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Key concepts for CELTA

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In common with most professions, English Language Teaching (aka ELT) has its share of terminology.  It isn't jargon, for the most part, because terms refer to key concepts.

On any CELTA course you are almost certain to come across most of the terms in this guide.  Referring to them now, and taking the little tests will prepare you well to focus on what is being said rather than being distracted by the terms in which it is said.

Many of the terms you will encounter form opposing pairs of ideas and that is how they are presented here.  All the terms in the headings are ones you might meet on your course and should understand.
All these terms are the focus of guides on this site in one way or another.


talk

Area 1: language


structure

Language structure vs. Language function

Be careful:
The word 'function' is used in another way in English Language Teaching.
It can also refer to what a phrase is doing in a sentence.  For example, in:
    I want the blue pair

and
    I want it
the words the blue pair and it are performing the same grammatical function (as the object of the verb want).  That is different from the communicative function of the sentences.

skill

Language skill vs. Language system

chart

Grammar vs. Structure

These terms are sometimes, rather loosely, used to mean the same thing but there is a difference:

student

General English (GE) vs. English for Specific Purposes (ESP)

use

Use vs. Usage

link

Cohesion vs. Coherence

formal

Formal vs. Informal language

There is a cline here, not an on-off distinction.

A key idea associated with style is appropriacy: is the language suitable for the social context in which it is used?


teaching

Area 2: Teaching and Learning


teacing

Structural language teaching vs. Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)

If you would like to investigate this difference a little more, try the essential guide to methodology (new tab) which considers three basic sets of methodological approaches to teaching English (or any language).

context

Context vs. Co-text

There is a guide to context on this site (new tab).

detective

Inductive vs. Deductive Learning

It is worth pointing out here that inductive and deductive learning cannot be easily separated: it's not an either-or situation, in other words.
However learners acquire a rule, be it from being told, reading about it in a grammar book or working it out for themselves, they then have to apply the rule to the language they want to use and that is a deductive process.

display

Display question vs. Communicative or Real question

open

Open questions vs. Closed questions

Closed questions are often display questions because the teacher usually knows the answer although a question like:
    Where did you buy that lovely scarf?
may well be a communicative question.

You can see that closed questions are:

Open questions are much more demanding (and produce more language from students) because they:

think

Behaviourism vs. Cognitivism

control

Controlled activities vs. Free activities

Again, there is a cline from very tightly controlled to completely free activities.

accuracy

Accuracy vs. Fluency

At various points in most lessons the focus will be on one or the other.

follow

Learner led vs. Teacher led

learning

Learning vs. Acquisition

This distinction is usually credited to a theorist called Krashen.

transfer

Language transfer
Interference vs. Facilitation

All learners, especially adults, will use their first languages to help them understand a second language and, unless they know otherwise, may assume that the language they are learning and their own first language work in parallel ways.  Sometimes, of course, they do and the learner gets lucky and that is language facilitation.  At other times, they don't and that is called language interference.
Here are two examples:

There is a guide on this site to language facilitation and language interference.


Try a test (or two).