The Alternative English teaching jargon dictionary Part Two

aptitude- your inbuilt ‘talent’ for learning languages. Not to be confused with ‘apitude’, which is your ability to make a realistic bee -like buzzing noise with your mouth.

ARC- (Authentic, Restricted, Clarification). This more-flexible variation on PPP is thought by the cabalist school of English teaching to be the original language teaching method passed on by Noah after the great flood, PPP being a later corrupted version.

articulators- The special parts of the mouth, nose and throat (e.g. larynx, pharynx, hard palate, alveolar ridge) that are only used when we pronounce articles (a, an or the) in English.

attention- the stance with ramrod straight back and eyes directly forward that helps language learners concentrate on the language point being taught and not be distracted by other things. Experienced teachers find that shouting “Attention!” during the important part of a grammar explanation and having their students jump up and line up helps retention. Another useful technique to focus attention taken from the army is to use framing language like “Right! (You horrible little lot!)” (language in brackets is optional).

audiolingual method- Literally, the ’sound tongue’ method. Based on behaviourist experiments such as the famously salivating Pavlov’s dog, students would be made to control the panel of a language lab booth using only their tongue in order to help them physically memorize the dialogues on the tape. This method died out when it was found that student errors are in fact contagious, and were being picked up by future students licking the same booth controls (this is also why Japanese students wear face masks on days when they are making many language errors, so as not to pass them on).

base form- This rather negative expression for the form ‘be’, ‘do’, ‘have’ etc. comes from a medieval superstition that this verb form was somehow dirty and brought bad luck. It has now been replaced by the expression ‘infinitive without to’.

Behaviourism- The idea that skills such as speaking another language could be taught in the same way as disciplining a child or teaching a dog how to fetch. It became less popular after the last generation of makers of craft dunce hats in Cornwall died out, and using dog leads and collars in the language classroom is now only a very specialist, if exclusive, market.

bilabial- Used to describe someone whose lips can go either way, i.e. look exactly the same the other way round. This can help learners pronounce consonants where both lips are used: /p/, /b/, /w/ and /m/.

bilingualism- Literally ‘having two tongues’. This is still considered a negative thing in countries such as the USA, although it does have certain advantages.

clause- Clauses are the largeest grammatical unit smaller than a whole sentence. Not to be confused with ‘Klaus’, who is the man with the largest waistline ever to attempt to wear leather shorts.

co-ordinate clauses- When two or more clauses of equal rank are linked they are co-ordinate clauses. As well as learning to spot these, students will need the classroom language of talking about them, e.g. “Do you think this clause looks okay with this one?” “It’s a bit last year, why don’t you try it together with this?” “Does my main clause look big with this?” “Oh no, darling, just throw in this conjunction and it is sooooo you”

blended learning- The idea that in order for the attention deficit disorder young people of today to be able to learn a language, everything has to reduced to an easily-digested, computer-generated, un-intellectually-stimulating mush; like making baby food in a blender.

bottom-up processing- As an extension on NLP theories of where people look when they are thinking and what that means about their preferred learning style, researchers have found that they direction in which you scan the face and body of good looking people of the other sex is related to how you best process the information in a text. For example, people who start looking at the arse and work their way up (bottom-up processors) tend to do well at noticing the small details of a text but less well in noticing how the information is arranged into paragraphs etc.

chunks- Strings of language that are not digested properly and come out whole when you’ve had too many beers during a language exchange party.

CLL- (community language learning- pronounced /cululu/). Based on counselling therapy, students sit in a circle and are helped by the teacher to cooperatively produce a dialogue in English on a tape about their relationship with the local catholic priest.

dummy operator- The word ‘do’ and ‘did’, used to make questions and negatives of sentences that do not have an auxiliary verb such as the ‘could’ in the question “Couldn’t you think of anything more amusing to write about that?”

EFL- English as a Foreign Language- usually meaning people studying English for use outside of English speaking countries, e.g. people studying over the summer in the UK then returning to their countries. Pronounced /eful/.

EFLuant- The dark side of EFL: 1 week teacher training certificates, cafe lessons, chain schools etc. etc.

linguistics- Literally, ‘the science of the tongue’. This definition is only to be used when someone you are chatting up asks you what you do if you are both very very drunk. Ditto applied linguistics.

mentalist- Young language teachers followers of Noam Chomsky who use illegal substances at all night ‘linguistic raves’.

non-finite clause- a non-finite clause is one that contains a non-finite verb, i.e. a verb that is not marked for tense and person such as an infinitive. Not to be confused with a infinite clause, which is what French students produce when trying to do IELTS or CAE writing.

stance- Stance (also, appraisal) is the way people show their personal attitude to what they are hearing or reading. As the word originally comes from how people stand, in linguistics stance language is divided into categories based on body language, e.g. ‘hands on hip stance language’ and ‘I’m a little tea pot stance language’.

zero article- the ‘invisible’ article used instead of ‘a’/’an’ or ‘the’ when you are refering to something general using a plural or uncountable noun, e.g. “- apples grow on trees”. Native speakers use a tiny, almost unnoticeable hiccupping movement of the diaphragm to mark the zero article. You can develop this skill in students by having them cough or hiccup loudly when they use a zero article and then gradually reduce the noise level as they go up in language level.

The whole list is here.

This entry was posted in Error correction, Linguistics, applied linguistics and SLA, TEFL, TESOL and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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