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Concourse 2

A glossary of methodology and background theory for English Language Teachers


Define your terms

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Term Brief explanation Guide links
acceptability A judgement concerning the appropriateness or accuracy of a language item. Error
acculturation Model The view that success in learning is related to whether and how much a learner
a) wishes to communicate with speakers of the target language
b) has the opportunity to do so
b) wishes to integrate socially
achievement test A test designed to discover how well the targets of a learning programme has been reached. Testing
acquisition A concept contrasted with learning which refers to the unconscious 'picking up' of a language with little if any focus on formal instruction or learning. Krashen
active construction of grammar A theory of learning which suggests that learning is a process of developing and refining hypotheses about language structure. Second language acquisition
active vocabulary Describing the language which a learner can both understand and use.
See also passive vocabulary.
Assessing vocabulary
adjacency pair Two utterances related by function and often co-occurring, for example, apologising and accepting apologies. Adjacency pairs
affective filter hypothesis
affective factors
The concept that feelings of insecurity, uneasiness and danger will negatively affect how well a learner can focus and be successful.
Affective factors are the feelings, values and attitudes of learners.
KrashenHumanism in ELT
affordance The perceived possibilities in the environment and the items in it.  You can use a coat hanger to hand a coat on or to bend into shape as a temporary tool. Input
agglutinating languages Those languages which add morphemes together to form longer lexemes with each morpheme representing an additional meaning.  Such languages have high morpheme to word ratios. Types of languages
alteration A coping strategy in whereby speakers will simply alter the message if their language resources do not allow them to express the original idea. Communicative strategies
alternative answer item A test which allows only two possible answers such as True/False. Testing
analogy A perceived similarity between two items which can aid production and comprehension but which may also lead to errors of over-generalisation of rules. Error
analytic languages Those languages which use few grammatical morphemes and have a low morpheme to word ratio. Types of languages
analytic scoring Scoring a mark for each component of a task. Testing
approach One factor in the definition of methodology, referring to the background theories of language and learning. Methodology
appropriateness Descriptive of the social acceptability of a language item. Communicative Language Teaching
approximation A coping strategy which involves either circumlocution or substitution in the face of ignorance of the correct form. Communicative strategies
approximative system A concept akin to interlanguage describing the learner's current mastery of the target language. Methodology refined
aptitude testing Testing the ability to learn a subject. Testing
audio-lingualism An approach to language teaching which draws on structural linguistic analysis of language and behaviourist theories of learning.
A development is audio-visual teaching making use of images, moving or otherwise.
History and development of ELT
audio-visual aid Any chart, diagram, object, video sequence or audio recording etc. used in a classroom. Classroom resources
aural Referring to hearing / listening. Listening
authenticity The degree to which teaching materials come from the ‘real world’ and are used as originally intended.
Materials may be authentic in terms of not having been designed for use in a classroom but inauthentic in terms of how they are used.
Full authenticity is achieved if the material is not designed for a pedagogical purpose and is used in the way it was intended by its producer.
autonomy The state of being in independent control of your own life. Teacher roles
avoidance strategy One of a range of coping strategies which involves expressing things, usually more simply, and avoiding the use of lexis and grammar with which the learners is unfamiliar or insecure. Communicative strategies
backchaining A drilling technique which involves working back from the end of an utterance. 5 Techniques
back-channelling The responses of a listener intended to show e.g., rapport, interest and attention. Back-channelling
backwash Also washback.  The effect that the construction and content of a test or examination has on the content and activities of a teaching programme. Testing
barrier test A test designed to filter candidates for certain course programmes on the basis of their current ability.
Bayesian processing A form of inferencing in which the learner makes and discards hypotheses as the data get richer. Inferencing
behaviourism A theory of learning which asserts that learning occurs in a stimulus-response-reinforcement cycle. History and development of ELT
Bloom's taxonomy A way of categorising and describing educational objectives in terms of the cognitive difficulty of tasks. Bloom
bottom-up processing Using one's knowledge of the grammar, phonology and lexis to understand or produce a text.
Compare top-down processing.
cautious writing See hedging.  
circumlocution A coping strategy involving the avoidance of unknown or little-known items to achieve communication by talking around the item.  E.g., using The thing which opens cans instead of The tin opener. Communicative strategies
CLIL Content and Language Integrated Learning. CLIL
closed pairs A way of grouping learners so they are all working in pairs and not paying attention to other pairs.
Compare open pairs.
Grouping learners
Cloze test A test in which words are removed regularly (every fifth or seventh, for example) from a text for the learners to complete.
Casually, a gap-fill task.
co-text The language items which surround a target item and can be used to aid understanding of it.
The term context is often used loosely to refer to co-text.
cognate A word similarly derived in at least two languages which is related in meaning and recognisable in form.
Cognate words are sometimes false friends (not false cognates, a term which refers to words which look similar in two languages but which are wholly unconnected in derivation).
cognitive (adj.)
Thinking. Bloom's taxonomy(and elsewhere)
corpus (sing.)
Large computerised databases of language samples used for research. Collocation
communication strategies Any of a range of resources which a learner uses to communicate.  They include coping strategies. Communicative strategies
communicative competence A term variously defined which includes at least: linguistic competence (knowledge of the systems of the language), sociolinguistic competence (knowledge of the rules of speaking), discourse competence (knowing how to use and respond to different types of speech acts) and strategic competence (knowing how to use language appropriately). Communicative Language Teaching
Communicative Language Teaching A methodology which has as its aim the ability to communicate effectively and which uses simulated or real communicative situations in teaching.
Community Language Learning An approach to teaching which draws heavily on theories of counselling (and, some would argue, group therapy sessions). Alternative methodologies
compensation The ways in which speakers may compensate for a lack of language skills and knowledge. See coping strategies. Speaking
competence A term contrasted with performance which refers to the speaker's intrinsic knowledge of the language, its lexicon, phonology and structures. Chomsky
comprehensible input Language which can be understood and form the basis of learning.  This often refers to language which is just above the learner's current knowledge but still comprehensible. Krashen
computer assisted language learning (CALL) Using computers as a major element in the teaching-learning process. Classroom resources
concept checking question A display question intended to ascertain whether an idea has been understood. Checking learning
concurrent validity A measure of how well a test performs in comparison with other tests targeting the same knowledge and skills. Testing
connectionist theory The theory which holds that people can make guesses and hypotheses about language structure based on statistical probabilities rather than analogy. First- and second-language acquisition
construct validity Descriptive of a test-setter's ability precisely to determine and explain what is being tested. Testing
content validity A measure of how far and how accurately a test targets the content of what a learner has encountered.
context The social situation in which language is set.
The term is often used loosely to refer to co-text.
contrastive analysis Analysis of the similarities and differences between languages. Types of languagesWord order
conversation frame A set of instructions concerning the content and stages in a practice dialogue. Teaching speaking
conversational analysis An approach to the study of social interaction concerned with verbal and non-verbal behaviours.
coping strategies Various communicative strategies which help learners compensate for a lack of knowledge or skill.  They include: circumlocution, paraphrasing, asking for repetition or clarification and avoidance. Communicative strategies
course plan A list of the content and ordering of a schedule of work to be covered by a group of learners and their teacher(s).  Such lists are usually drawn up by teachers and/or academic managers and based on a syllabus which, in turn, may be based on a curriculum. Syllabus design
coverage A measure of how broad an area a lexeme can refer to.  For example, vehicle has greater coverage than car although it is less frequent. Teaching lexis
creativity A coping strategy in speaking which involves the use of first language, direct translation from first language or simple invention of terms and structures. Communicative strategies
criterion referenced testing Measuring learners' ability in a test against a set of criteria.
Compare norm referencing.
critical period hypothesis The concept of there being a period of childhood and adolescence beyond which a first language cannot be acquired with success. Chomsky
Cuisenaire rods Coloured rods of various lengths used in Silent Way teaching and elsewhere as a visual representation of structures and stress patterns etc. Alternative methodologies
curriculum An externally imposed and prescribed set of learning objectives and content.  Such lists are often drawn up by ministries or other external powers such as examination boards. Syllabus design
deductive learning Learning based on being given the rule and from that to produce acceptable language.
Compare inductive learning.
How learning happens
delayed correction A technique which avoids the interruption of an activity and leaves correction of language until its completion. Correction
descriptive grammar A grammar reference which describes what native speakers do rather than attempting to say what is right or wrong. Grammar references
diagnostic test A test to discover learners' strengths and weaknesses for planning purposes. Testing
dictogloss An activity in which learners use their knowledge of structure, collocation, colligation and lexis to re-construct a heard text. 5 Techniques
differentiation Varying tasks and procedures to allow for different level of skill and knowledge in the individuals in a group. Scaffolding
direct method Teaching a language in the language. History and development of ELT
direct test Testing a skill by requiring the test-taker to demonstrate it. Testing
discourse analysis Analysing language above the level of the sentence. The discourse index
discovery learning Learning through being led to the rules by observation and noticing.
There are two forms:
a) independent discovery learning in which the task is set and the learners work alone (or with other learners only) until it is time for feedback.
b) assisted discovery learning which is akin to Guided discovery and involves the teacher throughout.
See also inductive learning.
discrete item / point test A test format with many items requiring short answers which each target a defined area. Testing
discrimination Either:
The ability to distinguish closely related lexemes, sounds or structures.
Describing the need for a test to make a clear difference between learners.
discussion A type of text which seeks to discuss the issue rather than to persuade the reader / hearer of the truth of a proposition. Genre
display question A question to which the teacher knows the answer and is intended as a check on a learner's understanding and knowledge. Asking questions
distractor These are the wrong answers in a multiple-choice test task.  The closer the distractors are to the correct answer, the more difficult the test is. Testing
Dogme A communicative methodology which involves the avoidance of dependency on materials and excessive planning averring that the targets and syllabus emerge from the needs of the learners. Alternative methodologies
drill Any technique based on repetition or cueing.
Also referred to as pattern practice.
EAP English for Academic Purposes. The EAP index
eclecticism Selecting from a range of theories approaches and materials. Post-method methodology
EFL English as a Foreign Language.  Now usually ESOL or ESL. Introduction to ELT
EIL English as an International Language. Varieties of English
ELF English as a Lingua Franca.
elicitation Drawing out information and good guesses from learners rather than simply informing them Asking questions
ELT English Language Teaching. Introduction to ELT
emergent language Language which arises during the course of teaching and may, or may not, need some expansion, feedback or response. Feedback
ENAP English for No Apparent Purpose.  Often this describes the English required by young learners on general English courses.
encyclopaedic knowledge What a person knows about the world in general. Semantics
EOP English for Occupational Purposes Business English
error Distinguished from slips, mistakes or lapses and descriptive of a true lack of knowledge causing mal-formed or unacceptable language production. Error
ESL English as a Second Language.
ESOL English to Speakers of Other Languages.
ESP English for Special Purposes (such as Science, Business, Academic study etc.). Business EnglishEAP index
expectancy theory The theory that the level of motivation is determined by: the value of the outcome, the learner's expectation of being able to learn the targets and the likelihood of success. Motivation
exposition A type of text which seeks to persuade the reader / hearer of the truth of a proposition rather than discuss the issue. Genre
extensive Reading or listening in quantity rather than to limited amounts of language. ListeningReading
extrinsic motivation Motivation which comes from outside the learner. Motivation
face validity A measure of how much like a proper and reliable test an assessment procedure looks. Testing
facilitation The ways in which speakers can make their message easier to understand.
See also language facilitation.
See also transfer.
false friend A word in the target language derived from the same source as in the learner's first language but whose meaning is no longer (or was never) synonymous.
This is not a false cognate.
field (in)dependence The theory that people can be divided into those who are strongly or weakly influenced by the surroundings of what they perceive. Learning styles and culture
field of discourse The topic or register area of a text of any kind. Functional grammar
FLA First Language Acquisition.
See also SLA.
First language acquisition
flooding Adapting or constructing texts in which the target language occurs repeatedly as an aid to noticing. Noticing
fluency The ability to speak or write smoothly with the minimum of hesitation, backtracking and rephrasing. Assessing speaking
formative assessment Testing and assessment during a teaching programme intended to inform planning for the following parts.
Compare summative testing.
fresh start Ensuring that test items are discrete and the performance in one task will not be dependent on success in a previous task.
functional syllabus
a) The social purpose for which language is produced.
b) The grammatical role of an item.
A functional syllabus, often combined with notional categories focuses on the first of these definitions.
Form and FunctionTypes of syllabus
gap-fill task A task or test item in which words or longer units are removed and which the learner must insert.
See also Cloze test.
Task types
genre approach
Texts which share the same communicative intentions will exhibit cultural conventions concerning language and information staging common to other tests in the genre in which they can be placed. Genre
gist reading / listening Reading or listening to get a general overview of the topic and structure of a text.
See skimming.
See monitor listening.
Gouin Series, The Teaching in which language is presented as a series of logically sequential steps in undertaking everyday activities. History and development of ELT
grammar translation An approach to teaching which focuses on accessing the culture and literature of the target language using translation and grammatical study. History and development of ELT
group work An activity in which learners work cooperatively in groups larger than two. Grouping learners
guided discovery A technique which consists of allowing or requiring learners to do their own research and investigation to arrive at the knowledge they need.  The term ‘guided’ refers to the fact that the teacher’s responsibility is to direct learners to the most useful sources of information rather than making them find their own way.
See noticing and / or inductive learning.
habituation The supposed process by which language becomes automatic allowing the speaker to focus on content not form. History and development of ELT
hedging Writing and speaking especially in English for Academic Purposes which deploys a number of shielding devices and modality to make tentativeness clear. Hedging in EAP
hierarchy of needs The arrangement of human needs on a scale which may determine levels of motivation. Motivation
Honey-Mumford See Mumford-Honey.
human language Human language differs in fundamental ways from animal communication. Language evolution
humanism A term referring to the importance of human values, self-awareness, sensitivity and cultural appropriateness in teaching methodologies. Humanism
imitation theory The theory which holds that children and/or adults acquire language by imitating what they see and hear around them. First- and second-language acquisition
indirect test A test which seeks to assess the underlying skills and knowledge required in the use of language rather than testing a skill directly. Testing
Indo-European languages A large family of languages (which includes English, most European and many Asian languages) presumed to have originated in the Caucasus. Types of languages
induced error An error which is caused by poor explanation, incomplete explanation, poor materials or misinformation. Teacher-induced error
inductive learning A learning procedure involving scrutiny of multiple examples of a form or system to arrive at the rule.
Compare deductive learning.
How learning happens
inferencing Working out meaning or gaining other information by a cognitive approach to making logical connections. Inferencing
information gap A type of activity in which learners hold different information which they must pool to achieve the task target. Task types
innateness theory The theory that the ability to learn a language is genetically determined.
Sometimes known as Nativism.
First- and second-language acquisition
input hypothesis The assertion that the data a learner encounters should be both comprehensible and just above the learner's current level to lead to successful language acquisition. Krashen
instrumental motivation Motivation which arises from the need to do something else with the language. Motivation
integrative motivation Motivation which stems from the need to fit in to the target-language culture. Motivation
integrative testing Combining many language elements to do the task.  Public examinations contain a good deal of this sort of testing with marks awarded for various elements: accuracy, range, communicative success etc. Testing
intensive Reading or listening in detail rather than trying to get an overall idea of a text. ListeningReading
interaction Language use to maintain social relationships rather than achieve ends.
Compare transaction.
interference The negative effect of a learners first language(s) on the learning of a target language.
Also called first-language interference.
Facilitation and interference
interlanguage A concept akin to an approximative system describing the learner's current mastery of the target language. Methodology refined
intrinsic motivation Motivation which comes from within the learner. Motivation
intuition A native speaker's judgement of correctness and/or appropriacy. Chomsky
isolating languages Languages which very few or no grammatical morphemes and rarely inflect lexemes.  They have very low morpheme to word ratios. Types of languages
language acquisition device A theory positing the existence of a genetically endowed mental template or mind module for allowing the rapid acquisition of a person's first language(s). Chomsky
language and thought Describing the debate concerning whether one's first language determines the way one thinks or vice versa. Language and thought
language facilitation The way in which similarities in the lexicon and structure of a learner's first language(s) may help in the learning of another language. Facilitation and interference
learner-generated syllabus An approach to syllabus design which relies on learners knowing what they need to do in English and what they need to learn to master the skills they need.  The syllabus is negotiated between the students and the teacher/institution. Syllabus design
language interference See interference.  
lathophobic aphasia Remaining silent for fear of making an error. Humanism
learning The purposeful acquisition of knowledge.  In language terms, this is sometimes contrasted with acquisition which refers to the more-or-less unconscious picking up of a language through exposure to meaningful input. Krashen
learning strategies Any approach a learner takes to making learning more successful personally. How learning happens
learning styles Generally discredited theories concerning how individuals may have preferred learning styles. Learning style and culture
lexical syllabus A syllabus which focuses on lexical patterns and common ways to express meaning. Syllabus design
lexicon a) A learner’s total knowledge of words in a language.
This includes both active and passive vocabulary.
b) the complete set of all the lexemes in a language.
The English lexicon is reckoned to contain many hundreds of thousands of words as well as prefixes and suffixes.
Teaching lexis
lockstep Descriptive of activities in which all learners are doing the same thing at the same time. Types of activities
meaningful drill
meaningless drill
The former refers to drill in which the learner can get the right answer without understanding the language at all, the latter to those in which some understanding is necessary.
A meaningless drill is sometimes called a mechanical drill.
metalanguage The language we use to talk about language. Using metalanguage
Used loosely, method means methodology but more technically it is just a part of a methodology.
A methodology proper has a fully worked out theory of language allied to a theory of learning.
Methodology overview
mistake See error.
mode of discourse In genre theory, this refers to the type of text that is produced and the medium of communication which is used. Functional grammar
monitor hypothesis The theory that users of the language can monitor their own output for acceptability but that the system only works retrospectively. Krashen
monitor listening A process akin to scan reading in which the hearer monitors a test for relevance before switching to intensive listening. Listening
monitoring A teacher activity of two sorts:
Check monitoring to ensure that learners are on task and doing as instructed.
Support monitoring to provide help and facilitate tasks once they are begun.
motivation The willingness to expend effort in doing something. Motivation
multiple-choice test A test which requires the taker to select from a range of possibilities for the right answer (usually more than two). Testing
multiple intelligence theory The theory that humans have a range of different intelligence types in different proportions. Learning styles and culture
Mumford-Honey categorisation A categorisation of people into four types: activists, pragmatists, reflectors and theorists.  Now discredited.
narrative texts A text designed to relate a dramatic series of events. Genre
nativism The theory that the ability to acquire language is hard-wired into the human brain.
See Innateness theory.
ChomskyLanguage evolution
natural approach A teaching approach which is based on a theory of how people acquire rather than learn a language. Krashen
natural order hypothesis The theory that language systems are learned or acquired in a fixed and unalterable sequence.
needs analysis Discovering learners' needs and wants. Needs analysis
norm referencing Measuring test takers' performance against each other rather than a set of criteria for task achievement.
Compare criterion referencing.
noticing Actively comparing what you see and hear with what you produce and making yourself aware of language form and function. Noticing
notional syllabus
Language which expresses concepts such as lateness, height, temperature, frequency etc.
A syllabus based on such items often in conjunction with functions.
Types of syllabus
objective test A test which is mechanically marked without calling on the judgement of the marker. Testing
open pair A pair performing a task while the other learners watch. Grouping learners
operant conditioning See Behaviourism.
oral Referring to speaking. Speaking
overgeneralisation A source of error stemming from the overgeneralisation of a learned rule.
This is also referred to as ignorance of rule restriction or overextension.
See analogy.
passive vocabulary The vocabulary a learner can understand but not use.
See also active vocabulary.
Assessing vocabulary
pedagogic grammar A grammar designed for learners and for teachers to use. Grammar references
performance A term contrasted with competence which refers to the speaker's actual language production. Chomsky
personalisation Making the topic of tasks personally relevant to learners. Motivation
placement test A test designed to group learners into appropriate study groups or classes. Testing
polysynthetic languages Those languages which have a very high morpheme to word ratio as they add both inflexional and meaningful morphemes together to make longer lexemes. Types of languages
PPP Presentation, Practice, Production. Structuring lessons
practicality A measure of how easy and practical a test is to administer and mark. Testing
predictive validity A measure of how well a test results will predict learners' actual ability to perform language tasks and communicate.
prescriptive grammar Grammar which sets out what is considered right and wrong rather than describing what people say. Grammar references
problematising Leading learners to realise that there is something worthwhile to be learned by encouraging error. Noticing
procedural syllabus A syllabus which focuses on tasks to be accomplished.
See also Task-based Learning and Teaching.
Syllabus design
procedure text A text designed to explain how something is done. Genre
process approach An approach to teaching (especially of writing) which focuses on writing subskills rather than the end product. Teaching writing
product approach An approach to teaching (especially of writing) which focuses on producing a text
productive skills Writing and speaking.
These are also referred to as motor skills.
The skills index
proficiency test A test aimed at assessing a learner's current abilities in English. Testing
progress test A test to check progress as part of formative assessment.
question types Teachers are able to ask questions in a variety of ways: closed, open, yes-no and so on. Asking questions
realia Items brought into the classroom from the 'real world'. Classroom resources
receptive skills Reading and listening. The skills index
recount texts A text designed to relate a simple series of events. Genre
reform movement The general term for those involved in the reaction against grammar-and literature-based language teaching methodologies. History and development of ELT
register The field of interest in which language occurs. Style and register
reliability A measure of how trustworthy a test is. Testing
role play A communicative activity in which the learners play out a role. Task types
rubric The instructions for a test item. Testing
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis The hypothesis that the language we speak determines the way we think.
This is also called linguistic relativity.
Language and thought
scaffolding The help and support given to learners working in the Zone of Proximal Development. ZPD and scaffolding
scanning Reading through a text to locate specific information only. Teaching reading skills
schema (plural schemata) A mental framework in which information is ordered and classified. Inferencing
Silent Way, The An approach to teaching in which the teacher remains as silent as possible.  The main reason for this is to devolve as much autonomy and decision making as possible to the learners. Alternative methodologies
Situational Language Teaching An oral approach to teaching popularised in Britain. The history and development of ELT
situational syllabus A syllabus which covers the settings in which learners will have to deploy appropriate language. Syllabus design
skills-based syllabus A syllabus which targets language abilities rather than the formal aspects of language.
skimming Reading quickly to get the gist of a text. Teaching reading skills
SLA Second Language Acquisition.
See also FLA.
Second language acquisition
social constructiveness / construction theory The theory that children learn to use appropriate and accurate language by participating in social interactions with adults and by analogy that adults can learn a second language is a similar fashion. First- and second-language acquisition
structural linguistics The study of language from a structural point of view involving phonemes, morphemes, words, phrases, clauses, sentences and texts as a hierarchy. A language analysis course
structural syllabus A 'traditional' syllabus, listing formal language items to be learned.  The ordering of items usually depends on a judgement concerning their complexity rather than communicative utility. Syllabus design
style Variation in formality. Style and register
subjective test A test which is not mechanically marked and calls on the judgement of the marker. Testing
Suggestopedia / Desuggestopedia An approach (sometimes referred to as a method by its proponents) to language teaching based on the work of Georgi Lozanov.  The name is a portmanteau word taken from 'suggestology' and 'pedagogy'. Alternative methodologies
summative testing Testing at the end of a programme to see how well the targets have been achieved.
Compare formative testing.
syllabus A list of the topics to be covered on a course.  This is usually drawn up by the institution in which teaching takes place sometimes with input from both internal sources (students, teachers, academic managers etc.) and external sources (sponsors, examination boards, ministries etc.). Syllabus design
synthetic languages Languages which employ considerable inflexions for case, number, tense and gender to make lexemes carry these signals. Types of languages
Task-based Learning and Teaching A communicative methodology which focuses on the achievement of tasks rather than language analysis. Task-based Learning and Teaching
taxonomy of educational objectives See Bloom's taxonomy.
teacher-induced error Errors caused by poor or insufficient explanation or information about language or by poorly designed and targeted materials. Teacher-induced error
teacher roles The taking on of different roles and responsibilities to suit the nature of the phase of a lesson. Teacher roles
teacher talk The language a teacher uses in class. Teacher talk
tenor of discourse In genre theory, this refers to the relationship between the speaker / writer and the hearer / reader. Functional grammar
tonal languages Languages in which the tone placed on a lexeme alters its meaning. Types of languages
top-down processing Using knowledge of generic structure allied to knowledge of the world and the text's topic to aid understanding.
Compare bottom-up processing.
topic-based syllabus A syllabus organised around topic rather than language structure. Syllabus design
topic sentence The sentence in a paragraph, usually the first, which sets out the theme of the paragraph. Using a genre approach
Total Physical Response A structural teaching methodology. Alternative methodologies
transaction Language use to achieve ends rather than maintain social relationships.
Compare interaction.
transfer The extension of first-language patterns or items to the target language which may aid production and comprehension (facilitation) or hinder it (interference). Facilitation and interference
transformational-generative grammar An approach to grammar analysis which attempts to find the rules for the production of all possible correct utterances. Chomsky
TTT Test-Teach-Test or Teacher Talking Time.  The latter is sometimes contrasted with TTQ (Teacher Talk Quality). Structuring lessonsTeacher talk
turn-taking One of the ways conversation is managed. Turn-taking
U-shaped learning Descriptive of the fact that both children learning their first languages and some learning a second will acquire a correct irregular form before applying the rule indiscriminately and producing the wrong form before realising the limitations and reverting to the correct form. First- and second-language acquisition
universal grammar The theory that suggests that all human language is structured in the same way. ChomskyLanguage evolution
use / usage The former refers to an utterance’s communicative value, the latter to its significance or formal meaning. Communicative Language Teaching
validity A measure of how well a test actually tests what it says it does. Testing
VARK The discredited theory that people have a mixture of visual, audio, reading and kinaesthetic learning styles. Learning styles and culture
wait time The amount of time a teacher waits after asking a question and before moving on. Asking questions
washback See backwash.
xenolinguistics The field of study concerned with imagining what an alien language may be like. How to speak to an alien
ZPD The Zone of Proximal Development.  The theory is that learners are successful when operating in a zone where they can complete tasks only with small amounts of judicious help (scaffolding). ZPD and scaffolding