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  • Acquisition is the way we learn our first language, i.e. through being involved in real communication, and without formal teaching. As we learn, we hypothesise rules, and use these to communicate until we notice that the rule is different, or has...
  • Assimilation is a process where sounds in separate words change when they are put together in speech. One way this happens is by the second sound changing to be more similar to the first.ExampleThe phrase 'white bag', which becomes 'wipe bag' when...
  • Autonomy means the ability to take control of one's own learning, independently or in collaboration with others. An autonomous learner will take more responsibility for learning and is likely to be more effective than a learner who is reliant on the...
  • Affixes are groups of letters that are added to the beginning or the end of words to make new words. Prefixes go at the beginning of words and often change meaning, whilst suffixes go at the end of words and often change the kind of word (e.g. from...
  •  Audio-lingualism is a method of foreign language teaching where the emphasis is on learning grammatical and phonological structure, especially for speaking and listening. It is based on behaviourism and so relies on formation as a basis for...
  • Authentic materials are written or spoken texts used with learners without changing the level of language.ExampleA story from a news webpage, streamed radio, a story from a CDROM, a podcast, or a live native speaker talking to learners without...
  • ARC

    ARC is one way to describe three possible stages of a class. It stands for Authentic Use, Restricted Use and Clarification and Focus.ExampleARC could be used to describe the staging of a grammar presentation lesson which starts with an explanation...
  • Action research is a development tool for a teacher that involves observing or gathering other data about a class through interviews, case studies, and questionnaires. A teacher can establish a cycle of identifying problems, planning changes in...
  • Bottom-up processing happens when someone tries to understand language by looking at individual meanings or grammatical characteristics of the most basic units of the text, (e.g. sounds for a listening or words for a reading), and moves from these...
  • Brainstorming is the random generation of ideas based around a topic. There is no editing or ordering of these ideas. They may then be used as the basis for another activity such as writing or discussion. It is often very productive as a whole-class...
  • Backchaining is a drilling technique intended to help learners pronounce difficult sound groups, words or phrases. The teacher begins with the last sound, which the learners repeat, and then gradually builds up the word or phrase by going 'back' to...
  • Blending is one of the many ways new words are made in English. It refers to joining the beginning of one word and the end of another to make a new word with a new meaning.ExampleSmog, from smoke and fog, and brunch, from breakfast and lunch, are...
  • A consonant cluster in a word is a group of consonants with no vowels between them. The longest possible cluster in English is three consonant sounds at the start, such as 'splash', and four at the end, as in 'twelfths'.ExampleThe tongue twister '...
  • In connected speech, the pronunciation of a word will change depending on the words around it. Changes in pronunciation within and across word boundaries include changes to individual sounds and new sounds being inserted. Learners have to become...
  • Consciousness-raising, also known as awareness-raising, is part of the process a learner can go through with new language. They first become aware or conscious of the new language, then recognise and distinguish it, then produce it.ExampleLearners...
  • Concept questions are used to find out if a learner has understood a new item. The question is designed to test the key concepts of the item and normally requires a yes/no or short answer.ExampleTo test understanding of the use of 'used to' in the...
  • Cognitive strategies are one type of learning strategy that learners use in order to learn more successfully. These include repetition, organising new language, summarising meaning, guessing meaning from context, using imagery for memorisation. All...
  • Cuisenaire rods are small wooden rods of different lengths and colours. They are used as a classroom resource to visually represent various areas of language. Cuisenaire rods are used in the Silent Way, a teaching methodology associated with...
  • Cohesion is one of the two qualities that give a written or spoken text unity and purpose, the other being coherence. It refers to the use of linguistic devices to join sentences together, including conjunctions, reference words, substitution and...
  • Comprehensible input is language input that can be understood by listeners despite them not understanding all the words and structures in it. It is described as one level above that of the learners if it can only just be understood. According to...
  • Controlled language is language that the teacher gives the class that is in some way changed to suit the level or the aims of the lesson. This contrasts with authentic language, which is not adjusted in any way.
  • A cognitive theory of learning sees second language acquisition as a conscious and reasoned thinking process, involving the deliberate use of learning strategies. Learning strategies are special ways of processing information that enhance...
  • Collocation refers to words that are found together in language. Collocations can be fixed, where it is difficult to replace one of the words with an alternative, or freer, allowing for more choice of words.Example'Utter disaster' is a fixed...
  • Concept checking is finding out if a learner has understood a new item. There are a variety of ways to do this, including asking concept questions. It is especially important in inductive language teaching, where learners arrive at an understanding...
  • Classroom management refers to the decisions a teacher makes regarding the physical environment and resources available to them, including furniture, resources, learners and themselves. These decisions are made to support the aims of the class....
  • Clipping is one of the ways new words are created in English. It involves the shortening of a longer word, often reducing it to one syllable. Many examples are very informal or slang.ExampleMaths, which is a clipped form of mathematics, is an...
  • Contextualisation is putting language items into a meaningful and real context rather than being treated as isolated items of language for language manipulation practice only. Contextualising language tries to give real communicative value to the...
  • Coherence is one of the two qualities that give a written or spoken text unity and purpose. The other is cohesion. Coherence refers to the general sense that a text makes sense through the organisation of its content. In writing, it is provided by a...
  • The communicative approach is based on the idea that learning language successfully comes through having to communicate real meaning. When learners are involved in real communication, their natural strategies for language acquisition will be used,...
  • Countable nouns are nouns that can be preceded by a number and that have singular and plural forms. Some nouns have both forms. The opposite of countable nouns is uncountable nouns.Example'Apple' is a countable noun, 'coffee' is both countable (...

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