I learn, you learn, he/she/it learns…

by Colin McIntosh​
I learn you learn
The Cambridge English Dictionary is constantly being updated and expanded to reflect the interests of our users. One area of particular interest to our users is that of English Language Teaching (ELT), and a number of ELT terms have recently been added to the dictionary.

We’ve added some of the words that learners of English might be puzzling over in their quest to find the best way to achieve proficiency. There are the acronyms:

  • EAP (English for Academic Purposes: the ​teaching of ​English to ​speakers of other ​languages who need ​English to ​study at a ​college or ​university);
  • ESP (English for ​specific/​special ​purposes: the ​teaching of ​English for use in a ​particular ​area of ​activity, for ​example, ​business or ​science);
  • ESL (English as a Second Language: the ​teaching of ​English to ​speakers of other ​languages who ​live in a ​country where ​English is an ​official or ​important ​language);
  • ESOL (English for ​speakers of other ​languages: used, ​especially in the UK, to refer to the ​teaching of ​English to ​students whose first ​language is not ​English, but who are ​living in an English-speaking ​country).

Then there are the methods and materials: elicitation, pairwork, realia, cloze tests, classware, and graded readers.

New developments in teaching English as a foreign language are reflected in the Cambridge English Dictionary. CLIL (content and ​language ​integrated ​learning: a ​teaching ​method that ​involves ​teaching ​students about a ​subject in a ​foreign ​language) is expanding, especially in Europe. Many young teachers are proponents of the flipped classroom, where students first ​learn about a new ​subject at ​home, ​especially ​online, and then practise it in ​class. Blended learning is a way of ​learning that ​combines ​traditional ​classroom ​lessons with ​lessons that use ​computer ​technology and may be given over the internet. This may be by means of an LMS (an online learning management system, designed to help a teacher manage the business of teaching a class) or a MOOC ​(a massive ​open ​online ​course, in other words a course of ​study that is made ​available over the internet and that can be ​followed by a ​large ​number of ​people). Based on the acronym BYOB (bring your own bottle, for example to a party), we now have BYOD (bring your own device, to encourage students to bring their tablets, smartphones, etc. to use in class).

Going to a class is not the only way to learn English. Millions of learners around the world are becoming autodidacts – literally self-taught.

The number of apps and self-study online resources has mushroomed. They’re not all great – you get what you pay for, usually – but it is possible to make considerable progress, given the right motivation, without a teacher. This, together with the classroom developments mentioned above, is an area where edtech – or educational technology – is thriving. Here the buzzword is gamification – the ​practice of making ​learning activities more like ​games in ​order to make them more ​interesting or ​enjoyable. It beats learning irregular verbs!