Introduction to English Teaching Terminology

Qualified English teachers please register with World of TEFL and we will contact you with relevant vacancies as they come in.
Below is an introductory list of words, phrases and abbreviations used by English language teachers and students.

Accent – the way in which people in a particular area, country, or social group pronounce words.

Acquisition – the process of getting something, i.e. developing language skills.

Active vocabulary – the total number of words a person uses in his own speech and writing. Compare: passive vocabulary

Advanced – a higher, more difficult level.

Antonym – a word with a meaning that is opposite to the meaning of another word. Compare: synonym

Assessment – the act of deciding or judging the value or quality of something. In this context, exams are an assessment of the level of a student’s English language skills.

Authentic materials – materials that have been produced to fulfill some social purpose in the language community.

Bilingual – able to use two language equally well.

Body language – the movements or positions of your body that show other people how you are feeling, without using words.

CALL – Computer-Assisted Language Learning.

CELTA – Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults.

Cert. TEB – Certificate in Teaching English for Business.

Cert. TESOL – Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Cert. TEYL – Certificate in Teaching English to Young Learners.

Coursebook – a book used by students when they do a particular course of study.

DELTA – Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults.

Dialect – a form of a language that people speak in a particular part of a country, usually containing some different words and grammar.

DoS – Director of Studies.

ELT – English Language Teaching.

EOP – English for Occupational Purposes.

ESL – English as a Second Language.

ESOL – English to Speakers of Other Languages.

ESP – English for Specific Purposes.

Group work – When three or more students work together on a task. If two students work together it is called pair work.

Idiom – a group of words in a fixed order that have a particular meaning that is different from the meanings of each word on its own.

IELTS – International English Language Testing System.

Immersion – a method of teaching a second language in which the learners’ second language (L2) is the medium of classroom instruction.

Intermediate – at a medium level of difficulty.

Intonation – the sound changes produced by the rise and fall of the voice when speaking, especially when this has an effect on the meaning of what is said.

JET – Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program.

L1 – Learners’ first language, or mother tongue.

L2 – Learners’ second language.

Materials – anything that is used to help teach learners.

Monitor – language error correction method used as a learner uses ‘learnt’ knowledge to improve naturally ‘acquired’ knowledge.

Multilingualism – able to use two or more languages equally well.

Native language – Primary language spoken by an individual.

NET Scheme – Native-speaking English Teacher (NET) Scheme implemented in public-sector secondary and primary schools in Hong Kong.

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) – an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California, United States in the 1970s. Its creators claim a connection between the neurological processes (“neuro”), language (“linguistic”) and behavioral patterns learned through experience (“programming”) and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals in life.

Pair work – Students work in groups of two in a task.

Passive vocabulary – all the words, collectively, that a person can understand. Compare: active vocabulary

Synonym – words with the same or similar meanings. Compare: antonym

Target language – the language being learnt in language education.

TBLL – Task-based language learning, also known as task-based language teaching (TBLT) or task-based instruction (TBI) focuses on the use of authentic language and on asking students to do meaningful tasks using the target language.

Teaching aids – any device, object, or machine used by a teacher to clarify or enliven a subject.

TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

TESL – Teaching English as a Second Language.

Text – any object that can be “read”, including literature and other objects.

TOEFL – Test Of English as a Foreign Language.

Workbook – Supplementary books to the main coursebook which are usually filled with extra practice problems, where the answers can be written directly in the book by students.

Qualified English teachers please register with World of TEFL and we will contact you with relevant vacancies as they come in.


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