Speak Like a Language Teacher: 100+ Terms That Language Teachers Need to Know

tesol Apr 26, 2024

100+ Terms That Language Teachers Need to Know

Why do I Need to "Speak Like a Language Teacher"?

  1. Effective communication: Understanding common terms aids clear communication.
  2. Professional development: It demonstrates competence and professionalism in the field.
  3. Pedagogical knowledge: It deepens understanding of key teaching concepts.
  4. Collaboration and networking: Shared terminology facilitates exchange of ideas.
  5. Adaptation and innovation: Teachers can incorporate new practices more easily.
  6. Professional growth: It enables critical engagement and contribution to the field.


General and Lesson-Planning Terminology

  1. Objective: A specific and measurable target related to language learning that guides instruction and assessment, often focusing on linguistic skills or knowledge acquisition.

  2. Goal: A broad statement outlining the overall achievement expected from language learners within a certain timeframe, encompassing multiple objectives and indicating the desired level of proficiency or competence.

  3. Aim: The general intention or purpose of a language teaching activity or lesson, describing what learners are expected to gain in terms of language skills, knowledge, or cultural understanding.

  4. Outcome: The observable results or achievements of language teaching and learning activities, reflecting the extent to which learners have met the specified objectives or goals, typically assessed through performance or proficiency measures.

  5. Standard: A predetermined level of proficiency or competence in a language skill or area of language use, often used as a benchmark for assessing learner progress and determining instructional objectives.

  6. Assessment: The process of gathering information about learners' language proficiency, skills, knowledge, and abilities through various methods such as tests, quizzes, projects, or observations.

  7. Evaluation: The systematic and ongoing assessment of learners' progress and achievement in language learning, involving the interpretation of assessment data to make judgments about effectiveness of instruction and areas for improvement.

  8. Diagnostic: An assessment conducted at the beginning of a language learning program or course to identify learners' strengths, weaknesses, and prior knowledge, guiding instructional planning and differentiation.

  9. Formative: Assessment conducted during the learning process to provide feedback, monitor progress, and guide instruction, with the aim of improving learning outcomes and informing instructional adjustments.

  10. Summative: Assessment conducted at the end of a learning period to evaluate learners' overall achievement and proficiency in language skills or knowledge, typically used for grading and reporting purposes.

  11. Pre-assessment: An assessment administered prior to instruction to gauge learners' baseline knowledge, skills, and readiness, informing instructional planning and differentiation to meet learners' needs.

  12. Post-assessment: An assessment administered after instruction to measure learners' achievement and progress towards meeting instructional objectives or goals, providing data for evaluation and future planning.

  13. Rubric: A scoring guide or criteria-based assessment tool used to evaluate and provide feedback on learners' performance on language tasks, activities, or projects, specifying expectations and levels of achievement.

  14. Task, Activity, Exercise:

  • Task: A meaningful language-based activity or assignment that requires learners to engage in real-life language use to achieve a communicative goal.
  • Activity: A structured learning task or exercise designed to reinforce language skills, knowledge, or concepts through practice and interaction.
  • Exercise: A focused practice activity or drill targeting specific language components or skills, often used for repetition, reinforcement, or skill-building.
  1. ESL (English as a Second Language) / EFL (English as a Foreign Language): Educational contexts where English is learned by speakers whose first language is different, with ESL typically referring to learning English in a country where it is the dominant language, and EFL referring to learning English in a country where it is not.

  2. ESP (English for Specific Purposes) - EOP (English for Occupational Purposes) and EAP (English for Academic Purposes): English language teaching focused on specific contexts, such as English for business or English for academic study, tailored to meet learners' specific needs and goals.

  3. Rapport: A positive and harmonious relationship between the teacher and students, characterized by mutual respect, trust, and understanding, which enhances learning and classroom dynamics.

  4. Corrective Feedback: Feedback provided by the teacher or peers to learners to address errors or inaccuracies in language use, with the aim of promoting language acquisition and improvement.

  5. Warmer: An introductory activity or task at the beginning of a lesson designed to engage learners, activate prior knowledge, and set the tone for learning.

  6. Cooler: An activity or task at the end of a lesson designed to review and consolidate learning, provide closure, and transition out of the lesson context.

  7. Meaning-focused Instruction: Language teaching approach that prioritizes communication and meaning over linguistic form, focusing on real-life language use and comprehension.

  8. Form-focused Instruction: Language teaching approach that emphasizes the explicit teaching and practice of linguistic forms, such as grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.

  9. Assessment: The process of gathering information about learners' language proficiency, skills, knowledge, and abilities through various methods such as tests, quizzes, projects, or observations.

  10. Priming: A technique used to prepare learners for upcoming language input or activities by providing related context, background information, or vocabulary.

  11. Modeling: Demonstrating language use or behavior for learners to observe and imitate, providing examples of correct language structures, pronunciation, or communicative strategies.

  12. Material: Educational resources, such as textbooks, worksheets, audiovisual aids, or digital platforms, used for teaching and learning purposes.

  13. Resource: Any tool, material, or support available to facilitate language teaching and learning, including both physical and digital resources.

  14. Scaffold: Support provided by the teacher or learning environment to assist learners in understanding and completing tasks or activities beyond their current level of proficiency.


Reading, Writing and Vocabulary Terminology

  1. Coherence: The quality of a text or discourse that makes its ideas logically connected and understandable, with clear organization and flow of information.

  2. Cohesion: The linguistic devices and techniques used to connect and link ideas within a text, such as pronouns, conjunctions, and lexical cohesion, enhancing its readability and coherence.

  3. Transition Phrases: Words or phrases used to signal shifts or connections between ideas, paragraphs, or sections within a text, facilitating smooth and logical progression.

  4. Paraphrasing: Restating information or ideas from a source in one's own words while maintaining the original meaning and intent, often used to demonstrate comprehension or integrate sources into writing.

  5. Summarizing: Concisely restating the main points or key information of a text or passage in one's own words, capturing its essential meaning and omitting minor details.

  6. Topic, Supporting, and Concluding Sentences:

  • Topic Sentence: A sentence that introduces the main idea or focus of a paragraph, guiding the reader's understanding of its content.
  • Supporting Sentences: Sentences that provide details, evidence, examples, or explanations to develop and support the main idea expressed in the topic sentence.
  • Concluding Sentence: A sentence that summarizes the main point of a paragraph or provides closure, reinforcing the significance of the topic or transitioning to the next paragraph.
  1. Skimming: Reading or reviewing a text quickly to get a general impression of its content, main ideas, and structure, often done to identify key information or determine relevance.

  2. Scanning: Reading a text quickly to locate specific information, details, or keywords, without necessarily reading every word, commonly used for finding answers or extracting data.

  3. Pre-writing: The stage of the writing process that involves activities such as brainstorming, outlining, or researching, done before drafting to generate ideas and plan the organization of a text.

  4. Drafting: The initial stage of writing where ideas are developed and organized into a rough version of a text, focusing on generating content without concern for correctness or polish.

  5. Revision: The process of rethinking, rearranging, and refining the content, organization, and language of a draft to improve clarity, coherence, and effectiveness of communication.

  6. Editing: The process of reviewing and correcting the mechanics, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and style of a draft to improve its accuracy, readability, and adherence to language conventions.

  7. Proofreading: The final stage of reviewing a text to identify and correct errors or inconsistencies in grammar, punctuation, spelling, formatting, or typographical errors before publishing or submitting.

  8. Audience: The intended recipients or readers of a text, speech, or communication, whose characteristics, needs, and expectations influence the content, tone, and style of the message.

  1. Purpose: The reason or intended goal behind a communication, influencing the content, style, and organization of the message.

  2. Tone: The attitude, mood, or emotional expression conveyed through the language and style of a text, speech, or communication.

  3. Dialect: A variety of a language spoken by a specific group of people, characterized by distinctive vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and cultural expressions.

  4. Register: The level of formality or style of language appropriate for a particular context, situation, or audience, ranging from formal to informal.

  5. Synonyms: Words with similar meanings or identical meanings in certain contexts, providing variation and flexibility in language use.

  6. Antonyms: Words with opposite meanings, used to contrast ideas or express relationships between concepts.

  7. Word Families: Groups of words derived from the same root or base word, sharing a common morphological origin and often related in meaning or function.

  8. Pragmatics: The study of how context, social conventions, and shared knowledge influence the interpretation and use of language in communication, focusing on meaning beyond the literal interpretation of words.

  9. Collocations: Words that frequently occur together in natural language use, forming fixed or predictable combinations based on semantic or syntactic associations.

  10. Jargon: Specialized vocabulary, terminology, or language used within a particular profession, field, or community, often unfamiliar to those outside the group.

  11. Idiom: A fixed expression or phrase with a meaning that cannot be deduced from the individual words, often unique to a language or culture.

  12. Root Word: The basic lexical unit from which words are formed, typically carrying the core meaning and to which affixes can be added to create derived or inflected forms.

  13. Acronym: A word formed from the initial letters or syllables of a series of words, pronounced as a single word, such as NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).

  14. Abbreviation: A shortened form of a word or phrase, typically consisting of one or more letters, used to represent the full word or phrase in a concise manner, such as "etc." for "et cetera."

  15. Homonym: Words that are spelled or pronounced the same but have different meanings, often causing confusion or ambiguity, such as "bat" (flying mammal) and "bat" (sports equipment).


Grammatical, Mechanical and Listening Terminology

  1. Subject-verb Agreement: The grammatical principle that a verb must agree with its subject in number and person, ensuring that singular subjects take singular verbs and plural subjects take plural verbs.

  2. Verb Conjugation: The inflection of verbs to indicate tense, aspect, mood, person, number, and voice, reflecting the grammatical relationship between the verb and its subject.

  3. Verb Tense: The grammatical category that indicates the time of an action or state expressed by a verb, including past, present, and future tense, as well as various aspectual distinctions.

  4. Pluralization: The grammatical process of forming the plural form of nouns, pronouns, and other parts of speech to indicate more than one entity or instance.

  5. Parts of Speech:

  • Nouns: Words that refer to people, places, things, or ideas.
  • Pronouns: Words that substitute for nouns or noun phrases.
  • Verbs: Words that express actions, events, or states of being.
  • Adjectives: Words that modify or describe nouns or pronouns.
  • Adverbs: Words that modify or describe verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.
  • Prepositions: Words that indicate relationships between nouns, pronouns, or phrases and other elements in a sentence.
  • Conjunctions: Words that connect words, phrases, or clauses within a sentence.
  • Articles: Words used to specify or introduce nouns, including "a," "an," and "the."
  • Interjections: Words used to express emotion, surprise, or exclamation.
  1. Punctuation: Marks and symbols used in writing to indicate pauses, intonation, emphasis, sentence structure, and clarity, including commas, periods, question marks, exclamation points, colons, semicolons, and more.

  2. Sentence Structure: The arrangement of words and phrases in a grammatically correct order to convey meaning, including the organization of subject, verb, object, and other elements within a sentence.

  3. Spacing: The practice of inserting spaces between words, sentences, and paragraphs to enhance readability and visual presentation in written text.

  4. Capitalization: The use of capital letters to indicate the beginning of a sentence, proper nouns, titles, and other grammatical contexts according to language conventions.

  5. Sentence Types:

  • Simple Sentence: A sentence containing one independent clause and expressing a complete thought.
  • Compound Sentence: A sentence containing two or more independent clauses joined by coordinating conjunctions, semicolons, or punctuation.
  • Complex Sentence: A sentence containing one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses, expressing a complex relationship between ideas.
  1. Sentence Fragment: An incomplete sentence lacking either a subject, a verb, or a complete thought, resulting in a grammatically incorrect construction.

  2. Run-On Sentence:

  • Fused Sentences: Two or more independent clauses joined without appropriate punctuation or conjunctions, creating a grammatically incorrect structure.
  • Comma Splice: Two independent clauses joined only by a comma, without a coordinating conjunction or appropriate punctuation, resulting in a grammatically incorrect structure.
  1. Comprehension: The ability to understand and interpret spoken or written language, including the main ideas, details, and underlying meaning conveyed by the text or speech.

  2. Active Listening: The process of fully engaging with and concentrating on spoken communication, involving attentive listening, feedback, and response to the speaker's message.

  3. Passive Listening: The act of hearing without actively engaging or focusing on the speaker's message, often lacking full attention or comprehension.

  4. Note-taking: The practice of recording important information or key points from spoken or written communication for future reference, study, or retention.

  5. Listening Skills: The ability to effectively receive, interpret, and respond to spoken language, including the subskills of discrimination, decoding, inference, and attentive listening.

  6. Discrimination: The ability to perceive and distinguish different sounds, words, or elements of language in spoken communication, enhancing comprehension and accuracy.

  7. Decoding: The process of recognizing and interpreting spoken language by breaking down auditory input into meaningful units, such as phonemes, words, and phrases.

  8. Encoding: The process of converting thoughts, ideas, or information into spoken or written language for communication to others.

  9. Attentiveness: The state of being attentive, alert, and focused on the speaker or message, essential for effective listening and comprehension.

  10. Listening Comprehension: The ability to understand and interpret spoken language, including both literal and inferred meaning, demonstrated through tasks such as listening passages or comprehension questions.

  11. Listening Passage: A spoken or recorded segment of language used for listening comprehension exercises or assessments, typically accompanied by questions or tasks to gauge understanding.

  12. Dictation: The practice of orally presenting a passage or text for students to transcribe or write down, used to assess listening, spelling, and writing skills.

  13. Transcription: The process of converting spoken language into written text, typically involving the accurate representation of words, sentences, and punctuation.

  14. Inference: The process of drawing conclusions or making predictions based on available information, context, and background knowledge, often used to understand implicit meaning in spoken or written communication.

  15. Context Clues: Information provided within the surrounding text or situation that helps readers or listeners infer the meaning of unfamiliar words, phrases, or concepts.


Speaking Terminology

  1. Fluency: The ability to speak or produce language smoothly, effortlessly, and with natural flow, demonstrating proficiency and ease of expression.

  2. Accuracy: The precision and correctness of language use in terms of grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and meaning, ensuring clear and effective communication.

  3. Pronunciation: The accurate production of speech sounds, including vowels, consonants, and intonation patterns, to convey meaning and facilitate comprehension.

  4. Intonation: The variation in pitch, tone, and stress patterns used in speech to convey meaning, express emotions, and signal sentence types or speech acts.

  5. Stress: The emphasis or prominence placed on certain syllables or words within a sentence or phrase, contributing to meaning, clarity, and rhythm in spoken language.

  6. Rhythm: The pattern or flow of stressed and unstressed syllables in speech, contributing to the naturalness, fluency, and musicality of language expression.

  7. Pace: The speed or rate at which speech is delivered, including variations in tempo to match the context, purpose, or content of communication.

  8. Articulation: The clarity and precision with which speech sounds are produced, involving the movements of the tongue, lips, and other articulators to shape sounds.

  9. Clarity: The quality of speech or language expression that is clear, intelligible, and easily understood by listeners, free from ambiguity or confusion.

  10. Confidence: The self-assurance and belief in one's abilities to communicate effectively, contribute to discussions, and engage in language activities with assurance.

  11. Engagement: Active involvement, interest, and participation in language learning or communication activities, contributing to motivation, interaction, and learning outcomes.

  12. Turn-taking: The practice of alternating speaking roles or opportunities between participants in a conversation or interaction, ensuring equal participation and opportunities for expression.

  13. Interaction: Dynamic communication and exchange of ideas, information, and opinions between individuals or groups, involving active listening, response, and feedback.

  14. Dialogue: A conversation or exchange of spoken communication between two or more participants, involving turn-taking, response, and interaction.

  15. Monologue: A prolonged speech or presentation delivered by one person, typically without interruption or direct interaction from others.

  16. Discussion: A collaborative exchange of ideas, opinions, and information on a particular topic or issue, often involving multiple participants sharing perspectives and engaging in dialogue.

  17. Debate: A structured and formalized discussion or argumentation on a controversial topic or issue, where opposing viewpoints are presented, defended, and rebutted.

  18. Presentation: The act of delivering information, ideas, or arguments to an audience in a structured and organized manner, often using visual aids or multimedia supports.

  19. Storytelling: The art of narrating or recounting a sequence of events, experiences, or stories in a compelling and engaging manner, often for entertainment or educational purposes.

  20. Role-play: An interactive activity in which participants assume specific roles or characters and engage in simulated situations or scenarios, often used to practice language skills and social interactions.

  21. Speech: A formal or prepared oral presentation delivered by a speaker to an audience, typically on a specific topic or subject of interest.

  22. Expressiveness: The ability to convey thoughts, feelings, and emotions effectively through verbal and nonverbal means, including tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language.

  23. Paraphrasing: Restating information or ideas from a source in one's own words while maintaining the original meaning and intent, often used to clarify understanding or summarize content.

  24. Elaboration: Adding details, examples, explanations, or expansions to ideas or statements to provide further clarity, depth, or context.

  25. Extending: Building upon or expanding existing ideas, concepts, or discussions by introducing new information, perspectives, or connections.

  26. Rephrasing: Expressing ideas or statements in a different way while preserving the original meaning, often used for clarification or emphasis.

  27. Recapitulation: Summarizing or reviewing key points, ideas, or arguments presented in a discussion, presentation, or debate, typically at the end of an interaction or session.

  28. Spontaneity: The quality of being spontaneous or unplanned, characterized by immediate and unpremeditated responses, actions, or speech.

  29. Prompting: Providing cues, reminders, or encouragement to stimulate or guide participants in a discussion, activity, or interaction.

  30. Discourse markers: Words or phrases used to signal relationships between ideas, transitions between topics, or speaker intentions in spoken or written discourse, such as "however," "therefore," "on the other hand," etc.





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