Why it’s hard for adults to learn a second language


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Brianna Yamasaki, University of Washington

As a young adult in college, I decided to learn Japanese. My father’s family is from Japan, and I wanted to travel there someday.

However, many of my classmates and I found it difficult to learn a language in adulthood. We struggled to connect new sounds and a dramatically different writing system to the familiar objects around us.

It wasn’t so for everyone. There were some students in our class who were able to acquire the new language much more easily than others.

So, what makes some individuals “good language learners?” And do such individuals have a “second language aptitude?”

What we know about second language aptitude

Past research on second language aptitude has focused on how people perceive sounds in a particular language and on more general cognitive processes such as memory and learning abilities. Most of this work has used paper-and-pencil and computerized tests to determine language-learning abilities and predict future learning.

Researchers have also studied brain activity as a way of measuring linguistic and cognitive abilities. However, much less is known about how brain activity predicts second language learning.

Is there a way to predict the aptitude of second language learning?

How does brain activity change while learning languages?
Brain image via www.shutterstock.com

In a recently published study, Chantel Prat, associate professor of psychology at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington, and I explored how brain activity recorded at rest – while a person is relaxed with their eyes closed – could predict the rate at which a second language is learned among adults who spoke only one language.

Studying the resting brain

Resting brain activity is thought to reflect the organization of the brain and it has been linked to intelligence, or the general ability used to reason and problem-solve.

We measured brain activity obtained from a “resting state” to predict individual differences in the ability to learn a second language in adulthood.

To do that, we recorded five minutes of eyes-closed resting-state electroencephalography, a method that detects electrical activity in the brain, in young adults. We also collected two hours of paper-and-pencil and computerized tasks.

We then had 19 participants complete eight weeks of French language training using a computer program. This software was developed by the U.S. armed forces with the goal of getting military personnel functionally proficient in a language as quickly as possible.

The software combined reading, listening and speaking practice with game-like virtual reality scenarios. Participants moved through the content in levels organized around different goals, such as being able to communicate with a virtual cab driver by finding out if the driver was available, telling the driver where their bags were and thanking the driver.

Here’s a video demonstration:

Nineteen adult participants (18-31 years of age) completed two 30-minute training sessions per week for a total of 16 sessions. After each training session, we recorded the level that each participant had reached. At the end of the experiment, we used that level information to calculate each individual’s learning rate across the eight-week training.

As expected, there was large variability in the learning rate, with the best learner moving through the program more than twice as quickly as the slowest learner. Our goal was to figure out which (if any) of the measures recorded initially predicted those differences.

A new brain measure for language aptitude

When we correlated our measures with learning rate, we found that patterns of brain activity that have been linked to linguistic processes predicted how easily people could learn a second language.

Patterns of activity over the right side of the brain predicted upwards of 60 percent of the differences in second language learning across individuals. This finding is consistent with previous research showing that the right half of the brain is more frequently used with a second language.

Our results suggest that the majority of the language learning differences between participants could be explained by the way their brain was organized before they even started learning.

Implications for learning a new language

Does this mean that if you, like me, don’t have a “quick second language learning” brain you should forget about learning a second language?

Not quite.

Language learning can depend on many factors.
Child image via www.shutterstock.com

First, it is important to remember that 40 percent of the difference in language learning rate still remains unexplained. Some of this is certainly related to factors like attention and motivation, which are known to be reliable predictors of learning in general, and of second language learning in particular.

Second, we know that people can change their resting-state brain activity. So training may help to shape the brain into a state in which it is more ready to learn. This could be an exciting future research direction.

Second language learning in adulthood is difficult, but the benefits are large for those who, like myself, are motivated by the desire to communicate with others who do not speak their native tongue.

The Conversation

Brianna Yamasaki, Ph.D. Student, University of Washington

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Britain may be leaving the EU, but English is going nowhere


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Andrew Linn, University of Westminster

After Brexit, there are various things that some in the EU hope to see and hear less in the future. One is Nigel Farage. Another is the English language.

In the early hours of June 24, as the referendum outcome was becoming clear, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, left-wing MEP and French presidential candidate, tweeted that “English cannot be the third working language of the European parliament”.

This is not the first time that French and German opinion has weighed in against alleged disproportionate use of English in EU business. In 2012, for example, a similar point was made about key eurozone recommendations from the European Commission being published initially “in a language which [as far as the Euro goes] is only spoken by less than 5m Irish”. With the number of native speakers of English in the EU set to drop from 14% to around 1% of the bloc’s total with the departure of the UK, this point just got a bit sharper.

Translation overload

Official EU language policy is multilingualism with equal rights for all languages used in member states. It recommends that “every European citizen should master two other languages in addition to their mother tongue” – Britain’s abject failure to achieve this should make it skulk away in shame.

The EU recognises 24 “official and working” languages, a number that has mushroomed from the original four (Dutch, French, German and Italian) as more countries have joined. All EU citizens have a right to access EU documents in any of those languages. This calls for a translation team numbering around 2,500, not to mention a further 600 full-time interpreters. In practice most day-to-day business is transacted in either English, French or German and then translated, but it is true that English dominates to a considerable extent.

Lots of work still to do.
Etienne Ansotte/EPA

The preponderance of English has nothing to do with the influence of Britain or even Britain’s membership of the EU. Historically, the expansion of the British empire, the impact of the industrial revolution and the emergence of the US as a world power have embedded English in the language repertoire of speakers across the globe.

Unlike Latin, which outlived the Roman empire as the lingua franca of medieval and renaissance Europe, English of course has native speakers (who may be unfairly advantaged), but it is those who have learned English as a foreign language – “Euro-English” or “English as a lingua franca” – who now constitute the majority of users.

According to the 2012 Special Eurobarometer on Europeans and their Languages, English is the most widely spoken foreign language in 19 of the member states where it is not an official language. Across Europe, 38% of people speak English well enough as a foreign language to have a conversation, compared to 12% speaking French and 11% in German.

The report also found that 67% of Europeans consider English the most useful foreign language, and that the numbers favouring German (17%) or French (16%) have declined. As a result, 79% of Europeans want their children to learn English, compared to 20% for French and German.

Too much invested in English

Huge sums have been invested in English teaching by both national governments and private enterprise. As the demand for learning English has increased, so has the supply. English language learning worldwide was estimated to be worth US$63.3 billion (£47.5 billion) in 2012, and it is expected that this market will rise to US$193.2 billion (£145.6 billion) by 2017. The value of English for speakers of other languages is not going to diminish any time soon. There is simply too much invested in it.

Speakers of English as a second language outnumber first-language English speakers by 2:1 both in Europe and globally. For many Europeans, and especially those employed in the EU, English is a useful piece in a toolbox of languages to be pressed into service when needed – a point which was evident in a recent project on whether the use of English in Europe was an opportunity or a threat. So in the majority of cases using English has precisely nothing to do with the UK or Britishness. The EU needs practical solutions and English provides one.

English is unchallenged as the lingua franca of Europe. It has even been suggested that in some countries of northern Europe it has become a second rather than a foreign language. Jan Paternotte, D66 party leader in Amsterdam, has proposed that English should be decreed the official second language of that city.

English has not always held its current privileged status. French and German have both functioned as common languages for high-profile fields such as philosophy, science and technology, politics and diplomacy, not to mention Church Slavonic, Russian, Portuguese and other languages in different times and places.

We can assume that English will not maintain its privileged position forever. Who benefits now, however, are not the predominantly monolingual British, but European anglocrats whose multilingualism provides them with a key to international education and employment.

Much about the EU may be about to change, but right now an anti-English language policy so dramatically out of step with practice would simply make the post-Brexit hangover more painful.

The Conversation

Andrew Linn, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Westminster

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Could early music training help babies learn language?


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Christina Zhao, University of Washington

Growing up in China, I started playing piano when I was nine years old and learning English when I was 12. Later, when I was a college student, it struck me how similar language and music are to each other.

Language and music both require rhythm; otherwise they don’t make any sense. They’re also both built from smaller units – syllables and musical beats. And the process of mastering them is remarkably similar, including precise movements, repetitive practice and focused attention. I also noticed that my musician peers were particularly good at learning new languages.

All of this made me wonder if music shapes how the brain perceives sounds other than musical notes. And if so, could learning music help us learn languages?

Music experience and speech

Music training early in life (before the age of seven) can have a wide range of benefits beyond musical ability.

For instance, school-age children (six to eight years old) who participated in two years of musical classes four hours each week showed better brain responses to consonants compared with their peers who started one year later. This suggests that music experience helped children hear speech sounds.

Music may have a range of benefits.
Breezy Baldwin, CC BY

But what about babies who aren’t talking yet? Can music training this early give babies a boost in the steps it takes to learn language?

The first year of life is the best time in the lifespan to learn speech sounds; yet no studies have looked at whether musical experience during infancy can improve speech learning.

I sought to answer this question with Patricia K. Kuhl, an expert in early childhood learning. We set out to study whether musical experience at nine months of age can help infants learn speech.

Nine months is within the peak period for infants’ speech sound learning. During this time, they’re learning to pay attention to the differences among the different speech sounds that they hear in their environment. Being able to differentiate these sounds is key for learning to speak later. A better ability to tell speech sounds apart at this age is associated with producing more words at 30 months of age.

Here is how we did our study

In our study, we randomly put 47 nine-month-old infants in either a musical group or a control group and completed 12 15-minute-long sessions of activities designed for that group.

Babies in the music group sat with their parents, who guided them through the sessions by tapping out beats in time with the music with the goal of helping them learn a difficult musical rhythm.

Here is a short video demonstration of what a music session looked like.

Infants in the control group played with toy cars, blocks and other objects that required coordinated movements in social play, but without music.

After the sessions, we measured the babies’ brains responses to musical and speech rhythms using magnetoencephalography (MEG), a brain imaging technique.

New music and speech sounds were presented in rhythmic sequences, but the rhythms were occasionally disrupted by skipping a beat.

These rhythmic disruptions help us measure how well the babies’ brains were honed to rhythms. The brain gives a specific response pattern when detecting an unexpected change. A bigger response indicates that the baby was following rhythms better.

Babies in the music group had stronger brain responses to both music and speech sounds compared with babies in the control group. This shows that musical experience, as early as nine month of age, improved infants’ ability to process both musical and speech rhythms.

These skills are important building blocks for learning to speak.

Other benefits from music experience

Language is just one example of a skill that can be improved through music training. Music can help with social-emotional development, too. An earlier study by researchers Tal-Chen Rabinowitch and Ariel Knafo-Noam showed that pairs of eight-year-olds who didn’t know each other reported feeling more close and connected with one another after a short exercise of tapping out beats in sync with each other.

Music helps children bond better.
Boy image via www.shutterstock.com

Another researcher, Laura Cirelli, showed that 14-month-old babies were more likely to show helping behaviors toward an adult after the babies had been bounced in sync with the adult who was also moving rhythmically.

There are many more exciting questions that remain to be answered as researchers continue to study the effects of music experience on early development.

For instance, does the music experience need to be in a social setting? Could babies get the benefits of music from simply listening to music? And, how much experience do babies need over time to sustain this language-boosting benefit?

Music is an essential part of being human. It has existed in human cultures for thousands of years, and it is one of the most fun and powerful ways for people to connect with each other. Through scientific research, I hope we can continue to reveal how music experience influences brain development and language learning of babies.

The Conversation

Christina Zhao, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Washington

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

BEBC’s Digital ELT Resource Glossary A-Z


ELT Publishers are creating more and more digital content, which some would agree is a positive step for language teaching. However these useful additional resources and the terms used to describe them are going above the heads of many who simply don’t understand the products or their functions. This is made even more problematic by publishers naming very similar resources differently.

For this reason, we at BEBC decided to get definitions from publishers to accompany the types of digital resources on offer so that we might share them with you. You may wish to save this page to your favourites or print it off as a reminder to help you when making your next purchases…

 

A

ActiveBook (Pearson) – a digital student book with full audio, suitable for any computer. Used just as a book in class, and outside the classroom it gives access to Student Book pages and audio so that students can practise activities taught in class.

ActiveTeach (Pearson) – for use with a computer and projector or with an Interactive Whiteboard. Includes Student’s Book pages, full class audio and DVD, printable worksheets and interactive exercises, assessment activities and tests and Interactive Whiteboard tools.

App (Cambridge University Press and others) – software for consumer mobile devices like mobile phones, tablet computers and media players.

B

Blended course (Cambridge University Press) – a teacher-led course containing a self-study portion accessed by the learner over the internet.

Blended Learning (Macmillan and others) – a method of learning which uses a combination of different resources, especially a mixture of classroom sessions and online learning materials.

C

Class Presentation Tools (Macmillan) – tools for classroom presentation.  This Interactive Whiteboard Software offers a digital version of the Student’s Book on screen with integrated audio, video, games and customisable Teacher’s pages e.g. New Inside Out / Global.

Classware (Cambridge University Press) – computer software that lets you present digital versions of Cambridge textbooks on an Interactive Whiteboard or projector, to engage the whole class.

D

Digital book (Richmond) – complete digital version of all components usually delivered on CD-ROM and compatible with any Interactive Whiteboard.

E

E-storycards (Richmond) – electronic version of storycards for display on interactive whiteboards.

eBooks (Cambridge University Press and others) – reading materials in digital form, requiring a computer, mobile device or e-reader to display the text.

ELT Advantage (National Geographic Learning/ Cengage Learning) – online professional development courses, workshops, and virtual seminars that help teachers increase their expertise in English language instruction. Free demos athttp://elt.heinle.com/eltadvantage.

ExamView (National Geographic Learning/ Cengage Learning) – comes with Assessment CD-ROMs and is available with most Heinle programs.  The testgenerating software allows teachers to create and customise tests, manage classes and assignments, retrieve results from online tests, and generate detailed and flexible reports.

F

Footprint Reading Library (National Geographic Learning/ Cengage Learning) – a collection of online ebooks (readers) typically accompanied by audio, record and playback functionality for pronunciation practice, video clip and interactive quiz. Free demos athttp://elt.heinle.com/ng.

G

Global eWorkbook (Macmillan) – an evolution of self-study materials, providing a wide range of resources including: listening and video materials, with video content from the BBC Worldwide archive, which can be viewed on a computer or downloaded to portable devices for mobile learning, grammar, language practice, reference materials, useful language sections and model conversations.

H

I

iTools (Oxford University Press) – digital resources for a range of Oxford University Press courses, giving teachers material for use on the Interactive Whiteboard and bringing learning alive in class (iPacks – first generation of Interactive Whiteboard software available for the New English File course).

iTutor (Oxford University Press) – a new interactive self-study DVD-ROM, included with some OUP courses (in the Student’s Book). Gives learners interactive material from the book, grammar revision and practice, skills practice and vocabulary lists with example sentences and pronunciation.

iWriter (Oxford University Press)  – available on the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary CD-ROM. Guides students through the stages of planning, writing and reviewing a range of different written tasks. Task types include essays, presentations, reports, letters, reviews, CVs and more.

J

K

L

LMS (Learning Management System) (Oxford University Press) – a platform that allows teachers to assign exercises to their students, track their progress and see their marks. LMS is now available with all courses that have online workbooks, online skills practice as well as online practice tests and online placement test.

Learning Platform (Richmond) – Portal + Virtual Learning Environment + Test Studio.

Learning Resources Bank (Oxford University Press) – Student’s Website.

M

Macmillan English Campus (Macmillan) – an English language learning platform that offers a complete solution for blended learning.  Combining a database of over 4,300 interactive resources with a range of learning management tool, Macmillan English Campus gives teachers full control of the resources and monitors students’ progress.

Macmillan Practice Online (Macmillan) – an easy, cost-effective way to offer your students the advantages of online learning.  With a range of over 80 online courses to choose from, each designed to support classroom teaching and including 100-200 resources, you can choose the one that suits your needs.

Macmillan Webinars (Macmillan) – the Macmillan Webinars are a series of live talks, broadcast over the internet to teachers worldwide.  Free to access and viewable from any computer with an internet connection, teachers have the opportunity to watch the talks and put questions directly to Macmillan authors http://www.macmillanenglish.com/webinars. No microphone is necessary as questions can be typed to webinar hosts.

mimio® software(Cambridge University Press and others) – MIMIO is a portable device which can be attached to a whiteboard, wall etc, via a projector, which provides similar functionality to a smart board. You can see more about them at the website- http://www.mimio.dymo.com/.

MyELT (National Geographic Learning/ Cengage Learning) – an internet based learning management system designed for English language teachers and students. Instructors use MyELT to assign Heinle online learning content, track student progress reports, and more. Students use MyELT to complete the online activities, monitor their own learning progress, and review as necessary.

MyEnglishLabs (Pearson) – provides interactive activities and online tools which give students tips, automatic feedback and instant grades. A grade book and diagnostic tools reveal to teachers how students are progressing. Teachers are able to assign activities to groups of students with different needs.

N

O

Online exam practice tests (Oxford University Press) – online practice tests for: KET, PET, FCE, CAE, IELTS, TOEIC®, TOEFL iBT™ and national exams. Teachers can assign online practice tests with help including instant feedback on answers, exam tips and an integrated dictionary, or without help as a mock exam. Saves time with automatic marking. Easily identifies areas of weakness to focus on in class.

Online Placement Test (Oxford University Press) – a Placement Test that helps teachers find their students’ level of English online. Saves time with automatic marking and then places students in the right class based on their scores (CEFR level, score out of 120, time taken and more…)

  • Online
  • Automatically marked
  • Instant results
  • Variety of scores (CEFR level and more)

Online Practice for Students (My…) (National Geographic Learning/Cengage Learning) – access to online practice is usually included the student’s book of a series e.g. Outcomes or Practical Grammar. It allows students to study online at their own pace or do the work their teacher set for them. All activities are automatically graded so that both students and teachers can monitor progress. N.B. Online practice with the Outcomes course is called ‘MyOutcomes,’ and online practice for Practical Grammar course is called ‘MyPG’ and so on…

Online Skills Practice (Oxford University Press) – Interactive Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking practice for a range of OUP courses. Students get access through MultiROMs available in their Student’s Books.

Online Workbooks (Cambridge University Press) – learning activities presented interactively on a website, rather than in a printed book, intended for homework.

P

Portal (Richmond) – interactive and regularly updated site corresponding to a particular course and offering both informal and formal learning. There are product demos, author interviews and downloadable sample units for teachers and fun learning activities for students such as blogs and games.

Presentation Tools (National Geographic Learning/ Cengage Learning)– a CD-ROM containing tools which combine resources from the core materials of Heinle Cengage courses e.g. Happy Trails, English Explorer, Time Zones, Outcomes. For use in the classroom with an Interactive Whiteboard or data projector with computer.

Primary Place (Pearson) – a website for primary teachers to find downloadable materials for their classrooms. Members of the website get access to invitations to workshops and presentations, free articles on current trends, few photocopiable activity sheets and free packs filled with posters, story cards, games and more.

Q

R

Readers Apps (Richmond) – interactive app to download for the iPhone, iPod or iPad complete with audio, animation and extra activities. Also see Apps.

Richmond vodcast series (Richmond) – a series of short films available on YouTube for adults corresponding to the Elementary to Upper-Intermediate levels of The Big Picture and New Framework. Ideal for sparking classroom communication or for use in conjunction with the online activities and competitions.

S

Student CD-ROM (Richmond) – extra resources for students on CD-ROM.

Student DVD (Richmond) – video accompaniment to student book complete with activities. Contains authentic interviews, stories or documentaries.

Student MultiROM (Richmond and others) – CD-ROM with audio tracks. For use in a CD player or computer.

Student’s Website (Oxford University Press)  – also called Learning Resources Bank. A website for students using OUP resources. Designed to provide students with extra practice both in and outside the class.

T

Teacher CD-ROM/DVD-ROM (Richmond) – extra resources for teachers on CD-ROM.

Teacher/Student Resource Site (Richmond) – dedicated course website containing extra resources for both students and teachers. These are usually free and are intended to supplement the core material contained within each course book.

Teacher’s Website (Oxford University Press)  – a website for the registrants of Oxford Teachers’ Club that enables teachers to download extra practice activities and ideas that supplement OUP courses and that are designed to be used with students in class.

Test studio (Richmond) – an online tool allowing teachers to create their own interactive tests online or editable paper versions. Teachers can create tests to revise by unit, a block of units or a complete book.

U

V

Virtual Learning Environment (Richmond) – an online resource, pre-populated with trackable activities for teachers to assign to their students. They are provided as integral parts of the course. Accessible with student and teacher log in account details, these highly adaptable resources allow teachers to set timings and pass marks for exercises. Scores are recorded in a grade book, allowing teachers to track their students’ progress. The forum and library allow teachers to communicate with their class and students to communicate with each other.

W

Web application (Cambridge University Press) – A website that acts like a piece of software, allowing you to perform some task, rather than being a static resource.

X

Y

Z

You can also view and download this glossary as a pdf via Scribd.com. Is there any other way you would like to see these grouped besides A-Z?

The Words English Owes to India


Everyone’s talking about Hobson-Jobson, the legendary dictionary of British India, after the announcement that a new edition is due to be published next year.

Hobson-Jobson has resulted in more English words of Indian origin entering the Oxford English Dictionary than of any other country, according to BBC Radio 4 – dinghy, bungalow and shampoo to name a few.

Since its first publication in 1886, Hobson-Jobson has been continuously in print for 140 years. It was compiled by two extraordinary polymaths Henry Yule and Arthur Burnell, who corresponded with scholars, diplomats, missionaries, intelligence officers and army personnel across the globe to produce their 1000 page lexicon.

A BBC article uses the word ‘dam’ as an example of an Indian word. The dictionary defines the word as: “Originally an actual copper coin. Damri is a common enough expression for the infinitesimal in coin, and one has often heard a Briton in India say: ‘No, I won’t give a dumree!’ with but a vague notion what a damri meant.” That is the etymology of ‘dam’. But Yule and Burnell have more to say….

“And this leads to the suggestion that a like expression, often heard from coarse talkers in England as well as in India, originated in the latter country, and that whatever profanity there may be in the animus, there is none in the etymology, when such an one blurts out ‘I don’t care a dam!’ in other words, ‘I don’t care a brass farthing!'”

50 more words from India

  • A – atoll, avatar
  • B – bandana, bangle, bazaar, Blighty, bungalow
  • C – cashmere, catamaran, char, cheroot, cheetah, chintz, chit, chokey, chutney, cot, cummerbund, curry
  • D – dinghy, doolally, dungarees
  • G – guru, gymkhana
  • H – hullabaloo
  • J – jodhpur, jungle, juggernaut, jute
  • K – khaki, kedgeree
  • L – loot
  • N – nirvana
  • P – pariah, pashmina, polo, pukka, pundit, purdah, pyjamas
  • S – sari, shampoo, shawl, swastika
  • T – teak, thug, toddy, typhoon
  • V – veranda
  • Y – yoga

What is Blended Learning?


Firstly, lets make it clear that currently, there is no consensus on a single agreed-upon definition for blended learning. However in ELT it often refers to ‘the combination of diverse delivery channels and teaching tools as part of course design’ (from ELT World Wiki).

Blended Learning usually involves a combination of classroom learning, online learning and/or mobile learning. The degree of integration of these components depends on the course design .

So, what are the benefits?

An article by Mobl21 states that  a blended learning course’s aim (from a pedagogical perspective), is to combine the best of classroom face-to-face learning with online learning experiences, enabling:
  • An opportunity for students to practise technology skills in navigating online course materials and possibility creating digital content for assignments.
  • An increase in student-instructor and student-student interaction through the use of course-communication tools like, discussion forums.
  • The ability to reserve face-to-face time for interactive activities, such as higher-level discussions, small group work, debates, demonstrations, or lab activities.

From a student perspective, the appeal of blended learning includes:

  • Flexibility of schedule: learn any time, anywhere.
  • Control: students have some level of control over the pacing of their learning. Difficult concepts can be reviewed as often as necessary.
  • Convenience of an online class with many of the social aspects of a face-to-face class.

Blended learning gives learners and teachers a potential environment to achieve more, through a greater reach and accessibility of educational material.

Ok, so how do I start using it?

There are many blended learning courses for ELT already available, so unless you are planning to develop your own, all you need to do is choose one! Find out how you can use blended learning with specific publishers by following these links:

Richmond Digital

Macmillan Digital

Oxford University Press Digital

You may also find these links useful:

BEBC Digital ELT Resource Glossary

British Council Blended Learning

Blended MEC

Or you can give us a call on +44 (0)333 800 1900 to find out what digital components are available for the course you’re using!

BEBC’s Digital ELT Resource Glossary A-Z


ELT Publishers are creating more and more digital content, which some would agree is a positive step for language teaching. However these useful additional resources and the terms used to describe them are going above the heads of many who simply don’t understand the products or their functions. This is made even more problematic by publishers naming very similar resources differently.

For this reason, we at BEBC decided to get definitions from publishers to accompany the types of digital resources on offer so that we might share them with you. You may wish to save this page to your favourites or print it off as a reminder to help you when making your next purchases…

A

ActiveBook (Pearson)a digital student book with full audio, suitable for any computer. Used just as a book in class, and outside the classroom it gives access to Student Book pages and audio so that students can practise activities taught in class.

ActiveTeach (Pearson)for use with a computer and projector or with an Interactive Whiteboard. Includes Student’s Book pages, full class audio and DVD, printable worksheets and interactive exercises, assessment activities and tests and Interactive Whiteboard tools.

App (Cambridge University Press and others) – software for consumer mobile devices like mobile phones, tablet computers and media players.

B

Blended course (Cambridge University Press) – a teacher-led course containing a self-study portion accessed by the learner over the internet.

Blended Learning (Macmillan and others) – a method of learning which uses a combination of different resources, especially a mixture of classroom sessions and online learning materials.

C

Class Presentation Tools (Macmillan) – tools for classroom presentation.  This Interactive Whiteboard Software offers a digital version of the Student’s Book on screen with integrated audio, video, games and customisable Teacher’s pages e.g. New Inside Out / Global.

Classware (Cambridge University Press) – computer software that lets you present digital versions of Cambridge textbooks on an Interactive Whiteboard or projector, to engage the whole class.

D

Digital book (Richmond) – complete digital version of all components usually delivered on CD-ROM and compatible with any Interactive Whiteboard.

E

E-storycards (Richmond) – electronic version of storycards for display on interactive whiteboards.

eBooks (Cambridge University Press and others) – reading materials in digital form, requiring a computer, mobile device or e-reader to display the text.

ELT Advantage (National Geographic Learning/ Cengage Learning) – online professional development courses, workshops, and virtual seminars that help teachers increase their expertise in English language instruction. Free demos at http://elt.heinle.com/eltadvantage.

ExamView (National Geographic Learning/ Cengage Learning) – comes with Assessment CD-ROMs and is available with most Heinle programs.  The testgenerating software allows teachers to create and customise tests, manage classes and assignments, retrieve results from online tests, and generate detailed and flexible reports.

F

Footprint Reading Library (National Geographic Learning/ Cengage Learning) – a collection of online ebooks (readers) typically accompanied by audio, record and playback functionality for pronunciation practice, video clip and interactive quiz. Free demos at http://elt.heinle.com/ng.

G

Global eWorkbook (Macmillan) – an evolution of self-study materials, providing a wide range of resources including: listening and video materials, with video content from the BBC Worldwide archive, which can be viewed on a computer or downloaded to portable devices for mobile learning, grammar, language practice, reference materials, useful language sections and model conversations.

H

I

iTools (Oxford University Press) – digital resources for a range of Oxford University Press courses, giving teachers material for use on the Interactive Whiteboard and bringing learning alive in class (iPacks – first generation of Interactive Whiteboard software available for the New English File course).

iTutor (Oxford University Press) – a new interactive self-study DVD-ROM, included with some OUP courses (in the Student’s Book). Gives learners interactive material from the book, grammar revision and practice, skills practice and vocabulary lists with example sentences and pronunciation.

iWriter (Oxford University Press)  – available on the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary CD-ROM. Guides students through the stages of planning, writing and reviewing a range of different written tasks. Task types include essays, presentations, reports, letters, reviews, CVs and more.

J

K

L

LMS (Learning Management System) (Oxford University Press) – a platform that allows teachers to assign exercises to their students, track their progress and see their marks. LMS is now available with all courses that have online workbooks, online skills practice as well as online practice tests and online placement test.

Learning Platform (Richmond) Portal + Virtual Learning Environment + Test Studio.

Learning Resources Bank (Oxford University Press) Student’s Website.

M

Macmillan English Campus (Macmillan) – an English language learning platform that offers a complete solution for blended learning.  Combining a database of over 4,300 interactive resources with a range of learning management tool, Macmillan English Campus gives teachers full control of the resources and monitors students’ progress.

Macmillan Practice Online (Macmillan) – an easy, cost-effective way to offer your students the advantages of online learning.  With a range of over 80 online courses to choose from, each designed to support classroom teaching and including 100-200 resources, you can choose the one that suits your needs.

Macmillan Webinars (Macmillan) – the Macmillan Webinars are a series of live talks, broadcast over the internet to teachers worldwide.  Free to access and viewable from any computer with an internet connection, teachers have the opportunity to watch the talks and put questions directly to Macmillan authors http://www.macmillanenglish.com/webinars. No microphone is necessary as questions can be typed to webinar hosts.

mimio® software(Cambridge University Press and others)MIMIO is a portable device which can be attached to a whiteboard, wall etc, via a projector, which provides similar functionality to a smart board. You can see more about them at the website- http://www.mimio.dymo.com/.

MyELT (National Geographic Learning/ Cengage Learning) – an internet based learning management system designed for English language teachers and students. Instructors use MyELT to assign Heinle online learning content, track student progress reports, and more. Students use MyELT to complete the online activities, monitor their own learning progress, and review as necessary.

MyEnglishLabs (Pearson)provides interactive activities and online tools which give students tips, automatic feedback and instant grades. A grade book and diagnostic tools reveal to teachers how students are progressing. Teachers are able to assign activities to groups of students with different needs.

N

O

Online exam practice tests (Oxford University Press) – online practice tests for: KET, PET, FCE, CAE, IELTS, TOEIC®, TOEFL iBT™ and national exams. Teachers can assign online practice tests with help including instant feedback on answers, exam tips and an integrated dictionary, or without help as a mock exam. Saves time with automatic marking. Easily identifies areas of weakness to focus on in class.

Online Placement Test (Oxford University Press) – a Placement Test that helps teachers find their students’ level of English online. Saves time with automatic marking and then places students in the right class based on their scores (CEFR level, score out of 120, time taken and more…)

  • Online
  • Automatically marked
  • Instant results
  • Variety of scores (CEFR level and more)

Online Practice for Students (My…) (National Geographic Learning/Cengage Learning) – access to online practice is usually included the student’s book of a series e.g. Outcomes or Practical Grammar. It allows students to study online at their own pace or do the work their teacher set for them. All activities are automatically graded so that both students and teachers can monitor progress. N.B. Online practice with the Outcomes course is called ‘MyOutcomes,’ and online practice for Practical Grammar course is called ‘MyPG’ and so on…

Online Skills Practice (Oxford University Press) – Interactive Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking practice for a range of OUP courses. Students get access through MultiROMs available in their Student’s Books.

Online Workbooks (Cambridge University Press) – learning activities presented interactively on a website, rather than in a printed book, intended for homework.

P

Portal (Richmond) – interactive and regularly updated site corresponding to a particular course and offering both informal and formal learning. There are product demos, author interviews and downloadable sample units for teachers and fun learning activities for students such as blogs and games.

Presentation Tools (National Geographic Learning/ Cengage Learning)– a CD-ROM containing tools which combine resources from the core materials of Heinle Cengage courses e.g. Happy Trails, English Explorer, Time Zones, Outcomes. For use in the classroom with an Interactive Whiteboard or data projector with computer.

Primary Place (Pearson)a website for primary teachers to find downloadable materials for their classrooms. Members of the website get access to invitations to workshops and presentations, free articles on current trends, few photocopiable activity sheets and free packs filled with posters, story cards, games and more.

Q

R

Readers Apps (Richmond) – interactive app to download for the iPhone, iPod or iPad complete with audio, animation and extra activities. Also see Apps.

Richmond vodcast series (Richmond) – a series of short films available on YouTube for adults corresponding to the Elementary to Upper-Intermediate levels of The Big Picture and New Framework. Ideal for sparking classroom communication or for use in conjunction with the online activities and competitions.

S

Student CD-ROM (Richmond) – extra resources for students on CD-ROM.

Student DVD (Richmond) – video accompaniment to student book complete with activities. Contains authentic interviews, stories or documentaries.

Student MultiROM (Richmond and others) – CD-ROM with audio tracks. For use in a CD player or computer.

Student’s Website (Oxford University Press)  – also called Learning Resources Bank. A website for students using OUP resources. Designed to provide students with extra practice both in and outside the class.

T

Teacher CD-ROM/DVD-ROM (Richmond) – extra resources for teachers on CD-ROM.

Teacher/Student Resource Site (Richmond) – dedicated course website containing extra resources for both students and teachers. These are usually free and are intended to supplement the core material contained within each course book.

Teacher’s Website (Oxford University Press)  – a website for the registrants of Oxford Teachers’ Club that enables teachers to download extra practice activities and ideas that supplement OUP courses and that are designed to be used with students in class.

Test studio (Richmond) – an online tool allowing teachers to create their own interactive tests online or editable paper versions. Teachers can create tests to revise by unit, a block of units or a complete book.

U

V

Virtual Learning Environment (Richmond) – an online resource, pre-populated with trackable activities for teachers to assign to their students. They are provided as integral parts of the course. Accessible with student and teacher log in account details, these highly adaptable resources allow teachers to set timings and pass marks for exercises. Scores are recorded in a grade book, allowing teachers to track their students’ progress. The forum and library allow teachers to communicate with their class and students to communicate with each other.

W

Web application (Cambridge University Press) – A website that acts like a piece of software, allowing you to perform some task, rather than being a static resource.

X

Y

Z

You can also view and download this glossary as a pdf via Scribd.com. Is there any other way you would like to see these grouped besides A-Z?