The world’s words of the year pass judgement on a dark, surreal 2016


Philip Seargeant, The Open University

Every December, lexicographers around the world choose their “words of the year”, and this year, perhaps more than ever, the stories these tell provide a fascinating insight into how we’ve experienced the drama and trauma of the last 12 months.

There was much potential in 2016. It was 500 years ago that Thomas More wrote his Utopia, and January saw the launch of a year’s celebrations under the slogan “A Year of Imagination and Possibility” – but as 2017 looms, this slogan rings hollow. Instead of utopian dreams, we’ve had a year of “post-truth” and “paranoia”, of “refugee” crises, “xenophobia” and a close shave with “fascism”.

Earlier in the year, a campaign was launched to have “Essex Girl” removed from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Those behind the campaign were upset at the derogatory definition – a young woman “characterised as unintelligent, promiscuous, and materialistic” – so wanted it to be expunged from the official record of the language.

The OED turned down the request, a spokeswoman explaining that since the OED is a historical dictionary, nothing is ever removed; its purpose, she said, is to describe the language as people use it, and to stand as a catalogue of the trends and preoccupations of the time.

The words of the year tradition began with the German Wort des Jahres in the 1970s. It has since spread to other languages, and become increasingly popular the world over. Those in charge of the choices are getting more innovative: in 2015, for the first time, Oxford Dictionaries chose a pictograph as their “word”: the emoji for “Face with Tears of Joy”.

In 2016, however, the verbal was very much back in fashion. The results speak volumes.

Dark days

In English, there are a range of competing words, with all the major dictionaries making their own choices. Having heralded a post-language era last year, Oxford Dictionaries decided on “post-truth” this time, defining it as the situation when “objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”. In a year of evidence-light Brexit promises and Donald Trump’s persistent lies and obfuscations, this has a definite resonance. In the same dystopian vein, the Cambridge Dictionary chose “paranoid”, while went for “xenophobia”.

Merriam-Webster valiantly tried to turn back the tide of pessimism. When “fascism” looked set to win its online poll, it tweeted its readers imploring them to get behind something – anything – else. The plea apparently worked, and in the end “surreal” won the day. Apt enough for a year in which events time and again almost defied belief.

The referendum that spawned a thousand words.
EPA/Andy Rain

Collins, meanwhile, chose “Brexit”, a term which its spokesperson suggested has become as flexible and influential in political discourse as “Watergate”.

Just as the latter spawned hundreds of portmanteau words whenever a political scandal broke, so Brexit begat “Bremain”, “Bremorse” and “Brexperts” – and will likely be adapted for other upcoming political rifts for many years to come. It nearly won out in Australia in fact, where “Ausexit” (severing ties with the British monarchy or the United Nations) was on the shortlist. Instead, the Australian National Dictionary went for “democracy sausage” – the tradition of eating a barbecued sausage on election day.

Around the world, a similar pattern of politics and apprehension emerges. In France, the mot de l’année was réfugiés (refugees); and in Germany postfaktisch, meaning much the same as “post-truth”. Swiss German speakers, meanwhile, went for Filterblase (filter bubble), the idea that social media is creating increasingly polarised political communities.

Switzerland’s Deaf Association, meanwhile, chose a Sign of the Year for the first time. Its choice was “Trump”, consisting of a gesture made by placing an open palm on the top of the head, mimicking the president-elect’s extravagant hairstyle.

2016’s golden boy, as far as Japan’s concerned.
Albert H. Teich

Trump’s hair also featured in Japan’s choice for this year. Rather than a word, Japan chooses a kanji (Chinese character); 2016’s choice is “金” (gold). This represented a number of different topical issues: Japan’s haul of medals at the Rio Olympics, fluctuating interest rates, the gold shirt worn by singer and YouTube sensation Piko Taro, and, inevitably, the colour of Trump’s hair.

And then there’s Austria, whose word is 51 letters long: Bundespräsidentenstichwahlwiederholungsverschiebung. It means “the repeated postponement of the runoff vote for Federal President”. Referring to the seven months of votes, legal challenges and delays over the country’s presidential election, this again references an event that flirted with extreme nationalism and exposed the convoluted nature of democracy. As a new coinage, it also illustrates language’s endless ability to creatively grapple with unfolding events.

Which brings us, finally, to “unpresidented”, a neologism Donald Trump inadvertently created when trying to spell “unprecedented” in a tweet attacking the Chinese. At the moment, it’s a word in search of a meaning, but the possibilities it suggests seem to speak perfectly to the history of the present moment. And depending on what competitors 2017 throws up, it could well emerge as a future candidate.

The Conversation

Philip Seargeant, Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics, The Open University

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

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


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.

How other languages can reveal the secrets to happiness


Tim Lomas, University of East London

The limits of our language are said to define the boundaries of our world. This is because in our everyday lives, we can only really register and make sense of what we can name. We are restricted by the words we know, which shape what we can and cannot experience.

It is true that sometimes we may have fleeting sensations and feelings that we don’t quite have a name for – akin to words on the “tip of our tongue”. But without a word to label these sensations or feelings they are often overlooked, never to be fully acknowledged, articulated or even remembered. And instead, they are often lumped together with more generalised emotions, such as “happiness” or “joy”. This applies to all aspects of life – and not least to that most sought-after and cherished of feelings, happiness. Clearly, most people know and understand happiness, at least vaguely. But they are hindered by their “lexical limitations” and the words at their disposal.

As English speakers, we inherit, rather haphazardly, a set of words and phrases to represent and describe our world around us. Whatever vocabulary we have managed to acquire in relation to happiness will influence the types of feelings we can enjoy. If we lack a word for a particular positive emotion, we are far less likely to experience it. And even if we do somehow experience it, we are unlikely to perceive it with much clarity, think about it with much understanding, talk about it with much insight, or remember it with much vividness.

Speaking of happiness

While this recognition is sobering, it is also exciting, because it means by learning new words and concepts, we can enrich our emotional world. So, in theory, we can actually enhance our experience of happiness simply through exploring language. Prompted by this enthralling possibility, I recently embarked on a project to discover “new” words and concepts relating to happiness.

I did this by searching for so-called “untranslatable” words from across the world’s languages. These are words where no exact equivalent word or phrase exists in English. And as such, suggest the possibility that other cultures have stumbled upon phenomena that English-speaking places have somehow overlooked.

Perhaps the most famous example is “Schadenfreude”, the German term describing pleasure at the misfortunes of others. Such words pique our curiosity, as they appear to reveal something specific about the culture that created them – as if German people are potentially especially liable to feelings of Schadenfreude (though I don’t believe that’s the case).

German’s are no more likely to experience Schadenfreude than they are to drink steins of beer in Bavarian costume.

However, these words actually may be far more significant than that. Consider the fact that Schadenfreude has been imported wholesale into English. Evidently, English speakers had at least a passing familiarity with this kind of feeling, but lacked the word to articulate it (although I suppose “gloating” comes close) – hence, the grateful borrowing of the German term. As a result, their emotional landscape has been enlivened and enriched, able to give voice to feelings that might previously have remained unconceptualised and unexpressed.

My research, searched for these kind of “untranslatable words” – ones that specifically related to happiness and well-being. And so I trawled the internet looking for relevant websites, blogs, books and academic papers, and gathered a respectable haul of 216 such words. Now, the list has expanded – partly due to the generous feedback of visitors to my website – to more than 600 words.

Enriching emotions

When analysing these “untranslatable words”, I divide them into three categories based on my subjective reaction to them. Firstly, there are those that immediately resonate with me as something I have definitely experienced, but just haven’t previously been able to articulate. For instance, I love the strange German noun “Waldeinsamkeit”, which captures that eerie, mysterious feeling that often descends when you’re alone in the woods.

A second group are words that strike me as somewhat familiar, but not entirely, as if I can’t quite grasp their layers of complexity. For instance, I’m hugely intrigued by various Japanese aesthetic concepts, such as “aware” (哀れ), which evokes the bitter-sweetness of a brief, fading moment of transcendent beauty. This is symbolised by the cherry blossom – and as spring bloomed in England I found myself reflecting at length on this powerful yet intangible notion.

Finally, there is a mysterious set of words which completely elude my grasp, but which for precisely that reason are totally captivating. These mainly hail from Eastern religions – terms such as “Nirvana” or “Brahman” – which translates roughly as the ultimate reality underlying all phenomena in the Hindu scriptures. It feels like it would require a lifetime of study to even begin to grasp the meaning – which is probably exactly the point of these types of words.

Now we can all ‘tepils’ like the Norwegians – that’s drink beer outside on a hot day, to you and me
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

I believe these words offer a unique window onto the world’s cultures, revealing diversity in the way people in different places experience and understand life. People are naturally curious about other ways of living, about new possibilities in life, and so are drawn to ideas – like these untranslatable words – that reveal such possibilities.

There is huge potential for these words to enrich and expand people’s own emotional worlds, with each of these words comes a tantalising glimpse into unfamiliar and new positive feelings and experiences. And at the end of the day, who wouldn’t be interested in adding a bit more happiness to their own lives?

The Conversation

Tim Lomas, Lecturer in Applied Positive Psychology , University of East London

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

Could early music training help babies learn language?


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

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.

How Swedish children learn English through gaming

New words for today: druid, priest and warrior.

New words for today: druid, priest and warrior.

Pia Sundqvist, Karlstads University and Liss Kerstin Sylvén, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

An hour of homework or an hour of World of Warcraft? It’s not hard to guess what many ten-year-old boys would rather be doing when they get home from school. But now research shows that in non-English speaking countries, children are picking up a large amount of English from online computer games.

In Sweden, ten and 11-year-olds spend a lot of time at the computer and often use English rather than their native Swedish for online communication and gaming. In a recent study of 76 children, we could see that playing games seems to have a positive effect on their English skills.

Our work adds to other research that has been done in Turkey and Finland on how children learn language as they play computer games.

In our study, the children answered questions about the English they came into contact with outside of school, whether they liked English and whether they thought they were good at it.

They also filled out a language diary over the course of a week, indicating how much time they spent doing activities such as reading books, watching TV, and playing computer games.

The main purpose of the study was to investigate language-related computer use in English and Swedish, but also to look for possible correlations between computer gaming and a child’s motivation to learn, how good they felt there were at the language and the strategies they used to speak it.

In a previous study with 12-year-olds, we had seen that gaming was positively linked to English comprehension and vocabulary. We wanted to see if this also was true for even younger learners, who had only learnt English in school for a little bit more than a year.

Massive multiplayer bonus

Our results show a major difference between Swedish boys and girls as regards spending time “in English” at the computer outside of school. On average, boys spent a total of 11.5 hours a week doing things in English, of which about 3.5 hours were devoted to playing computer games.

To compare, the girls on average spent 5.1 hours on English, less than half of that spent by the boys, and hardly played any games in English, only 0.4 hours per week. But girls used Swedish much more than boys at the computer, primarily because they used Facebook more and did so in Swedish.

To our surprise, despite their young age and very limited experience of English in school, we found that some of the boys play massive multiplayer online role-playing games, a genre of games in which hundreds or even thousands of players interact with one another simultaneously in a virtual world such as World of Warcraft.

Since players in these online games are often from different countries, English becomes the default language for communication, both for writing and speaking. It was also very common among the boys to play multiplayer online games, such as Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, and League of Legends. They also enjoyed Minecraft and various sports games.

Among the few girls who played games in English, The Sims was mentioned, a simulation game that does not include as much oral or written interaction as online multiplayer games.

Picking up words

We divided our sample into three groups: those who did not play any computer games at all, those who played a little bit, and those who played a lot (four hours or more per week). We wanted to see if there were any differences in their motivation in speaking English, their self-assessed ability in the language, and what strategies they used when they ran into problems speaking it.

The non-gamer group consisted mainly of girls, group two was mixed, and among the frequent gamers all but one were boys. We found that motivation and self-assessed English ability were high across all groups – a very positive finding. Turning to Swedish was more common in the first two groups than among the frequent gamers. Although speculative, it is possible that the frequent gamers have more developed speaking skills than those who play games less frequently.

In previous studies we have seen positive correlations between playing computer games and English vocabulary skills. In the past, we have found that young frequent gamers know more unusual and difficult words, such as melt, roar, flesh, meat or hide.

In this study we showed that very young Swedes are involved in complex multiplayer online games. To succeed in such games, they have to understand game content and they need many English words to do so. Although this was not an experimental study with a control group, it is reasonable to conclude that gamers pick up words thanks to their gameplay.

Based on our findings, we encourage teachers to learn more about their students’ English activities outside of school. By acknowledging the English learnt in children’s spare time as an important source of language input, we believe student’s motivation in school can also be boosted.

The Conversation

Pia Sundqvist, Senior lecturer, Department of language, literature, and intercultural studies, Karlstad University, Sweden, Karlstads University and Liss Kerstin Sylvén, Associate Professor in Language Education, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

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

How is technology changing Language Teaching?

We asked Simon Brewster, Deputy Director General at The Anglo Mexican Foundation, his views on the way that technology is changing the way we teach languages…

As far as technology is concerned, there are obvious advantages for learners in terms of access to information, greater communicability and the reality of learning outside the classroom.

Where I think we need to be careful is in not assuming that technology somehow replaces the need for good teaching. It is in the end another tool at our disposal but you can still have a bad class even with technology.

I am also not convinced that the use of online courses and whiteboards is any more effective in terms of learning than using more traditional tools. No-one has been able to provide any evidence that they are. If it is true that you can learn a language using different approaches and methodologies, I think it is also true that you can learn a language with a fairly minimal amount of material and equipment.

I would say that good teaching affects learning much more than the technology available. I went to an interesting talk which contrasted e-centric teachers with t-(as in teaching) centric teachers which made the same point.

It is also not the case that everyone has access to technology. Mexico has 80 million cell phones but relatively few people have access to the most sophisticated technology outside the more privileged groups.

In the case of formal education, our pupils cannot take cell phones into class for obvious reasons. A lot of technology they use is for socializing not study or reading: facebook, twitter, text messaging etc.

Where I do see technology having a significant impact is in areas such as intranets which connect students, teachers and parents, access to Internet for research purposes and support from websites for everything from making a poster to producing video and the fact that technology makes everything much faster.

For our students in the language teaching centres, as opposed to schools, we are focusing on getting teachers to encourage students to use existing components such as CD-Roms and course related websites at the same time as we develop a support website for students to consult as a value added element to their courses. We will do this at low cost including elements that are available at low or no cost.

I have to mention that aside from cost issues – a whiteboard comes in at around US$300 – there are big security issues with technology for schools as well as related questions of cyber bullying. We have experienced problems in both of these areas and are now very active in raising awareness in pupils about the risks of social networking online.

By Simon Brewster

The Anglo Mexican Foundation

Do you share Simon’s experiences? Please let us know your thoughts…

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…



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.


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.


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.


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


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

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.


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


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.



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.




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.


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 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-

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.



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.


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.



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.


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.


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.



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.


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.




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