GLOSSARY OF TERMS FOR LANGUAGE EDUCATORS ASSEMBLE

GLOSSARY

for LANGUAGE EDUCATORS
From time to time, we come across certain technical terms within academic research which we hope to have a quick understanding. Where it matters, we also hope to explore those concepts further, with the terms used in context.
This is a live page that is updated frequently. Do bookmark it and come back often for new entries.
Do also drop us a note if you have any suggestions or feedback. Let us know your wish list too!

By Alphabetical Order

Accent

The distinctive way in which people in a social group pronounces words in a given language. This is the type of language variation at the phonological level.

Antonyms

Group of words with opposite meanings.

Applied Linguistics

An interdisciplinary branch of linguistics that studies applications of language in real life that can cut across many domains.

Artefacts

Specific objects (material and non-material) that are produced by human beings.

Audio-Lingual

A language teaching method that originated in the army to focus on developing oral communicative abilities through habit formation and reinforcement, thus characterised by drills, memorisation and simulated dialogues.

Aural Enhancement

An input enhancement technique which involves the use of phonological cues such as intonation, speed, stresses, and pauses to bring salience to the targeted forms in speech. Also known as Aural/Oral Input Enhancement).

Baby Talk

A type of language input where caregivers of young children, usually the parents or grandparents, simplify their language (e.g. use simpler linguistic forms, paraphrase using simpler vocabulary) to communicate with infants, toddlers and juniors.

Beliefs

Ideas and concepts or assumptions about the world a community or individual hold to be true.

Classifier

A word or affix that is attached to a noun (e.g. precedes the noun) and is usually used to stipulate the semantic class of the noun.

Cognitive Approach

A language teaching approach which guides learners to develop appropriate cognitive processes to guide language learning.

Communicative Approach (Communicative Language Teaching)

A language teaching approach which aims to develop learners’ communicative competence in the target language.

Community Language Learning

A language teaching method grounded in the principles of group counseling-therapy that aims to create a warm and nurturing environment by fostering a supportive network of human relationships; teachers become “language counsellors” that guide learners “from the side”.

Competency-based Approach (Competency-Based Language Teaching)

A language teaching approach where the educational objectives of language learning are articulated to be tangible and measurable, guiding the process of learning as a route to attain those specific objectives which are usually linked to authentic demands of the economy.

Comprehensible Input

Subset of language input received by the learner where the content or meaning is “readily understood”.

Comprehension Hypothesis

A re-terming of the Input Hypothesis, as proposed by Stephen Krashen.

Comprehension-based Approach

A language teaching approach which presupposes that listening comprehension should precede all other skills and that learners should be allowed to remain silent until they are ready to speak up.

Connotation (Semantics)

Certain association(s) in meaning with a word that goes beyond the literal meaning.

Content and Language Integrated Learning

A language teaching approach where the target language is also used to learn content in another domain, with an equal importance on both or at least a higher importance on language.

Content-based Approach (Content-based Instruction)

A language teaching approach which integrates language instruction with subject matter instruction from the various domains, allowing students to acquire language skills as a by-product of learning about other content (e.g. using L2 as the medium of instruction to learn Mathematics, Sciences, Design and Technology, Music).

Contradiction (Semantics)

A semantic relation between sentences when the meaning of one sentence contradicts another.

Cooperative Language Learning Approach (Collaborative Learning)

A language teaching approach which employs cooperative activities that involve pairs or small groups of learners to their fullest extent in the language classroom.

Cross-cultural Literacy

Readiness of an individual to decode and encode cultural elements from diverse groups, so as to interact effectively with others in a culturally diverse environment.

Culture

CULTURE with the big “C”: General Arts and Humanities, such as music, literature, philosophy and history.

CULTURE in the contemporary age: a way of life which includes the General Arts and Humanities, and a wider range of entities (e.g. symbols, norms) that comprise patterns of shared meanings.

Decoding

The ability to connect the written linguistic symbols (e.g. letters, graphemes) with the sounds (e.g. phonemes, syllables, morphemes) of a language during reading.

Deixis

The use of words, phrases or sentences to specifically refer to a time, person or place within the context of an utterance or text.

Denotation (Semantics)

The exact tangible or intangible entity(ies) a word or phrase denotes or refers to. Also known as “Referent”.

Dialect

A variant or subset of a larger concept of language. A language can have many dialects.

Digital Twin

Virtual replicas in the digital realm which are usually built to simulate the behaviours of the actual physical objects, people, or processes they are emulating, while providing real-time updates and generating behavioral insights derived from data.

Digital Twin Technology

A technology that integrates AI, IoT, metaverse, and VR / AR technologies to construct digital models that replicate real-world objects, systems, processes or environments which then continues to use real-world data to create simulations and predict performance.

Direct Method

A language teaching method which highlights the importance of understanding and producing spoken language without any translation, where all teaching and learning is focused on oracy and conducted exclusively in the target language.

Discourse

A series of coherent sentences, utterances, or texts.

Discourse Analysis

A branch of linguistics that studies the systematic rules governing the formation and organisation of discourse(s) and how coherence is achieved.

Dogme Approach

A language teaching approach which prioritises organic conversations, advocates a materials-light environment and believes that language is best acquired through natural emergence according to the organic development of conversations that happen in the classrooms.

Educational Technology (EdTech)

The use of tools guided by processes to enhance the learning experience in various educational contexts. The term does not necessarily mean digital learning, though it has almost become synonymous in the contemporary context.

Elaborated Input

Language input where the linguistic forms are usually made more complicated to stretch language learning. In certain cases, however, elaborated input can also be a form of simplification.

Enhanced Input

Language input that has been altered to make targeted linguistic features more salient to the learners. See Input Enhancement.

Entailment (Semantics)

A semantic relation between sentences where the meaning of one sentence inherently implies the meaning of another.

Exact Repetition (Input)

An input enhancement technique which involves repeating exposure to the same unmodified input over a series of planned instances (e.g. twice, thrice).

Feedback

An integral component of teaching and learning especially within formative assessment, where information about the learning is given to the teacher/instructor and/or the learners for enhancement of future learning. 

First Language

The language(s) that typically emerges in the sphere of birth to early childhood, acquired by the individual without any formal instruction. Usually taken to be synonymous with “mother tongue” and “native language”.

Foreign Language

The language(s) that is encountered or learned but either non-native to the learners or society or only used by a small group of native speakers within the country.

Foreigner Talk

A type of language input where a native speaker simplifies the language (e.g. use simpler linguistic forms, paraphrase using simpler vocabulary) they use when communicating with non-native speakers to be better understood.

Grammar-Translation

A language teaching method which aims to develop learners’ translation skills and achieve a high level of accuracy, with less focus on communication in the target language, so that they can read and understand foreign literature.

Guise Technique (Matched or Verbal)

A method of assessing language attitudes which involves the presentation of similar content to participants in different languages or varieties where participants then evaluate the speaker(s) using those languages or varieties accordingly.

Hanyu Pinyin

An official transcription system for the sounds of Standard Mandarin, used primarily for teaching and learning the pronunciation of Chinese characters, and is also used as an input method for computers and other electronic devices.

Heritage Language

Any language that is identified not to be a dominant language within a given social context; the language is often associated with minoritised communities within a society and delineates their cultural heritage in a certain sense

Homophony

Linguistic phenomenon when a word has two or more completely unrelated meanings.

Immersion

A language teaching approach which uses the target language as the medium of instruction for at least 50% of all content learning.

Implicature

Things that speakers or writers imply without literally expressing the things in question.

Input

Everything in the language which a learner is exposed either orally or visually, or everything that the learner hears or reads in that language. Language input provides the necessary positive evidence of how meaning-bearing content can be expressed in a target language.

Input Enhancement

Alteration of language input to make targeted linguistic features more salient to the learners; or any technique that helps to draw our attention to specific features of linguistic forms in the target language.

Input Flood

An input enhancement technique where learners are exposed to the targeted linguistic features in high frequency by re-designing written texts to use targeted linguistic forms repeatedly or embedding many instances of the targeted linguistic form in speech.

Input Hypothesis

A hypothesis proposed by Stephen Krashen which states that second language acquisition is conditional on two premises:  language input is comprehensible (i.e. content or meaning) to the learner, and is pitched at a level slightly higher than the current level of the learner.

Input Processing

A theory in second language acquisition put forward by Bill VanPatten that illustrates how learners process linguistic data in spoken or written language, with two major claims: learners process input for meaning first, before attending to the forms; and learners tend to treat the first noun encountered (or recognised) in a sentence as the subject/agent.

Instructionism

Teacher-centred practices (e.g didactic lectures) that were traditionally used in the classrooms.

Interaction Hypothesis

A hypothesis proposed by Michael Long which premises on the assumption that comprehensible language input is a requirement for second language acquisition. As such, interactions will increase the availability of comprehensible input due to opportunities for meaning negotiation.

Interactional Input

Language input that comes through interactions with others (e.g. daily transactions, casual conversation, group discussion, question and answer, live debates, social media).

Intercultural Competence

The ability (underpinned by attitudes, knowledge and skills) to navigate and interact with people from different cultural backgrounds and social groups effectively and appropriately.

International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an international framework which standardise the representation of sound units across languages, based primarily on the Latin scripts.

Jargon

Specialised words or expressions typically used by a professional group in a particular domain.

Nothing here yet.

Language

Language is a tool of communication, a complex rule-governed system of discrete segments, a meaning-making entity, an expression of identity, and a representation of thought.

Language Attitudes

An evaluative orientation which encompasses a complex network of beliefs, feelings and behaviours that an individual or a community holds or demonstrates towards particular languages and/or their speech communities

Language Attrition

A phenomenon which sees a declining change in proficiency in a language that had previously been acquired by an individual due to reasons that are non-pathological in nature.

Language Beliefs

Language beliefs refer to the consensus of a speech community on the value attributed to different languages and varieties – and the ways they are used specifically – that come in contact with the community.

Language Immersion Trip

An educational experience in the form of a short-term trip that provides learners with the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the target language and culture.

Language Input

Everything in the language which a learner is exposed either orally or visually, or everything that the learner hears or reads in that language. Language input provides the necessary positive evidence of how meaning-bearing content can be expressed in a target language.

Language Management

Specific efforts by interested parties (or “language managers”) to change or adjust the language practices and/or beliefs of a targeted speech community.

Language Policy

All the language practices, beliefs and management decisions of a community or polity. See Language Beliefs, Language Management and Language Practices.

Language Practices

The natural, regular or typical linguistic practices adopted by the members of the targeted speech community across various sociolinguistic domains.

Language Shift

A community-wide phenomenon in which speakers of one language gradually shift to using another language, often due to social, economic, or political pressures and over generations.

Learning Sciences

A cluster of sciences in an inter-disciplinary field which seeks to understand the phenomenon of learning in a scientific way, in all types of situations (e.g. in and beyond classrooms), and all the possible factors that support or impede learning.

Lexical Approach

A language teaching approach where the lexicon assumes a more prominent role in the curriculum and the teaching and learning of lexical items is the main activity.

Linguistic Comprehension

An essential component of reading comprehension based on the Simple View of Reading. The ability to take the semantic meaning of recognised words (or lexical information) to construct sentence-level and/or discourse-level interpretation during reading.

Linguistic Ethnography

A method of unobtrusively observing targeted subjects enacting their language practices in their natural environments without any interference or intervention from the researchers.

Linguistic Landscape

The phenomenon detailing the presence of physical elements (e.g. public signs, posters, information labels) displaying texts in a target language within a physical scope (e.g. a city, a school). Any physical object that displays the use of language (usually explicit, but may also include implicit elements) within an area of investigation (usually a public space) can be an item of inquiry in the linguistic landscape (including moving objects such as mobile signage which enter the space temporarily).

Literature

Representational and ideational texts of all periods, styles and forms with imaginative content or techniques to induce certain emotional and cognitive response from the receivers (listeners or readers), including short stories, proses, poems, novels, plays, and song lyrics from a wide range of genres, fiction or non-fiction.

Modified Input

Language input that is altered for a particular purpose (not necessarily to facilitate language acquisition).

Morphology

A branch of linguistics that studies how words can be formed structurally and how and why their forms change.

Mother Tongue

A metaphor to denote the language an individual acquires early life after birth from the mother (who is usually the primary caregiver), or basically the language one is natively born into and who would potentially become a native speaker.

Multiple Intelligences

A model of intelligence which acknowledges the different facets of intelligence beyond the traditional notion of general intelligence, including dimensions such as linguistic, logical/mathematical, spatial, interpersonal.

Mutual Intelligibility

The most commonly cited criterion in distinguishing between languages and dialects. Where speakers can understand one another (ie. mutually intelligible) even though there are noticeable differences across the various dimensions of language use, those varieties are dialects. Where speakers cannot understand one another (ie. mutually unintelligible), those varieties belong to different languages.

Native Speaker

Typically considered to be someone who has acquired a language naturally, from birth, through immersion in the culture and society where the language in question is spoken.

Natural Approach

A language teaching approach which emulates the processes of first language acquisition and proposes all language learning activity to be conducted in the target language with large amounts of comprehensible input provided.

Naturalistic Input

Language input received under naturalistic conditions, or language to which learners are exposed in the “real world”, where the language is usually unfiltered, meaning-focused and can be highly variable, subject to the diversity of interlocutors the learners come in contact with.

Norms

Rules, principles and expectations that guide the behaviours of the members in a community.

Opaque Language

A language which writing systems where letter-to-sound conversion rules are less straightforward such that there are many exceptions (phonetically inconsistent).

Oral Approach (Situational Language Teaching)

A language teaching approach which conducts all teaching and learning exclusively in the target language with a focus on oracy guided by a systematic approach to vocabulary and grammar learning.

Paraphrases (Semantics)

A semantic relation between sentences where they have similar meanings.

Peer Teaching

An instructional approach in which students learn from one another; also known as PEER TUTORING.

Perceptual Enhancement

An input enhancement technique where phonological (e.g. intonation, loudness) and typographical cues (e.g. bolding, italics) are added to the language input to shift learners’ attention to the targeted forms.

Phonemic Awareness

The understanding that spoken language can be separated into smaller units of sound called phonemes.

Phonetics

A branch of linguistics that studies the smallest discrete units of speech and investigates the ways speech sounds are made, classified, combined and perceived.

Phonology

A branch of linguistics that studies the systems governing the combination of sounds to form meaningful speeches (i.e. the grammar of sounds in language and in specific languages).

Polysemy

Linguistic phenomenon when a word has two or more related meanings.

Pragmatics

A branch of linguistics that studies the meaning of language in contexts – meaning that is dependent on contextual factors such as the communicative situation, the identities and intentions of the speakers in question or the use of rhetorical and figurative devices.

Presupposition

An assumption relating to an utterance or text where the truth is taken for granted.

Processing Instruction

An instructional approach which seeks to help learners develop optimal processing habits in the target language for acquisition by exposing them to structured input.

Nothing here yet.

Rapid Anonymous Surveys

A method of eliciting spontaneous speech data from participants to uncover speech patterns (e.g. pronunciation) in sociolinguistic research.

Rapid Automatic Naming

The skill of quickly and accurately naming aloud a series of objects, such as letters, numbers, pictures, or colors. A strong predictor of reading abilities.

Reading Approach

A language teaching approach which focuses on reading comprehension and emphasises the study of grammar and translation exercises, with a deliberate sequencing of vocabulary to be learned.

Reference (Linguistics)

The use of linguistic expressions to enable the identification of a specific referent by the listener/reader.

Referent (Linguistics)

The exact tangible or intangible entity(ies) a word or phrase denotes or refers to.

Science of Assessment

The scientific study of how to determine what people know, or what they have learned.

Science of Instruction

The scientific study of how to help people learn.

Science of Learning

The scientific study of how people learn.

Science of Reading

A comprehensive field of study that draws insights from various disciplines (e.g. psychology, linguistics, education, and neuroscience) to provide theory-grounded and evidence-based insights that we should incorporate in our approaches to reading instruction

Second Language

The additional language(s) that an individual acquire after his/her first language has been acquired.

Semantics

A branch of linguistics that studies the property and relationship patterns between linguistic forms and their inherent meanings; and establish the system of how we derive meaning in communication through language.

Silent Way

A language teaching method where the teacher’s role is kept to a minimum and aims to employ gestures, instructions and manipulatives (e.g. Fidel pronunciation charts, coloured Cuisenaire rods) to keep learners using the language.

Simple View of Reading

A theoretical model the defines reading comprehension as the product of two separate components “decoding” and “linguistic comprehension”.

Simplified Input

Language input where the linguistic forms are simplified to facilitate understanding by young or non-native speakers.

Sinitic Languages

The family of languages that are usually associated with the Chinese, including varieties such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, Shanghainese, Suzhounese.

Slang

Lexical items or words that exhibit some sort of non-neutral social meaning (e.g. wacky vs strange, Gucci vs good/cool) and which can be can be short-lived and are popular for a limited period of time.

Speech Act

Verbal communication that accomplishes certain practical functions beyond just providing information.

Structured Input

Language input which has been artificially weaved into language tasks where the learner is conditioned to do optimal processing of linguistic forms while still attending to meaning.

Suggestopedia / Desuggestopedia

A language teaching method rooted in the psychology of “suggestion” where the teacher creates a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere in the classroom to help the students feel at ease, and then introduce language in a way that is supposed to be enjoyable and stress-free.

Survivorship Bias

A cognitive bias that occurs when we focus on the entities or individuals that endured or passed through a selection process (e.g. an adverse event, a screening exercise), while inadvertently overlook those that did not make it through, leading to unrealistic expectations, misguided strategies, and/or incorrect conclusions.

Symbols

Things that represent or convey particular meanings shared by a community.

Synonyms

Group of words with similar meanings.

Syntax

A branch of linguistics that studies the rules that govern the combination of words to form grammatical phrases, clauses and sentences or the system of word order.

Task-based Learning Approach (Task-Based Language Teaching)

A language teaching approach where instruction is planned and delivered based on the use of communicative and interactive tasks as the core units.

Teacher Talk

A type of language input where a teacher simplifies the language input for the message or content to be understood by the students.

Teaching as a Science

The representation of teaching as an informed practice anchored on a body of research where the teacher actively keeps abreast of research and collects data in practice to further enhance his/her instructional processes.

Teaching as an Art

The representation of teaching as a creative activity where the teacher relies on unique talents in devising meaningful learning methods from his/her repertoire of “artistic moves”, where there are many elements in the process which are immeasurable (e.g. love, flow, relations).

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)

A framework which emphasises that effective technology integration for pedagogy around specific subject matter requires developing sensitivity to the dynamic, transactional relationship between components of knowledge situated in unique contexts. It identifies the nature of knowledge required by teachers for technology integration in their teaching, while addressing the complex, multifaceted and situated nature of teacher knowledge.

Textual Enhancement

Textual Enhancement is used more frequently in published academic research, as opposed to perceptual enhancement.

Theoretical Linguistics

The branch of linguistics which aims to answer the general question of what language is; discover the universal properties of language that exist across languages; and reveal the architecture of language. Also known as “core linguistics” or “internal linguistics” and is often juxtaposed with “applied linguistics”.

Total Physical Response

A language teaching method which focuses on meaning and comprehension by guiding learners to use physical movements as a response to verbal input.

Translanguaging

Originally used to refer to a pedagogical innovation where students were to receive input in one language and produce output in another. The term has been expanded beyond the classrooms to denote actual dynamic language practices of bilinguals. Today it refers to both the practices and the pedagogy which engage or recognise those practices.

Transparent Language

A language which writing systems comprise simple letter-to-sound conversion rules such that every distinctive grapheme represent a distinctive phoneme with little exceptions.

Nothing here yet.

Values

The principles and standards that a community identify to be ideals or desired targets of pursuit in life, as opposed to their contrasting counterparts. In simpler terms, they reflect what a community perceives to be respectable and admirable; and what are considered inadmissible and objectionable.

Varied Repetition (Input)

An input enhancement technique which involves repeating exposure to the same input over a series of planned instances (e.g. twice, thrice) but with adjustments made to specific target words or forms to demonstrate a novel manifestation of the same linguistic forms.

Variety (Language)

The preferred term by linguists to denote the concept of “dialect”.

Whole Language Approach

A language teaching approach where language is taught in integration (e.g. not further distilled into components) and the joy of reading and writing is emphasised.

Nothing here yet.

Nothing here yet.

Nothing here yet.

Join our mailing list!

Receive insights and EXCLUSIVE resources on language education in a monthly newsletter, fresh into your inbox. No Fees, No Spam, so No Worries!

Post Subscription Box

By Blog Category

Feedback

An integral component of teaching and learning especially within formative assessment, where information about the learning is given to the teacher/instructor and/or the learners for enhancement of future learning. 

Language Attrition

A phenomenon which sees a declining change in proficiency in a language that had previously been acquired by an individual due to reasons that are non-pathological in nature.

Translanguaging

Originally used to refer to a pedagogical innovation where students were to receive input in one language and produce output in another. The term has been expanded beyond the classrooms to denote actual dynamic language practices of bilinguals. Today it refers to both the practices and the pedagogy which engage or recognise those practices.

Applied Linguistics

An interdisciplinary branch of linguistics that studies applications of language in real life that can cut across many domains.

Discourse

A series of coherent sentences, utterances, or texts.

Discourse Analysis

A branch of linguistics that studies the systematic rules governing the formation and organisation of discourse(s) and how coherence is achieved.

First Language

The language(s) that typically emerges in the sphere of birth to early childhood, acquired by the individual without any formal instruction. Usually taken to be synonymous with “mother tongue” and “native language”.

Foreign Language

The language(s) that is encountered or learned but either non-native to the learners or society or only used by a small group of native speakers within the country.

Heritage Language

Any language that is identified not to be a dominant language within a given social context; the language is often associated with minoritised communities within a society and delineates their cultural heritage in a certain sense

International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an international framework which standardise the representation of sound units across languages, based primarily on the Latin scripts.

Language

Language is a tool of communication, a complex rule-governed system of discrete segments, a meaning-making entity, an expression of identity, and a representation of thought.

Language Practices

The natural, regular or typical linguistic practices adopted by the members of the targeted speech community across various sociolinguistic domains.

Linguistic Landscape

The phenomenon detailing the presence of physical elements (e.g. public signs, posters, information labels) displaying texts in a target language within a physical scope (e.g. a city, a school).

Mother Tongue

A metaphor to denote the language an individual acquires early life after birth from the mother (who is usually the primary caregiver), or basically the language one is natively born into and who would potentially become a native speaker.

Native Speaker

Typically considered to be someone who has acquired a language naturally, from birth, through immersion in the culture and society where the language in question is spoken.

Second Language

The additional language(s) that an individual acquire after his/her first language has been acquired.

Nothing here yet.

Aural Enhancement

An input enhancement technique which involves the use of phonological cues such as intonation, speed, stresses, and pauses to bring salience to the targeted forms in speech. Also known as Aural/Oral Input Enhancement).

Baby Talk

A type of language input where caregivers of young children, usually the parents or grandparents, simplify their language (e.g. use simpler linguistic forms, paraphrase using simpler vocabulary) to communicate with infants, toddlers and juniors.

Comprehensible Input

Subset of language input received by the learner where the content or meaning is “readily understood”.

Comprehension Hypothesis

A re-terming of the Input Hypothesis, as proposed by Stephen Krashen.

Elaborated Input

Language input where the linguistic forms are usually made more complicated to stretch language learning. In certain cases, however, elaborated input can also be a form of simplification.

Enhanced Input

Language input that has been altered to make targeted linguistic features more salient to the learners.

Exact Repetition (Input)

An input enhancement technique which involves repeating exposure to the same unmodified input over a series of planned instances (e.g. twice, thrice).

Foreigner Talk

A type of language input where a native speaker simplifies the language (e.g. use simpler linguistic forms, paraphrase using simpler vocabulary) they use when communicating with non-native speakers to be better understood.

Input

Everything in the language which a learner is exposed either orally or visually, or everything that the learner hears or reads in that language. Language input provides the necessary positive evidence of how meaning-bearing content can be expressed in a target language.

Input Enhancement

Alteration of language input to make targeted linguistic features more salient to the learners; or any technique that helps to draw our attention to specific features of linguistic forms in the target language.

Input Flood

An input enhancement technique where learners are exposed to the targeted linguistic features in high frequency by re-designing written texts to use targeted linguistic forms repeatedly or embedding many instances of the targeted linguistic form in speech. See Input Enhancement.

Input Hypothesis

A hypothesis proposed by Stephen Krashen which states that second language acquisition is conditional on two premises:  language input is comprehensible (i.e. content or meaning) to the learner, and is pitched at a level slightly higher than the current level of the learner.

Input Processing

A theory in second language acquisition put forward by Bill VanPatten that illustrates how learners process linguistic data in spoken or written language, with two major claims: learners process input for meaning first, before attending to the forms; and learners tend to treat the first noun encountered (or recognised) in a sentence as the subject/agent.

Interaction Hypothesis

A hypothesis proposed by Michael Long which premises on the assumption that comprehensible language input is a requirement for second language acquisition. As such, interactions will increase the availability of comprehensible input due to opportunities for meaning negotiation.

Interactional Input

Language input that comes through interactions with others (e.g. daily transactions, casual conversation, group discussion, question and answer, live debates, social media).

Language Input

Everything in the language which a learner is exposed either orally or visually, or everything that the learner hears or reads in that language. Language input provides the necessary positive evidence of how meaning-bearing content can be expressed in a target language.

Modified Input

Language input that is altered for a particular purpose (not necessarily to facilitate language acquisition).

Naturalistic Input

Language input received under naturalistic conditions, or language to which learners are exposed in the “real world”, where the language is usually unfiltered, meaning-focused and can be highly variable, subject to the diversity of interlocutors the learners come in contact with.

Perceptual Enhancement

An input enhancement technique where phonological (e.g. intonation, loudness) and typographical cues (e.g. bolding, italics) are added to the language input to shift learners’ attention to the targeted forms.

Processing Instruction

An instructional approach which seeks to help learners develop optimal processing habits in the target language for acquisition by exposing them to structured input.

Simplified Input

Language input where the linguistic forms are simplified to facilitate understanding by young or non-native speakers.

Structured Input

Language input which has been artificially weaved into language tasks where the learner is conditioned to do optimal processing of linguistic forms while still attending to meaning.

Teacher Talk

A type of language input where a teacher simplifies the language input for the message or content to be understood by the students.

Textual Enhancement

An input enhancement technique which involves the manipulation of typographical cues through actions such as bolding, italicisation, underlining, highlighting, and changing font size/colour/style to attract attention to the targeted forms. Also known as Visual Input Enhancement.

Varied Repetition (Input)

An input enhancement technique which involves repeating exposure to the same input over a series of planned instances (e.g. twice, thrice) but with adjustments made to specific target words or forms to demonstrate a novel manifestation of the same linguistic forms.

Decoding

An essential component of reading comprehension based on the Simple View of Reading. The ability to connect the written linguistic symbols (e.g. letters, graphemes) with the sounds (e.g. phonemes, syllables, morphemes) of a language during reading.

Linguistic Comprehension

An essential component of reading comprehension based on the Simple View of Reading. The ability to take the semantic meaning of recognised words (or lexical information) to construct sentence-level and/or discourse-level interpretation during reading.

Opaque Language

A language which writing systems where letter-to-sound conversion rules are less straightforward such that there are many exceptions (phonetically inconsistent).

Phonemic Awareness

The understanding that spoken language can be separated into smaller units of sound called phonemes.

Rapid Automatic Naming

The skill of quickly and accurately naming aloud a series of objects, such as letters, numbers, pictures, or colors. A strong predictor of reading abilities.

Science of Reading

A comprehensive field of study that draws insights from various disciplines (e.g. psychology, linguistics, education, and neuroscience) to provide theory-grounded and evidence-based insights that we should incorporate in our approaches to reading instruction.

Simple View of Reading

A theoretical model the defines reading comprehension as the product of two separate components “decoding” and “linguistic comprehension”.

Transparent Language

A language which writing systems comprise simple letter-to-sound conversion rules such that every distinctive grapheme represent a distinctive phoneme with little exceptions.

Literature

Representational and ideational texts of all periods, styles and forms with imaginative content or techniques to induce certain emotional and cognitive response from the receivers (listeners or readers), including short stories, proses, poems, novels, plays, and song lyrics from a wide range of genres, fiction or non-fiction.

Affective-Humanistic Approach

A language teaching approach which encompasses respect for the individual and seek to drive meaningful communication, collaborative learning, and a supportive class atmosphere, all of which contribute to a harmonious learning environment.

Audio-Lingual

A language teaching method that originated in the army to focus on developing oral communicative abilities through habit formation and reinforcement, thus characterised by drills, memorisation and simulated dialogues.

Cognitive Approach

A language teaching approach which guides learners to develop appropriate cognitive processes to guide language learning.

Communicative Approach (Communicative Language Teaching)

A language teaching approach which aims to develop learners’ communicative competence in the target language.

Community Language Learning

A language teaching method grounded in the principles of group counseling-therapy that aims to create a warm and nurturing environment by fostering a supportive network of human relationships; teachers become “language counsellors” that guide learners “from the side”.

Competency-based Approach (Competency-Based Language Teaching)

A language teaching approach where the educational objectives of language learning are articulated to be tangible and measurable, guiding the process of learning as a route to attain those specific objectives which are usually linked to authentic demands of the economy.

Comprehension-based Approach

A language teaching approach which presupposes that listening comprehension should precede all other skills and that learners should be allowed to remain silent until they are ready to speak up.

Content and Language Integrated Learning

A language teaching approach where the target language is also used to learn content in another domain, with an equal importance on both or at least a higher importance on language.

Content-based Approach (Content-based Instruction)

A language teaching approach which integrates language instruction with subject matter instruction from the various domains, allowing students to acquire language skills as a by-product of learning about other content (e.g. using L2 as the medium of instruction to learn Mathematics, Sciences, Design and Technology, Music).

Cooperative Language Learning Approach (Collaborative Learning)

A language teaching approach which employs cooperative activities that involve pairs or small groups of learners to their fullest extent in the language classroom.

Direct Method

A language teaching method which highlights the importance of understanding and producing spoken language without any translation, where all teaching and learning is focused on oracy and conducted exclusively in the target language.

Dogme Approach

A language teaching approach which prioritises organic conversations, advocates a materials-light environment and believes that language is best acquired through natural emergence according to the organic development of conversations that happen in the classrooms.

Grammar-Translation

A language teaching method which was popular from the 1840s to 1940s that aims to develop learners’ translation skills and achieve a high level of accuracy, with less focus on communication in the target language, so that they can read and understand foreign literature.

Immersion

A language teaching approach which uses the target language as the medium of instruction for at least 50% of all content learning.

Instructionism

Teacher-centred practices (e.g didactic lectures) that were traditionally used in the classrooms.

Lexical Approach

A language teaching approach where the lexicon assumes a more prominent role in the curriculum and the teaching and learning of lexical items is the main activity.

Natural Approach

A language teaching approach which emulates the processes of first language acquisition and proposes all language learning activity to be conducted in the target language with large amounts of comprehensible input provided.

Oral Approach (Situational Language Teaching)

A language teaching approach which conducts all teaching and learning exclusively in the target language with a focus on oracy guided by a systematic approach to vocabulary and grammar learning.

Peer Teaching

An instructional approach in which students learn from one another; also known as PEER TUTORING.

Processing Instruction

An instructional approach which seeks to help learners develop optimal processing habits in the target language for acquisition by exposing them to structured input.

Reading Approach

A language teaching approach which focuses on reading comprehension and emphasises the study of grammar and translation exercises, with a deliberate sequencing of vocabulary to be learned.

Silent Way

A language teaching method where the teacher’s role is kept to a minimum and aims to employ gestures, instructions and manipulatives (e.g. Fidel pronunciation charts, coloured Cuisenaire rods) to keep learners using the language.

Suggestopedia / Desuggestopedia

A language teaching method rooted in the psychology of “suggestion” where the teacher creates a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere in the classroom to help the students feel at ease, and then introduce language in a way that is supposed to be enjoyable and stress-free.

Task-based Learning Approach (Task-Based Language Teaching)

A language teaching approach where instruction is planned and delivered based on the use of communicative and interactive tasks as the core units.

Total Physical Response

A language teaching method which focuses on meaning and comprehension by guiding learners to use physical movements as a response to verbal input.

Translanguaging

Originally used to refer to a pedagogical innovation where students were to receive input in one language and produce output in another. The term has been expanded beyond the classrooms to denote actual dynamic language practices of bilinguals. Today it refers to both the practices and the pedagogy which engage or recognise those practices.

Whole Language Approach

A language teaching approach where language is taught in integration (e.g. not further distilled into components) and the joy of reading and writing is emphasised.

Language Beliefs

Language beliefs refer to the consensus of a speech community on the value attributed to different languages and varieties – and the ways they are used specifically – that come in contact with the community.

Language Management

Specific efforts by interested parties (or “language managers”) to change or adjust the language practices and/or beliefs of a targeted speech community.

Language Policy

All the language practices, beliefs and management decisions of a community or polity. See Language Beliefs, Language Management and Language Practices.

Nothing here yet.

Nothing here yet.

Instructionism

Teacher-centred practices (e.g didactic lectures) that were traditionally used in the classrooms.

Learning Sciences

A cluster of sciences in an inter-disciplinary field which seeks to understand the phenomenon of learning in a scientific way, in all types of situations (e.g. in and beyond classrooms), and all the possible factors that support or impede learning.

Multiple Intelligences

A model of intelligence which acknowledges the different facets of intelligence beyond the traditional notion of general intelligence, including dimensions such as linguistic, logical/mathematical, spatial, interpersonal.

Science of Assessment

The scientific study of how to determine what people know, or what they have learned.

Science of Instruction

The scientific study of how to help people learn.

Science of Learning

The scientific study of how people learn.

Survivorship Bias

A cognitive bias that occurs when we focus on the entities or individuals that endured or passed through a selection process (e.g. an adverse event, a screening exercise), while inadvertently overlook those that did not make it through, leading to unrealistic expectations, misguided strategies, and/or incorrect conclusions.

Teaching as a Science

The representation of teaching as an informed practice anchored on a body of research where the teacher actively keeps abreast of research and collects data in practice to further enhance his/her instructional processes.

Teaching as an Art

The representation of teaching as a creative activity where the teacher relies on unique talents in devising meaningful learning methods from his/her repertoire of “artistic moves”, where there are many elements in the process which are immeasurable (e.g. love, flow, relations).

Nothing here yet.

Accent

The distinctive way in which people in a social group pronounces words in a given language. This is the type of language variation at the phonological level.

Dialect

A variant or subset of a larger concept of language. A language can have many dialects.

Discourse

A series of coherent sentences, utterances, or texts.

Discourse Analysis

A branch of linguistics that studies the systematic rules governing the formation and organisation of discourse(s) and how coherence is achieved.

Guise Technique (Matched or Verbal)

A method of assessing language attitudes which involves the presentation of similar content to participants in different languages or varieties where participants then evaluate the speaker(s) using those languages or varieties accordingly.

Implicature

Things that speakers or writers imply without literally expressing the things in question.

Jargon

Specialised words or expressions typically used by a professional group in a particular domain.

Language Attitudes

An evaluative orientation which encompasses a complex network of beliefs, feelings and behaviours that an individual or a community holds or demonstrates towards particular languages and/or their speech communities

Language Practices

The natural, regular or typical linguistic practices adopted by the members of the targeted speech community across various sociolinguistic domains.

Language Shift

A community-wide phenomenon in which speakers of one language gradually shift to using another language, often due to social, economic, or political pressures and over generations.

Linguistic Ethnography

A method of unobtrusively observing targeted subjects enacting their language practices in their natural environments without any interference or intervention from the researchers.

Linguistic Landscape

The phenomenon detailing the presence of physical elements (e.g. public signs, posters, information labels) displaying texts in a target language within a physical scope (e.g. a city, a school). Any physical object that displays the use of language (usually explicit, but may also include implicit elements) within an area of investigation (usually a public space) can be an item of inquiry in the linguistic landscape (including moving objects such as mobile signage which enter the space temporarily).

Mutual Intelligibility

The most commonly cited criterion in distinguishing between languages and dialects. Where speakers can understand one another (ie. mutually intelligible) even though there are noticeable differences across the various dimensions of language use, those varieties are dialects. Where speakers cannot understand one another (ie. mutually unintelligible), those varieties belong to different languages.

Pragmatics

A branch of linguistics that studies the meaning of language in contexts – meaning that is dependent on contextual factors such as the communicative situation, the identities and intentions of the speakers in question or the use of rhetorical and figurative devices.

Presupposition

An assumption relating to an utterance or text where the truth is taken for granted.

Rapid Anonymous Surveys

A method of eliciting spontaneous speech data from participants to uncover speech patterns (e.g. pronunciation) in sociolinguistic research.

Slang

Lexical items or words that exhibit some sort of non-neutral social meaning (e.g. wacky vs strange, Gucci vs good/cool) and which can be can be short-lived and are popular for a limited period of time.

Speech Act

Verbal communication that accomplishes certain practical functions beyond just providing information.

Variety (Language)

The preferred term by linguists to denote the concept of “dialect”.

Artefacts

Specific objects (material and non-material) that are produced by human beings.

Beliefs

Ideas and concepts or assumptions about the world a community or individual hold to be true.

Cross-cultural Literacy

Readiness of an individual to decode and encode cultural elements from diverse groups, so as to interact effectively with others in a culturally diverse environment.

Culture

CULTURE with the big “C”: General Arts and Humanities, such as music, literature, philosophy and history.

CULTURE in the contemporary age: a way of life which includes the General Arts and Humanities, and a wider range of entities (e.g. symbols, norms) that comprise patterns of shared meanings.

Intercultural Competence

The ability (underpinned by attitudes, knowledge and skills) to navigate and interact with people from different cultural backgrounds and social groups effectively and appropriately.

Language Immersion Trip

An educational experience in the form of a short-term trip that provides learners with the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the target language and culture.

Norms

Rules, principles and expectations that guide the behaviours of the members in a community.

Symbols

Things that represent or convey particular meanings shared by a community.

Values

The principles and standards that a community identify to be ideals or desired targets of pursuit in life, as opposed to their contrasting counterparts. In simpler terms, they reflect what a community perceives to be respectable and admirable; and what are considered inadmissible and objectionable.

Classifier

A word or affix that is attached to a noun (e.g. precedes the noun) and is usually used to stipulate the semantic class of the noun.

Hanyu Pinyin

An official transcription system for the sounds of Standard Mandarin, used primarily for teaching and learning the pronunciation of Chinese characters, and is also used as an input method for computers and other electronic devices.

Sinitic Languages

The family of languages that are usually associated with the Chinese, including varieties such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, Shanghainese, Suzhounese.

Antonyms

Group of words with opposite meanings.

Connotation (Semantics)

Certain association(s) in meaning with a word that goes beyond the literal meaning.

Contradiction (Semantics)

A semantic relation between sentences when the meaning of one sentence contradicts another.

Deixis

The use of words, phrases or sentences to specifically refer to a time, person or place within the context of an utterance or text.

Denotation (Semantics)

The exact tangible or intangible entity(ies) a word or phrase denotes or refers to. Also known as “Referent”.

Discourse

A series of coherent sentences, utterances, or texts.

Discourse Analysis

A branch of linguistics that studies the systematic rules governing the formation and organisation of discourse(s) and how coherence is achieved.

Entailment (Semantics)

A semantic relation between sentences where the meaning of one sentence inherently implies the meaning of another.

Homophony

Linguistic phenomenon when a word has two or more completely unrelated meanings.

Implicature

Things that speakers or writers imply without literally expressing the things in question.

International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an international framework which standardise the representation of sound units across languages, based primarily on the Latin scripts.

Morphology

A branch of linguistics that studies how words can be formed structurally and how and why their forms change.

Paraphrases (Semantics)

A semantic relation between sentences where they have similar meanings.

Phonetics

A branch of linguistics that studies the smallest discrete units of speech and investigates the ways speech sounds are made, classified, combined and perceived.

Phonology

A branch of linguistics that studies the systems governing the combination of sounds to form meaningful speeches (i.e. the grammar of sounds in language and in specific languages).

Polysemy

Linguistic phenomenon when a word has two or more related meanings.

Pragmatics

A branch of linguistics that studies the meaning of language in contexts – meaning that is dependent on contextual factors such as the communicative situation, the identities and intentions of the speakers in question or the use of rhetorical and figurative devices.

Presupposition

An assumption relating to an utterance or text where the truth is taken for granted.

Reference (Linguistics)

The use of linguistic expressions to enable the identification of a specific referent by the listener/reader.

Referent (Linguistics)

The exact tangible or intangible entity(ies) a word or phrase denotes or refers to.

Semantics

A branch of linguistics that studies the property and relationship patterns between linguistic forms and their inherent meanings; and establish the system of how we derive meaning in communication through language.

Speech Act

Verbal communication that accomplishes certain practical functions beyond just providing information.

Synonyms

Group of words with similar meanings.

Syntax

A branch of linguistics that studies the rules that govern the combination of words to form grammatical phrases, clauses and sentences or the system of word order.

Theoretical Linguistics

The branch of linguistics which aims to answer the general question of what language is; discover the universal properties of language that exist across languages; and reveal the architecture of language. Also known as “core linguistics” or “internal linguistics” and is often juxtaposed with “applied linguistics”.

Subscribe

Subscribe
Join our mailing list so that you will not miss any update!
Subscription Form

Making a difference in language education, one sip at a time. Support my work with a coffee?

buy me a coffee