When I was preparing for my interview at GIFLE, I suddenly realized that I had to pretend to actually know something about teaching if I wanted to land the job. This meant familiarizing myself with various forms of educational jargon. So I spent some time combing over the internet for any sort of teacher-y sounding words I could find. And it must have worked, since I got the job! But, once I actually started doing the job, I realized there were still tons of words I didn’t know. Thankfully, I found that my co-workers were understanding enough that they didn’t judge me for asking questions, and in the long run, I learned a whole wealth of words and terms I had never learned at my previous job. I hope that other teachers in a similar situation as mine can benefit from my experience. To that end, I’ve compiled a list of various terms and words I’ve learned that have been helpful for my work. Let’s get right into it.
Backwards Design: A method of curriculum and lesson design where the teacher thinks of the end goals of the lesson first, then creates the curriculum and activities around those goals. Also known as “UBD” (see below).
Bloom’s Taxonomy: A means of classifying different thinking skills. Bloom’s Taxonomy is often shown as a pyramid, with more simple thinking skills (like memorizing) at the bottom, and more complex ones (like evaluating or creating) at the top.
CBL: “Content-based Learning.” Teaching a subject like science, social studies, etc., in a foreign language.
CLIL: “Content and Language Integrated Learning.” A method of curriculum design that involves using 2 or more subjects, plus a foreign language, when designing a lesson or course. It was designed as an upgrade to CBL (see above).
Critical Thinking: The act of engaging in higher-order thinking skills (see “Bloom’s Taxonomy” above) in order to come up with creative solutions to problems, or evaluate information.
- CCQs: “Content-checking questions.” Questions the teacher asks students to make sure they understood the information they just learned. Example: A teacher finishes teaching the class about the climate of Paraguay, then asks, “Does it snow a lot in Paraguay?”
- ICQs: “Instruction-checking questions.” Questions the teacher asks students to make sure they know what they’re supposed to do. Example: A teacher tells students to bring their worksheets to him/her when they’re finished. After giving them this instruction, the teacher asks the class, “Should you bring your worksheets to me or keep them?”
- Decoding: figuring out meaning from text or sound, i.e., reading and listening.
- Encoding: creating one’s own words to convey meaning, i.e., writing or speaking.
Differentiation: Creating various versions of lesson materials to be usable by various levels of students. For example, when writing a speech, a low-level student might be given a fill-in-the-blanks template, while higher-level students might be encouraged to write it from scratch.
Essential Questions (EQs): Thought-provoking questions (often with no right or wrong answer) that guide lesson/curriculum development. They encapsulate what the teacher wants students to be able to answer at the end of the lesson. Created to be used with the UBD teaching framework (see below), but also used elsewhere.
Flipped Classroom: A method of teaching where the students learn the background information of the class at home (through a video, etc.) in order to prepare them for activities in a following class. This is opposed to a typical classroom, where students learn the material in class, then do homework at home.
GCE: “Global Citizenship Education.” A teaching philosophy promoted by UNESCO, which aims to make students better global citizens by teaching about diversity, conflict resolution, and more.
Kinesthetic Learning: A means of learning that involves the student handling and manipulating objects, e.g., moving magnetic letters to spell a word.
L1/L2: L1 is a person’s native language, L2 is the language they study. For example, a Korean citizen’s L1 is Korean, with their L2 English (or Chinese, or whatever else they’re studying.)
Lexile Level: A measure of how difficult something is to read, especially in regards to a student’s grade.
Metacognitive Thinking: Thinking about one’s own thinking. Typically seen in adult students when evaluating the effectiveness of their study methods and courses.
Project-based Assessment (PBA): A means of “testing” students by grading projects as opposed to a written test.
*Note, PBA is different from PBL (below). While they are often used together, they are not necessarily done so. An analogy is to think of the martial of Kendo, and a sword. Kendo is the system, the sword is the tool. And while a sword is used in Kendo, it can be used in other styles (like Kung-fu) as well.
Project-based Learning (PBL): A teaching method where students produce projects as a means of learning.
Realia: Objects from the culture of the language being studied. Examples: newspapers, souvenirs, snacks, etc.
Scaffolding: A very general term that essentially means building on what the students already know in order to teach them more. This description basically encompasses all teaching. Often in an ESL/EFL context, however, scaffolding refers to using templates or frames to guide students’ English. Below are two examples of a question that might appear on a worksheet, one scaffolded and one not.
- Scaffolding: What is your name? My name is _______.
- No scaffolding: What is your name? _______________.
Segmenting/blending: Phonics skills.
- Segmenting: separating a word into constituent phonics.
- Blending: putting phonemes together to sound out a word.
Sight Words: In basic reading/phonics, words that are memorized, as opposed to being phonetically blended.
Station Learning/Station Rotation: A method of teaching that involves the teacher setting up different “stations” around the classroom, with a different activity (watching a video, doing a worksheet, group work, etc.) at each one. After a certain amount of time, students move to a different station.
Task-based Learning: Teaching students English by having them simulate real-world tasks. Examples of task-based learning are having students do a customer/clerk role play, having them follow directions on a map, etc.
TPR: “Total physical response.” A method of teaching that involves students both saying words and performing an action, e.g., saying “eat” as they pantomime eating.
UBD: “Understanding by Design.” A form of curriculum design that our instructor, Autumn, wrote a whole post about – you can read it here.
Zone of Proximal Development: Regarding books and literature, the zone of proximal development is an ideal difficulty level that is neither too difficult nor too easy for the student, but rather just difficult enough to foster reading improvement.
That’s all for now! While this is by no means a complete list, it should be enough to get you ready for that next teaching interview, or to save you some embarrassment of asking “What’s that mean?” the next time you go to a teaching conference. Are there any other terms I forgot that you’d like to add? Or did I make a mistake about something, and you want to tell me that I’m only slightly smarter than a chrysanthemum? Write it in the comments below!