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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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1. Summing up The aim of this book has been to discuss the nature and use of gram- matical terminology relating to English language teaching. One cru- cial distinction introduced is that between pedagogic terminology – that which is appropriate for learners – and scientific terminology – that which is appropriate for the technical description of the language. It has been shown that such terminology can be analysed in a number of other ways: according to various distinctions in its nature, according to its historical, lexical and grammatical characteristics, ac- cording to its knowledge by learners and teachers (and use by the lat- ter), and according to its presence in grammars and textbooks. These distinctions and taxonomies can apply to many situations (even to other languages) to shed light on why terminology is the way it is and why it causes problems in the classroom. Below I focus on a few other major findings that cross chapter boundaries. But one specific point that is worth repeating is the claim made in Chapter Fourteen that learners of English can manage with less than 100 terms in their entire career. Up to a point the various measurements of terminology applied have shown a remarkable similarity in the frequency of terms in dif- ferent contexts: their use in different grammars, and in textbooks, their knowledge by different learner groups, and so on. Noun, verb and adjective seem to appear at or near the top of every measure. In addi- tion to major word classes, the top...

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