TESOL Glossary

This TESOL glossary presents terms which are links to the description of that term. All the terms are in general use throughout the teaching industry with a particular focus on EFL.

Some slight variations in meaning may be possible depending upon the specific area the term relates to, but on the whole, we have chosen those terms with generally accepted meaning and minimal ambiguity.

Simply click on the TESOL glossary link term below for the full definition.

3x3 Drilling

When learning the English language students are regularly confronted with vocabulary that is new and unfamiliar to them. In order to learn how to pronounce these words correctly the student needs to hear... READ MORE


Recognition that professional standards have been met. Recognition that academic and other standards have been met as assessed by an outside organization. Accreditation may be performed by a professional... READ MORE

Acquisition (of language)
Active voice

In an active voice sentence, the focus is on the agent of an action. In active voice, the subject performs the action given by the verb. An example might be a sentence such as “John changed the tire”.... READ MORE


Adjectives are used to describe nouns. An example could be the old (adj) chair (noun). Various sub-categories of adjective exist, such as comparative adjectives like bigger, taller and so on. Another category... READ MORE

ALTE | Association of Language Testers in Europe

This refers to an association of European organisations who are involved in the assessment and certification of language learners in a variety of languages across the continent. The main focus of the association... READ MORE


The equivalent term to pedagogy, but applied to adults. The term originally coined in the first half of the 1800s has a few variations depending on which part of the world defines it. In the USA and mainly... READ MORE


There are three articles used to describe nouns: ‘a’, ‘an’, and ‘the’. These are broken down into the definite article ‘the’ and the indefinite articles, ‘a’ and ‘an’. The definite... READ MORE

Audio-lingual Method

A language teaching method based around listening and repeating. Sometimes referred to as the Army Method, audio represents listening and lingual represents verbal repetition. This method is based around... READ MORE

Authentic and Non Authentic Materials

The term materials can apply to virtually anything that a teacher uses to help the teaching process in the classroom. Common teaching materials include items such as worksheets, newspapers, pictures, text... READ MORE


Relates to the tendency to teach to an external or internal test, rather than to the students’ weaknesses. Also referred to as washback. When the outcome of a course is a final test, it is sometimes... READ MORE

Bandura (Albert) Social Learning Theory

The theory suggested that most learning occurs as a result of imitation. The theory comprised four main elements:. attention, retention, reproduction and motivation. Through observation and imitation of... READ MORE

Base form (of a verb)

The base form is the simplest form of a verb, which is a part of speech that describes an action, state, or occurrence. The base form can be added to in a number of ways depending on the tense or subject... READ MORE

Behaviorist Theory (of language learning)

Suggests that language is learnt orally, by imitation, repetition and rewards. (see B.F Skinner for a more general description) The theory makes use of the general idea that any learning makes use of imitation... READ MORE

BICS | Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills

The concept developed by Jim Cummins to make a distinction between a non complex social interactional language ability (BICS) and the more complex academic language ability. (See CALP). BICS has been described... READ MORE

Bilingual Education

Curriculum delivery through full or part use of two languages as the language of instruction. Depending on the goal of the program, the first and second language use can be developed equally, or the target... READ MORE

Blended Learning

A mix of online and in-person learning within an overall course of study. Read more: As the use of online teaching increases worldwide, courses are now making use of a mixture of onsite and online course... READ MORE

Bloom’s revised taxonomy (cognitive domain)

Bloom’s original taxonomy for the cognitive domain was revised by Lorin Anderson and others during the latter half of the 1990s. The original six features of the cognitive domain underwent some name... READ MORE

British Council

From: Although we receive a government grant in aid, the British Council is operationally independent from the UK government. All our work contributes... READ MORE

Bruner, Jerome

Bruner was a constructivist who made many contributions to learning theory and education in general. One important idea that relates well to EFL teaching methodology was the concept of scaffolding. Bruner... READ MORE

CALL | Computer Assisted Language Learning

CALL is an all encompassing term which can be used to refer to the many ways in which computers are used by both teachers and students to aid the process of language learning. As the availability and sophistication... READ MORE

CALP | Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency

(See BICS). Cummins contrasted the Academic skills, both productive and receptive, with the playground language. Skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking which would be required to study academically... READ MORE

CEFR | Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

This system was designed by the Council of Europe in order to provide a standardised method for comparing the levels of language proficiency represented by different examinations and assessments throughout... READ MORE

CELTA | Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

CELTA is an internationally recognised professional teaching qualification that is common in the field of teaching English as a foreign or second language. The course is designed for potential teachers... READ MORE

CertTESOL | Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

CertTESOL is an internationally recognised professional teaching qualification that is common in the field of teaching English as a foreign or second language. The course is designed for potential teachers... READ MORE


This type of activity is popular with both students and teachers as it provides an effective way to practice the language that has been taught during the lesson in an unrestricted fashion. To carry out... READ MORE

Classical conditioning

Behavioral model developed by Pavlov. The classical stimulus response (S-R) description of conditioning. Demonstrated by Pavlov in the salivation of dogs (response) to the ringing of a bell (stimulus)... READ MORE


Communicative Language Teaching. An approach to teaching a language which makes the use of the language in real life situations the goal. It is based on communicative competence rather than structural... READ MORE


A device or software application that can produce concordances. The use of concordances within English language teaching includes things such as: 1. Collocations, which are groups of words most commonly... READ MORE


One of the parts of speech, a conjunction is used to connect words, clauses, phrases and sentences. It may be one word or a number of words. Examples include and, or, but, if, when, as single words and... READ MORE


Here we must be careful to differentiate between letters and sounds of English. There are 21 consonant letters, that is all the letters in the alphabet other than the vowels. In contrast there are 24 consonant... READ MORE


The constructivism theory of learning posits that all learning is constructed, each learning experience being unique to the individual and based upon their previous experiences and learned knowledge. In... READ MORE

Controlled Practice and Free Practice

These terms are used to define two separate types of exercises and activities that are used in the English language classroom. Controlled practice is used to describe exercises that are designed to re-enforce... READ MORE

Deductive learning

A teacher-led teaching methodology. In deductive learning the teaching is said to be didactic, which is more a form of lecturing. For language learners general rules about the language are given by the... READ MORE

DELTA | Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

DELTA is an internationally recognised professional teaching qualification that is designed for teachers with some experience in the classroom. This certificate is widely considered to be a follow up to... READ MORE

Dewey, John

Often quoted as the father of experiential education, Dewey’s idea that learning is about experiences led to the paradigm shift towards progressive education. Here learners are active, not passive recipients.... READ MORE

Diagnostic test

A test designed to indicate a teaching need. In an EFL setting this may be a general test to diagnose a lack of ability in one of the four main skills, i.e. reading, writing, speaking and listening. Alternatively,... READ MORE


Dialects refer to the overall classification of the grammar, vocabulary and way of speaking of a particular form of a language. The most common example would be the Cantonese and Mandarin dialects of Chinese.... READ MORE

Differentiated instruction

It can be argued that all classrooms should operate with differentiated instruction. However in EFL teaching the vast majority of classes will have been created at a particular English Language proficiency... READ MORE

DipTESOL | Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

DipTESOL is an internationally recognised professional teaching qualification that is designed for teachers with some experience in the classroom. This certificate is widely considered to be a follow up... READ MORE


In phonetics a dipthong can be described as a phoneme made from two adjacent vowel sounds. When a single sound is formed by beginning with one vowel and ending with another vowel, the resulting overall... READ MORE

Direct method (of language teaching)

Aims to copy the way we learn our first language, through full immersion in the target language. It assumes this idea is valid. The Direct Method is also known as the Natural Method, as it attempts to... READ MORE

Direct speech

This is usually indicated by being put into quotation marks, with some other form of verb or mechanism. Direct speech should be a faithful and exact reproduction of what was said. This is contrasted with... READ MORE


The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) publish the following definition: Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is... READ MORE

EAP | English for Academic Purposes

The term EAP refers to the teaching or studying of English courses that have a particular focus on areas of the language that are related to academic study, this type of course is one of the more common... READ MORE

EFL | English as a Foreign Language

EFL is a term used in reference to studying or using the English language in areas of the world where English is not an official or widely used language. EFL is increasingly being taught in many countries... READ MORE


This term is frequently used in relation to English language teaching to refer to the techniques a teacher can use to ensure that the students provide the maximum amount of information during a lesson,... READ MORE

ELT | English Language Teaching

In countries where British based English is taught and spoken, ELT is used as an umbrella term that covers all teaching situations that are defined under the acronyms TEFL and TESOL. This usage corresponds... READ MORE

ERIC | Educational Resources Information Center
Error correction

We should first define what we mean by errors, which are technically different from mistakes. Mistakes are typically made due to tiredness or misunderstanding of a question, rather than through any lack... READ MORE

ESA | Engage, Study, Activate

A teaching methodology attributed to Jeremy Harmer. It is a communicative approach which makes use of three phases of a lesson in different formats. The simplest format is known as the straight arrow and... READ MORE

ESL | English as a Second Language

ESL is a term that is commonly used in the USA, Australia and Canada. It is used in reference to non native English speakers who use or study English in countries where it is the most commonly used language.... READ MORE

ESOL | English for Speakers of Other Languages

ESOL is a term that is commonly used in the UK, New Zealand and Ireland. It is used in reference to non native English speakers who use or study English in countries where it is the most commonly used... READ MORE

ESP | English for Specific Purposes

This term is used to define a section of the English language industry that includes courses or curriculums that are designed especially to be used by distinct groups or professions. Common examples of... READ MORE


The chronological development and history of a word. We can use the word itself as an example: It derives from the Middle English ‘etimologie’ from Old French ‘ethimologie’ from Medieval Latin... READ MORE

Experiential learning

C. Rogers was developing ideas continuing on from the likes of Dewey and Montessori. The main theme is that of self directed learning. There were a number of important elements to Rogers’s experiential... READ MORE

Extrinsic motivation

At a very basic level we do something because of external factors, such as gaining a reward or avoiding a punishment.This is contrasted with the other major type of motivation, called intrinsic motivation.... READ MORE


As opposed to a didactic teacher, a facilitator creates the conditions for learning within the classroom and makes use of the learners to advance knowledge. Rather than the teacher acting as the ‘knower’,... READ MORE


Reporting back to students on their work, whatever style that work takes. Whenever students are required to undertake a task, be it in a class or for homework, they should receive some acknowledgement... READ MORE

First conditional

This is used to describe situations and results that are likely to happen in the future. The first conditional has the structure If +present simple+will. ‘Will’ can be replaced by any modal verb, such... READ MORE

Fluency versus Accuracy

Fluency in language learning is the ability to use the spoken or written form of the language to communicate effectively. While fluency does require a reasonable knowledge of vocabulary and grammar, the... READ MORE


This a repeated error or mistake that has never been corrected, such that the incorrect form has become a habit over time. Some high level speakers can suffer from this in that they can make what appear... READ MORE

Freelance teaching

In this situation you are working for yourself rather than an organization. With the growth of online education, opportunities to be self employed rather than working for a company or school have greatly... READ MORE

Froebel, Friedrich

Froebel championed learning through play. Whilst his ideas may initially relate to early childhood, many aspects of his concept are useful for learners of all ages. His influence is obvious with educationalists... READ MORE

Functional syllabus

A move away from the traditional grammar syllabus in the 1970s to one which is based around communicative need. These are called functions and examples could be functions such as making offers, apologizing... READ MORE

Future simple tense

This term refers to one of the most commonly used exercises in the English language classroom. The gap-fill worksheet normally contains a set of written sentences which are missing certain key words; the... READ MORE

Gardner, Howard
Genetic Epistemology (Jean Piaget)

A theoretical framework which led to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Piaget described the stages of cognitive development in humans as a chronological series of stages. At each stage the cognitive... READ MORE

Gesell’s Maturation Theory

Gesell’s theory may be summarized as follows: Each individual child goes through a set series of maturational developments. There is no set time to pass through each stage. The maturation cycles involve... READ MORE

Going to (future)

The main usages are, plans, intentions and predictions based upon present evidence Form:subject + to be (in present tense) + going to + base form of verb Care should be taken not to confuse this tense... READ MORE

Gouin series

A method of language teaching developed by Francois Gouin. Whilst his method did not gain any general popularity, some of his ideas did get taken up in other methods, such as the direct method, TPR and... READ MORE


A language learning method involving the direct translation between the native and target language and vice-versa. Originally designed to teach the dead languages of Ancient Greek and Latin, this became... READ MORE

Growth mindset

Carol Dweck proposed the idea of a growth mindset in her book, Mindset. She suggests that there are two mindsets we can use, a fixed mindset, where things are as they are. A growth mindset on the other... READ MORE

Hannafin and Peck Instructional Design Model 1987

This is a three-stage design process which may be applied to the design of an e-learning course. At each stage there is an evaluation before moving on to the next. The three stages are 1. needs assessment... READ MORE

Harmer, Jeremy

Author and educator. Well known for his ESA (Engage, Study, Activate) teaching methodology. ITTT considers ESA to be the most effective teaching methodology for teaching English as a foreign language,... READ MORE

Hierarchy of needs (Maslow)

Originally suggested as five basic needs of humans. Maslow’s basic hierarchy of needs is a motivation theory involving five needs, namely; from lowest to highest: psychological needs, safety needs, love... READ MORE

Holistic Approach

An approach to education that involves all aspects of intellect, body emotions and so forth. Where this is applied to teaching and learning in a school situation it is often described as “Educating the... READ MORE


A couple of interpretations of this are possible, we will use the following: A homonym is a word that is spelled and pronounced like another but has a different meaning (i.e. homograph and homophone).... READ MORE

Honey and Mumford Learning styles

Honey and Mumford identified four distinct learning styles: Activist, Pragmatist, Reflector and Theorist. Although we tend to have a mixture of these learning styles many of us have one preferred learning... READ MORE

Humanistic learning theory

Maslow and Rogers both posited humanistic theories. They relate to creating the best possible environment, both internally and externally for the student in order for them to learn most effectively. In... READ MORE


Most languages have idioms and English has a large number, in the tens of thousands. They can present difficulties for language learners as they have a few strange characteristics. Firstly they are not... READ MORE

IELTS | International English Language Testing System

This refers to one of the most commonly used English language proficiency testing systems currently available. On completion of the test the student receives a proficiency rating between 0 and 9 based... READ MORE

In-service training

Developmental training given to staff whilst they are working. More commonly known nowadays as professional development, or PD. Staff are typically required to undertake a set number of PD days throughout... READ MORE

Inductive Learning (in language teaching)

Inductive learning uses many examples for learners to generate rules from the patterns seen, as opposed to the other way round which is ‘deductive’. Linked to the idea of a facilitator rather than... READ MORE

Information gap activity

A communicative speaking (and reading) activity where students are presented with incomplete information, which they must complete by interacting with others who do have that information. Typically undertaken... READ MORE

Input hypothesis

One of the five hypotheses of Krashen’s SLA theory. In the input hypothesis Krashen makes the distinction between acquisition and learning. The input hypothesis relates to the acquisition of language... READ MORE


In its initial form, interlanguage refers to the state a language learner finds themselves in when using a mixed form of L1 and L2 before being proficient in L2. This means the language learner may borrow... READ MORE

Intermediate level
Interrogative (Open ended)

This is a sentence that starts with a question word, such as whom, who, what, where, which, why, whose, when or how. It is followed by a question mark at the end. There are other forms of interrogative... READ MORE

Jonassen. D

Well known for both the theory of constructivism and in the realm of educational technology, bringing the two together with the term “mindtool.” In the constructivist learning environments, learners... READ MORE

JSTOR | Electronic Journal storage

JSTOR is a digital library founded in 1995. It includes, Open and free content, Open Community Collections, Open Research Reports, Journals, Books, Artstor, Thematic Collections, Primary Sources and Text-mining... READ MORE

Jung, Carl

Jung developed a personality type theory which has four elements. The diametric four element scale of Jung’s theory had the components of introvert vs extrovert, thinking vs feeling, judging vs perceiving... READ MORE


A term mainly used in the USA or US-style educational systems to describe students within the school age range from kindergarten to year 12. Typically this would span ages 3 years old to 18 years old,... READ MORE

Kinesthetic learner

One who learns best when learning is associated with movement. One of the categories identified in Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple intelligences. A kinesthetic learner learns best when the process... READ MORE

Knowles, Malcolm

Adult learning theory. Knowles terms androgogy was defined as the art and science of adult learning. His adult learning theory had four basic principles: 1. Adults should be involved in all stages of their... READ MORE

Kohlberg, Lawrence

Kohlberg's theory on moral development is useful when thinking about classroom discipline. The theory is related to cognitive development (in boys) and how this passes through a series of levels or stages.... READ MORE

Kolb Learning Cycle

Following directly from the work of Dewey, David Kolb also expounded experiential learning. For Kolb there are four elements in a cycle which are required for learning to take place. The four elements... READ MORE

Krashen, Stephen

Krashen developed a second language acquisition theory (SLA). Krashen’s SLA theory has a great many advocates and detractors. Perhaps best known in Language education circles for quotes such as; “Language... READ MORE

L1 and L2

These terms are frequently used in language teaching as a way to distinguish between a person’s first and second language. L1 is used to refer to the student’s first language, while L2 is used... READ MORE

Lave and Wenger

Situated learning theory has a particular relevance to teacher training. The concept of a Community Of Practice (COP) is important here. It suggests that if a novice enters a COP (school) by interacting... READ MORE

Lave, Jean

Best known for the Situated Learning Theory, which suggests that classroom activities that are abstract and lack context are not effective. This leads to the idea that classroom practice activities should... READ MORE


An approach to learning. Also known as student- centered, this is an approach to learning for which the student is the focus of attention, as opposed to a didactic model of the teacher telling. A lot of... READ MORE

Learning strategy

A learning strategy is a set of skills or procedures that learners can use to aid the process of learning. An example of a learning strategy to enhance learning from reading could be the SQ3R technique.... READ MORE

Learning styles

The subject of much debate, adherents suggest that individuals have a preferred learning style and teachers should deliver their lessons with these in mind. Critics argue that preferred learning styles... READ MORE

Level test

A test usually undertaken to place a student in a teaching group which is not mixed ability. Typically a level test will focus primarily on speaking and listening (verbal question and answer) and to a... READ MORE

Lexical approach, Michael Lewis

Lewis believed in a different approach to that of teaching English as a set of grammar structures into which vocabulary could be placed. He shifted the emphasis through 180 degrees, suggesting that the... READ MORE


Part of Cambridge Assessment English, this online testing system tests all four skills of, reading, writing, listening and speaking. (Previously BULATS). These level test results are often used by employers... READ MORE

Matching activity

Type of question where variables are matched. Commonly used as a worksheet type activity. Two lists (A and B) are often given where the horizontal order of the lists is not matched. Students then draw... READ MORE


An over-arching term to describe the development of praxis from a theoretical framework. One way in which the term can be broken down with regard to ELT is in the framework of Approach – Method – Technique.... READ MORE

Mixed ability teaching

It could be argued that every class is mixed ability in some sense. For EFL teaching the general situation is that learners are placed into levels, having completed a standard level test before they start... READ MORE

Mixed conditional

It is possible to combine a third conditional clause with a second conditional clause to form the mixed conditional. Probably the most common example of this would be in this structure: If past perfect... READ MORE

Modal verb

A modal verb is sometimes called a modal auxiliary verb or a modal auxiliary. Modal verbs always accompany the base form of another verb. Examples of the uses of modal verbs are to express: permission,... READ MORE

Montessori, Maria

Best known for 10 Principles of Montessori Education: Respect for the Child, Individualized Learning, Educating the Whole Child, Absorbent Mind, Independence, Prepared Environment, Intrinsic Motivation,... READ MORE

Multiple Intelligences

Theory suggested by Howard Gardner that intelligence is made up from a number of different modalities. In the original form Gardner suggested that overall intelligence should be viewed as the sum of a... READ MORE

Native English Speaker

In relation to teaching the English language, the term native English speaker is normally used to refer to someone whose first language is English, i.e., they have used English as their main form of communication... READ MORE

Natural approach; Krashen and Terrell

This is a four-stage description of how a language is developed: (1) The first stage involves listening and gestures and is called preproduction, (2) Stage two involves short phrases and is called early... READ MORE

Natural Order Hypothesis

One of the five hypotheses developed in Krashen’s second language acquisition theory (SLA). Whilst Krashen acknowledged that English language knowledge, such as grammar, did appear to be learned in some... READ MORE

Needs Analysis

A tool to aid course planning. Typically a kind of survey to find out what the language learner needs to learn and how they are going to use that knowledge. Before the start of any course a student should... READ MORE

NLP | Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Often presented as a pseudo-science, NLP may have useful implications for EFL teaching. Elements of NLP exist in a number of extant teaching methodologies today, such as suggestopedia, task-based learning... READ MORE

Norm referenced

An approach to presenting test results by comparison to an average result. In norm referencing the score of a candidate is referenced to the average score for the cohort being examined. This is contrasted... READ MORE

Notional syllabus

Also notional-functional syllabus, is a method of the communicative language approach, pioneered by D. A. Wilkins. It was later developed further for the Council of Europe by van Ek and Trim. The syllabus... READ MORE


A noun acts as the name of a specific object or objects, such as living things (woman), actions (swimming) , places (Rome), qualities (hardness), states of existence (peace), or ideas (socialism). There... READ MORE

Objective taxonomies

Bloom initially divided these into three categories or domains. They are the Cognitive domain, related to the mind or thinking. The psycho-motor domain, related to the body and movement and the affective... READ MORE

One to One Teaching

This term is used in English teaching to refer to situations where an individual student receives the sole attention of the teacher. This type of teaching is commonly found amongst private tutors who often... READ MORE

Open-ended question

A question without a specific answer. Contrasted with a closed question, where a fixed answer is expected. An open question or open-ended question allows the respondent to give their own thoughts and ideas... READ MORE

Operant conditioning; B.F. Skinner

A psychological theory based around the concepts of Stimulus - Response and Reward – Punishment. The main application of the theory is not so much regarding any teaching methodology, but is related to... READ MORE


Observed teaching practice. Part of a teacher training program where trainees are observed by experienced teachers and given feedback on their performance. Many TEFL and TESOL training courses include... READ MORE

Output (of student)

Linked to the production of speaking and writing. There are four generally recognized skills in learning a language. Two relate to students receiving INPUTS from reading and listening. The other two are... READ MORE

Over user

(See also under users) Related to Krashen’s Monitor hypothesis, where he suggests three types of monitor user: over users, optimal users and under users. The monitor functions to check what we are going... READ MORE

Passive voice

A passive voice sentence is one in which the subject receives an action. In this case the action is the important part of the sentence; the agent is unimportant and may even be left out completely. The... READ MORE

Phonetic alphabet

Also referred to as the IPA, the International Phonetic Alphabet was developed to be used across all languages. By breaking down all speech into individual sounds common across all languages it is possible... READ MORE


Representing the work or ideas of another person as your own. This is considered a very serious breach of academic standards in most learning institutions worldwide. Plagiarism may be intentional or unintentional,... READ MORE


An approach to teaching English as a second or foreign language, making use of three phases within a lesson: Presentation, Practice and Production. Generally presentation sets up the context of the lesson... READ MORE

Present simple tense

This has the simplest structure of all the tenses which is just; subject + base form of verb. It has a number of uses which include, habits and routines, facts, commentaries, directions and newspaper headlines,... READ MORE

Professional development

In the teaching profession, particularly mainstream education, a certain number of contracted working days are allocated to ‘whole school’ and ‘individual’ development. This typically takes the... READ MORE

Qualification Framework

For example The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Most countries have their own qualification frameworks.(NQFs). Examples are the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and... READ MORE

Qualitative research

Concerned with meaning and experiences. In qualitative social research, the aim is to understand the ‘lived experience’ as described by the subjects. It is therefore subjective. This is in contrast... READ MORE

Quantitative research

Concerned with the collection of objective measurements of quantities and the subsequent analysis of such data through statistical analysis and other means. It is empirical in nature and does not depend... READ MORE

Question tag

Question tags are often used in speaking and we usually use them when we are unsure of something and would like confirmation (or otherwise) of what we are saying. They come after the information we are... READ MORE


A useful tool for practicing a whole range of language features in an EFL classroom. These can easily be created in survey form and both the functions of questioning and a particular grammar structure... READ MORE

Readability scales

A system designed to measure the reading level of a written text which can be used to judge a student’s reading level. An example is the Flesch-Kincaid scale. A useful online resource for finding the... READ MORE


Realia is a term that refers to any real life object that a teacher uses as a teaching aid in an English language classroom. The greatest benefit of using real life objects as teaching tools in the classroom... READ MORE

Receptive and Productive Skills

The four types of communication skills that are taught in an English language classroom are speaking, writing, reading and listening. These four separate language skills are also commonly referred to as... READ MORE

Reflexive pronoun

These are used when we are reflecting back to the subject of the sentences. They include the singular forms, myself, yourself, himself and herself. The plural forms are ourselves, yourselves and themselves.... READ MORE

Register (in linguistics)

The language style and tone used in particular situations (see also ‘code switching’). Different types of register have been identified and classified, for example; five types of language register... READ MORE


A resume is not the same as a Curriculum Vitae (CV). A resume is typically limited to one or possibly two pages at most. The use and content of a resume is quite specific, in that it you present only those... READ MORE

Role Play/Simulation

These terms refer to two similar activities that are commonly used to practice the use of English in the classroom. Both activities are generally popular with students and teachers alike, as they can be... READ MORE

Rubric (for assessment)

A list of criteria statements for grading assessments Generally rubric contain three elements. These are (1) the performance criteria, (2) The indicators for those criteria and (3) a rating scale of achievement... READ MORE


Any teaching strategy that allows learners to work at a level higher than they could do alone. Initially scaffolding may be at a high level and reduced over time as learner competence increases. A similar... READ MORE

Schank, Roger

Schema theory developed by Piaget and Script theory introduced by Tomkins was further developed by Schank. If fits into the approach of constructivism. Schank’s Script theory also brings together the... READ MORE

Second conditional

The second conditional is used to communicate a present or future hypothetical situation which is not true now and is never likely to be. The second conditional takes the form If + Past simple/continuous,... READ MORE

Silent way

This teaching methodology is a method of language teaching devised by Caleb Gattegno. The Silent way is based upon a number of educational learning paradigms. It is a problem-based and discovery-based... READ MORE


There are four generally accepted skills to be covered in learning languages: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. These are termed the Productive and Receptive skills. We should try to develop all... READ MORE

Skimming and Scanning

These terms refer to two basic reading skills that students should practice during an English language course. Skimming refers to the technique used to gain an overall idea of the content of a document... READ MORE

Structural syllabus

Often also referred to as a grammatical syllabus, is made up of a range of grammatical structures, taught in order of perceived difficulty. It comes under the heading of a product-oriented syllabus. Many... READ MORE


A teaching methodology created by Georgi Lozanov. Lozanov addressed the issue of affective filter, trying to reduce this for the students as much as possible. He believed that in a state of calm, helped... READ MORE


Generally speaking this is a list of the contents of a course. There are various ways of describing the contents of a course, which gives rise to various types of syllabus. Examples of syllabi are: grammar... READ MORE

Task based learning | TBL

A teaching method which focuses on task completion rather than accuracy of language used. As a communicative methodology this method makes the successful language use outcome of the task, for example,... READ MORE


A teaching method which focuses on task completion rather than accuracy of language used. As a communicative methodology this method makes the successful language use outcome of the task, for example,... READ MORE

TEFL | Teaching English as a Foreign Language

This term is normally used to describe the act of teaching English to people whose native language is anything but English. This type of English teaching will usually take place in the student’s... READ MORE

TESL | Teaching English as a Second Language

TESL is a term commonly used in the USA, Australia and Canada to describe the act of teaching English to non native speakers in countries where English is the official language. It is also used to refer... READ MORE

TESOL | Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

TESOL is a term commonly used in the UK, New Zealand and Ireland to describe the act of teaching English to non native speakers in countries where English is the official language. It is also used to refer... READ MORE

TEYL | Teaching English to Young Learners

Due to the ever expanding influence of the English language on popular culture worldwide, the numbers of young learners wanting to learn English continues to grow year after year. As a consequence, more... READ MORE

Third conditional

The third conditional is used to describe what could have happened if a situation that happened in the past had been different. An example could be: If I had left the house a few seconds earlier, I wouldn’t... READ MORE

Thorndike, Edward

Edward Thorndike’s experiments led to what he called the Law of Effect, which is a learning theory in effect based upon a Stimulus – Response. This in turn led to the theory of Operant conditioning,... READ MORE

TKT | Teachers Knowledge Test

The TKT involves a series of multiple choice examinations covering the following areas; Core modules: Module 1. Background to language learning and teaching, Module 2. Lesson planning and use of resources... READ MORE

TOEFL | Test of English as a Foreign Language

This test is used extensively by English speaking universities, colleges, private sector businesses and government agencies as a method of assessing proficiency in the English language. Traditionally the... READ MORE

TOEIC | Test of English for International Communication

This test of English language proficiency is used extensively worldwide and is specifically designed to be used in relation to English language in the workplace. A wide range of businesses employ the test... READ MORE

TPR | Total Physical Response

A learning theory due to James Asher. Asher describes the fact that language appears to be a function of the left hemisphere of the brain. It was also noted that bodily movement was associated with the... READ MORE

TTT and STT | Teacher Talking Time and Student Talking Time

These terms are commonly used in English language teaching to refer to periods during a lesson where the class is either teacher centred or student centred, as well as the relative importance of each situation.... READ MORE

U-shape class layout

Also known as the horseshoe arrangement.This relates to how the desks can be arranged in the classroom. The teacher’s position is at the open end of the U. The benefits of this arrangement are that students... READ MORE

Under Users

Related to Krashen’s Monitor hypothesis, where he suggests three types of monitor user: over users, optimal users and under users. The monitor functions to check what we are going to say against what... READ MORE

Universal grammar

The UG hypothesis suggests that all languages have some underlying similarities which are considered fundamental to language itself (see Chomsky). Noam Chomsky suggested that humans are born with an innate... READ MORE


A unit of language output which is spoken or written (See speech Act Theory). In speech act theory there are three levels of utterance, with the different levels relating to the intended purpose of the... READ MORE

VAK learning styles

This is a learning styles theory which categorizes possible preferred leaning styles into three areas: Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic. The terms relate to Visual, what we see helps us learn, such as... READ MORE

Virtual classroom

A classroom created online via a learning platform such a Google Meet or Zoom. The class is conducted as a live video call. An explosion of virtual learning has been forced on the world due to recent events.... READ MORE

Visual aids

Any real object or created material brought to the classroom to aid in the process of language teaching. A visual aid is used to represent meaning without the need for description or discussion. They are... READ MORE

Visual learner

Learning improved when given visual cues. Different learning theories developed include those which categorize different learning style preferences. Some of these include visual learners, i.e. those who... READ MORE

Vocational training

Relating to a trade or skill, such as plumbing (See EOP). English for occupational purposes is the study of English with specific reference to a job in which it will be used. Examples of such vocational... READ MORE

Vygotsky, L S

Lev Vygotsky’s theory developed the idea of social constructivism. He strongly believed that cognitive development was linked to socialization factors rather than passing through a series of stages,... READ MORE


Relates to the tendency to teach to an external or internal test, rather than to the students’ weaknesses. Also referred to as backwash. When the outcome of a course is a final test, it is sometimes... READ MORE

Watson, John B

John B. Watson was among the first to describe the process of classical behaviorism. His now controversial experiment conducted with R. Raynor and child subject ‘Little Albert’ showed that the child... READ MORE


Concept of ICT affordance. Wersch built upon Gibson’s theory of affordance to attach the general theory to that of the possibility of using technology in a pedagogical way. ICT affordance relates to... READ MORE

Whorf, Benjamin

Linguistic relativity or the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. In this theory the structure and use of our language determines how we view the world and the concepts we create. People with different languages would... READ MORE


One in a series of student resource books which typically contains exercises with answer keys. A book series, for example New Headway series, will typically be written at five levels. Each level will have... READ MORE


Young language learner. Typical age ranges given for YLLs is from regular school age (5 years old) to 13/14 years old, though some argue that even younger learners are included. With English language classes... READ MORE

Youdell, D

In the area of poststructuralist theorists, two well-known names would be Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. However these two theorists did not specifically apply their work to the field of education.... READ MORE

Zero article

The zero article refers to whenever no article is used. In the section on articles we saw that, a, an, and the, were the indefinite and definite articles. The zero article is another case used in a number... READ MORE

Zero conditional

The zero conditional has the structure If + present tense sentence + present tense sentence. It is used to describe facts or things that are generally true. An example could be; If you heat water, it boils... READ MORE

Zoom Lessons

One method of delivering lessons online in a virtual classroom environment. The Zoom learning platform is one of many such applications. Others include Google Classroom, Schoology Learning and PowerSchool... READ MORE


Zone of proximal development (see Vygotsky) relates to the earlier concept of scaffolding, where learning takes place within the ZPD, i.e. don’t try to go too far too soon. Vygotsky believed there were... READ MORE