knowledge can contribute to linguistic understanding. For example, knowledge of the style and political position of a newspaper can help a reader know what to expect from a given newspaper article.



In reading, decoding is the process of applying knowledge of letter-sound relationships and strings of letters to pronounce and thereby recognise written words, i.e., converting the symbols on a page or screen into meaningful words.

In listening, the decoding process includes recognising sounds, where words begin and end, sentence stress and chunks of language.


In reading, decoding is the process of applying knowledge of letter-sound relationships and strings of letters to pronounce and thereby recognise written words, i.e., converting the symbols on a page or screen into meaningful words.

In listening, the decoding process includes recognising sounds, where words begin and end, sentence stress and chunks of language.

deductive appproach

You may also see the term deductive presentation. This is a 'Rules → Language' way of teaching new grammar. The teacher explains the rules for how a new piece of language is used. Students then go on to apply the rules in controlled practice exercises.

This is generally regarded as less effective than inductive presentation for most learners, but can be useful for revision of the language that students have already learned.

delayed correction

It means correcting students after they have completed an activity rather than while they are doing it. If an activity is accuracy focused, correction is usually immediate, whereas if it is fluency focused, correction is delayed.


This, that, these and those are a class of determiners which indicates proximity in space or time to the speaker (or writer). This and these refer to things that are close to the speaker while that and those refer to things further away.

E.g., No one cares these days.

They didn't have computers in those days.

When this, that, these and those are used before a noun (this hat, that house), they are usually referred to just as demonstratives. You may also see the the term demonstrative adjective - it is the same thing.

These words can also be used as pronouns; this group is known as demonstrative pronouns.

I don't like these.

Pass me that.

Can I borrow this?

Those are nice.

In these examples the words act as subjects or objects, so they are pronouns.

dependent clause

See subordinating clause.


There are five categories of determiners:

  • Articles: a, the 
  • Demonstratives: this, that, etc.
  • Possessive adjectives/possessive determiners: my, our
  • Interrogative adjectives/interrogative determiners: whose, which
  • Quantifiers: some, a few,  several

Numbers: Cardinal (one, two, three) and ordinal (first, second, third) numbers are also used as determiners.

diagnostic test

A diagnostic test is a test  designed to identify problems that learners have with the language.


A dictogloss is a kind of dictation activity where learners reconstruct a text rather than writing it down exactly word for word. The teacher reads the text in short chunks as in a normal dictation, but at a speed too fast for learners to write it down exactly. Instead, they note down key words and then work in groups using their notes to rebuild the original. They then compare their text with the original one. It is a good way for identifying learners' errors and the acceptable different ways of expressing the same idea.

differentiated tasks

See differentiation.


Differentiation means providing different tasks or teaching materials, or adapting tasks to suit students of different levels in a mixed ablity class.


Two letters which together represent a single sound, e.g., ph, sh, ee, ea, etc.


A 'double vowel' - two vowel sounds which together make up what is perceived as a single sound.

E.g. hair /heə(r)/

go /goʊ/

Direct Method

It is also called the Natural method.

In the late 19th century, Heness and Sauveur opened a language school in the United States teaching German and French. They employed what they called the Natural Method because it was felt to mirror how children naturally learn their first languages. However, the approach came to be more commonly referred to as the Direct Method. The principles of the Natural/Direct Method, as outlined by Richards and Rogers (2001), are:

  • Classroom instruction was conducted exclusively in the target language.
  • Only everyday vocabulary and sentences were taught.
  • Oral communication skills were built up in a carefully graded progression organised around question-and-answer exchanges between teachers and students in small, intensive classes.
  • Grammar was taught inductively.
  • New teaching points were introduced orally.
  • Concrete vocabulary was taught through demonstration, objects and pictures; abstract vocabulary was taught by association of ideas.
  • Both speech and listening comprehension were taught.
  • Correct pronunciation and grammar were emphasised.

 (Richards and Rogers, 2001, p. 12)

Many features of this method or approach are still in evidence in the modern language classroom.

disappearing syllable

In some words in spoken English one syllable is not pronounced. E.g., 'interesting' looks as though it should be pronounced 'in-ter-est-ing,' but most native speakers say 'in-trest-ing.'

discourse markers

Discourse markers are words and phrases such as however, althoughand on the other hand in writing, and so, well and OK  in spoken language which are used to show how different parts of the text relate to each other.

They are also referred to as linking words, linking phrases, connectors, connectives and conjunctions.


This is a teaching approach particularly associated with Scott Thornbury and Luke Meddings. Dogme rejects course books and grammar-based teaching. The focus is on 'emergent' language. Lessons are based around the language that the students produce.


Drilling is when students repeat a word or phrase modelled by the teacher to practise pronunciation or help memorise structure.

dynamic verb

See stative verb.



To give students prompts to encourage them to produce the target language, or answer questions about grammar rules. This keeps students more involved and active than just telling them everything.


See elicit.


See elicit.


When a sound disappears in connected speech, it is elided. For example, in 'mustn't,' the first t is always elided, and the second one usually is unless it is followed by a vowel.


See elide.


A distinction is drawn between errors and mistakes. An error is when learners get language wrong because they don't know the correct form.

For example, a low-level learner might say 'If my mother didn't go to Spain, she not met my father.' because they have not yet learned the 3rd Conditional form (If my mother hadn't gone to Spain, she wouldn't have met my father). 
This student would not be able to produce the correct form even if they were told their sentence was wrong.

A student who has learned the form might still make a mistake with it, but does have the knowledge to self-correct, e.g., 'If my mother hadn't go to Spain, she wouldn't have meet my father.' In this case the teacher could isolate the mistakes and elicit the correct forms from the student.

Mistakes are sometimes also referred to as slips.

Mistakes and slips may also just be the kind of spoken and written mistakes native speakers make when tired or speaking quickly. 

exophoric reference

It is a reference to something outside the text or context that the audience (listener or reader) will understand because they have shared knowledge.

e.g. The Prime Minister. Providing the audience understands the country of reference, they will know which Prime Minister the indicates.
Or 'She's late again.' both speaker and listener know who 'she' is.


When we are talking about language functions such as promising, inviting, giving advice, etc, exponents are the actual pieces of language used to express that function.

For the function of asking for permission, some exponents are:

May I...

Can I...

Could I...

Is it Ok if...

Would you mind if...

I wondered if I could...


See intensive.

extensive listening

See intensive.

extensive reading

See extensive.

extrinsic motivation

Motivation is what prompts a learner to learn a language (or other subject or skill). Extrinsic means 'outside,' so if the learner sees learning the language as a tool to achieving something else they want, e.g., parental approval, promotion at work, passing an exam to get into university, then the learner has extrinsic motivation. 

Compare with intrinsic motivation.


false friends

These are cognates whose meaning has diverged, so they no longer mean the same thing. Learners often assume that a word in L2 which looks and sounds similar to one in their L1 would have the same meaning.


First Certificate in English - a Cambridge English examination for students at B2 level.


General term for giving a response or assessment. After a small group discussion, students might 'give feedback' to the whole class, which would be a short report on what they have said.

After students have done a task, the teacher may 'give feedback' - comments and corrections.

At the end of a course, students are often asked to 'give feedback,' which means a judgement on the classes they have had.

final stage

The final stage of a lesson is sometimes called the plenary. Its purpose is to bring together and summarise what has been done in that day's lesson. 

find someone who

A 'find someone who' is an activity which involves students milling round the class speaking to everyone.  They need to complete a worksheet that requires them to 'find someone who' fits a series of statements, such as 'Find someone who....likes eating fish/...comes to school on the bus/...wears jeans every day, etc.

This is often used as a 'getting-to-know-you' activity, but it is also very useful as a way of practising specific language items.

First Certificate in English

See FCE.

first language acquisition

See acquisition.


Fluency in language is the ability to communicate freely and confidently. A fluent speaker is not necessarily accurate.

See accuracy.

fluency-based activities

Classroom (or homework) activities whose main focus is on using the language to communicate effectively and confidently.  Compare with accuracy-based activities.

four skills

In language learning, the 'four skills' are reading, listening, speaking and writing.

Reading and listening are receptive skills.

Speaking and writing are productive skills.

free speaking activities

There are activities in which the focus is just on effective communication, for example, debates, discussions and role plays. Although the topic will mean that certain language is more likely to be used, the main aim of these activities is to practise fluency, not to practise particular language items.

It is different from freer practice activities which are designed to practise specific language.

freer practice

Freer practice is the 'production' part of a new language lesson when students practise using the target language (TL) in a semi-authentic way.  (See also controlled or restricted practice.)

frequency adverb

An adverb which indicates how frequently an event or action occurs. e.g. Sometimes, often, usually, always, never.


A consonant formed by partially restricting the flow of air, so there is a kind of friction. (e.g., /s/ and /v/)


Fricatives are also called continuants. They are consonants which are formed through friction (e.g, /f/ and /z/) - the flow of air is partially restricted, but not stopped completely. You can continue saying them until you run out of breath. The second line of consonants in the IPA chart are fricatives.


This word is annoyingly and confusingly used with different meanings in English language teaching.

1. Language functions (also called pragmatic functions) are the things we do with language, such as promising, inviting, giving advice, asking for permission, etc. Exponents are the actual pieces of language used to express that function.

2. When looking at a particular grammatical form which can be used in different ways with different meanings, these different meanings or uses are also called functions. It is very common for tenses to have multiple functions, for example:

a) He will get up early when I am trying to have a lie in.

b) He will get up early tomorrow because he has to catch a train at 7.30.

c) I expect he will get up early tomorrow because he's so excited.

In these examples, the future simple: He will get up serves the functions of expressing a) annoying habit/insistence b) future as fact c) prediction.

It is function in this second sense that is referred to when we talk about teaching the function of new language in a grammar or functional language lesson.

3. Grammatical function can refer to either the grammatical category a word in a sentence belongs to (See Unit 4, Part 1 Parts of speech):

Smoking is bad for you. - Smoking is a noun
They were smokingSmoking is a verb.

We had a party on the beach. On is a preposition.

or the role a word or phrase serves in the structure of a clause (see Unit 4, Part 2 Clause structure):

Smoking is bad for you. - Smoking is functioning as a subject.

We had a partyon the beach. - On the beach is a prepositional phrase functioning as an adverbial.



/'ʒɒnrə/ /ˈʒɒ̃rə/ The type and style of discourse (spoken or written), e.g., a letter of complaint, a romantic novel, a business email, newspaper article, promotional material, etc.


A gerund is the -ing form of a verb when it acts as a noun as in 'I love dancing,' and 'Studying grammar is enormously good fun.'

Getting-to-know-you activities

These activities are used at the start of a course to help the students and teacher get to know about each other. They are also called icebreakers.


It is the general meaning of a text.

glottal stop

This sound /ʔ/ is common in spoken English though it is not included in the phonetic chart used in English language teaching. Most obviously it is used when /t/ sounds are 'dropped' in words, such as 'bottle' or 'what,' but also occurs in other locations, e.g., something /'sʌʔmθɪŋ/. 
It is actually a kind of stop (consonant) produced by stopping the airflow with the glottis.
The sound is often regarded as low status and incorrect though it is in fact widely used by most native speakers.


See language grading.


Grammar refers to the rules which govern the way the words in a language change and how they are combined with other words in sentences.


It is a traditional approach to language teaching which focuses on learning grammar rules and applying them in order to translate texts from one language to another.

grammatical categories

Also referred to a parts of speech. 

These are the names for the different classes to which words are assigned depending on their function in a sentence.

The parts of speech in English are the verb, noun, adjective, adverb, determiner, pronoun, preposition, conjunction, and interjection.

grammatical cohesion

The different kinds of referencing, such as using pronouns, possessives and demonstratives, and the use of conjunctions are types of grammatical cohesion.

grammatical competence

Grammatical competence refers to the ability to recognise the syntactical features of a language and to use them to interpret and produce words and sentences. It also incorporates receptive and productive knowledge of the lexical, morphological,  and phonological aspects of the language.

guided discovery

Guided discovery is any inductive teaching approach where rather than the teacher just telling students the rules, the learners are provided with examples and encouraged to work out the rules governing them for themselves.

In language teaching this entails giving examples of a specific language item. The teacher will usually devise some specific tasks for the students to do to guide them in the right direction.

Most of the activities on the tenses in Unit 4, Part 3 of this course are examples of guided discovery.



Homophones are words which sound exactly the same as each other but have different spellings and different meanings, for example, write, wright, and rite.


See superordinate.


 A member of a category of things indicated by a superordinate. For example, oak is the hyponym of tree.



See getting-to-know-you activities.


A common phrase whose meaning is not deducible from those of the individual words used. Examples include over the moon and to bite off more than you can chew, and sick as a parrot.


International English Language Testing System - an exam jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English, which is designed to show what level of competence the learner has reached in English. Students applying to study at university in English Speaking countries are often required to have achieved a specified score in this exam. There is an academic exam and a general one. The general IELTS is aimed at people who want to immigrate to an English speaking country. The US equivalent of this exam is the TOEFL.


See Content and Language-Integrated Learning.

imperative form

The imperative form is used when we give instructions or orders: sit down, listen to me, etc.

inductive approach

(Also inductive presentation).

A 'Language → Rules' approach to teaching new grammar.  Students see examples of the new language in context, and the teacher then guides them to work out the rules. (Compare with deductive presentation.)


The infinitive is the base form of a verb. The terms base form and infinitive, or infinitive form are used interchangeably.

This is the form of the verb you would use to complete the sentence 'I want to...', e.g., to be, to go, to have, to leave, etc.

A full infinitive is with to. The bare infinitive is without to, as used after modal verbs.

Each verb actually has four infinitive forms:

Present infinitive: (to) go

Continuous infinitive: (to) be going

Perfect infinitive: (to) have gone

Perfect continuous infinitive: (to) have been going

innatist theory

In language acquisition theory, theinnatist theory (introduced by Chomsky) is the idea that humans are born with an innate capacity to process and acquire language. This capacity is called the language acquisition device (LAD). The theory holds that all languages have an underlying shared set of structural rules (Universal Grammar), which the human brain is naturally equipped with. The theory is widely accepted though it has been questioned in recent years (even by Chomsky). See for example Vyvyan Evans' The Language Myth.


Input is the language that an acquirer/learner is exposed to.

Input Hypothesis

The Input Hypothesis is Stephen Krashen's theory that new language is learned best if it is slightly higher than the learner’s current level of English. 

This is expressed in the mathematical-looking formula:  'i + 1.'

i = Input,  meaning the language learners currently know, and +1 being the new language.

Integrated Skills in English

See ISE exams.

integrated skills lesson

It is a lesson which requires students to use all four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking).


Intensive reading or listening is when we read closely to find detailed information and reach a thorough understanding of a text.

Extensive reading and listening refers to approaching longer texts, which are read more rapidly for a more general global understanding.

Extensive reading in language learning is when students read texts for pleasure and for developing their general reading skills; they are not required to do tasks.

Classroom reading and listening lessons usually involve intensive reading/listening, which means reading closely to complete specific tasks.

Extensive reading  and listening are probably the best ways of improving comprehension and expanding vocabulary. It is useful for teachers to find ways of encouraging students to read and listen extensively as well as intensively.

intensive listening

See intensive.

intensive reading

See intensive.


This refers to who is talking to whom during the lesson, e.g., T-class, st-st, etc.

Lesson plans usually include a column in which planned interactions are recorded.

Interactionist and Developmental Theory

According to this theory of language acquisition, children learn language because they naturally want to communicate. Language therefore emerges from social interaction. As children's language ability develops though communication, it will be strongly affected by their environment.

interactive listening

Interactive listening requires the listener to respond - conversation. Listening which does not require a response (e.g., listening to the radio) is non-interactive. Arguably all listening is in some way interactive because even if you do not need to make a response, there will be some kind of emotional or intellectual response to what you hear.


It is a sound formed by putting the tongue between the teeth (/θ/ and /ð/).


An interjection is some kind of exclamation or hesitation word or noise (Oh! Ugh, er...) that tells us something about the speaker's attitude towards what he or she is saying (e.g., pleasure, disgust, uncertainty, etc.).

International English Language Testing System


interrogative adjectives

See interrogative determiners.

interrogative determiners

They are also called interrogative adjectives (e.g., whose, what, which). 

interrogative forms

Question forms are grammatical forms used for asking questions.  E.g.: The interrogative/question form for past simple is S+did+verb (infinitive): Did you make a pie?


Intonation is the rise and fall of the voice in speech.


See transitive.

intrinsic motivation

Learners with intrinsic motivation are motivated to learn a language (or other subject or skill)  because it is enjoyable. The learner is learning to use English for its own sake rather than because it will lead to an external reward.

Research suggests that learners with intrinsic motivation learn more effectively than those with only extrinsic (external) motivation. Teachers should try to make lessons interesting and fun in order to promote intrinsic motivation.

See also extrinsic motivation.

irregular adverbs

They are the adverbs of manner which are not formed by adding -ly to the adjective, e.g., hard, well, late and fast.

irregular plural

It is the plural form of a countable noun that is not formed by just adding -s, or -es to the singular noun, e.g., children, wolves and women.

irregular plurals

Plural nouns that do not take the normal form of an added -s or -es. E.g. children, women, sheep.

ISE exams

Integrated Skills in English is a series of English language exams at 4 different levels run by Trinity College London.


jigsaw listening

See jigsaw reading.

Jigsaw reading

It is a type of reading activity in which groups of students are given different texts to read. This is often one text which has been divided into sections, but may also be separate texts on the same topic. This technique can also be used for listening texts. See Unit 5 Part 1 for a detailed description.



Key English Test -  a Cambridge English examination for students at A2 level.

Key English Test

See KET.



First language - also referred to as primary language, native language and mother tongue.


Second Language. It is any language that a person knows aside from his/her first language.


See second language acquisition.


These are the sounds formed by placing the bottom lip against the top teeth (/f/ and /v/).  


Language Acquisition Device - see innatist theory.

language grading

Grading your language means using language appropriate to your students' level. When you are explaining a new word or phrase, it is easy to accidentally use another piece of unfamiliar vocabulary. You then need to explain that, and in doing so you might introduce a third unfamiliar term! Instead, you should try to explain the vocabulary item without using other words or grammatical structures that the students don't already know.


See warmer.

learning platform

You are on one!
A learning platform is any online information system used for teaching. This maybe for exclusively online courses, such as this one, or to support traditional teaching in schools, universities, etc.

learning style

It is a student's preferred way of learning, e.g, visual, auditory, kinaesthetic. It also refers to the conditions in which an individual is most likely to learn effectively.

Lexical Approach

Lexical approaches to language teaching emphasise the importance of vocabulary in language learning. A lexical syllabus is organised according to the vocabulary that is to be taught rather than the grammar or the functions. A large proportion of the language we produce seems to be memorised 'chunks of language', rather than original creations generated through combining our grammatical and lexical knowledge. Examples are the _____er, the _________er (as in the bigger, the better), you must be joking, to cut a long story short.

These 'pre-fabricated chunks' are given various names such as lexical phrases, holophrases, gambits and lexicalised stems. What they are called does not really matter, but it is very useful for the language teacher to recognise and teach these chunks.

lexical set

A set of words that can be grouped together because they are associated with a particular topic. For example, the words kettle, washing machine, cooker and dishwasher can be grouped together in the category kitchen appliances.


All the words in a language.

Adjective: lexical

lexeme: the set of forms taken by a single unit of meaning. Fear, feared, fearing, fearful, fearsome are all the same lexeme.


A linking word or linking phrase is one which links clauses or sentences. It is also called connective, connecting word, connecting phrase. Conjunctions are a type of linking words.

linking verbs

Linking verbs, also called copula verbs, are verbs that link the subject of a clause to something that tells us more about the subject of the clause:

1. This car is really expensive.
2. Youth unemployment is a really difficult problem.
3. Maria seems nice.
4. Shannon has become a doctor.
5. She was late again.


It is a learning style.


main stress

It is also referred to as primary stress. If a word has more than one syllable (is 'multisyllabic'), one syllable will be more strongly stressed than the others. That syllable is the main stress. There are three levels of word stress in English: primary, secondary and tertiary. Most multisyllabic words have only primary and tertiary stress. If you find it difficult to identify the primary stress, it may be because there is a secondary stress (e.g, interesting, narrow). In transcription the primary stress is indicated by a straight apostrophe-like symbol before the primary stressed syllable, while the secondary stress (if shown) is indicated by a straight comma-like symbol before the secondary stressed syllable.

e.g. interesting  / ˈɪnˌtrəstɪŋ/

main verb

The main verb (also called lexical verb) in a clause is the verb which tells us about what the subject does. If there are any other verbs in the same verb phrase, they are auxiliary verbs. For example, in 'He will have been working here for 20 years.' the main verb is work. The others (will have been) are all auxiliaries in this sentence.


This stands for Meaning, Form and Pronunciation - a useful checklist for teachers when teaching a piece of new language.

minimal pairs

Minimal pairs are two words which have only one sound difference between them. Most obvious are rhymes where the first sound is different, e.g, pit and bit.

But the difference may occur in another part of the word, e.g., bit and beat - here the vowels are different, or bit and bid, where the final sound is different. Minimal pairs are very useful in pronunciation teaching, focusing on the sounds your students tend to confuse.


See error. Mistakes are sometimes also referred to as slips.

modal verbs

They are often referred to just as 'modals.' Modal verbs (or 'modal auxiliary verbs') modify main verbs to tell us something about the way the speaker or writer sees an event. They express ideas, such as ability, possibility, necessity and obligation. There are nine full modal verbs in English: can, could, shall, should, will, would, may, might and must.

Grammatically they operate in the same way as the primary auxiliary verbs in that they can be used to form questions and negatives. They are always followed by a bare infinitive form.

Ought to, need to and have to are sometimes called semi-modals because they convey some of the same concepts but behave slightly differently grammatically.

model sentence

A model sentence is one that is used as a clear example of the target language in a grammar or functional language lesson. The model sentence is used to help students understand the MFP of the new language.

(Sometimes also called marker sentence.)


When a teacher monitors the students, s/he goes round the class to see how well people are working and offer additional support if needed. This is a good time to note the errors that need to be covered in a correction spot.


A monophthong is a single-vowel sound. In the IPAmonophthongs are represented by a single symbol,e.g., /e/ as in bed /i:/ as in creep. See diphthong.

multi-word verbs

See phrasal verbs.

multiple intelligences

Gardner's Theory ofMultiple Intelligences argues that the traditional view of what constitutes intelligence, which is focused on specific academic abilities, is too limited, and that there are, in fact, a range of different types of intelligence.


Of words - having more than one syllable.


name chain

It is a name-learning game which requires students to repeat everyone's name around the class (see Unit 9 for detail).


A nasal is a sound which is produced by releasing most of the air through the nose (/m/, /n/ and /ŋ/).

Natural Approach

Similar to CLT, Tracey D. Terrell's Natural Approach (1970s) is based on Stephen Krashen's theories of second language acquisition (L2A). Krashen argues that there is a natural process by which we acquire second languages. All that is needed is adequate exposure to 'comprehensible input' in stress-free situations, and the L2 will be acquired in much the same way as children learn their first language. Krashen draws a distinction between conscious learning and subconscious acquisition.

Natural method

See the Direct Method.

NB: this is different from the Natural Approach!

non-interactive listening

See interactive listening.


A noun is a word which refers to a thing. This could be a physical object, such as wall or daisy - these are concrete nouns, or a word that refers to an abstract idea, such as peace, love and understanding (abstract nouns).

noun phrase

A noun phrase is a single noun or a group of words including a noun which function in a sentence as the subject, object, or prepositional object.


The children, the dog and the cat are playing in the garden. (subject)

I am watching the children, the dog and the cat. (object)

Look at the children, the dog and the cat!  (prepositional object)



The way this word is defined in education varies.
On this course we use it to mean what the students will do to achieve the aims of the lesson. E.g. Students will do a role play to practise functional language for inviting, accepting and refusing.

open pairs

It is when two students perform an activity (e.g., a dialogue), and the other learners observe.

open question

An open question is one which could be answered in many different ways, not just 'yes' or 'no'. Open questions begin with wh- question words, or how. See closed questions.

Oral Approach

See Situational English.

organs of speech

Organs of speech are also called articulators. They are the parts of the body used to produce spoken language -  lips, teeth, the various parts of the tongue and the roof of the mouth: alveolar ridge, hard palate and velum (soft palate). They also include the uvula and the glottis.



Paralinguistics (or paralinguistic features) are aspects of communication in addition to words. These features are: tone and pitch of voice, gestures, facial expressions and body language. Paralinguistics often serve to convey emphasis or attitude. 

parts of speech

See grammatical categories.


Passive forms are clauses in which the recipient of an action is the grammatical subject (e.g. He was attacked). Passive forms are formed by using verb to be as an auxiliary, and putting the main verb in the past participle form. S+BE+past participle.

peer teaching

When students teach each other.


Preliminary English Test -  a Cambridge English examination for students at B1 level.


A phoneme in a language is the unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another, for example, /t/ and /d/.

phrasal verb

It is a multi-word verb combining a verb and an adverb (adverbial particle). Together the two words usually have a different meaning from what the individual meanings of the words suggest (e.g, blow up). Verb + preposition combinations (e.g., look at) are sometimes called phrasal verbs (there is disagreement about this). Phrasal verbs can be transitive or intransitive. 

Transitive phrasal verbs may be separable or inseparable, e.g., take off  is separable:  take off your hat/take your hat off.

'Look after' is inseparable: I looked after the children. NOT *I looked the children after.

placement test

It is a test designed to find out students' current level in order to place them in the correct class.


The final stage of a lesson is sometimes called the plenary. Its purpose is to bring together and summarise what has been done in that day's lesson.


A plosive is a sound formed by completely stopping and then releasing the flow of air (e.g.. /p/ and /g/).

Plosives are also called stops.


It is a word or word form which indicates more than one. In English, plurals are usually formed by adding -s or -es to the end of the singular noun.

Positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is the process of encouraging or establishing a pattern of behaviour by offering a reward when the desired behaviour is exhibited.


A possessive is a word or form which indicates possession. In English these are: 's, possessive determiners (my, their, etc.) and possessive pronouns (mine, hers, etc.).


PPP stands for present-practice-produce - a common procedure for teaching grammar. See units 1, 6 and 7.


Pre-teaching is teaching language that students will need for an activity in advance of asking them to read, listen, have a debate, etc.


It is an affix added to the beginning of a word to change its meaning, e.g., un-, dis- a-, etc.

Preliminary English Test

See PET.


Before one can read and write.


It is a word placed before a noun to indicate a relationship between two parts of the sentence, e.g., on, in, at.

Most obviously prepositions indicate location: The cat is on the table. However, they may also refer to time: My birthday is in August, or other types of relation: I am interested in jazz


Prepositions are words which express relationships between two items. Primarily they express location (position) and come before a noun (pre-). E.g.,The bottle is on the table, in the cupboard, etc. They are also used to express time relationship: on Wednesday, at 4.O clock, in August. These words are also used in more abstract ways: interested in, look forward to, the study of.

There is a high number of prepositions in English, and they are difficult for learners to master.


See PPP.

primary stress

See main stress.

process writing

The term is used to describe writing lessons which focus on the process of producing a piece of written work – the various stages a writer goes through to create the final product, e.g., gathering ideas, planning, drafting, editing, proofreading, etc.

productive skills

See four skills.

productive vocabulary

A distinction can be drawn betweenproductive and receptive vocabulary (sometimes referred to as active and passive vocabulary). Productive vocabulary is the vocabulary a person uses in their spoken and written language. Receptive vocabulary is the vocabulary which is recognised and understood in context, but not actually used in productive language.

proficiency test

A proficiency test is designed to measure the level of a learner's  language. Public examinations, such as TOEFL and FCE, are proficiency tests.

progress test

A progress test is designed to assess a learner's progress in a particular course.


A pronoun is a short word that stands in place of a noun, e.g., she/herare subject and object pronouns that can be used in place of 'Janet'.

proper noun

Proper nouns are basically the names of specific people, organisations, and places.  In English proper nouns start with a capital letter, e.g., Ilhan Omar, Morocco,United Nations.

Other nouns are common nouns, e.g., woman, country, etc.

Rather inconsistently, days of the week and months are capitalised in English, but not seasons.



Quantifiers are placed before a noun or noun phrase to tell us something about how much, how many or what proportion of a thing or group of things we are talking about (e.g. some, a few, a lot).


Reading Method

A method of language teaching developed in USA in the first half of the 20th Century. See Unit 8 for detail.


Annoying and pretentious term used in language teaching. It just means real objects.

Received Pronunciation

See RP.

receptive skills

See four skills.

receptive vocabulary

See productive vocabulary.


A cohesive device used to refer backwards and forwards within a text, and sometimes to refer to something outside the text. See anaphoric, cataphoric and exophoric.

Referencing is the use of pronouns, possessivepronouns, possessiveadjectives, demonstratives (this, that, these, those, here, there) and definite articles (the) to refer to something or someone that is mentioned elsewhere in the text, or in the case of exophoric referencing, outside the text.

relative adverbs

When 'where, when and why' are used to link clauses, they are classed as relative adverbs.

E.g., This is the house where I was born.

It was beautiful early spring when we met.

I don't really know why I said that.

relative clause

A subordinate clause that describes a noun. Defining relative clauses specify who or what is referred to.

Examples: That's the man who was rude to my mother.

This is the dress which I bought yesterday.

John's the bloke that she used to be married to.

It was the squirrel they had seen on the roof.

Non-defining relative clauses are enclosed by commas and just give additional information.

Examples: The children, who were really enjoying themselves, didn't want to leave the party.

The question of Brexit, which no one seemed able to solve, was in the news again.

Non-defining relative clauses always require a relative pronoun.

relative pronoun

That, which, who, whom and whose are considered relative pronouns when they are used to introduce a relative clause.

That's the man who was rude to my mother.

Can anyone tell me whose coat this is?

She turned off the news, which was depressing.

If a relative pronoun in a defining relative clause refers to the object of the main clause, it can be omitted:

John's the bloke (that/who) she used to be married to.

It was the squirrel (that/which) they had seen on the roof.

This is the dress (that/which) I bought yesterday.


In testing, reliability means that a test effectively measures what it is intended to measure.

restricted practice

See controlled practice.


The verb to revise has two meanings

1. (Mainly used in education) To re-read earlier work to improve one's knowledge and understanding of a subject. Often implies memorising for an examination.

2. Examine and make corrections or alterations to (written or printed matter).
"the book was published in 1960 and revised in 1968"

The first meaning is used in British English, but not American English, and is used throughout this course.


Noun form of the verb to revise, which has two meanings

1. (Mainly used in education) To re-read earlier work to improve one's knowledge and understanding of a subject. Often implies memorising for an examination.

2. Examine and make corrections or alterations to (written or printed matter).
"the book was published in 1960 and revised in 1968"

The first meaning is used in British English, but not American English, and is used throughout this course.

root word/form

See word family.


RP stands for Received Pronunciation - a particular British English accent. Being sometimes also called BBC English or Oxford English, RP is a class accent rather than a regional accent and is associated with higher social classes and educated speakers. The 'standard' pronunciation given in British English dictionaries is RP, and British English language teaching course books present (mainly) this accent. It is often erroneously regarded as more 'correct' than other accents.

running dictation

It is also called team dictation. It is a dictation activity in which the class is divided into teams, and the dictation is done as a race. Team members take it in turns to run up to a text, read a section of it, run back and dictate it to another student who is acting as the 'scribe'. The next team member then runs to read the next section.



Scan reading or scanning is when we look through a text quickly to find specific information. For example, looking at a bus or train timetable, then looking down quickly until you find the name of the town you are travelling to, and then across the different times until you find the time of day you are interested in.


Schwa is a name given for the most common sound in English Schwa. The word derives from a Hebrew word for a diacritic indicating a neutral vowel sound.

second language acquisition

Also referred to as L2A. It is the process by which a second language is acquired. It is a field of study in linguistics.

secondary stress

See main stress.

semi-authentic texts

These are the authentic texts which have been adapted slightly for language teaching.


See modal verbs.


It is a sound usually classed as a consonant (in English), but not a true consonant because there is no complete closure or restriction stopping the flow of air. Also called an approximant  /r/, /l/, /w/ and /j/).

sentence adverb

See adverb.

sentence adverbs

See adverbs

silent period

From Krashen's L2A theories and Terrell's Natural Approach, this is the idea that second language learners should be allowed to have a silent period when they first start learning. This means they are not forced to speak until they are ready.

Silent Way

The Silent Way teaching method takes its name from the fact that the teacher is supposed to be almost completely silent. The approach was developed by Egyptian educationalist Caleb Gattengo. The teacher is a facilitator rather than an instructor; s/he sets the students problems,  which they have to solve cooperatively by communicating with each other. There is a strong emphasis on pronunciation and coloured pronunciation charts. Cuisenaire rods are used to prompt students' language.


In grammar, it means referring to just one person or thing.
Singular nouns refer to single entities: a cat, an idea.
Singular verb forms are those used for only one actor, e.g., I am, he goes, etc.

Situational English

It is also called the Oral Approach. It is a language teaching approach developed in the mid 20th Century. See Unit 8 for detail.


See four skills.


Skim reading, or skimming is when we look through a text quickly just to get the gist - a general idea of what is being said. For example, imagine you were choosing a book to read in the airport shop shortly before going to catch a flight., you would probably skim through the 'blurbs' on the back covers of the books you are considering. 


See error.


The separate steps in a lesson are usually referred to as lesson stages.


See warmer.

state verbs

See stative verbs.

stative verbs

They are also called state verbs. These are verbs that describe states rather than actions. They are often verbs which refer to thoughts, feeling and senses (e.g., love, understand, believe, see). These verbs are not usually used in continuous forms as they refer to something which is seen as permanent. When they are used in continuous form, the meaning is often slightly different (compare: I see the flowers with I'm seeing her tonight).

Most verbs are dynamic verbs; they describe physical actions and can be used in continuous forms.

stress pattern

It refers to the pattern of stresses on the syllables of a word. For example, important, disaster and commander all have the same stress pattern: oOo.


A string of letters is a set of letters which commonly occur together in a word. For example, 'string' is made up of two strings: str- (as in strike, stroke, stride, struck, etc.) and -ing. Awareness of strings helps develop reading skills.


The grammatical subject of a sentence is the noun, noun phrase or pronoun that comes before the verb. The subject is normally described as the agent (do-er) of an action:

All the children ran away.

He said I was stupid.

However, some verbs serve a linking function rather than expressing an action (see linking verbs). In sentences with linking verbs, something is said about the subject:

Belinda is a drug addict.

I became a teacher 10 years ago.

When the verb is in passive form, the subject of the sentence is the recipient of the action:

Vicki was bitten by a poisonous spider.

English demands that all sentences (except some exclamations, such as 'How nice!') have a subject. In some sentences, 'there' or 'it' acts as a dummy subject.

There are many reasons why I doubt what he says.

subordinate clause

Also called a dependent clause, a subordinating clause acts to 'finish a thought' in a sentence. However, it is not a full sentence on its own  - it only makes sense in combination with the main clause.

Example: I shouted at him because I was I annoyed.

If you are good, I'll make you a pie.

subordinating conjunction

It is a conjunction used at the start of a subordinate clause.


A morpheme (a meaningful word part consisting of a letter or set of letters)  e.g., '-ing''-tion' or '-ly',  added to the end of a base word to form another word, usually a different grammatical category in the same word family.

E.g., happy, happily, happiness.


Georgi Lozanov, a Bulgarian educator and psychiatrist, pioneered Suggestopedia as a language teaching method in the 1970s. Lozanov was influenced both by Soviet psychology and yoga. He argued that in order to learn, students need to feel totally relaxed. The classroom should be furnished with comfortable armchairs and be pleasantly decorated and lit. Teaching should be accompanied by the playing of classical music. The teacher plays an authoritarian (but not aggressive) role so that the teacher-student relationship is similar to a parent-child relationship.


It is a word which refers to a category of things (also called a hypernym) e.g., fruit, animal. The members of the category are hyponyms, e.g., oak is a hyponym of tree.


Part of a word containing a vowel sound and pronounced as a 'unit.' If you beat out the rhythm of a word, the number of beats will show the number of syllables in that word. For example, 'cat' has one syllable. 'car-pen-ter' has three syllables. As indicated above, in English a syllable normally contains a vowel, however there are three consonants which can act as syllabic consonants: /m/ /n/ and /l/ as in bottom, button and bottle. Some speakers move straight into these sounds without articulating an intervening vowel. Syllabic consonants are transcribed with a dot under the phonetic symbol, so you may see, for example, the word freckle transcribed as /'frekəl/ or /'frekl̩/.


target language (TL)

1.  The actual language you are teaching in a specific lesson (e.g., a particular tense used in a particular way, or a set of vocabulary.)

2. 'Target language' is also used more generally to refer to the foreign or second language students are learning, in our case, English.

Task-Based Language Learning

TBLL, also referred to as Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) and Task Based Instruction (TBI), is a teaching approach which focuses on the use of authentic language rather than teaching specific language items. Students are asked to do meaningful tasks using the target language, such as conducting an interview, making a phone call or buying tickets.

Task-Based Language Teaching

See  Task-Based Language Learning.


See Task-Based Language Learning.


See Task-Based Language Learning.


A lesson or stage of a lesson where learners' attention is focused on the teacher is teacher-centred. If a lesson is teacher-centred, it means that the teacher is the person who is doing most or all of the speaking. As language is learned most effectively by using it; teachers of foreign languages should try to make their lessons as student-centred as possible. There are, however, some points of lessons where it is appropriate for the focus to be on the teacher, such as giving instructions or presenting new language.

tertiary stress

See main stress.

thematic learning

See Content and Language Integrated Learning


Test of English as a Foreign Language - most widely used in the USA. See IELTS.

The test can be taken in the traditional way (paper based test), or online (internet based test), so you will sometimes see 'TOEFL pbt' and 'TOEFL ibt' to distingusih the way the exam was undertaken.

top-down processing

Top-down processing in reading or listening is using our existing general knowledge to help us make sense of a written text. See also bottom-up.

Total Physical Response

TPR is a language teaching method developed by Asher in the 1970s. Itis intended only for the early stages of second language learning. Students are taught through imperatives which they must obey: stand up, walk to the window, touch your nose, and so on.


See Total Physical Response.


In language teaching, transcription usually means phonetic transcription - the visual representation of the sounds of a spoken language. /'dɪfɪkəlt/ is the transcription of the word difficult. The verb is transcribe.

A transcript usually refers to a written version of a spoken text. EFL coursebooks often provide transcripts of the recorded materials used in listening lessons.


Transitive verbs are verbs which need to be followed by an object, e.g., see someone/something.

Intransitive verbs do not take an object. Examples: The sun rose. The plane took off.

Some verbs have both a transitive and an intransitive use, for example: 

I see. Intransitive

I saw the the dog. Transitive

TTT - Test, Teach, Test

TTT is an approach to grammar teaching used when the students probably already have some familiarity with the target language. First, the teacher gives students an activity to test (check) how well they know it. S/he then teaches the parts students don't know or can't do well. Finally, students' understanding is tested (checked) again in another activity.

Here test does not mean a formal exam.

Confusingly, TTT is also used to stand for

1. 'Teacher talking time.' This refers to the amount of time the teacher spends talking in a lesson.

2. 'Topic, task, tools' - mnemonic for the things you need in order to devise a successful speaking lesson.


universal grammar

See innatist theory.


See voiceless.



VAK is a learning style model which divides preferred learning styles into three types:Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic. Other models identify more than 3 styles. Some educationalists reject theories of learning styles altogether.

vanishing syllable

See disappearing syllable.


It is a word which describes an action or state, e.g., jump, go, see, be, have, and believe.

verb phrase

A verb phrase can be just a main verb (He errs), or a main verb with modal and/or auxiliary verbs. If there is more than one item in the verb phrase, the main verb comes last. (He has erred; He must have erred, etc. )


It is a learning style. 


It is a learning style.


Virtual learning environment is a web-based educational platform. It may be a part of blended learning - face-to-face teaching combined with a digital learning platform, or an entirely online course, such as this one.


If a sound is voiced, the vocal cords are vibrating and producing a noise.


If a sound is voiceless (or 'unvoiced'), the vocal cords are not vibrating or producing a noise.



Also called  lead-in or starter. It is theintroductory stage of a lesson - usually an introduction to the topic and/or target language of the lesson you are about to give.

Wh- questions

See open questions.

word family

It is a group of related words that all have the same root (or 'base form') - e.g., happiness, happy, unhappy,happily

word stress

See main stress.

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