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  • Narrative tenses are verb tenses that are used to talk about the past. They are often found in stories and descriptions of past events, such as personal anecdotes.ExampleThe following are examples of narrative tenses:Past simple - 'We left on a...
  • The natural order hypothesis is the idea that children learning their first language acquire grammatical structures in a pre-determined, 'natural' order, and that some are acquired earlier than others. This idea has been extended to account for...
  • Outcomes are what learners should be able to do or have done at the end of the class or course. Outcomes are similar to aims but are more focussed on end results and often describe what actually happened rather than what the teacher intends to...
  • Open questions are questions which cannot be answered with just 'yes' or 'no'. Many of them begin with 'wh': why, where, who etc. Open questions can be compared to closed questions, which need only yes or no answers.Example'Why did you decide to...
  • An open class activity is an activity which is carried out with the whole group participating together with the teacher, rather than in closed groups or closed pairs. Open class work is often teacher-led.ExampleThe class have finished analysing a...
  • Onomatopoeia refers to words that have a sound that represents what the word means. They are one way in which new words can be created.Example'Splash', 'crackle' 'thud' and 'drip' are all examples of onomatopoeia.In the classroomOnomatopoeia are an...
  • A pejorative is a word or phrase that is used to express contempt.Example'Idiot' 'plonker' and 'moron' are pejoratives. 'Chav', 'Tree-hugger' and 'Bottom feeder' are other recent examples.In the classroomLearners are likely to hear this language...
  • Peer correction is a classroom technique where learners correct each other, rather than the teacher doing this.ExampleUsing a computer room, each learner quickly writes a short text on someone who has inspired them. They then move to the next...
  • Phonemes are the smallest units of sounds in a language. If a phoneme is changed, the word may change, e.g. change the l sound in 'lack' to a b and the word changes to 'back'.ExampleIn English, the sound e in 'pet' and i in 'bit' are examples of...
  • A pyramid discussion is a speaking activity where learners form progressively larger groups as they carry out a speaking task, which normally requires each grouping to reach agreement before joining another group.ExampleIn small groups, the learners...
  • Pre-listening activities are things learners do before a listening activity in order to prepare for listening. These activities have various purposes, including pre-teaching or activating vocabulary, predicting content, generating interest and...
  • Process writing focuses learners on the different stages and aspects of writing as they have been observed in good writers, and spend time on each, led by the teacher. These are; planning, drafting, revising, editing and considering the audience....
  • Pre-teaching is the teaching of the language learners need before an activity.ExampleThe learners are going to hear a short discussion on environmental issues. Before listening, they match key environment words to definitions.In the classroomIn...
  • Polysemy refers to the quality of some words to have several related meanings. A word which has several related meanings is thus a polyseme. These can be compared to homonyms, which are words that have several completely different meanings....
  • PPP

    PPP is a paradigm or model used to describe typical stages of a presentation of new language. It means presentation, production and practice. The practice stage aims to provide opportunities for learners to use the target structure. Criticism of...
  • Proficiency is how good a learner is at the language they are learning.ExampleProficiency tests such as IELTS and Cambridge Main Suite examinations test how good a candidate's overall ability in English is.In the classroomThe level of proficiency in...
  • A particle is a word that has a grammatical function but does not fit into the main parts of speech (i.e. noun, verb, adverb). Particles do not change.ExampleThe infinitive 'to' in 'to fly' is an example of a particle, although it can also act as a...
  • Pitch movement is the way the quality of the voice changes as a speaker communicates. Pitch is produced by the vibration of the vocal folds. When meaning is also considered, this is known as tone. English is an example of an intonational language,...
  • Phonemic script is a transcription of the sounds of a word or phrase, using phonemic symbols from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).ExampleThe phrase 'please do it' can be transcribed as /pli:zdu:wit/ (without stress marks), showing an...
  • Phonics is a method of teaching young learners how to read which focuses on how letters make sounds, and how these sounds make words. It can be compared with the whole word, or 'Look and say' approach, which focuses on recognising words.ExampleUsing...
  • A plenum in language teaching means the whole group, so an activity in plenum / plenary will involve all learners and the teacher. This can be compared to closed pair and group work.ExampleLearners work in pairs to correct the errors in a text, then...
  • Personalisation happens when activities allow students to use language to express their own ideas, feelings, preferences and opinions. Personalisation is an important part of the communicative approach, since it involves true communication, as...
  • Phonemic symbols are the symbols used to represent individual phoneme sounds in transcription, e.g. in a dictionary.Example:The following are examples in English:/p/ as in pet /k/ as in cat /ei/ as in pay /i:/ as in beatIn the classroomActivities...
  • Parts of speech describe the categories that words are assigned to according to what grammatical or lexical function they have. These categories are examples of classroom meta-language.
  • Phonetics is the study of human speech. Phonetics includes the study of how sounds are physically produced (by positioning the mouth, lips and tongue), and how sounds are perceived by a listener. Phonetics can be compared to phonology, which is the...
  • Participles are a verb form used in passive sentences and to form perfect and progressive aspect. There are two participles in English, the present participle (-ing) and the past participle (-ed).Example'I'm leaving', 'we wanted to go', 'a very...
  • Paradigms are theoretical models used to describe sequences of teaching.ExampleThe following are examples of paradigmsPPP - presentation, production and practice OHE - observation, hypothesis formation, experimentationARC - authentic use, restricted...
  • The productive skills are speaking and writing, because learners doing these need to produce language. They are also known as active skills. They can be compared with the receptive skills of listening and reading.ExampleLearners have already spent...
  • Prompts are stimuli a teacher uses to get learners to give a response using target language. Prompts can be visual, spoken or written.ExampleThe learners are asking each other about their food likes and dislikes. The teacher puts photos of various...
  • Paralinguistics are the aspects of spoken communication that do not involve words. These may add emphasis or shades of meaning to what people say. Some definitions limit this to verbal communication that is not words.ExampleBody language, gestures,...

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