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Accent:  This word has two meanings.  It usually describes how a person from a particular region or country speaks (for example, a British accent or a French accent).  It is also used to talk about the stressed syllable(s) in a word (in other syllables what are a little louder and pronounced a little more strongly than others).  In the word “remarkable” the second syllable is accented.


Accuracy:  Accuracy means ‘saying or writing it without errors.’  It refers to the correctness of learners' use of grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. Accuracy is often compared to fluency when we talk about a learner's level of speaking or writing.


Acquisition:  This term describes language being learned without conscious effort – for example the way children learn their mother tongue.  Language acquisition is often contrasted with language learning.  For some researchers, such as Krashen, language learning happens during the formal study and internalization of rules and formulas. For these researchers 'acquisition' is unconscious and spontaneous, and 'learning' is conscious, developing through formal study.


Active Vocabulary:  The words and phrases which a learner is able to use in speech and writing.  It is often contrasted with passive vocabulary.


Activity:   In language teaching, an activity is a particular piece of work, or assignment, that we ask students to do.  There are many types of classroom activities:  for example, communicative tasks or activities that involve students’ manipulating or practicing language such as matching, predicting, and gap-fill activities.  Many teachers use “task” and “activity” interchangeably; however, for other teachers there is a difference.  Here task is defined as one type of activity.  See Task below.


AEF: The Algerian English Framework helps teachers and students know what students should be able to do in English at each school level (middle school MS1 through secondary school SE3) in Interaction, Interpretive Listening and Reading, Productive Writing and Speaking, and Linguistic Competency.


Affective Factors:  Affective factors are emotional factors which influence learning. They can have a negative or positive effect. Negative affective factors, such as anxiety, lack of motivation or lack of self-confidence, act as a filter hindering a language learner’s success.  The role of affect (emotion) and affective filters in language learning are important in second language acquisition theories.


Affective Filters:  Please see Affective Factors.


Aids to Teaching:  These are tools teachers use to help students learn.  They can be divided into the following two groups:

(a) Visual: blackboard, whiteboard, Smartboard, overhead projector, realia (real objects a teacher brings into class to show students), posters, wall charts, flipcharts, maps, plans, flashcards, word cards, puppets;

(b)  Electronic:  Tape recorder, TV or video player, computer, CD Rom, language laboratory.


Appropriacy:  Appropriacy refers to judgment about whether what is said or how it is said is suitable for the context it is being used in. It is an important aspect of language but an extremely complex one, because decisions about how to say things depend on understanding exactly what is right for the context and the culture.


Assessment:  Assessment is the measurement of a person’s ability, the amount they have learned, and what they need more help with, and it is also measurement of the quality or success of teaching or a course.  Assessment can be informal or formal.  Informally, teachers can assess students’ knowledge and learning at all stages of a lesson by listening as students work together or give answers to questions.  This is often called continuous assessment. Formally, teachers can assess knowledge and learning by giving a test.  Inspectors, parents and students can assess a teacher’s classes by giving positive or critical feedback to the teacher.  


Assimilation:  Assimilation is when sounds change when they are used in speech.  A sound changes because of the sound(s) that comes before or after it.  Sounds change so that they more similar to other sounds.  This is most noticeable when a sound at the end of one word changes to become more similar to a sound at the beginning of the next word.  For example, “white bag”, would probably sound more like “wipe bag” because the /t/ changes to become more like the /b/.   In the word ‘pretty,’ for some speakers the /t/ sound changes to sound more like a /d/.  The reason for this is the vowel sounds on either side of /t/ are both voiced sounds and so the voiceless /t/ is said as voiced /d/.


Attitudes:  Learners possess sets of beliefs about language learning, the target culture, their culture, the teacher, the learning tasks, etc. These beliefs are referred to as attitudes. They are one affective filter and so influence learning in a number of ways. Teachers also have attitudes – toward themselves, what they teach, who they teach with, their students, etc.  Their attitudes affect and influence their teaching.


Audience:  Written or spoken communication has an audience - the people the message is for. In order for the message to be effective it must be written or said with the audience in mind. The audience will particularly affect the choice of register, the level of formality of lexis and expressions.


Audio-Lingual Method:  This method, based on Behaviorism, considers listening and speaking the first focuses in language learning, followed by reading and writing.  There is considerable emphasis on learning sentence patterns, memorization of dialogues and   extensive use of drilling so that language is memorized; initially there may be little emphasis on speakers understanding what they are saying.


Authentic Conversation: Authentic conversation is the kind of real conversation that speakers have outside the language classroom. It is important that conversations students have in class are as authentic as possible.


Authentic Language:  Authentic language is the language really used by native and proficient speakers of a language in real-life contexts; it is not artificial or contrived for purposes of learning grammatical forms or vocabulary.


Authentic Materials:  Authentic materials are unscripted materials or those which have not been specially written for use in a language classroom, though they may have been edited; examples include articles from a newspaper or magazine,  programs or broadcasts from TV or radio, films or videos, songs, literature, blogs and chatroom interactions, etc.


Authentic Task:  A task which involves learners in using language in a way that replicates its use in the 'real world' outside the language classroom.  Examples of authentic tasks include answering a letter addressed to the learner, arguing a particular point of view, or comparing various holiday brochures in order to decide where to go for a holiday. In contrast, filling in blanks, changing verbs from the simple past to the simple present and completing substitution tables are not authentic tasks. See Pedagogic Task.


Authentic Text:  A text which is not written or spoken for language teaching purposes. A newspaper article, a rock song, a novel, a radio interview and a traditional fairy tale are examples of authentic texts. A story written to exemplify the use of reported speech, a dialogue scripted to exemplify ways of inviting and a linguistically-simplified version of a novel are not authentic texts. See Simplified Texts and Text.


Automaticity:  Automaticity refers to a person’s ability to do things without needing to think about them.  It is usually the result of learning, repetition and practice.


Autonomy:  Autonomy refers to a learner’s ability to take control of his or her own learning, and to learn independently or in collaboration with others. An autonomous learner takes more responsibility for learning and is likely to be more effective than a learner who is dependent on the teacher. Learner training in the classroom encourages autonomy and is an important element of language teaching.


Auxiliary Verbs:  The auxiliary verbs in English are be, do and have.  Different forms of these verbs are used to create different tenses, questions and negatives in English: am/is/are/was/ were (not) eating/ being eaten; do/does/did (not) eat; has/have/had (not) eaten/been eaten.


Awareness-raising:  The purpose of awareness-raising activities is to make learners more aware of language and so improve their understanding.  Awareness-raising activities do not involve learners in using the language themselves but draws learners’ attention to it. They are often the first stage of learning new language.