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M

Materials:  Materials are anything which is used to help to teach language learners. Materials can be a textbook, a workbook, a cassette, a CD-Rom, a video, a photocopied handout, a newspaper, a paragraph written on a whiteboard.

 
Materials Adaptation:  It is important to adapt or make changes to materials in order to improve them or to make them more suitable for a particular type of learner. Adaptation can include reducing, adding, omitting, modifying and/or supplementing existing material. Most teachers adapt materials every time they use a textbook in order to maximize the value of the book for their particular learners.
 
Materials Evaluation: This involves the systematic appraisal of the value of specific materials in relation to a teacher’s objectives and to the objectives of the learners using them. Evaluation can be pre-use and focused on predictions of potential value; it can be during-use and focused on awareness and description of what the learners are actually doing while the materials are being used; and it can be post-use and focused on analysis of what happened as a result of using the materials.
 
Meaning:  Meaning is what a speaker or writer uses language to express, convey, communicate.  Meaning is what the speaker or writer intends that his or her audience understand.  Meaning is affected by context and so while word “late” may mean ‘not punctual,’ in another context, it may also mean that someone is dead (“the late Joe Smith”).  Meaning is essential to learning a language; current brain research indicates that without understanding what new language means, students cannot learn or use it.  See also Form and Use.
 
Meaning-focused Tasks: These tasks focus on communication of meaning. Meaning-focused tasks do not provide focus on individual linguistic components; rather they engage students in communication. According to the meaning-focused approach, involvement in communicative tasks is all that is necessary to develop competence in a second language.  See Form-focused Tasks.
 
Metalinguistic awareness:  This is awareness of the forms, structures and other aspects of a language system and how they work together.  It can be awareness of, for example, the fact that there are different kinds of words - verbs, adjectives and nouns – and how they are used. 

 

Meta-language and Metalinguistic:  Meta-language is the words and terminology used to talk about language, and metalinguistic is the related adjective.  Meta-language is used to discuss, describe or analyze a particular language or languages in general.  For example, the sentence: “In English /b/ and /p/ are both bi-labial plosives, but one phoneme is voiced and the other unvoiced” includes the meta-language: bi-labial, plosive, phoneme, voiced, unvoiced.  Words such as noun, preposition, adjective, past simple, auxiliary verb, etc. are all metalinguistic terms.

 

Macro-functions:  Linguistic functions are the things done with language.  These purposes can be divided into large categories, or macro-functions, for example, to transmit information or to build social relationships

 

Micro-functions:  Linguistic functions are the things done with language, such as complain or persuade.  Each of these functions can be divided into smaller categories, or micro-functions, for example, persuading a friend, persuading a colleague, persuading an employee, etc. 

 
Micro-teaching:  This is a technique used on teacher training courses in which a part of a lesson is taught to a small number of students.  A variation of this is “peer teaching” in which the 'students' are often peers of the trainee teacher attending the same course.
 
Microskills:  In language teaching, there are usually four skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening.  Each one of these skills is made up of many other skills, or microskills.  For example, the skill of reading involves recognizing the function of a text, recognizing the function of parts of a text, inferring the writers’ attitude from the text, or inferring the meaning of unknown words from context.  Although students may use microskills in their first language, they don’t necessarily transfer automatically to English and therefore students need practice.

 

Mime:  Mime is ‘silent acting’ or acting without words or speaking. 

 
Mindmap:  A mindmap is a diagram used to organize words, information and ideas.  Here is an example:  Students can used mindmaps to record lexis, or get and organize ideas before speaking or writing.  They are a kind of graphic organizer. 
 

Minimal Pair: A minimal pair is two words which differ from each other in only one sound.  For example, sit/set, ship/sheep, pen/pan, fan/pan, pan/pat, drew/threw are all minimal pairs. 

 
Modal Verb: Modal verbs express the speaker’s opinion or attitude about the action of the verb.  In English there are 9 modal verbs:  will, would, shall, should, may, might, can, could, must.  (Some people include the following in this category:  ought to, need to, dare to and used to because they function in a similar way to modal verbs).  
 
Model:  When teaching new lexis or grammar, students need to hear the language point said – or modeled – before they try to say it themselves.  When asking students to do a particular activity, students need to see and hear a clear example, or model, of what they will do in the activity.

 

Modeling:  Modeling means showing students or giving students an example of exactly what the teacher wants them to do. For example, if students are going to do a written grammar practice activity, then rather than explaining what to do, the teacher shows them what to do.  The teacher can do this by writing an example on the board and the class doing it together.  In preparation for doing a speaking activity, it is usually much more effective for the teacher to act out both student roles, standing in two different places, or changing voice to show the difference between the two roles.  Before students start the activity, the teacher needs to make sure students have understood what to do.  The teacher can ask short simple questions to make sure of students’ understanding. 

 
Monitor: Language learners and native speakers typically listen to themselves and try to self-correct any errors in what they have just said. This is referred to as “monitoring.” The learner can monitor vocabulary, phonology, or discourse. Krashen uses 'Monitoring' to refer to the way the learner uses 'learnt' knowledge to improve naturally 'acquired' knowledge.
 
Morpheme: A morpheme is the smallest single unit of language that has meaning.  For example, the word ‘pigeons’ has two morphemes, ‘pigeon’ and ‘-s’.  The morpheme ‘pigeon’ means a medium-sized bird often found in cities and sometimes raised for food or racing.  The morpheme ‘s’ indicates plural.  Some morphemes, like ‘pigeon’, can stand alone.  These are called ‘free morphemes’.  Other morphemes, like ‘s’, ‘-ed’ or ‘-ing’, cannot stand alone and must always be attached to a word.  These are called ‘bound morphemes’.
 
Morphology: Morphology is the study of the structure of individual words and patterns of word formation.  For example, the word ‘unhappiness’ is formed of three parts: un- (meaning not), -happi- (modified from the word ‘happy), and –ness (a suffix that changes an adjective into a noun).  The word, ‘employ’ can be modified in the following ways: employs, employing, employed, employer, employee, unemployed, employment, unemployment.  Native speakers of a language know how words are formed and what modifications are possible and can also use this morphological knowledge to create new words.  It is important to help students increase their knowledge of word formation.   See also Syntax.
 
Motivation: These are the factors that determine and influence a person’s desire to do something.   'Instrumental' motivation occurs when the learner's goal is functional (e.g. to get a job or pass an examination); 'integrative' motivation occurs when the learner wishes to identify with the culture of the L2 group. “Task" motivation is the interest a learners feel while performing different learning tasks.
 
Multi-media Materials: Materials can make use of a number of different media. Often such materials are available on a CD-Rom, which incorporates use of print, graphics, video and sound. Usually multi-media materials are interactive and enable the learner to receive feedback on the written or spoken language which they produce.
 
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