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Terminology in English Language Teaching

Nature and Use


Roger Berry

Based on original research and novel concepts, this book investigates the nature and use of terminology from linguistic and applied viewpoints. Throughout, problems with terminology, such as overuse by teachers and cases of synonymy and polysemy, are considered and solutions are offered.
Part One looks firstly at some basic concepts, then draws important distinctions between pedagogic and scientific terminology, and between transparent, opaque and iconic terms, before examining the historical, lexical and grammatical nature of terms.
Part Two attempts to estimate the value and relevance of terminology in language teaching and describes the use and knowledge of terminology in various language-teaching-related constituencies: learners, teachers, textbooks, grammars and research. It concludes with a discussion of the criteria for evaluating terms and an analysis of terms used in ELT.


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CHAPTER NINE Terminology and teachers


1. Introduction This chapter looks at a range of factors that relate teachers to termi- nology: their stated use of it, their attitudes towards it, their feelings and beliefs about it. It tries to answer two questions: what effect does terminology have on teachers of English? And what effect on (the use of) terminology do teachers have? It investigates these factors from two research perspectives: quantitative and qualitative. These two ap- proaches are seen as being complimentary to one another. The starting point for the discussion is the belief that teachers need to be familiar with terminology as part of their metalinguistic awareness. Whether they should deploy it in class is another matter, already discussed in Chapter Seven. But generally it is undisputed that teachers need to have an understanding of the language they are teach- ing (Andrews 2007: 32-34) in order, among other things, to be able to answer learners’ questions, to notice and correct their mistakes, to ex- plain samples of the target language. And an understanding of the lan- guage is impossible without access to accounts of it, in which termi- nology plays an important part. As we have seen throughout this book, it is impossible, or highly impractical to do so without terminology. There is a problem, of course, in giving teachers such access, as Wright points out: One great danger of acquiring specialist knowledge about language is the possible desire to show learners that you have this knowledge. (1991:68-69) But this is not an...

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