Dictionary of SLA

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Dear readers,

What comes below is a dictionary of second language acquisition. This on-line source (to appear in print, available as a hard copy) will be updated regularly. This combination helps you get to know each topic by providing a brief definition for each. The references for each section can be found at the end of the file. I hope you'll find it useful. If there's any comment, you can contact me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Cite this online source as:

Hamidi, H., & Montazeri, M. (2014). Dictionary of second language acquisition. Retrieved from http://www.iranelt.com/index.php/introduction-to-sla.

Dictionary of Second Language Acquisition

(On-line Source)

Last update: 1/11/2018

Absolute Universals

Accessibility Hierarchy (AH)

The Accessibility Hierarchy is a statement of the markedness of various relative pronoun functions (for example, subject, direct object). It lists these functions in an implicational ordering, such that a given function implies the existence of all other functions above it. The hierarchy is an example of a typological universal and has been widely used as a basis for research in second language acquisition (Ellis, 2008).

Accommodation Theory

Accommodation Theory, proposed by Howard Giles, is a social-psychological model of language use to account for the dynamic nature of variation within the course of a conversation. According to Ellis (2008), speakers of a language are believed to converge (i.e. make their speech similar to the style of their addressee) or diverge (i.e. make their speech different from the style of their addressee) or have speech maintenance (i.e. speakers make no changes).

Acculturation Model



Action Research

Action research, defined by Reason and Bradbury (2001, as cited in McDonough, 2006), is a participatory, democratic process concerned with developing practical knowing in the pursuit of worthwhile human purposes, grounded in a participatory worldview which we believe is emerging at this historical moment. It seeks to bring together action and reflection, theory and practice, in participation with others, in the pursuit of practical solutions to issues of pressing concern to people, and more generally the flourishing of individual persons and their communities.

Although definitions of action research vary, there are some typical features associated with it, which were summarized by Burns (2005, p. 38) as follows:

1. action research is contextual, small-scale and localized—it identifies and investigates problems within a specific situation,

2. it is evaluative and reflective as it aims to bring about change and improvement in practice,

3. it is participatory as it provides for collaborative investigation by teams of colleagues, practitioners and researchers, and

4. changes in practice are based on the collection of information or data which provides the impetus for change.

Action research is based on concrete problems in actual school situations, no attempt is made to isolate out a factor and study it alone, divorced from the environment which gave it meaning. In plain terms, problems are studied in the actual situations out of which they arise (Burns, 2010). The research process is typically less predictable than in other research approaches, in that it is characterized by a spiral of cycles involving planning, acting, observing, and reflecting, which are applied interactively according to the social and political context of the research environment and the personal and professional backgrounds of the researchers (Somekh & Zeichner, 2009).

Activity Theory

Activity theory was a development of Vygotsky’s views about learning. The theory emphasizes the social nature of learning, how individuals’ motives affect the nature of the activity they engage in, and the mediating role of artifacts in learning (Ellis, 2008). Activity theory was primarily developed by Vygotsky’s successors. Sociocultural theorists are keen on studying and making sense of both individual and collaborative behavior and motivation in its sociocultural setting (Mitchell & Myles, 2004). This theory, hence, consists of a series of proposals for conceptualizing the social context in which individual learning takes place. According to Donato and McCormick (1994, cited in Mitchell & Myles, 2004), activity is defined in terms of sociocultural settings where collaborative interaction, intersubjectivity, and assisted performance take place.

According to Lantolf (2011), activity theory is considered by many sociocultural theory researchers a sub-theory of sociocultural theory. In this theory, it is argued that human behavior is determined by its motive, goal, and the material circumstances where it is enacted.

Adaptive Control of Thought (ACT) Model

Additional Language

Additive Bilingualism

Affective State

Analytical Strategy


In sociology, anomie is the breakdown of social structure or lack of the usual social or ethical standards. In language learning, based on Ellis (2008), anomie is experienced by second language learners (usually in natural settings) who feel disconnected from the target social group and from their own speech group. Such learners feel insecure because they believe they do not belong to any social group.


Anxiety is one of the affective factors that have been found to affect second language acquisition. Different types of anxiety have been identified: (1) trait anxiety (a characteristic of a learner's personality), (2) state anxiety (apprehension that is experienced at a particular moment in response to a definite situation), and (3) situation-specific anxiety aroused by a particular type of situation). Anxiety may be both facilitating if it has a positive effect on second language acquisition, and debilitating if it has a negative effect (Ellis, 2008).


Aptitude-Treatment Interaction (ATI)

Argument Structure

Aspect Hypothesis


Assessment is a “fact-finding activity that describes conditions that exist at a particular time. No hypotheses are proposed or tested, no variable relationships are examined, and no recommendations for action are suggested” (Best & Kahn, 2006, p. 22). Brown (2004) delineates the main differences between the traditional and the alternative assessment as follows:

Traditional and Alternative Assessment Characteristics

No.Traditional AssessmentAlternative Assessment
1One shot, standardized exams,Continuous long-term assessment
2Untimed, multiple-choice formatUntimed, free- response format
3Decontextualized test itemsContextualized communicative tasks
4Scores suffice for feedbackIndividualized feedback and washback
5Norm- referenced scoresCriterion-referenced scores
6Focus on the ''right'' answerOpen-ended, creative answers
8Product oriented Process oriented
9Non-interactive performanceInteractive performance
10Fosters extrinsic motivationFosters intrinsic motivation



Attitude in language learning refers to what speakers of different languages or language varieties have towards each other’s languages or toward their own language. Expression of positive or negative feelings towards a language may reflect impressions of linguistics difficulty or simplicity, ease or difficulty of learning, degree of importance, elegance, social status, etc. attitudes towards a language may also show what people feel about the speakers of that language (Richards, Platt, & Platt, 1992).

Attributional Motivation

Authentic Task

Tasks in which language is practiced in a way that is similar to the real world (e.g. role playing)

Autonomous Induction Theory

The autonomous induction theory has its basis on a theory of cognition which was developed by Jackendoff (1987), called ‘representational modularity’ (Carroll, 2001). The representational modularity states that cognitive universals have an immense contribution in explaining what we know about language and how we get through knowing it. These universals, as Carroll (2001) contends, include Universal Grammar, “but UG is just one of several types of universals in the arsenal of human cognitive system” (P. 50), and it also starts from the association that the mappings between stimuli in the environment and meanings are vitally mediated by representational languages of mind. According to Carroll (2001), the autonomous induction theory adopts representational modularity as well. In this theory there are severe constraints on how conceptual information can interact with information which is encoded in the specialized representational system, thereby leading to the appearance of important limitations on what feedback and correction can accomplish in starting grammatical restructuring. This theory is different from all other theories which claim that there is no negative evidence in second language acquisition or no language acquisition based on metalinguistic information.

According to Carroll (2001), is spite of its emphasis on universals, the autonomous induction theory is designed to provide a role for induction in explaining L2 development. The understanding of second language acquisition from the autonomous induction theory perspective, according to Mitchell and Myles (2004), requires:

1. An adequate theory of representation of language in the mind,

2. An adequate theory of how language undergoes processing receptively and productively, and

3. A theory of how mental representations of language can be changed, when it is found that our representations are not adequate to process the environmental language we encounter.

As stated by Mitchell and Myles (2004), Carroll accepts that our mental representations of language consist of a number of distinct modules, which is contended by Universal Grammar, with a limited number of interconnections. However she seems to reject parameter setting as an inadequate metaphor for the ways in which second language learning takes place, and instead she proposes a version of inductive learning which initiates when we fail to parse incoming language stimuli adequately by using our existing mental representations (Mitchell & Myles, 2004).

Autonomous Learner

Littlewood (2002) states that autonomous learners understand the purpose of their learning program, explicitly accept responsibility for their learning, share in the setting of learning goals, take initiatives in planning and executing learning activities, and regularly review their learning and evaluate its effectiveness.



Balanced Bilingualism

Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS)

Cummins (1994, cited in Ulanoff, 2009) describes two interrelated dimensions of language proficiency as a continuum for language acquisition. These two dimensions are BICS and CALP. BICS stands for basic interpersonal communication skills or communicative language, and CALP stands for cognitive academic language proficiency or the language which is necessary for success in school. Both of these dimensions are claimed by Ulanoff (2009) to have their implications for language teaching and language acquisition. As he states, “as children come to understand and use language they develop BICS for communication, which helps them to develop their academic language proficiency or CALP that is necessary for higher level thinking and academic success” (p. 1036).

According to Unaloff (2009), while there exist against the notion of the two types of language proficiency, BICS and CALP, Cummins (2005) Makes a distinction between BICS and CALP, contending that “while most children acquire communicative language by the age of 5 or 6, that language continues to grow in terms of vocabulary development and language usage within specific linguistic context” (p. 1036).Since it is argued by Cummins (1994, cited in Ulanoff, 2009) that it can take up to 7 years for CALP to develop, more developed L1 CALP is considered as the faster way to L2 CALP development, and, thus, when children can fully apply CALP in their L1, that CALP functions as a supporter for the development of both communicative and academic language in the second language.

Aptitude tests appear to be a good measure of CALP, or a person’s ability to struggle with decontextualized language, which is a learned ability, but not particularly a good measure of BICS, an innate potentiality (Larsen-Freeman, 1991). It is explained by Larsen-Freeman (1991) that the fact that so much schoolwork involves CALP can expound on the predictive power of aptitude tests on foreign or second language development.

The distinction between BICS and CALP highlighted a similar reality and formalized the difference between conversational fluency and academic language proficiency as distinct components of the construct of language proficiency (Cummins, 2008). The initial theoretical intent of the BICS/CALP, as stated by Cummins (2008) was to qualify the claim made by Oller (1979) that all individual differences in language proficiency could be accounted for solely by one underlying factor, termed ‘global language proficiency’.

Besides, it is explained by Cummins (2008) that the BICS/CALP distinction was elaborated into two continua highlighting the range of cognitive demands and cognitive support involved in language tasks or activities, context-embedded/ context-reduced, cognitively undemanding/ cognitively demanding. Internal and external dimensions of context were discriminated so as to reflect the fact that context is created both by what we bring to the task and the range of help or support that may be included in the task.The BICS/CALP distinction is also related to the theoretical distinctions of several other theorists, mentioned in Cummins (2008), like Bruner’s (1975) communicative and analytic competence, Donaldson’s (1978) embedded and disembedded language, and Olson’s (1977) utterance and text. Despite the fact that the terms may be different, all of these investigators adhere to the same path so as to express the amount of contextual and linguistic support.

Basic Variety


Usually the lowest level of English learner; at the beginner level, the learner may have had little or no previous exposure to the foreign language.

Behaviourist Learning Theory

Bi-directional Transfer


Bilingual Syntax Measure (BSM)

Binding Principle for Anaphors


Borrowing Transfer

Breadth of Knowledge

Broca's Area

Burn out

Burn out is the state when a learner can no longer process new knowledge or develop new skills due to over learning or stress (teachers can also suffer from this).


Computer assisted language learning (CALL) is considered a sub-category of technology enhanced language learning (TELL). CALLis believed to be an approach to language teaching and learning in which computer technology is used as an aid to the presentation, reinforcement and assessment of material to be learned, usually including a substantial interactive element (Davies, 2010).CALL contains a wide range of new technologies, especially multimedia and communication technology. CALL can be used to teach the four main language skills and related components (listening, reading, writing, speaking, grammar, idiom, pronunciation, vocabulary, etc.)


Careful Style

Caretaker Talk

When adults or older children address young children, they typically modify their speech. According to Ellis (2008), these modifications are both formal (e.g. the use of higher pitch or simple noun phrases) and interactional (e.g. the use of expansions).

Casual style

Change from Above

Channel Capacity

Chaos Theory

Classroom Management

Classroom management refers to the ways in which student behavior, movement, interaction, etc., during a class is organized and controlled by the teacher (or sometimes by the learners themselves) to enable teaching to take place mot effectively. Classroom management includes procedures for grouping students for different types of classroom activities, use of lesson plans, handling the equipment, aids, etc., and the direction and management of student behavior and activity (Richards & Schmidt, 2010).

Classroom Process Research

Closed Question


When speakers or writers change from one language or language variety to another one, they are said to have used code switching. Code switching can take place in a conversation when one speaker uses one language and the other speaker answers in a different language. A person may start speaking one language and then change to another one in the middle of their speech, or sometimes even in the middle of a sentence (Richards, Platt, & Platt, 1992). Code-switching (CS) refers to the mixing, by bilinguals or multi-linguals, of two or more languages in discourse, often with no change of interlocutor or topic. According to Poplack (1980), this kind of mixing may happen at any level of linguistic structure, but its occurrence within the confines of a single sentence, constituent or even word, has attracted most linguists. This changing language has been long studied by different scholars in order to find out the reasons and possible implications.

Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP)


Cognitive Linguistics

Cognitive Strategies

Cognitive Style

Collaborative Dialogue

Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning, as Bruffee (1995) asserts, is established in theories of the social nature of human knowledge and focuses on the processof working together. Collaborative learning advocates more of a distrust atmosphere in allowing students more say in choosing groups and is more focused on interacting and being responsible for actions.

According to Jeong and Chi (2007), during collaborative learning, students jointly interpret a situation, coordinate their understanding, and come up with a solution to a problem together. As a result of such joint construction activities, similarities in their representations are expected to arise. However, based on Jeong and Chi (2007), when students perform the task in groups of two or three people, they quickly establish the same frame of reference, even though their initial frame of reference is quite different from one another’s. Participants all receive the same input regardless of whether they work in groups or alone, but agreement occurs only when they work in groups and share the experience of estimating the light movement together.


Collocation refers to the way in which some words are mostly used together, or a particular combination of words which are often used in this way. For example, do yoga, play ping pong, play football. Benson (1986, p.85) defines collocations as “fixed recurrent combinations of words in which each word basically retains its meaning”.

Communication strategy

Communicational Teaching Project

Communicative competence

Communicative Orientation in Language Teaching (COLT)

Comparative fallacy

Comparative method studies


Competition Model


Complexity concerns the elaboration of the language that is produced and reflects learners’ preparedness to take risks (Skehan, 1996, cited in Ellis, 2008). One common measure is the number of clauses per T-unit.

Complexity Theory

Comprehensible input

Comprehensible Output Hypothesis

Computational Model

Concatenative Research

Concept Maps

Concept maps are tools for organizing and representing knowledge. They include concepts, usually enclosed in circles or boxes of some type, and relationships between concepts or propositions, indicated by a connecting line between two concepts. Concepts are perceived regularity in events or objects, or records of events or objects, designated by a label. The label for most concepts is a word, but sometimes we use symbols. Another characteristic of concept maps is that the concepts are represented in a hierarchical fashion with the most inclusive, most general concepts at the top of the map and the more specific, less general concepts arranged hierarchically below (Novak, 2010).

One other important characteristic of concept maps is the inclusion of cross-links. These are relationships or links between concepts in different segments or domains of the concept map. Cross-links help us see how a concept in one domain of knowledge represented on the map is related to a concept in another domain shown on the map. A final feature that may be added to concept maps is specific examples of events or objects that help to clarify the meaning of a given concept. Normally these are not included in ovals or boxes, since they are specific events or objects and do not represent concepts (Novak, 2010).

Propositions are statements about some object or event in the universe, either naturally occurring or constructed. Propositions contain two or more concepts connected with other words to form a meaningful statement. Sometimes they are called semantic units or units of meaning.

Meaningful learning requires three conditions:

1. the material to be learned must be conceptually clear and presented with language and examples relatable to the learner's prior knowledge.

2. the learner must possess relevant prior knowledge

3. the learner must choose to learn meaningfully

Concepts and propositions are the building blocks for knowledge in any domain. We can use the analogy that concepts are like the atoms of matter and propositions are like the molecules of matter. Concept map structures are dependent on the context in which they will be used. Concept mapping is an easy way to achieve very high levels of cognitive performance, when the process is done well. This is one reason concept mapping can be a very powerful evaluation tool (Novak, 2010).     

Conceptual Transfer

Confirmation Check

An utterance immediately following the previous speaker's utterance intended to confirm that utterance was understood (Ellis, 2008).


Connectionism is defined by Richards and Schmidt (1985) as a branch of cognitive science assuming that the individual components of human cognition are in a highly interactive state and that the knowledge of events, language, and concepts is represented into the cognitive system diffusely (Richards & Schmidt, 1985). It is also explained by Richards and Schmidt (1985) that “the theory has been applied to models of speech processing, lexical organization, and first and second language learning” (p. 108). Connectionism, according to Richards and Schmidt (1985), provides computer simulation and mathematical models that are aimed at capturing the essence of information processing and thought processes. The basic assumptions of connectionism are reported by Richards and Schmidt (1985) to be as follow:

1. Information processing is done through interactions of a vast number of simple units, which are organized into networks and operating in parallel.

2. Learning takes place by the strengthening and weakening of the interconnections in a specific network in response to examples faced with in the input.

3. The result of learning is often a network of simple units, acting as if it knows abstract rules, despite the fact that the rules themselves exist only in the form of association strengths which are distributed across the whole network.

The theory of connectionism sees the brain in terms of neural or parallel distributed processing networks of interconnected unit (Piske & Young-Scholten, 2009). These connections are either strengthened or weakened through activation or nonactivation. Connectionist approaches to language acquisition, according to Piske and Young-Scholten (2009), argue that “language is learnt by learning rules from the input alone, with no involvement of an innate language acquisition” (p. 259).

Types of Connectionist Model

Rast (2008) distinguishes between two main types of connectionist models: localist symbolic models and distributed sub-symbolic models. In distributed sub-symbolic models, such as the pattern associator of ‘Parallel Distributed Processing’ introduced by Rumelhart and McClelland(1986, cited in Rast, 2008), information or knowledge is coded as pattern activation across many processing units. These units are conducive to a multitude of different representations (Rast, 2008). These models have their main focus on the emergence of skilled human performance through learning. Distributed models, according to Rast (2008) are generally comprised one or more internal layers of nodes in addition to an input and an output layer. The internal or ‘hidden’ layer is the locus of input’s being processed before turns into output. In the localist tradition, however, representations are coded for distinct pieces of information (Rast, 2008). According to Grainger and Jacobs (1998, cited in Rast, 2008), the purpose if designing these models is to explain the functional mechanics of skilled human performance, such as word recognition processes. Distributed models generally consist of one or more internal layers of nodes in addition to an input and an output layer (Rast, 2008).

In connectionist model, the brain relies on a type of computation that emphasizes patterns of connectivity and activation. However, it should be further mentioned that different groups can benefit from the connectionist models which are designed by software. These models can be used by language learners, language teachers as well as neurologists or psychologists.It seems that the major drawback of connectionism that casts doubt on the usefulness of a connectionist approach is that this approach has its basis on the sciences of math and physics, while the brain of human beings, or language learners, are biological entities. This seems to mar the usefulness of this approach to language learning, since it can be hardly assumed that the mathematical principles can be extended to biological ones.


Conscience is the sense of right and wrong. It is the part of our mind that tells us whether what we are doing is morally right or wrong based on particular norms, rules, or religions. A conscientious person does his work or duty well and as completely as possible. According to Freiermuth and Jarrell (2006), conscientious language teachers, in classroom environments, care for their students and try their best to support and motivate students who demonstrate signs of willingness to communicate in the L2. A lack of this support or care on the part of teachers may prevent effective interaction among students, thereby leading to poor language production.

Consciousness Raising

The term “consciousness-raising” is used by some researchers with much the same meaning as "formal instruction" (an attempt to focus the learner's attention on the formal properties of the language). Ellis (1991) contrasted "consciousness-raising" with “practice”, the former term referring to attempts to help learners understand a grammatical structure and learn it as explicit knowledge. An alternative term for consciousness-raising is intake enhancement (Sharwood-Smith, 1993).


Constructions are “recurrent patterns of linguistic elements that serve some well-defined linguistic function” (N. Ellis, 2003, p. 66). They can be at sentence level or below. Emergentist accounts of second language acquisition view acquisition as a process of internalizing and subsequently analyzing constructions (Ellis, 2008). See also formulaic sequences.


The ‘context’ of an utterance can mean two different things: (1) the situation in which an utterance is produced (situational context), (2) the linguistic environment which is the surrounding language (linguistic context). Both types of context influence the choice of language forms, and therefore have an effect on output ((Ellis, 2008). See also psycholinguistic context.

Contextualization Cues

Contextualization cues consist of signals that trigger how speakers view the context they are attempting to build through interaction in order to channel the listeners' interpretations of what is being said (Ellis, 2008).

Contrastive Analysis (CA)

Contrastive analysis is a set of procedures for comparing and contrasting the linguistic systems of two languages in order to identify their structural similarities and differences (Ellis, 2008).

Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis (CAH)

According to the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis (CAH), second language errors are the result of differences between the learner's first language and the second language. Strong form of the hypothesis claims that these differences can be used to predict all errors that will occur. The weak form of the hypothesis claims that these differences can be used only to identify some out of the total errors that actually occur (Ellis, 2008).

Contrastive Interlanguage Analysis (CIA)

This is the term used by Granger (1998) to refer to the contrastive study of the interlanguages of learners with different first languages. It has been made possible by the advent of concordancing tools for analyzing learner corpora (Ellis, 2008).

Conversational Analysis (CA)

CA is a method for analyzing social interactions in order to uncover their orderlines, structure, and sequential patterns.CA is used to investigate both institutional interactions (in the school, doctor's surgery, or law court) and casual conversation. Key aspects of interaction studied in CA are turn-taking and repair (Ellis, 2008).

Cooperative learning

Cooperative learning is an approach to the instruction of second language where classrooms are set in such a way that learners work together in small cooperative teams (Richards & Schmidt, 2010). Such an approach, according to Richards and Schmidt (2010), is claimed to be conducive to a rise in learners’ learning because of the following contributions it makes:

1. It enhances the amount of learners’ classroom participation.

2. It decreases the need for competitiveness.

3. It reduces the degree of teacher-centeredness in classroom.

Richards and Schmidt (2010) distinguish the following five distinct types of cooperative learning activities:

1. Peer tutoring: Students help each other learn.

2. Jigsaw: Each member of a learning group has one piece of a whole information needed to fulfill a task.

3. Cooperative projects: learners work together and produce such products as a written paper or group presentation.

4. Cooperative/individualized: learners make progress at their own rate and speed by means of individualized learning materials. However, this progress contributes to team grade.

5. Cooperative interaction: learners work together as a team so as to complete a learning unit, like laboratory experiment.

Cooperative learning reflects the social nature of learning (Richards, 2006). It is not an individual activity but a social one depending upon interaction with others. Ellis (2005), however, discusses the extent to which group work results in cooperative learning. He contends that social interaction between students does not solely guarantee either a successful outcome for the task or the requisite that promote language learning. It does not suffice to simply put students into groups to complete a task. What is of significance is the quality of the interaction, whether paves the way for students’ effectively engaging with the task and to boost each other’s language learning. A key to using group work, as he mentions, lies in ensuring that students’ ability to work together effectively. “Cooperative learning requires that students have time to consider how their group is functioning and find ways of working together effectively” (Ellis, 2005, p. 26). If, as Ellis (2005) contends, groups are continually changing, learners will not have the opportunity to develop the positive interdependence considered to be essential for group cohesion. The ability to work effectively with others is a time-requiring process and may not be fully mastered but it can be learnt to a great extent.

Corrective Feedback

Feedback can be defined as the information learners are availed of pertaining to some facet of task performance. As the name suggests, corrective feedback is used to give foreign language learners information on correctness of what they have linguistically produced and provide learners with the correct form of their erroneous production. Corrective feedback is technique a language teacher adheres to when he wants to direct the students’ attention to both correct form and meaning. London and Sessa (2009) defined corrective feedback as the transmission of evaluative or corrective information about some kind of action, event, or process. According to Ellis (2008), a distinction is often made between positive and negative feedback (the latter is sometimes referred to as ‘negative evidence’). Negative feedback refers to information that indicates a hypothesis is incorrect. The term corrective feedback is increasingly used in preference to negative feedback. Corrective feedback can be implicit or explicit; it can also be input-providing or output-prompting (Ellis, 2008).

Corrective feedback can be found and used in the following major types:

a. Clarification Request

Clarification request signals the students that what they have said is not understood by teacher or is ill-formed. In this kind of feedback, questions like ''pardon me?'' or ''what do you mean'' are asked (Lyster & Ranta, 1997).

b. Elicitation

Lyster and Ranta (1997) defined elicitation as the technique to directly elicit the correct form of an utterance from the students.

c. Explicit Feedback

Explicit feedback provides learners with a correct form and with a clear indication of what is being corrected (Sheen, 2004).

d. Metalinguistic Feedback

Ammar (2008) defined ‘metalinguistic’ feedback as a feedback that provides the learner with the metalinguistic information about the error after repeating it. Sheen (2004) states that ‘metalinguistic’ feedback consists of technical information corresponding the student's erroneous utterance without changing its meaning.

e. Multiple Recasts

Sheen (2006) defined ‘multiple recasts’ as the combination of more than one type of recast.  

Covert Error


Courseware refers to computer programs or other materials designed for use in an educational or training course. This kind of computer software that is designed to teach people a particular subject, can be used online or offline. It can be either designed by the teacher or by a program designer.

Creative Construction


Critical Period Hypothesis

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking, based on Scriven and Paul (2004), is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness. Critical thinking has roots in two primary academic disciplines: philosophy and psychology (Lewis & Smith, 1993). Nickerson (1987, cited in Schafersman, 1991) characterizes a good critical thinker in terms of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, and habitual ways of behaving and lists some of the characteristics of a good critical thinker as follow:

1. uses evidence skillfully and impartially
2. organizes thoughts and articulates them concisely and coherently
3. distinguishers between logically valid and invalid inferences
4. suspends judgment in the absence of sufficient evidence to support a decision
5. understands the difference between reasoning and rationalizing
6. attempts to anticipate the probable consequences of alternative actions
7. understands the idea of degrees of belief
8. sees similarities and analogies that are not superficially apparent
9. can learn independently and has an abiding interest in doing so
10. applies problem-solving techniques in domains other than those in which learned
11. can structure informally represented problems in such a way that formal techniques, such as mathematics, can be used to solve them
l2. can strip a verbal argument of irrelevancies and phrase it in its essential terms
13. habitually questions one's own views and attempts to understand both the assumptions that are critical to those views and the implications of the views
14. is sensitive to the difference between the validity of a belief and the intensity with which it is held
15. is aware of the fact that one's understanding is always limited, often much more so than would be apparent to one with a non-inquiring attitude
16. recognizes the fallibility of one's own opinions, the probability of bias in those opinions, and the danger of weighting evidence according to personal preferences

According to Schafersman (1991), critical thinking can be taught duringlectures, laboratories, homework, quantitative exercises, term papers, and exams.

Cross-cultural Speech Act Realization

Crosslinguistic Influence

Dative Alternation

Debilitating Anxiety

Declarative L2 Knowledge

Deductive Instruction

Depth of Knowledge

Descriptive Adequacy

Developmental error

Developmental Feature

Developmental Pattern

Developmental Problem of L2 Acquisition

Developmental Sequence


In dicto-gloss, according to Wajnryb (1990), students take notes from a text they hear, and then, in small groups, combine their information and attempt to reconstruct the original text. They may hear the text again during this process. Later, the teacher displays the original text for comparison, and the teacher and students discuss together any problems.

Differential Localization

Direct Method

The direct method was developed in the late 19th century as a reaction against the Grammar Translation Method and was the first oral-based method to become widely adopted. Some of its features were retained in later methods such as Situational Language Teaching (Richards & Schmidt, 2010). This is a method in language teaching in which only the target language in used in class and meanings are communicated directly by associating speech forms with actions, objects, mime, gestures, and situations. In this method, reading and writing are taught only after speaking. The grammar is also taught inductively, that is, grammar rules are not be taught to the learners (Richards & Schmidt, 2010).


Discourse isthe extension of grammar beyond the sentence level, and it reflects importance of the context over structure. It deals with language organization beyond the level of sentence and states that meaning is negotiated through interaction. Discourse competence is therefore, the ability to link sentences in stretches of discourse and to make “a meaningful whole out of a series of utterances” (Brown, 2001, p. 380).

Discourse Analysis

Discourse Completion Questionnaire

Discourse Hypothesis

Discourse Management

Discourse Repair

Display Question

Dual-Mechanism Model

Dual-mode System

Dynamic Assessment

Educational Settings


Gunning (1996) refers to elaboration as an additional processing of the text, by the reader, which may increase comprehension. It involves forming connections between the text and the reader’s background knowledge of the subject. Making inferences, picturing images and asking questions are all types of elaboration strategies. Huffman (1998) identifies K-W-L as an elaboration strategy, which connects background knowledge to the topic to be addressed. K-W-L is an acronym for the three steps of the procedure: describing what we know, what we want to know, and what we learned. Elaboration, according to Mcnamara (2009), helps the student construct a more coherent understanding. Elaborations can be generated using a number of sources: previous text, general knowledge or common sense, and topic-specific knowledge. It’s not necessarily important that the student distinguishes between these sources, but it is important that the student learns that when topic-specific knowledge deficits are encountered. Elaborations can be made using general knowledge, logic, common sense, and information from previous sentences in the text (Mcnamara, 2009).     

Elaborative Simplification


E-learning refers to all forms of electronically supported learning and teaching. The information and communication systems, whether networked learning or not, serve as specific media to implement the learning process. The term E-learning refers to both out-of-classroom and in-classroom educational experiences via technology and online resources.


Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) theory was first developed by the writings of great psychologists such as Howard Gardner, Peter Salovey, and John Mayer during 1970s and 80s (as cited in Lall, 2009). The history of emotional intelligence began with the meaning of social intelligence. In 1920s, Thorndike observed EI through social intelligence; he wrote social intelligence is being able to sympathy with others and behave wisely in human relationships (as cited in Goleman, 1998). Unfortunately his believes weren’t acceptable at that time.

            Emotional intelligence is a combination of the term emotion and intelligence. Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso (2000) assert that emotions are one of the three fundamental classes of mental operations which consist of motivation, emotion, and cognition. A person in good mood thinks positively and he is productive and vice versa. Therefore, EQ means that emotion and intelligence are related to each other.

            People with high emotional intelligence can be successful even with no high academic degrees (as cited in Shoja-Heidari, 2009). The importance of EI is often denied, but EFL students need it between their teachers and themselves in classrooms or personal situations (Sucaromana, 2012). Students with high EI can benefit a lot because it creates study atmosphere and language achievement (Sucaromana, 2012). Students should learn to recognize their emotions and to search help from adults to understand them. EI can be more powerful than IQ in predicting success in life challenges (Goleman, 1995).

            The components of emotional intelligence based on Bar-On’s (2004) framework are summarized as follows:

Intrapersonal (self-awareness and self-expression)

• Self-Regard: To accurately perceive, understand and accept oneself

• Emotional Self-Awareness: To be aware of and understand one’s emotions

• Assertiveness: To effectively and constructively express one’s emotions and oneself

• Independence: To be self-reliant and free of emotional dependency on others

• Self-Actualization: To strive to achieve personal goals and actualize one’s potential

Interpersonal (social awareness and interpersonal relationship)

• Empathy: To be aware of and understand how others feel

• Social Responsibility: To identify with one’s social group and cooperate with others

• Interpersonal Relationship: To establish mutually satisfying relationships and relate well with others

Stress Management (emotional management and regulation)

• Stress Tolerance: To effectively and constructively manage emotions

• Impulse Control: To effectively and constructively control emotions

Adaptability (change management)

• Reality-Testing: To objectively validate one’s feelings and thinking with external reality

• Flexibility: To adapt and adjust one’s feelings and thinking to new situations

• Problem-Solving: To effectively solve problems of a personal and interpersonal nature

General Mood (self-motivation)

• Optimism: To be positive and look at the brighter side of life

• Happiness: To feel content with oneself, others and life in general

English as Lingua Franca (ELF)

English as an International Language (EIT)

Enriched Input




Error Analysis

Error Evaluation

Error Gravity

Error Treatment


Ethnography of Communication

Ethnolinguistic Identity Theory

European Science Foundation Project on Adult Second Language Acquisition

Explanatory Adequacy

Explicit Correction

Explicit Instruction

Explicit L2 Knowledge

Explicit L2 Learning

Explicit Memory

Extensive Reading

Extensive reading can be considered as an autonomous and a student-centered activity and has a significant impact on learners' language learning development. According to Bell (1998), extensive reading is a type of reading instruction program that has been used in ESL orEFL settings, as an effective means of developing reading fluency,comprehension, and vocabulary development. Day and Bamford (2004) assert that not only can extensive reading improve reading ability, it can also enhance learners' overall language proficiency (e.g., spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and writing). In addition, extensive reading within language is in line with current principles for second and foreign language pedagogy. According to Day and Bamford (2004), in extensive reading, the reading material is easy, a multitude of reading materials on a wide range of topics is on hand, learners opt for to what to read, learners read as much as possible, reading speed is usually fast, the purpose of reading is usually related to pleasure, information, and general understanding, reading is individual and silent, reading is on its own a reward, the teacher orients and guides the students, and the teacher himself is the model of a reader.

External Variation

Externalized (E) Approach

Extraversion/ Introversion

Facilitating Anxiety

Failed Functional Features Hypothesis

Field Dependence/ Independence

Field dependence/ independence constitutes one kind of cognitive style. Field-dependent learners are believed to operate holistically (they see the field as a whole), whereas filed- independent learners operate analytically (they perceive the field in terms of its component parts). Although a number of second language researchers have made use of this distinction to account for differences in learners, others dispute its usefulness (Ellis, 2008).

First Language (or L1)

According to Saville-Troike (2006), first language is a language that is acquired naturally in early childhood, usually because it is the language of a child's family. It is also called native language, mother tongue or L1.




Foreign Language Acquisition

Foreigner Talk

Form-Focused Instruction

Form-Function Analysis

Formulaic Sequences


Fragile Features

Free Variation

Frequency Analysis

Frequency Hypothesis

Frequency Universals

Functionalist Model

Functionalists and SLA

Functional linguistics is defined by Richards and Schmidt (1985) as an approach to linguistics primarily concerned with language as a means of social interaction rather than a system of formal rules viewed in isolation from their uses in communication. “It considers the individual as a social being and investigates the way in which he or she acquires language and uses it in order to communicate with others in his or her social environment”(Richards & Schmidt, 1985, p. 215).

As Howatt (1997) reports, in the early 1970s the work of David Wilkins, Jan van Ek, and John Trim with the council of Europe put its main focus on language in use, and made a framework for analyzing communication. This framework, as mentioned, was based on what became known as the notional-functional approach to language learning and teaching, as was considered as a counterweight to structure-based syllabus, existing up to then. Here, by function it is meant that structures are classified based on their communicative functions. This is introduced as one of the most important initiative in linguistic description. Functionalism became dominant because it was what customers had expected and teachers and students could understand it.


While teaching the language skills, teachers and researchers should be aware that gender plays an important role in language learning. One of the individual affective factors in the field of language acquisition on which there has been a growing area of study is gender. Studies appealing to variationist and interactional sociolinguistics methodology treat gender as a variable, whereas others grounded in critical, poststructuralist and feminist theory, approach gender as a system of social and discursive practices (Norton & Pavlenko, 2004). According to Oxford and Erhman (1995) and Oxford et al. (1993), learners᾽ gender has an impact on L2 communication and makes a significant difference in learning a second or foreign language. The gender-related differences in language learning continue to be the focus of research whenever a new variable or strategy is introduced.

Gestalt Strategy

Gestural Accent

Global Error

Good Language Learner

Government/Binding Model

Gradual Diffusion Model

Grammatical Competence

Grammaticality Judgments


Head Act

Hemispheric Differentiation

Hierarchical Research

Horizontal Variation

Humanism (Humanistic Approach)

Humanistic approaches in language teaching refer to approaches which emphasize the development of human values, growth in self-awareness and in the understanding of others, sensitivity to the human feelings and emotions, and active student involvement in learning and in the way human learning takes place. Community language learning (CLL) is sometimes cited as an example of a humanistic approach (Richards & Renandya, 2002, p. 23).



Hypothesis Testing


Hypermedia is computersoftwarethatallowsuserstointeractwithtext,graphics,sound,andvideo,eachofwhichcanbeaccessedfromwithinanyoftheothers by a hypertext program. With the advent of computer technology and educational software, hypermedia language learning materials made their way in foreign and second language classrooms. Today, the role of hypermedia in improving communication skills is by no means deniable. Hypermedia gives learners freedom to work at their own pace and level, and to receive immediate and personalized feedback. Hypermedia materials can be used to learn or teach the main four language skills and their components such as grammar and vocabulary.


An idiom is a group of words that has a special meaning that is different from the ordinary meaning of each separate word. In fact, idiom is an expression which functions as a single unit. For example ‘be on cloud nine’ in an idiom meaning ‘very happy’. Idioms are inseparable elements of movies, talk shows, reality shows, and casual conversations. Idioms are indispensable components of language learning, especially in oral communication. Language learners with low knowledge of idioms might have some difficulty getting into casual conversations apparently due to frequent use of idioms in vernacular language. On the contrary, learners with higher knowledge of idioms tend to engage more in informal conversations due to the fact that vernacular language uses more idiomatic expressions.

Ignorance Hypothesis

Illocutionary Act

Immediate Recall

Immersion Education Program

In immersion programs, students attend specially designed content-area classes. All the students in a class speak the same native language and are at similar levels of proficiency in English. The teacher is not only certified in the regular content areas but also has some knowledge of the students’ first language and culture. Immersion programs are found more commonly in EFL contexts than in ESL contexts. In most immersion programs, pupils are in an additive bilingual context and enjoy the support of parents and the community in this enriching experience (Brown, 2001).

Implicational Scaling

Implicational Universals

Implicit Instruction

Implicit L2 Knowledge

Implicit L2 Learning

Implicit Memory

Impression Management

Incidental L2 Learning

Incidental Vocabulary Learning

Hulstijn, et al. (1996) defines incidental vocabulary learning as acquiring new words during listening or reading activities while the main purpose of the activity is comprehension, not learning new words.

Incorporation Strategy


Indirect Negative Evidence

Individual Learner Differences (IDs)

Induced Error

Inductive Instruction

Information Processing

Information processing is a general term for the process through which meaning is understood and identified in communication, the process through which information and meaning are stored, organized , and retrieved from memory and the different types of decoding taking place during reading or listening (Richards & Schmidt, 1985). The study of information processing, as Richards and Schmidt (1985) contend, encompasses the study of memory, decoding, and hypothesis testing, and the study of process and strategies that learners deploy in working out meaning in the second language. Kumaravadivelu (2008) further introduces the term controlled information processing defined as “level of intake processing involving attention allocation, short-term memory, and integration of pieces of information” (p. 51).

Information processing model, according to Godigovic (2005), sees human as a processing entity, and in the effort in made to process information, this processor is restricted by the amount of attention given to a task and the quality of the task itself. Thus, some processes are automatic, whereas some other are controlled (Godigovic, 2005). The automatic process is quick requiring little attention, in contrast to the controlled process which entails a great deal of attention. Learning, as reported by Godigovic (2005), starts “from controlled process and gradually builds up through practice to an automatic stage” (p. 19).

The focus on learning processes has been affected by computer based information processing models of learning, established in the cognitive psychology by the 1960s (Saville-Troike, 2006). According to Saville-Troike (2006), explanation of second language acquisition based on this framework assumes that second language is a complex system, and processing itself is believed to be conducive to learning. Approaches which have their bases on information processing are claimed by Saville-Troike (2006) to be concerned with the mental processes which are involved in language learning and use. This, as he maintains, ‘include perception and input of new information, the formation, organization, and regulation of internal (mental) representations, and retrieval and output strategies” (p. 73).

Initiate-Respond-Follow up (IRF) Exchange

Inner-Directed Learners

Input Enhancement

Input Hypothesis

Input Processing Theory

Instructed Language Acquisition

Instructional Conversation

Instrumental Motivation



Integrative Motivation


Intentional L2 Learning


Interaction is the way language is used by speaker and interlocutor (Richards & Schmidt, 2010). Classrooms are complex social systems, and student-teacher relationships and interactions are also complex. The nature and quality of relationship interactions between teachers and students are fundamental to understanding student engagement and can be changed by providing teachers knowledge about developmental processes relevant for classroom interactions and personalized feedback/support about their interactive behaviors and cues (Pianta, Hamre, & Allen, 2012). Teacher’s interaction with students is believed to increase student engagement and improve academic achieve­ment and social skill development. Eschenmann (1991) considers it important for educators to recognize the impact they have on their students, and consider strongly their students’ perceptions of them. Teachers have to ensure, as Nugent (2009) asserts, that they are meeting student needs, both academically and emotionally. Creating classroom environments that promote positive cultures with healthy interactions can motivate students to channel their energies and desires to reach their goals. Interaction techniques in language teaching used by the teacher to encourage student engagement and autonomy in doing tasks and activities are highly valued. These tasks should be done through interaction between students and the teacher. The problems will be solved and suggestions will be given by a more knowledge person, who is the teacher. Based upon the feedback, comment, and guidance of the teacher, students continue their working on the tasks. These tasks can be related to any of the four main language skills or language component such as vocabulary or grammar.

Interaction in practice, according to Johnson (2005), means that students have to arrange themselves, so they are positioned facing one another, have directly eye to eye contact and face to face academic conversation within which they promote each other’s learning and success. Johnson (2005) suggests that it is necessary to maximize the opportunities for students to help, support, encourage, and praise each other.

Interaction Analysis

Interaction Approach to SLA

According to Gass and Selinker (2008), the interactionist approaches to SLA are the approaches that consider conversational interactions to be a locus of language learning.

The relationship between social interaction and second language acquisition has been the focus of interest here (Mondada & Doehler, 2004). To date, as Mondada and Doehler (2004) state, the role that social interaction plays in the acquisition of second language has drawn different interpretations in research, ‘ranging from what can be considered a strong to a weak conception of this role. The weak version of interactionist approach contends that interaction is beneficial or even necessary for language learning through providing situations for learners to be exposed to comprehensible input (Mondada & Doehler, 2004). This frame work is argued to assume that social interaction plays a supplementary role. Contrary to this position is the strong version of the interactionist approach. The strong version of the interactionist approach, according to Mondada and Doehler (2004), considers interaction to be a fundamentally constitutive dimension of language learners’ daily life. Interaction is the most basic way of experiencing in which learning can take place. In this view, social interaction provides not solely an interactional frame in which developmental processes can occur; as a social practice, it involves the language learner as a co-constructor of joint activities in which linguistic and other competencies work within a constant process of adjustment (Mondada & Doehler, 2004)

According to Zeng and Takatsuka (2009), the traditional interactionist approached treats peer-peer interaction as an activity where second language learners engage in negotiation of meaning in case of communication breakdowns so as to achieve mutual understanding. Comprehensible input and comprehensible output which are facilitated by negotiation of meaning are considered as catalysts for language learning development (Zeng &Talatsuka, 2009). Therefore, it can be concluded that the interactionist approach has its primary attempt to make learners able to move beyond their current receptive and productive potentiality when there is the need for them to understand unfamiliar language input or when they are required to produce comprehensible output. This approach, as argued by Zeng and Takatsuka (2009), cannot provide an insight into the form-meaning relationship which is enabled by interaction; however, it shows a limited perspective on the role of interaction in language learning.

Interaction Hypothesis

Interactional Act

Interactionally Modified Input

Interactional Modification

Interactional Sociolinguistics

Interactionist Theories of Language Learning

Interdependency Principle

Interface Position/Hypothesis


Inter-Group Theory


This term was coined by Selinker (1972) to refer to the systematic knowledge of an L2 which is independent of both these learners’ L1 and the target language. According to Ellis (2008), this term has come to be used with different but related meanings: (1) to refer to the series of interlocking systems which characterize acquisition, (2) to refer to the system that is observed at a single stage of development (an interlanguage), and (3) to refer to a particular L1/L2 combinations (for example, L1Persian/L2 English versus L1 Spanish/L2 English). Other terms that refer to the same basic idea are ‘approximative syatem’ (Nemser, 1971) and ‘transitional competence’ (Corder, 1967, cited in Ellis, 2008).

In chaos/complexity theory, it is believed that the language learner is first attracted to native language and then to second language. Now, in the attempt to acquire the new language, he is attracted or repelled by one of these poles and out of this cycle of attraction and repelling emerges a third, namely, interlanguage, which is understood as a dynamic synthesis coming out of these two competing forces (Oliveira, 1997). Interlanguage, as Oliveira (1997) asserts, works as a strange attractor, highly sensitive to initial conditions, hence small changes in the initial conditions result in unpredictable shifts in language development. Each interlanguage phase yields similar but never identical patterns or strange attractors.

Interlanguage Analysis

Interlanguage Talk


Internalized (I) Approach

Internal Variation

International Corpus of Learner English (ICLE) (Granger 1998b)

Inter-Speaker Variation

Intralingual Error

Intra-Speaker Variation

Intrinsic Motivation

Item-Based Learning Theory

Within an item-based theory of language learning, learners begin with a small number of tokens of particular constructions (Mellow, 2006). After producing and processing a large number and range of construction types, as Mellow (2006) explains, learners gradually develop linguistic abilities that can be described grammaticalized linguistic constructions.

Graaff (1997) contends that implicit knowledge can be built up by different types of learning processes. Using evidence from cognitive psychology, Carr and Curran (1994, cited in Graaff, 1997), purport that both abstract rule-based representation of grammar can greatly contribute to L2 knowledge acquisition. DeKeyser (1995, cited in Graaff, 1997), in that respect, is reported to have found no relationship between abstract rule-based learning and exemplar item-based learning for categorical morphological rules which are applied to items that had been part of learning set. Besides, Graaff (1997) mentions that for prototypical rules, some evidence was found that item-based learning proved to be more effective than rule-based learning, and for categorical rules, however, when they were applied to new forms, rule-based learning appeared to be more effective than item-based learning.

In generative theories of language, children possess an innate knowledge of grammar and language, which stands for the fact that they have the same intrinsic linguistic knowledge as adults (Parisse, 2005). As Parisse (2005) argues, there exists continuity between the systems of the child and the system of the adult. However, as he maintains, it still appears necessary for children to make the link between the elements of UG and the real elements existing in their mother tongue.

The notion of “item-based learning runs contrary to the generative theory principle of continuity between child and adult grammatical knowledge” (Parisse, 2005). Tomasello (1992, cited in Parisse, 2005) by observing the production of young children aged one to three found that children do not have syntactic knowledge about the verb category from youngest age on, in spite of the fact that they utter and produce numerous form that are verbs.


A kind of co-operative learning activity in which groups of learners have different information that is needed to put together to solve a certain task. This technique has six phases: creation of cooperative groups, preparation pairs, practice pairs, cooperative groups (action), monitoring, and evaluation (Gallardo et al., 2003).

Journal writing

This is a procedure which is becoming more widely acknowledged as a valuable tool for developing critical reflection is the journal or diary. According to Bailey (1990), the goal of journal writing is (1) to provide a record of the significant learning experiences that have taken place, (2) to help the participant come into touch and keep in touch with the self-development process that is taking place for them, (3) to provide the participants with an opportunity to express, in a personal and dynamic way, their self-development, (4) to foster a creative interaction between the participant and the self-development process that is taking place, (5), to foster a creative interaction between the participant and other participants who are also in the process of self-development, and (6) to foster a creative interaction between the participant and the facilitator whose role it is to foster such development.

L2=L1 Hypothesis (or Identity Hypothesis)


According Richards and Rodgers (1986, p. 71), some functional characteristics of language are as following:

1. Language is a system for the expression of meaning.

2. The primary function of language is for interaction and communication.

3. The structure of language reflects its functional and communicative uses.

4. The primary units of language are not merely its grammatical and structural features, but categories of functional and communicative meaning as exemplified in discourse.

Language Achievement

Language achievement is a learner's mastery in a second language and foreign language of what has been taught or learned after a period of instruction. Language achievement may be contrasted with language aptitude, which is measured before a course of instruction begins (Richards & Schmidt, 2010).

Language Acquisition Device (LAD)

Language Learning Aptitude

Language Learning Strategy (LLS)

Oxford (1990) offers a useful and comprehensive classification of the various strategies used by learners. This classification includes the following subcategories of reading strategies: cognitive strategies that are used by learners to transform or manipulate the language, memory strategies that help learners to remember and retrieve information, compensation strategies that include skills such as inferring, guessing while reading etc., meta-cognitive strategies that are behaviors undertaken by the learners to plan, arrange, and evaluate their own learning, affective strategies such as self-encouraging behavior to lower anxiety, and lastly, social strategies that are those techniques that involve other individuals in the learning process and refer to cooperation with peers, questioning, asking for correction, and feedback. These mentioned six strategies can be used to facilitate comprehension (Singhal, 2001). Using reading strategies appropriately may be of great help to non-native readers because it can serve as an effective way of overcoming language deficiency and obtaining better reading achievement on language proficiency tests (Shang, 2012; Zhang, 2008).

Language Skills

In language teaching, ‘language skills’ refers to the mode or manner in which language is used (Richards & Schmidt, 2010). As stated by Richards and Schmidt (2010), listening, reading, writing, and speaking are called the language skills. Skills are divided into sub-skills, such as discriminating sounds in connected speech, or recognizing relationships within a sentence.

Language Proficiency

Stern (1983) defines proficiency as the actual performance of a learner in a given language, and it includes the mastery of (a) the forms, (b) the linguistic, cognitive, affective and sociocultural meanings of those forms, (c) the capacity to use the language with focus chiefly on communication and minimum attention to form, and (d) the creativity in language use.Clark (1972, as cited in Farhady, 1982) defines language proficiency as “to use language for real-life purposes regardless of the manner in which that competence was acquired” (p. 5). Bachman and Palmer (1996) believe that learner’s language proficiency level is defined as his or her knowledge of L2 grammar and vocabulary, which is a subcomponent of general language ability.

Language proficiency is the degree of skill which a person can use a language, such as how well a person can read, write, speak, or understand language. This can be contrasted with language achievement, which describes language ability as a result of learning. Proficiency maybe measured through the use of a proficiency test (Richards & Schmidt, 2010).

Language Socialization

Language Transfer


Learnability Hypothesis(developed by Pienemann, 1998)

Richards and Schmidt (1985) distinguish between learnability hypothesis and learnability theory. Learnability is any class of theories that attempt to explain the way children can learn the language to which they are exposed, under the assumption that children do not get systematic information about the ungrammatical sentences (Richards & Schmidt, 1985). As Richards and Schmidt (1985) explain, one proposal that advanced in generative grammar is the ‘subset principle’ positing that language learners choose options that allow for the smallest number of grammatical sentences, and in general nativism, the same effect is reached by the ‘conservatism thesis’ which holds the idea that children make use of available concepts to formulate the most conservative hypothesis consistent with experience, and the ‘target requirement’ which is the principle that no change is made in the grammar without a triggering stimulus in the environment.

Learnability hypothesis, as Richards and Schmidt (1985) put it, is the idea proposed by Manfred Pienemann (1998), which states that a second or a foreign language learners’ acquisition of linguistic structures is dependent on how complex these structures are from a psychological processing perspective, “defined as the extent to which linguistic material should be re-ordered and rearranged when mapping semantic and surface forms” (p. 297). The psycholinguistic processing devices which are acquired at one stage are an essential building block for the following stage (Richards & Schmidt, 1985). This, as they argue, also implies a teachability hypothesis, since the structures cannot be successfully instructed if the learner has not learned to produce structures that belong to the previous stage. However, Carroll (2001) states that learnability studies often assume that learning is successful if the learning algorithm decides-in-the-limit on unique grammar which generates all and only the set of acceptable strings of language and that the class of natural language grammars is inducible if the input includes a correspondence between each sentence and a representation of its meaning.

Learner Corpora

Learner-Instruction Matching

Learner Strategy


The term ‘learning’ was used by Krashen (1981) to refer to the development of conscious knowledge of an L2 through formal study. It means the same as explicit knowledge (Ellis, 2008).

Meaningful learning, based on Novak (2010), requires three conditions:

1. the material to be learned must be conceptually clear and presented with language and examples relatable to the learner's prior knowledge.

2. the learner must possess relevant prior knowledge

3. the learner must choose to learn meaningfully

In connectionism, it is believed that language learners are sensitive to regularities existing in the language input and make probabilistic patterns based on these regularities (Mitchell & Myles, 2004). Learning, according to Mitchell and Myles (2004), occurs as these patterns are strengthened through repeated activation.

Learning Principles

Learning Strategy

A learning strategy is a device or procedure used by learners to develop their interlanguages. Learning strategies account for how learners acquire and automatize L2 knowledge. They are also used to refer to how they develop specific skills. It is possible, therefore, to talk of both language learning strategies and skill-learning strategies. Learning strategies contrast with communication and production strategies, both of which account for how learners use rather that acquire L2 competence (Ellis, 2008). Also see cognitive, metacognitive, and social/ affective strategies.

Learning Style

Brown (2000) defines learning styles as the manner in which individuals perceive and process information in learning situations. He argues that learning preference is one aspect of learning style, and refers to the choice of one learning situation or condition over another. According to Celce-Murcia (2001), learning styles are the general approaches (global or analytic, auditory or visual) that students use in acquiring a new language or in learning any other subject. These styles are the overall patterns that give general direction to language behavior.

Levelt's Model of Speech Production

Lexicalization Hypothesis

Linguistic Competence

Linguistic Context

Linguistic Universals

Listening Comprehension Ability

Listening comprehension is considered the foundation of successful communication. It is a skill in language proficiency which can directly affect other skills and be affected by several other strategies or techniques. Listening is by nature the first acquired skill by human beings. Like other language skills, listening comprehension can be taught and practiced using three stages of pre-listening, while-listening (or on-listening), and post-listening.

Local Errors

Logical Problem of Foreign Language

Logical Problem of Language Acquisition

Machiavellian Motivation

Magnetic Resonance Imaging


Markedness Differential Hypothesis



Mediation is a term used in sociocultural SLA. Lantolf (2000, cited in Ellis, 2008) suggested that mediation in second language learning involves (1) mediation by others in social interaction, (2) mediation by self through private speech, and (3) mediation by artifacts (for example, tasks and technology).

Mentalist Theories of Language Learning

Metacognitive Strategy

Metalingual Knowledge

Metalinguistic Feedback




Micro-skill is a term which is sometimes used to individual processes and abilities used in carrying out a complex activity (Richards & Schmidt, 2010). For example, according to Richards and Schmidt (2010), among the micro-skills used in listening to are: identifying the purpose of the lecture, identifying the role of conjunctions, etc. in showing relationship between different parts of the lecture, recognizing the functions of pitch and intonation. Richards and Schmidt (2010) state that for the purpose of syllabus design, the four macro-skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening maybe analyzed into micros-kills.

Minimalist Program


Modality Reduction

Modified Output


Monitor Theory

Krashen (1982, cited in deBot, et al. 2006) presents five main hypotheses that make up a theory of language acquisition. The hypotheses are as follow:

  • the acquisition/learning hypothesis
  • the monitor hypothesis
  • the natural order hypothesis
  • the input hypothesis, and

Richards and Schmidt (1985) also call monitor hypothesis ‘monitor model of second language development’ and define it as a theory proposed by Krashen which distinguishes two separate and non-interdependent processes in foreign and second language development and use. The first process, called acquisition, is described to be a subconscious process which is conducive to development of competence and is not dependent on teaching of grammatical rules (Richards & Schmidt, 1985). The second process, as Richards and Schmidt (1985) explain, is called learning which refers to the conscious study and knowledge of rules of grammar. “In producing utterances, learners initially use their acquired system of rules” (Richards & Schmidt, 1985, p. 339). They argue that learning and learned rules have only the function of serving as monitor or editor of utterances which are initiated by the acquired system, and learning cannot result in acquisition.

According to Krashen (1988), the fundamental claim of the Monitor Theory is that conscious learning is available to the performer only as a monitor. In general, as he explains, utterances are initiated by the acquired system and our formal knowledge of second language, our conscious learning, may be applied the change the output of the acquired system, “sometimes before and sometimes after utterance is produced” (Krashen, 1988, p. 2). The Monitor Theory, as stated by Krashen (1988), makes some very specific hypotheses about the interrelation between learning and acquisition in adults.

Constraints of monitor model

According to Krashen (1988), there are several constraints on the use of monitor. The first condition is that so as to successfully monitor, the performer must have time. In normal conversations, as he asserts, both in speaking and listening, performers do not generally have time to think about and apply conscious grammatical rules, hence giving no use of monitor. “This condition, however, is necessary but not sufficient” (Krashen, 1988, p. 3).The second condition is that the performer must be focused on form or correctness. The third condition for a successful use of monitor is that the performer should know the rules and have a correct mental representation of the rule to apply it correctly (Krashen, 1988). This may be, as Krashen (1988) argues, a very formidable requirement or prerequisite. Syntacticians admit that they have only analyzed fragment belonging to natural languages, applied linguists accept that they have only partially mastered the theoretical literature in grammar, language teachers do not have adequate time to study the descriptive work of all applied linguists, and language students do not usually master all the rules presented to them (Krashen, 1988).


Morpheme Studies


Motivation in language learning is the desire of the learners to get involved in learning environment and tasks. According to Brown (2006), motivation is probably the most frequently catch-all term for explaining the success or failure of virtually any complex task.


Multicompetence is the term introduced by Cook (1991). This theory is contrasted with monocompetence. Multicompetence is used to describe the compound state of mind with two grammars while monocompetence considers the state of mind with one grammar. There was the argument that that argument of poverty of stimulus of language acquisition does not appear to be so much how the child acquires the grammar with a setting for each parameters how he or she learns one or more grammar with one or more settings for each parameter-multicompetence. The notion of Multicompetence seems to arise from the question within UG (Cook, 1991), which accounts for the notion that people who know two languages are different from monolinguals.

Multicompetence is defined by Cook (2013) as the knowledge of more than one language in the same mind or the same community. Multicompetence considers the second language user from the perspective of a whole person rather than a monolingual native speaker (Cook, 2013). According to Cook (2013), L2user is the term used for someone who is actively using a language other than their first, whatever their level of competence. Multicompetence is assumed to involve the whole mind of the speaker, not simply their first language (L1) or their second. It is assumed by Multicompetence that the person who knows or has command over two or more language should be treated differently from the one who is a monolingual. Multicompetence has important implications for language teaching goals and methodology. The opposing side of the multicompetence perspective is the monolingual perspective which has its basis on native speaker (Cook, 2013). Multicompetence perspective puts its chief emphasis on putting second language user at the center rather than the native speaker.

The evidence in respect of lexical aspects of Multicompetence model, as stated by Singleton (2007) includes:

1. Reaction time to a word in one language has relevance to the frequency of its cognate in another known language.

2. Morphemic similarities between two known languages have bearing on translation performance.

3. When processing an interlingual homograph, bilinguals access its meaning in both their language rather than just the meaning specific to the language which is being used.

Multidimensional Model

Multiple Intelligences

Multiple Intelligences (MI) Theory is one of the most compelling approaches to education. The ideas inherent in multiple intelligence theory suggests that "the traditional notion of intelligence as measured by IQ testing is far too limited, and there are not just two ways to be intelligent, but many ways"(Gardner, 1983, p. 51).

The concept of multiple intelligence and learning style are widely encountered and used today in education, business, arts, and other areas of daily life. There is a substantial research on multiple intelligences and learning style in different fields and with different purposes. In 1983, Gardner a researcher and professor at Harvard University proposed a new view of intelligence that has been widely embraced since its publication, now being incorporated in school curricula across the country. In his seminal book in 1983, Gardner put forward his “Theory of Multiple Intelligences,” a theory that challenged the dominant definition of intelligence as limited to mathematical and linguistic abilities (verbal and computational intelligences). Gardner theorized that rather than just these two intelligences, a grouping of seven intelligences more accurately accounts for the diversity of ways in which people acquire and utilize knowledge (Gardner, 1995). The following table shows the definition for each type of intelligence.

Gardner’s (2004) Classification and Definition for Eight Types of Multiple Intelligences

IntelligenceDefinitionPeople who exhibit this intelligence
Linguisticsensitivity to the meaning and order of wordsWinston Churchill, Doris Kearns Goodwin,
logical-mathematicalthe ability to handle chains of reasoning and to recognize patterns and orderBill Gates, Stephen Hawking, Benjamin Banneker
Musicalsensitivity to pitch, melody, rhythm and toneRay Charles, Harry Connick
bodily-kinestheticthe ability to use the body skillfully and handle objects adroitlyMia Hamm, Michael Jordan, Michelle Kwan
Spatialthe ability to perceive the world accurately and to recreate or transform aspects of that worldMary Engelbreit, Maya Lin, Frank Lloyd Wright
Naturalistthe ability to recognize and classify the numerous speciesCharles Darwin, Jane Goodall,
Interpersonalthe ability to understand people and relationshipsColin Powell, Martin Luther King Jr., Deborah Tannen
Intrapersonalaccess to one's emotional life as a means to understand oneself and othersAnne Frank, Bill Moyers, Eleanor Roosevelt

As to the multiple intelligences-based teaching, teachers and researchers can use Armstrong’s (2000) suggestions for teaching activities (see the table below). For each type of intelligence (the primary 8 types), appropriate teaching activities are presented.

Armstrong’s (2000) Teaching Activities for Multiple Intelligence-Based Teaching

IntelligenceTeaching ActivitiesTeaching MaterialsInstructional Strategies
Verbal/Linguisticlectures, discussions, word games, storytelling, journal writingbooks, tape recorders, computers, stamp sets, books on taperead about it, write about it, talk about it, listen to it
Logical-Mathematicalbrain teasers, problem solving, science experiments, mental calculation, number games, critical thinkingcalculators, maths manipulatives, science equipment, maths gamesquantify it, think critically about it, put it in a logical framework, experiment with it
Visual/Spatialvisual presentations, art activities, imagination games, mind-mapping, metaphors, visualisationgraphs, maps, video, LEGO sets, art materials, optical illusions, cameras, picture librarysee it, draw it, visualise it, colour it, mind-map it
Bodily-Kinaesthetichands-on learning, drama, dance, sports, tactile activities, relaxation exercisesbuilding tools, clay, sports equipment, manipulatives, tactile learning resourcesbuild it, act it out, touch it, get a "gut feeling" of it, dance it
Musicalrhythmic learning, rapping, using songs that teachtape recorder, music collection, musical instrumentssing it, rap it, listen to it
Interpersonalcooperative learning, peer tutoring, community involvement, social gatherings, simulationsboard games, part supplies, props for role playsteach it, collaborate on it, interact with respect to it
Intrapersonalindividualised instruction, independent study, options in course of study, self-esteem buildingself-checking materials, journals, materials for projectsconnect it to your personal life, make choices with regard to it, reflect on it
Naturalistnature study, ecological awareness, care of animalsplants, animals, naturalists' tools (e.g. binoculars), gardening toolsconnect it to living things and natural phenomena

Gardner (1983) identifies kinds of intelligences based upon eight criteria. His eight criteria for describing something as an independent kind of intelligence (rather than merely one of the skills or abilities included in a kind of intelligence, or a synonym for, or combination of other kinds of intelligence). Gardner (1983) first defined seven different types of intelligence and then introduced “naturalistic intelligence” as the eighth type. At the same time, he suggested the existence of a ninth intelligence type, that is, existentialist intelligence (Gardner, 1999).

The theory has been widely criticized in the psychology and educational theory communities. The most common criticisms (Waterhouse, 2006) argue that Gardner's theory is based on his own intuition rather than empirical data and that the intelligences are just other names for talents or personality types.


Nativization Model

Naturalistic Language Acquisition

Natural Settings

Negative Evidence

Negative Transfer

Negotiation of Form

Negotiation of Meaning

Neurobiological SLA


Neurolinguistic SLA

Non-interface Position/Hypothesis

Noun Phrase Accessibility Hierarchy

Noticing Hypothesis

Noticing hypothesis is the hypothesis that purports input does not turn to intake for language unless it is noticed, or consciously registered (Richards & Schmidt, 2010). Schmidt (1990, cited in Ellis, 2008) purports that the attention, which is according to Gabrys-Barker (2010), limited in its capacity, to input is a conscious process and views “noticing (i.e. registering formal features in the input) and noticing-the-gap (i.e. identifying how the input to which the learner is exposed differs from the output the learner is able to generate) as essential process in L2 acquisition” (p. 265).

Null Subject Parameter

Obligatory Occasion Analysis

This involves identifying contexts that require the obligatory use of a specific grammatical feature in samples of learner language and calculating the accuracy with which the feature is actually supplied in these contexts (Ellis, 2008). See also target-like use analysis.

Observer's Paradox

According to Labov (1970, cited in Ellis, 2008), good data require systematic observation but the act of trying to observe contaminates the data collected. This is referred to as observer paradox.

Online Planning

Open Question

Operating Principles

Order of Development/Acquisition

Other-Directed Learner

Output Hypothesis




Parallel Distributed Processing

Saville-Troike (2006) defines parallel distributed processing (PDP) as “a connectionist approach to SLA which claims that processing takes place in a network of modes in the brain that are connected by pathways, and that frequency of input and nature of feedback largely determine language learning” (p. 192).

The main issue broached in serial processing is the extent to which the processing of language is characterized as a serial process (first identify sounds, combine them into words, and then into sentences) in contrast to parallel processing primarily dealing with the extent to which language processing should be seen as a number of different processes acting at the same time at different levels (Randall, 2007). In serial processing model of language processing, it is claimed that information is taken in via the senses and then different features are extracted through a series of memory stores (Randall, 2007). As Randall (2007) maintains, the symbolistic approach, following from linguistic descriptions which are hierarchical in nature, “also suggests serial processing of language input” (p. 18). From this perspective, as Randall (2007) argues, syntactical processing preempts semantic processing. The brain first decodes the input from a rule-governed syntactical perspective which then gains access to semantic representation, and then the brain applies a similar reverse path for language production.

However, as contended by Randall (2007), serial processing models are challenged by parallel processing models. Based on what is known about the structure of the brain’s function, a simple serial model appears to be inadequate (Randall, 2007). The brain, as he explains, contains a multitude of neurons connected into neural networks which perform a plethora of simultaneous and complex operations, which has led to the advent of a general theory of language processing and storage known as connectionism or parallel distributed processing.

Connectionism, or parallel distributed processing, compares the brain to a computer that consists of neural networks: complex clusters of connections or links between nodes of information (Mitchell & Myles, 2004). These links, according to Mitchell and Myles (2004) can become weakened or strengthened through activation non-activation and activation respectively. Learning in this view, as they argue, “occurs at the basis of associative processes rather than the construction of abstract rules” (p. 121).To put it another way, the human mind is predisposed to seek for associations between elements and create links between them (Mitchell &Myles, 2004). These links “become stronger as these associations keep recurring, and they also become part of larger networks as connections between elements become more numerous” (Mitchell & Myles, 2004, p. 121). Connectionism, when applied to the learning of language, claims that language learners are sensitive to regularities existing in the language input and make probabilistic patterns based on these regularities (Mitchell & Myles, 2004). Learning, according to Mitchell and Myles (2004) occurs as these patterns are strengthened through repeated activation.


Parameter-Setting Model

Pattern of Development


Perceptual Learning Styles



Pied piping

Planned Discourse


Positive Evidence

Positive Transfer

Poverty of The Stimulus

Power Law of Practice

Pragmalinguistic Failure

Pragmatic Competence

Fraser (1983) defines pragmatic competence as the knowledge of how an addressee determines what a speaker is saying and recognizes intended illocutionary force conveyed through subtle attitudes in the speakers’ utterance.


Pragmatics is generally regarded as the study of language use in social contexts.


Premodified Input

Preparatory Act

Preposition Stranding

Pre-task Planning


Private Speech

Proactive Inhibition

Procedural Knowledge

Processability Theory

Pienemann’s processability theory deals exclusively with constraints on learner productions (Rast, 2008). Pienemann (1998, cited in Rast, 2008) states that the key issues in language learnability cannot be easily resolved, and that every major school of thought suffers from a number of shortcomings. His model examining language processing, and more specifically, L2 development, consists of principles that predict transitions in grammatical systems (Rast, 2008). Rast (2008) further cites from Pienemann (1998) that the sole objective of processability theory is to determine the sequence in which procedural skills are created in the learner.

The architecture of human language processing, as claimed by Pienemann (2005), forms the basis of processability theory. He argues that in this perspective, the language processor is seen as the computational routines operating on the native speakers’ linguistic knowledge. Processability theory mainly deals with the nature of those computational routines and the sequence in which they are, or become, available to the learner (Pienemann, 2005). From this perspective, he argues that language acquisition incorporates as one essential component the gradual acquisition of those computational routines. “In other words, the task of acquiring a language includes the acquisition of procedural skills needed for the processing of the language” (Pienemann, 2005, p. 2). It adheres to this that the sequence in which the target language unfolds in the learner is specified by the sequence in which processing routine develop, which are necessary to handle the target language’s components (Pienemann, 2005).

It is the aim of processability theory, asserted by Pienemann (2005), to hypothesize a universal hierarchy of processing resources on the basis of the general architecture of the language processor. He contends that this way, predictions can be made for language development which is empirically

According to Pienemann (2005) the basic premises of the view on language production followed in processability theory are as follow:

1. Processing components are relatively autonomous specialists which operate largely automatically;

2. Processing is incremental;

3. The output of the processor is linear, while it may not be mapped onto the underlying meaning in a linear way;

4. Grammatical processing has access to grammatical memory store (pp.3-4).

Pienemann and Hakansson (1999, cited in Saville-Troike, 2006) propose the following acquisitional hierarchy of processing skills:

1. Lemma/word access: words (lemma) undergo processing; however, they do not carry any grammatical information and are not associated with any ordering rules

2. Category procedure: Lexical items undergo categorization, and grammatical information may be added.

3. Phrasal procedure: Operations within the phrase level take place, including agreement for number or gender between subject and verb.

4. S-procedure: Grammatical information is likely to be exchanged across phrase boundaries, such the agreement in number between subject and verb.

5. Clause boundary: main and subordinate clause structures may be differently handled.

Processing Instruction

Production Strategy


Projection Hypothesis

Property Theory



Psycholinguistic Context

Psychological Distance


Pushed Output


Brown (2001) describes questionnaires as written instruments that include statements or questions that participants must answer to by writing responses or selecting from choices supplied by the questionnaire. He distinguishes among open- and closed-response formats, the former referring to interviews that permit participants to answer orally or in writing, the latter referring to those that need them to choose from accessible choices. Brown summarizes many benefits to the closed-response format. First, the closed-response questionnaire produces uniform data in connection with kind and degree of property. Second, interviews of the closed kind are simple to respond and participants are improbable to skip questions. Third, the capabilities to state closed-response answers numerically make the data easier to encode, analyze, and define. This feature of the data makes them seem visual in nature. Finally, the numerical analysis of closed-response data simplifies the testing of reliability and validity measures.

In explaining the benefits of questionnaires, Dornyei (2003) mentions to the great utility of questionnaires related to researcher time, researcher attempt, and financial resources. Another benefit noticed by Dornyei is the flexibility of questionnaires discussing that they can be used in a various set of conditions with a variety of people and subjects.

Despite that, both writers explain the futilities of questionnaires that impose their use. Brown (2001) starts his debate of futilities by referring to one of the basic subjects with closed-response questionnaires: the narrow range of possible responses. The researcher may disregard potentially relevant answers and not contain them between the ranges of probabilities. Closed-response questionnaires attend to be less investigative in nature as they commonly lead to detections the researcher is assuming. The capability to receive unpredicted answers is almost perfectly removed. Finally, obvious, brief closed-response choices are hard to write.

Albeit Dorynei (2003) opposes with those who states that all questionnaire data are invalid and unreliable, he does summarize various potential difficulties that could affect the outcomes from the questionnaire data. He enrolls the following futilities: simplicity and superficiality of answers, unreliable and unmotivated respondents, respondent literacy problems, little or no opportunity to correct the respondents’ mistakes, social desirability (or prestige) bias, self-deception, acquiescence bias, halo effect, and fatigue effects.

Reading Comprehension

Basically, reading comprehension can be defined as the ability to read a text, process it and understand its meaning. The main goal of reading is to be able to read without concentrating on structure or translating into mother tongue (Chastain, 1988). According to Crystal (2003), reading comprehension is "the ability to understand and interpret written language" (p. 92).According to Branett (1989) reading is an interactive process combining top-down and bottom-up processing; as a result, it is very important for students to use appropriate reading strategies to increase their comprehension. Reading comprehension requires the integration and application of multiple strategies or skills. The strategies of reading, as Brantmeier (2002, p.1) asserts, may involve “skimming, scanning, guessing, recognizing cognates and word families, reading for meaning, predicting, activating general knowledge, making inferences, following references, and separating main ideas from supporting ideas”.

Reading Purposes

A reading passage has several purposes, from reading to get the main idea to guessing the new vocabulary items. The purposes vary based on the purposes of learning/teaching. Rivers and Temperly (1978, cited in Nunan, 1999) suggested seven main purposes for reading.

1. To obtain information about some topic.

2. To obtain instructions about doing some task.

3. To act in a play, play a game, do a puzzle.

4. To keep in touch with friends by correspondence or to understand business letters.

5. To know when or where something will happen or what is available.

6. To know what is happening or has happened.

7. For enjoyment or excitement. (p. 251)


Re-creation Continuum

Reference Group

Referential Question


The process of thinking back on and considering experiences, in order to better understand the significance of such experiences. Reflection is thought to be an important component of learning in teacher development and is often a focus of teacher development activities (Richards & Schmidt, 2010).

Reflective Teaching

Reflective teaching is an approach to teaching and teacher education which is based on the assumption that teachers can improve their understanding of teaching and the quality of their own teaching by reflecting critically on their teaching experiences (Richards & Schmidt, 2010). In teacher education programs, activities which seek to develop a reflective approach to teaching aim to develop the skills of considering the teaching process thoughtfully, analytically, and objectively, as a way of improving classroom practices. According to Richards and Schmidt (2010), this may involve the use of (1) journals in which student teachers or practicing teachers write about and describe classroom experiences and use their descriptions as a basis for review and reflection, (2) audio and video taping of a teacher’s lesson by the teacher, for purposes of later review and reflection, and (3) group discussion with peers or a supervisor in order to explore issues that come out of classroom experience.



Request for Clarification

An utterance (usually in corrective feedback) that elicits clarification of the preceding utterance.

Resilient Features

Restrictive Simplification


Restructuring Continuum


Rudimentary Phonemic Awareness (RPA)


Selective Attention Hypothesis


Self-assessment, based on Richards, Platt, and Platt (1992), refers to checking one’s own performance on a language learning task after it has been completed or checking one’s own success in using a language. Self-assessment or self-evaluation is an example of metacognitive strategy in language learning.



Self-efficacy is explained in the theoretical framework of social cognitive theory by Bandura (1986, 1997) which stated that human achievement depended on interactions between one's behaviors, personal factors and environmental conditions. Bandura (1995) defines self-efficacy as peoples' beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives. Also, he defines teacher’s self- efficacy as the degree to which teachers believe they have the ability to affect students’ performance. Learning a foreign language is a complex task which its effectiveness may associate with different factors such as teachers’ own language proficiency, self-efficacy, and experience (Khatib, Sarem, & Hamidi, 2012). Perceived self-efficacy has been defined by Bandura (1997) as beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments. Bandura (1997) distinguished self-efficacy from other constructs such as self-concept and self-esteem. First, he stated that self-concept refers to “a composite view of oneself that is presumed to be formed through direct experience and evaluations adopted from significant others”, thus it is mostly concerned with global self-images. Unlike self-concept, self-efficacy beliefs varied according to the domain of activities, the levels of difficulty, and the specific context. For example, one who had low efficacy beliefs in swimming may have high efficacy beliefs in soccer, while the global nature of self-concept construct may not do for this domain specificity.


Self-monitoring, as explained by Richards, Platt, and Platt (1992), is observing and recording information about one’s own behavior for the purpose of achieving a better understanding of and control over one’s behavior. In teacher education, teachers may be taught procedures for self-monitoring as an aspect of their on-going professional development. Techniques used include keeping a journal of their teaching experiences, regular and systematic use of self-reports, or through making audio or video recordings of their own lessons. As to the students while learning, self-monitoring refers to checking one’s performance during a learning task as a metacognitive strategy during language learning (Richards, Platt, & Platt, 1992).



In language testing, based on Richards, Platt, and Platt (1992), self-rating refers to an individual’s own evaluation of their language ability, generally according to how good they are at particular language skills (like listening, speaking, reading), how well they are able to use the language in different domains or situations (e.g. a formal style or an informal style). Self-ratings are a way of obtaining indirect information about a person’s proficiency in a language.


One way of investigating learners’ cognitive and affective states during L2 learning is by asking them to report on these. According to Ellis (2008), self-report includes retrospective reports elicited by means of interviews, diaries, personal earning histories, and simulated recall and also concurrent reports elicited by means of immediate recall and think aloud tasks.


Sentence-Matching Tests

Sequence of Development

Shadowing Technique

This technique is sometimes used in language teaching and also in training simultaneous interpreters in which the students repeats what a speaker says. Shadowing is said to train listening skills and to develop fluency. Shadowing has several forms: (1) lecture shadowing-a listener silently shadows the speakers, (2) reading shadowing-one student reads aloud and one shadows, and (3) conversational shadowing-a listener shadows a speaker, either by completely or partially reproducing the speaker (Richards & Schmidt, 2010).

Silent Period

Situational Context

Situation-Specific Anxiety

Skill-Acquisition Theories

Skill acquisition theory is the theory which assumes cognitive processes for the learning of all skills (VanPatten & Williams, 2007). This theory, as VanPatten and Williams (2007) explain, holds that second language acquisition results from the development of three stages. In an initial stage, bits of explicit knowledge are gained, called declarative knowledge. Subsequently, explicit knowledge changes into behavior through a smooth behavior, named procedural knowledge. And finally, behavior turns into near-native proficiency through consistent practice, called automatic knowledge.

Within the framework of learning as a cognitive process, second language learning is viewed as the acquisition of complex cognitive skill (McLaughlin, 1987). In this view, as McLaughlin (1987) maintains, to learn a second language is to learn a skill, because of the fact that various aspects of the task must be practiced and integrated into fluent performance. As he argues, this calls forth the need to automatization of component sub-skills. According to McLaughlin (1987), “learning is a cognitive process, because it is thought to involve internal representations that regulate the guide performance” (p.133).

In the case of language acquisition, these representations have their basis on the language system and consist of procedures for selecting appropriate vocabulary, grammatical rules, and pragmatic conventions which govern language use (McLaughlin, 1987). The acquisition of skills which are involved in any communication task, as McLaughlin (1987) argues, requires the assessment and coordination of information from a great number of perceptual, cognitive, and social domains. The speaker must convey the intended message clearly and must learn to comply with a considerable number of conversational conventions. McLaughlin (1987) considers skill acquisition as involving the accumulation of automatic processing through operations which are initially controlled, which require more attention. Internalized rules, as he suggests, are restructured as learners attempt to adjust their internal representations so as to match the target language.

It is argued by Littlewood (2004) that skill acquisition theory explains the way learners acquire an underlying knowledge of the language independent of actual performance skills. According to this theory, as Littlewood (2004) argues, a person can learn a language without the need to using the language productively, stating that productive skills appear to be the external expression of the system which the learner has internalized at a specific stage of development. Most of the approaches towards teaching, as he maintains, have their basis on the assumption that if learners are required to produce predetermined part of language, this activity which is productive will conduce to the internalization of the system and its being applied without conscious reflection.

Social/Affective Strategies

Social Context

Social Distance

Social Identity

Social Identity Theory


Social Network

Socio-Cognitive Approach

Sociocultural SLA

Sociocultural Theory

Socio-Educational Model of L2 Learning

Sociolinguistic approaches to SLA

Sociolinguistics, according to Richards and Schmidt (1985), is the study of language in relation to such social factors as education, social class, type of education, sex, age, origin, etc. They refer to the detailed study of interpersonal communication as ‘micro sociolinguistics’ dealing with speech acts, conversation analysis, speech events and so on, for example, and also those investigations which ascribe variation in language used by group of people to social factors. They further maintain that “such areas as the study of language choice in bilingual or multilingual communities , language planning, language attitudes, etc., may be included under sociolinguistics and are sometimes referred to as macro-sociolinguistics, or they are considered as being part of the sociology of language or the social psychology of language’’ (p.494). Besides, Nation and Macalister (2010) simply define sociolinguistics as the appropriate use of language.

Jordan (2004) contends that variable competence models take a sociolinguistic approach to SLA, and relinquish the distinction Chomsky makes between competence and performance.

Characteristics of sociolinguistic approach

Mesthrie (2008) asserts that sociolinguistic approach towards second language teaching is generally:

  • non-prescriptive and non-purist,
  • appreciative of variation,
  • considerate of speech and conversational norms,
  • systematic towards multiculturalism, and multilingualism ‘on the ground’,
  • mindful of the interactive nature of speech,
  • attentive to attitudes and norms of different subgroups within a society,
  • receptive to change in language,
  • responsive to broader contextual issues relating to power, culture, and identity (p. 67).

Problems of sociolinguistic approaches

Sociolinguistic approaches to SLA, as Kramsch (2000) maintains, problematize the notion of native speaker as making both the foreign national citizen and their national standard language essential. Language learners, however, do not appear to have to approximate the vernacular communicative style of native speakers.

Furthermore, as May (2005) reports, sociolinguistic approach fails to take cognizance of wider socio-political and socio-historical factors and does not take human agency, political intervention, and power and authority in the formation of particular language ideologies into account. Besides, as argued by May (2005), it is not able, by definition, to identify the establishment and maintenance of majority languages as a specific form of practice which are historically contingent and socially embedded.

Sociolinguistic Variables

Sociopragmatic Failure

Speaking ability

Speech Accommodation Theory

Speech Act

A speech act is an utterance that performs a locutionary (an utterance regarded in terms of its intrinsic meaning or reference, as distinct from its function or purpose in context) and an illocutionary (pertaining to linguistic act carried out by a speaker in producing an expression) meaning in communication. As an instance, ‘isn’t it hot here?’ is a locutionary speech act concerning a proposition about temperature with the illocutionary force of an indirect request (to open the door or window). Speech act has been under serious study in SLA research. The reason for concentrating on the study of speech acts, as Searle (1969) believes, is that all linguistic communication involves linguistic acts. In order to have successful communication, the interlocutors not only should be linguistically but also socio-linguistically and pragmatically competent. Speech acts of acceptance, apology, compliment, condolence, congratulation, invitation, rejection, and request are some common types.

Speech Planning


State Anxiety


Stimulated Recall

Stimulus-Appraisal System


Strategies can be defined as learning techniques, behaviors, problem-solving or study skills which make learning more effective and efficient (Oxford & Crookall, 1989). In reading, the term strategy means the mental operations involved when readers purposefully approach a text to make sense of what they read. The strategies of reading, as Brantmeier (2002, p.1) asserts, may involve “skimming, scanning, guessing, recognizing cognates and word families, reading for meaning, predicting, activating general knowledge, making inferences, following references, and separating main ideas from supporting ideas”.

Strategic Planning

Strategy Training

Structural and Semantic Simplification

Structured Input

Style Shifting

Stylistic Continuum

Subjacency Principle


Substratum Transfer

Subtractive Bilingualism

Syllable Structure


Target-Like Use Analysis


In general, there are two types of tasks: 1) real-world tasks which are the activities that learners would later encounter in their real life situation (Richards & Rodgers, 2001), and 2) pedagogic tasks which are structured, bounded, purposeful activities involving the processing of language (Bygate, 2000) and which mostly trigger cognitive processes that would be activated in real-world tasks (Ellis, 2003). According to Long and Crooks (1992, p.44), pedagogic tasks are what “teachers and students actually work on in the classroom”. A task should be authentic, goal oriented, meaningful, with a purpose or towards a purpose, and should be fun to engage students. A real task should encourage autonomy on the part of students.

Task-Based Teaching

Task-Induced Variation

Teachability Hypothesis

The Teachability Hypothesis simply states the course of second language development cannot be altered by factors external to the learner. “Factors external to the learner” refers mainly to teaching. So, the Teachability Hypothesis says that teaching cannot change the sequence in which the structures are learned. The reason is a structure learned at one stage is a necessary prerequisite for later stages. However, teaching can have an effect if it occurs when learners are at the right stage to learn the particular item which is being taught (Nation & Macalister, 2010)

Teacher Talk

Technology Enhanced Language Learning (TELL)

Technology enhanced language learningrefers to the support of any learning activity through technology. TELL is often used synonymously with E-Learning even though there are some differences. The main difference between the two expressions is that TELL focuses on the technological support of any pedagogical approach that uses technology. Computer assisted language learning and mobile assisted language learning are put under the category of TELL.

Textbook Evaluation

The process of language education involves many elements, often learners considered as the center. However, this common belief is rejected when textbooks, as sources of providing input, are seen to control the instruction to a large extent (Sarem, Hamidi, & Mahmoudie, 2013). Textbooks play a very crucial role in the process, since both teachers and students rely heavily on them. In fact, textbooks occupy a mediating position between teachers and students and thus have to bear certain characteristics to make them an appropriate connector. Taking these points into account, one of the important measures facing EFL educators is the selection of the textbook. This is a vital decision which will affect teachers, students, and the overall classroom dynamics. It takes a lot of time and energy to choose or develop an appropriate textbook which meets the requirements of the institutions and the needs of the learners. Once a textbook is chosen, it should be evaluated by standard (or reliable) checklists based on acceptable criteria so that the weak points and strong points of the textbook can be found. These checklists, either aimed at evaluating a general EFL textbook or an EAP/ESP course book, should be able to lead to a more systematic and thorough examination of potential textbooks, evaluating them on their underlying instructional philosophy, approach, method, activities, and teacher’s manual.

Text Editing

It is usually a grammar-focused task in which a task is given to the learners whose purpose is to engage learners to edit a grammatically ill-formed text. It can be done either individually or in pairs (Storch, 2007).

Theory of Instructed Language Acquisition

Think-Aloud Protocol

Think-Aloud Tasks

Total Physical Response (TPR)

Trait Anxiety

Transfer-Appropriate Processing

Transfer Errors

Transitional Constructions

Transition Theory


Typological Universals

Universal Grammar

Universalists and SLA

Current UG theory, as Cook (1989) maintains, describes the speaker’s knowledge of language in terms of principles and parameters. As an example, in the sentence ‘Max played the drum with Charlie Parker’ principles of phrase structure require every phrase in it to have a head of a related syntactic category and allow it to have complements of different types. A verb phrase such as ‘played the drums’ must have a head that is the verb ‘play’ and may have a complement ‘the drum’. A prepositional phrase like ‘with Charlie Parker’ must have a head that is a preposition ‘with’ and a complement ‘Charlie Parker’. Noun phrases should have a head that is a noun. The phrases of all language, as Cook (1989) reports, consist of heads and possible complements. “The difference between the phrase structures of all languages lies in the order in which head and complement occur within the phrase’’ (Cook, 1989, p. 169). This variation between languages is captured by the head parameter, consisting of two settings, head-first and head-last. In head-first, the head comes before the complement in phrases of language while in head-last, the head comes after the complement. Principles are claimed not to vary from one language to another and parameters are claimed to confine the variation between languages within limits. The Universal Grammar theory, as Cook (1989) purports, claims that the speaker’s knowledge of language comprises several general principles and appropriate parameter settings for first language. As the principles of UG are built in the mind, they do not seem to be learned. The learner automatically applies them to the language she or he encounters, no matter what the language is. Hence, based on UG theory we can propose a model in which learners is first exposed to input. This input triggers parameters in UG, which finally leads to the knowledge of a particular language.

However regarding second language acquisition, Cook (1989) argues that the question of evidence is more openly raised, since unlike L1 children, L2 learners receive a great deal of error correction and grammatical explanation. There is doubt, however, whether L2 learners receive correction of the appropriate errors of grammatical explanations of the right type to learn the types of syntactic knowledge, partly due to the fact that teachers are familiar with pro drop, elimination of pronoun, and head parameters. Here is the question of parameter-setting in L2 because there is already one setting for parameters present in the learner’s mind. It leads to the question if there is a relationship between UG and L2 development. One of the theories developed so as to answer this question is the theory of direct access to UG, which claims that UG is still available for L2 learners. Another model, theory, regarding the access to UG is the indirect access assuming that UG is only available via the mediation of L1. The ‘no-access’ model is the third model proposed by Cook (1989) regarding the access to UG which assumes that UG is no longer available for L2 learners.

The UG model, according to Cook (1989), is primarily about language knowledge than language use. It is about grammar rather than about language. It is, furthermore, concerned with the abstract central areas of syntax rather than wider aspects of language. As Cook (1989) explains, “its interests lie in what the speaker knows about language, grammatical competence, rather than how the speaker uses language, pragmatic competence’’ (p. 174). UG theory, as reported, is of minor importance in dealing with how people communicate, or how they meet and understand other people, or how they use various forms of language in various situations. “When looking at the relevance of UG to classroom learning we need to remember its restricted scope-general principles of syntax such as phrase structure principles and precise areas of variation such as pro-drop or head parameters’’ (Cook, 1989, p. 174). It would be misleading to attempt to draw conclusions from UG theory for anything other than its proper domain. It is stated that UG falls silent regarding the issues that occur in language classrooms. The theory of UG does not happen to regard language acquisition as depending upon particular circumstances, and it deals with features that can be learnt regardless of variation between learners, and regardless of type of input.

Unplanned Discourse

See speech planning and planned discourse.


This is a move undertaken by the learner in response to the feedback the learner receives from another speaker on his/her previous utterance that contained an error. Uptake can involve ‘repair’ or ‘no repair’ depending on whether the learner successfully corrects his/her original error (Ellis, 2008).

U-shaped Behaviour

L2 learners have been observed to manifest a target-language form in their output at an early stage of development only to manifest an interlanguage form in its place at a later stage. Eventually the correct target-language form reappears (for example, ‘came’ becomes ‘comed’ and, later still, ‘came’ again). This pattern of development is known as ‘U-shaped’ behavior’ (Ellis, 2008).

Variability Hypothesis

This is a term used in this book to refer to the possibility that formal instruction may have an effect on the learner’s careful style but that is less likely to have an effect on the learner’s vernacular style (Ellis, 2008). See also stylistic continuum.

Variable Competence Model

The Variable Competence Model seeks to account for the variability evident in learner language by positing that this reflects a competence that is itself variable (i.e. it contains variable rules or different styles). Tarone (1983, cited in Ellis, 2008) proposed that the learner’s competence comprises a stylistic continuum.

Variable Form

A variable form is a phonological, lexical, or grammatical feature that is realized linguistically in more than one way. The linguistic devices that realize a variable form are known as variants.


A variable form has two or more variants, i.e. it can be realized by two or more linguistic structures. For example, English copula has two variants-contracted and full copula.

Variational Features

See Multidimensional Model.

Vernacular Style

Vernacular style was used by Labov (1970) to refer to the language forms evident when speakers are communicating spontaneously and easily with interlocutors familiar to them. It contrasts with careful style, and for this reason is also sometimes referred to as ‘casual style’. See also stylistic continuum (Ellis, 2008).

Vertical Constructions

Vertical constructions are learner utterances which are formed by borrowing chunks from the preceding discourse and then adding to these from the learner’s own resources. For example, a learner utterance like ‘No come here’ could be constructed by taking ‘come here’ from a previous utterance and adding ‘no’. According to one view of L2 acquisition, vertical constructions are the precursors of horizontal constructions (Ellis, 2008).

Vertical Variation

This refers to the differences in learner language evident from one time to another. It reflects the development that is taking place in the learner’s interlanguage (Ellis, 2008).


Learning vocabulary seems to be the pre-requisite to learning the four main language skills. Vocabulary learning is a continuous task and it is a key component of literacy and language proficiency. The work of the scholars and practitioners shows that there has been a renewed interest in learning and teaching vocabulary in the past two decades (Maftoon, Hamidi, & Sarem, 2012).

Vocabulary Learning Strategy

Gu and Johnson (1996) classified second language vocabulary learning strategies into seven categories: (1) metacognitive regulation (including selective attention and self-initiating strategies); (2) guessing strategies; (3) skillful use of dictionaries or dictionary strategies; (4) note-taking strategies; (5) memory strategies including; a) rehearsal strategies (e.g., using word lists, oral repetition, visual repetition) ; and b) encoding strategies (consisting of association, imagery, visual, semantic, contextual encoding as well as using word-structure or analyzing a word in terms of prefixes, roots and suffixes); (6) activation strategies (i.e., those strategies through which learners actually use new words in various contexts and (7) beliefs about vocabulary learning.

Wave Theory

This is a sociolinguistic theory developed by Bailey (1973) to account for linguistic change. It explains how old rules spread from one speech community to another and how new rules arise. It also accounts for how rules spread from one linguistic environment to another (Ellis, 2008).

Wernicke's Area

This refers to the posterior part of the first or superior temporal gyrus and adjacent areas of the brain that are responsible for comprehension. Named after the person who first identified it (Ellis, 2008).

Whole Language

A language learning theory that stresses the importance of integrating listening, reading, speaking, and writing.

Wild Grammar

Goodluck (1986, cited in Ellis, 2008) has used the term ‘wild grammar’ to refer to a grammar that contains rules that contravene Universal Grammar. It is argued that children do not in fact construct wild grammars.

Willingness to Communicate (WTC)

The willingness to communicate (WTC) can be conceptualized as a readiness to enter into discourse (MacIntyre et al., 1998) or as a readiness to speak (MacIntyre & Doucette, 2010) in the L2 at a particular time with a specific person. However, Ellis (2008) considers WTC as the extent to which learners are prepared to initiate communication (not just speaking) when they have a choice. It constitutes a factor believed to lead to individual differences in language teaching (Ellis, 2008). Both state and trait variables, including self-confidence, intergroup motivation, intergroup attitudes, and personality, were shown to affect one’s WTC in second language learning (Yashima, Zenuk-Nishide, & Shimizu, 2004).

Within-Task Planning

This refers to the planning that speakers (or writers) undertake while they are engaged in the act of communicating. It can be pressured or unpressured. It contrasts with pre-task planning (Ellis, 2008).

Working Memory

Working memory is a mental construct that accounts for how the key processes of perception, attention and rehearsal take place. It is believed to play a central role in L2 acquisition. There are different models of working memory including a capacity-limited model and a multiple-resources model (Ellis, 2008).

World Englishes

Writing Proficiency

Writing has always been regarded as an important skill in the teaching and learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL). Writing stimulates thinking and reinforces learning, especially vocabulary learning. Learners need motivation for writing because they usually consider it a tough job and are frightened to start writing. Richards and Schmidt (2010) define writing as “the strategies, procedures, and decision-making employed by the writers as they write. Writing is viewed as the result of complex processes of planning, drafting, reviewing and revising” (p. 641). According to Richards and Renandya (2002), writing is regarded the most difficult skill for learners to master. This difficulty lies not only in generating and organizing ideas, but also in translating these ideas into readable text. The skills involved in writing are highly complex. Second language writers have to pay attention to higher level skills of planning and organizing as well as lower level skills of spelling, punctuation, word choice, and so on (Richards & Renandya, 2002). This makes planning and teaching a writing course to be a complicated task. Unlike listening and speaking, writing has to be taught to the learners; therefore, various strategies and techniques have been proposed to improve this skill.

Zone of Proximal Development

This refers to ‘the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers’ (Vygotsky 1978, p. 86, cited in Ellis, 2008). It is a term used in sociocultural SLA.


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Written and Modified by Hadi Hamidi

Ph.D. in TEFL, USR, Tehran, Iran

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