Level 5 Level 7
Level 6

Module 1. Background to language learning

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Something reached by effort; something done successfully.
Acquisition, acquire
To learn a language without studying it, just by hearing and/or reading and then using it. This is the way people usually learn their first language
Attention span
How long a learner is able to concentrate at any one time.
A piece of information that helps someone to find the answer to a problem, e.g. a teacher could give the first letter of a word she is trying to elicit
Cognitive processes
The mental processes involved in thinking, understanding or learning.
The feeling someone has when they are sure of their ability to do something well.
Conscious (of)
To know that something exists or is happening, or to have knowledge or experience of something; to be aware.
Having the intended or desired result.
English-medium school
A school in a non-English speaking country, in which all subjects are taught using English.
A mistake that a learner makes when trying to say something above their level of language or language processing.
A belief about the way something will happen.
Exposure, expose
When learners listen to or read language without being consciously aware of it.
A fact or situation which influences the result of something, e.g. the factors which decide whether someone learns a language successfully or not.
Focus on form
Paying attention to the words/parts of words that make a language structure or to spelling or pronunciation.
Goal, target
An aim that a learner or teacher may have.
Help given by a teacher with learning, or with doing a task.
Ignore (errors)
To choose not to pay attention to something such as an error made by a learner.
Independent study
Studying without a teacher present or without the teacher monitoring and directing the learning very closely,
Intensive course
A course which takes place over a short period of time, but which consists of a high number of hours.
When the learner's mother tongue affects their performance in the target language.
Learners' own version of the second language which they speak as they learn.
Language awareness
A learner's understanding of the rules of how language works and his/her ability to notice language.
Learn by heart
To learn something so that you can remember it perfectly.
Learner autonomy
When a learner can set his/her own aims and organise his/her own study, they are autonomous and independent.
Learner characteristics
The typical things about a learner or learners that influence their learning, e.g. age, L1, past learning experience,etc.
Learner training
The use of activities to help learners understand how they learn and help them to become autonomous, independent learners.
Learning resources
The materials or tools which help learners learn, e.g. books, computers, CDs etc.
Learning strategies
The techniques which a learner consciously uses to help them when learning or using language, e.g. deducing the meaning of words from context; predicting content before reading.
Learning style
The way in which an individual learner naturally prefers to learn something. There are many learning styles. Three of them are below.
The learner's mother tongue or first language;
The learner's second language.
Auditory learner
A learner who remembers things more easily when they hear them spoken. This type of learner may like the teacher to say a new word aloud and not just write it on the board.
Kinaesthetic learner
A learner who learns more easily by doing things physically. This type of learner may like to move around or move objects while learning.
Visual learner
A learner who finds it easier to learn when they can see things written down or in a picture. This type of learner may like the teacher to write a new word on the board and not just say it aloud.
Connected with language or the study of language.
The ability to read and write.
Fully grown or developed.
reaching such stage of development that makes a person behave in an adult way.
To learn something so that you can remember it later
Something which is easy to remember.
Mother tongue
The very first language that you learn as a baby, which is usually the language spoken to you by your parents.
It is the thoughts and feelings which make us want to do something and help us continue doing it.
To make someone lose motivation
Without motivation; having no motivation.
Natural order
Some people believe there is a process in which learners naturally learn some items in their first or other languages.
The language, language skills or learning strategies a learner still has to learn in order to reach their goals.
Notice language
When a learner becomes aware of the language the speaker or writer uses to express a particular concept or meaning.
Participate verb
To take part in something, e.g. a lesson or classroom activity.
When a teacher helps a learner to connect new words, topics, texts or grammar to their own life.
Pick up
To learn language without studying it, just by hearing and/or reading and then using it.
Level of ability;
To be very good at something because of training and practice, e.g. speaking English.
Silent period
The time when learners who are beginning to learn a first (or second) language prefer to listen (or read) before producing the language.
When a learner makes a language mistake that they are able to correct themselves.
Target language
The language a learner is learning, e.g. English, or the specific language that a teacher wants to focus on in a lesson, e.g. present perfect.
Target language culture
The traditions and culture of the country whose language is being studied.
Work language out
When learners try to understand how and why a particular piece of language is used.
Varieties of English
Differences in the way English can be spoken in each country or in different parts of one country, e.g. different vocabulary or grammar may be used. An example of this is the English spoken in the USA and that spoken in the UK.