A manner of pronunciation of a language which marks speakers as belonging to identifiable categories such as geographical or ethnic origin, social class or generation.

accent marks

Marks placed on a letter to indicate pronunciation, stress or intonation, or to indicate a different meaning or different grammatical usage for the word within which they appear. For example, résumé, piñata, ou/où.


Production of structurally correct forms of the target language.


A word that modifies or describes a noun or pronoun. For example, astonishing in an astonishing discovery.


A word class that may modify or qualify a verb, an adjective or another adverb. For example, beautifully in she sings beautifully; really in he is really interesting; very and slowly in she walks very slowly.


A word or group of words that functions as an adverb.


A recurrence of the same consonant sounds at the beginning of words in close succession (for example, ripe, red raspberry).


Intended readers, listeners or viewers.

authentic (texts/materials)

Texts or materials produced for ‘real-life’ purposes and contexts as opposed to being created specifically for learning tasks or language practice.


A composer or originator of a work (for example, a novel, film, website, speech, essay, autobiography).


An ability to use two or more languages.


A detailed account of an individual’s life; a text genre that lends itself to different modes of expression and construction. In the context of intercultural language learning, the concept of biography can be considered in relation to identity, to the formation of identity over time, and to the understanding that language is involved in the shaping and expressing of identity.

character components

Individual elements of a written Chinese or Japanese character which have a separate linguistic identity.


(i) graphic symbols used in writing in some languages

(ii) assumed roles in dramatic performance


A grammatical unit that contains a subject and a predicate (verb) and expresses the complete proposition.


A use of more than one language in a single utterance. For example, Papa, can you buy me a panini, please? A common feature of bilingual and multilingual language use.


Similar or identical words which have shared origins. For example, father (English), Vater (German) and pater (Latin) have a shared origin. Gratitude (English) and gratitud (Spanish) are both derived from gratitudo (Latin).


Grammatical or lexical relationships that bind different parts of a text together and give it unity. Cohesion is achieved through various devices such as connectives, ellipses and word associations. These associations include synonyms, antonyms (for example, study/laze about, ugly/beautiful), repetition (for example, work, work, work – that’s all we do!) and collocation (for example, friend and pal in, My friend did me a big favour last week. She’s been a real pal.)


Words that typically occur in close association and in particular sequence. For example, salt and pepper rather than pepper and salt and ladies and gentlemen rather than gentlemen and ladies.


Communicating involves using language for communicative purposes in interpreting, creating and exchanging meaning.


A mutual and reciprocal exchange of meaning.

communicative competence

An acquired capability to understand and interact in context using the target language (TL). Defined by the use of appropriate phonological, lexical, grammatical, sociolinguistic and intercultural elements.

complex sentence

A sentence with more than one clause. In the following examples, the subordinate clauses are indicated by square brackets: I took my umbrella [because it was raining]; The man [who came to dinner] is my brother.


A degree to which language use is complex as opposed to simple. Elements of language complexity include:


A process of producing written, spoken, graphic, visual or multi-modal texts. It also includes applying knowledge and control of language forms, features and structures required to complete the task.

compound sentence

A sentence with two or more main clauses of equal grammatical status, usually marked by a coordinating conjunction such as or, and, but. In the following examples, the main clauses are indicated by square brackets: [Alice came home this morning] [but she didn't stay long]. [Kim is an actor], [Pat is a teacher], [and Sam is an architect].

comprehension strategies

Strategies and processes used by listeners, readers and viewers of text to understand and make meaning. These include:

  • making hypotheses based on illustrations or text layout
  • drawing on language knowledge and experience (for example, gender forms)
  • listening for intonation or expression cues
  • interpreting grapho-phonic, semantic and syntactic cues.


An active process of making/constructing/deciphering meaning of language input through listening, reading, viewing, touching (as in braille) and combinations of these modes. It involves different elements: decoding, working out meaning, evaluating and imagining. The process draws upon the learner’s existing knowledge and understanding, text–processing strategies and capabilities; for example, inferencing or applying knowledge of text types and social and cultural resources.

concrete language

A language used to refer to the perceptible and material world and to particular persons, places and objects. For example, school, girl; as opposed to abstract language, used to refer to ideas or concepts removed from the material world such as peace, kindness, beauty.


A part of speech that signals relationships between people, things, events, ideas. For example, Sophie and her mother might come and visit, or they might stay at home. The conjunction and links the two participants, while or links alternative options.


A subject matter used as a vehicle for language learning.


An environment and circumstances in which a text is created or interpreted. Context can include the general social, historical and cultural conditions in which a text exists or the specific features of its immediate environment, such as participants, roles, relationships and setting. The term is also used to refer to the wording surrounding an unfamiliar word that a reader or listener uses to understand its meaning.


An accepted language or communicative practice that has developed and become established over time. For example, use of punctuation or directionality.


Develop and/or produce spoken, written or multimodal texts in print or digital forms.


Creating involves engaging with imaginative experience by participating in, responding to and creating a range of texts, such as stories, songs, drama and music.


Sources of information used to facilitate comprehension of language that may be visual, grammatical, gestural or contextual.


In earlier models of language teaching and learning, culture was represented as a combination of literary and historical resources, and visible, functional aspects of a community group’s way of life such as food, celebrations and folklore. While these elements of culture are parts of cultural experience and organisation, current orientations to language teaching and learning employ a less static model of culture. Culture is understood as a framework in which things come to be seen as having meaning. It involves the lens through which:

  • people see, think, interpret the world and experience
  • make assumptions about self and others
  • understand and represent individual and community identity.

Culture involves understandings about ‘norms’ and expectations, which shape perspectives and attitudes. It can be defined as social practices, patterns of behaviour, and organisational processes and perspectives associated with the values, beliefs and understandings shared by members of a community or cultural group. Language, culture and identity are understood to be closely interrelated and involved in the shaping and expression of each other. The intercultural orientation to language teaching and learning is informed by this understanding.


A capacity to step outside familiar frames of reference, to consider alternative views, experiences and perspectives and to look critically and objectively at one’s own linguistic and cultural behaviour.


A process of working out the meaning of a text. Decoding strategies involve readers/listeners/viewers drawing on contextual, lexical, alphabetic, grammatical and phonic knowledge to decipher meaning. Readers who decode effectively combine these forms of knowledge fluently and automatically, using meaning to recognise when they make an error and to self-correct.


A variant of a language that is characteristic of a region or social group.


A scattered population with a common origin in a smaller geographical area.

digital media

Various platforms via which people communicate electronically.

digital texts

Audio, visual or multimodal texts produced through digital or electronic technology. They may be interactive and include animations or hyperlinks. Examples of digital texts include DVDs, websites and e-literature.


Two letters that represent a single sound:

  • vowel digraphs have two vowels (for example, ‘oo’, ‘ea’)
  • consonant digraphs have two consonants (for example, ‘sh’, ‘th’)


Two vowel sounds pronounced in a single syllable with the individual vowel sounds distinguished. (For example, hour)


A direction in which writing/script occurs, for example, from left to right, right to left.


A process of changing spoken language into symbols of written/digital language.


A clear and distinct pronunciation of language.


A ‘socio-dynamic’ term which concerns self-delineated worth that comes from knowing one’s status. Relates to concepts such as reputation, self-respect, honour and prestige. A key element of social relations in Chinese, Japanese and many other cultures.


A sound or word used in spoken conversation to signal a pause, hesitation or unfinished contribution. For example, I went to the then I caught a train... Frequent use of fillers characterises early stages of second language (L2) development, but proficient speakers and first language (L1) speakers also use them as an opportunity to reflect or recast.


An ability to produce spoken or written language with appropriate phrasing, rhythm and pace. It involves the smooth flow of language, lack of hesitation or undue pausing and characterises the largely accurate use and automatisation of the target language.

form-focused learning activities

Activities designed to rehearse, practise, control and demonstrate particular language structures, forms or features. For example, drills, rehearsed role plays/dialogues, games and songs, set sequences of language patterns.

formulaic language

Words or expressions which are commonly used in fixed patterns and learned as such without grammatical analysis. For example, Once upon a time (story-starter); G’day, how are you going? (greeting in Australian English).


A way in which elements of text are arranged to create a specific interpretation of the whole.


A category used to classify text types and language use; characterised by distinguishing features such as subject matter, form, function and intended audience. Examples of genres typically used in early language learning include greetings, classroom instructions and apologies. More advanced language proficiency includes the ability to use genres such as narrative or persuasive text, creative performance and debates.

The language we use and the description of language as a system. In describing language, attention is paid to both structure (form) and meaning (function) at the level of the word, the sentence and the text.

grapho-phonic knowledge

Knowledge of how letters in printed language relate to the sounds of the language and of how symbols (letters, characters) represent spoken language.


A word identical in pronunciation with another but different in meaning (for example, bare and bear, air and heir).


A grammatical form, typically a word or affix that has at least part of its meaning the relative social status of the speaker in relation to the addressee, other participant or context. Parts of speech which signify respect, politeness and emphasize social distance or status.


A person’s conception and expression of individuality or group affiliation, self-concept and self-representation. Identity is closely connected to both culture and language. Thinking and talking about the self is influenced by the cultural frames, which are offered by different languages and cultural systems. Identity is not fixed. Second language learners’ experience with different linguistic and cultural systems introduces them to alternative ways of considering the nature and the possibilities associated with identity.

idiomatic expressions

A group of (more or less) fixed words having a meaning not deducible from the individual words. Idioms are typically informal expressions used by particular social groups and need to be explained as one unit (for example, I am over the moon, on thin ice, a fish out of water, fed up to the back teeth).

imaginative texts

Their primary purpose is to entertain through their imaginative use of literary elements. They are recognised for their form, style and artistic or aesthetic value. These texts include novels, traditional tales, poetry, stories, plays, fiction for young adults and children including picture books and multimodal texts such as film.


A base form of a verb.

informative texts

Their primary purpose is to provide information. They include texts that are culturally important in society and are valued for their informative content, as a store of knowledge and for their value as part of everyday life. These texts include explanations and descriptions of natural phenomena, recounts of events, instructions and directions, rules and laws and news bulletins.


Obtaining, processing, interpreting and conveying information through a range of oral, written and multimodal texts; developing and applying knowledge.


Direct contact with and experience of the target language; the stimulus required for language acquisition and learning. Input can take multiple forms and be received through different modes.


Words that are usually used with adjectives to emphasise their meaning and are expressed by means of an adverb (for example, very interesting, awfully boring)

intercultural capability

An ability to understand and to engage in the relationship between language, culture and people from diverse backgrounds and experience. This involves understanding the dynamic and interdependent nature of both language and culture, that communicating and interacting in different languages involves interacting with values, beliefs and experiences as well as with words and grammars. An intercultural capability involves being open to different perspectives, being flexible and curious, responsive and reflective; being able to decentre, to look objectively at one’s own cultural ways of thinking and behaving, and at how these affect attitudes to others, shade assumptions and shape behaviours. Characteristics of an intercultural capability include cognitive and communicative flexibility and an orientation and ability to act in ways that are inclusive and ethical in relation to diversity and difference.

intercultural language teaching and learning

An orientation to language teaching and learning that informs current curriculum design; framed by the understanding that language and culture are dynamic, interconnected systems of meaning-making; that proficiency in an additional language involves cultural and intercultural as well as linguistic capabilities. The focus is on developing communicative proficiency and on moving between language–culture systems. It includes the reflexive and reciprocal dimension of attention to learners’ own language(s) and cultural frame(s).


In the context of L2 learning, interpret refers to two distinct processes:

  • the act of translation from one language to another
  • the process of understanding and explaining; the ability to conceive significance and construct meaning, and to explain to self or others


A key component of communication, involving patterns of pitch and melody of spoken language that can be used like punctuation, for example, to express surprise or suggest a question, to shade, accentuate or diminish emphasis or meaning, and to regulate turn-taking in conversations.


A human cognitive and communicative capability which makes it possible to communicate, to create and comprehend meaning, to build and sustain relationships, to represent and shape knowledge, and to imagine, analyse, express and evaluate.

Language is described and employed:

  • as code– comprising systems, rules, a fixed body of knowledge; for example, grammar and vocabulary, sound and writing systems
  • as social practice– used to do things, create relationships, interact with others, represent the world and the self; to organise social systems and practices in dynamic, variable, and changing ways
  • as cultural and intercultural practice – means by which communities construct and express their experience, values, beliefs and aspirations
  • as cognitive process – means by which ideas are shaped, knowledge is constructed, and analysis and reflection are structured

language comprehension

A process of interpreting meaning from spoken, written, tactile and multimodal representations of language.

language features

Features of language that support meaning; for example, sentence structure, noun group/phrase, vocabulary, punctuation, figurative language. Choices in language features and text structures together define a type of text and shape its meaning. These choices vary according to the purpose of a text, its subject matter, audience and mode or medium of production.

language functions

Varied ways in which language is used to achieve particular purposes; for example, to persuade, to entertain, to apologise, to argue and/or to compliment.

language patterns

Identifiable repeated or corresponding elements in a text. These include patterns of repetition or similarity, such as the repetition of imperative verb forms at the beginning of each step in a recipe, or the repetition of a chorus after each verse in a song. Patterns may alternate, as in the call and response pattern of some games, or the to-and-fro of a dialogue. Patterns may also contrast, as in opposing viewpoints in a discussion or contrasting patterns of imagery in a poem.

language specificity

Distinguishing features of a particular language. These include lexico-grammatical and textual features, writing system(s), phonetic systems, and cultural elements which influence language use such as:

  • politeness or kinship protocols
  • the nature of language communities which use the language
  • the historical and/or current relationship of a language with education in Australia
  • features of its ‘learnability’ in terms of teaching and learning in the context of Australian schooling.

language systems/systems of language

Elements that organise how a language works, including the systems of signs and rules (phonological, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic) that underpin language use. These systems have to be internalised for effective communication and comprehension.

Systems of language relates to understanding language as a system, including sound, writing, grammatical and textual conventions.

language variation and change

Understanding how languages vary in use (register, style, standard and non-standard varieties) and change over time and place.

learning trajectory

A conceptualised developmental sequence of learning, including learning goals, learning activities, knowledge and skills to be developed at progressive levels.

lexical cohesion

A use of word associations to create links in texts. Links can be made through the use of repetition of words, synonyms, antonyms and words that are related, such as by class and subclass.

literacy resources

Individual resources and capabilities which learners bring to their learning experience; these include text knowledge, grammatical and vocabulary knowledge, knowledge of phonetic and writing systems. They also include critical, reflective and intercultural capabilities that support new literacy experience in a different language.

macro skills

Four major language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing.

media texts

Spoken, print, graphic, or electronic communications created for a public audience. They often involve numerous people in their construction and are usually shaped by the technology used in their production. Media texts studied in different languages can be found in newspapers, magazines and on television, film, radio, computer software and the internet.


To move between different linguistic and cultural systems, referencing own first language(s)/culture(s) while learning to use and to understand those of the target language. This movement involves:

  • noticing, interpreting, responding sensitively and flexibly
  • conveying culturally-shaped ideas, values, experience to others
  • exploring how ideas and experiences are represented and conveyed in different languages and cultures
  • considering similarities, overlaps, collisions and adjustments
  • developing the capacity to communicate and represent different perspectives and interpretations.

Mediating operates in two distinctive ways:

  • in practices such as interpreting and translating, with attention to what can happen in these processes in terms of ‘losing’ or ‘gaining’ meaning
  • as the element of the learning experience, which involves noticing, responding, comparing and explaining differences in expression and perspective.


Resources used in the production and transmission of texts, including tools and materials used (for example, digital text and the computer, writing and the pen or the keyboard).


A vocabulary used to discuss language conventions and use ( for example, language used to talk about grammatical terms such as sentence, clause, conjunction; or about the social and cultural nature of language, such as face, reciprocating, register.)


Memorising information by use of an aid such as a pattern, rhyme, acronym, visual image.


Various processes of communication: listening, speaking, reading/viewing, signing and writing/creating. Modes are also used to refer to the semiotic (meaning making) resources associated with these communicative processes, such as sound, print, image and gesture.


The smallest meaningful unit in the grammar of a language. Morphemes are not necessarily the same as either words or syllables. The word cat has one morpheme while the word cats has two morphemes: cat for the animal and s to indicate that there is more than one. Similarly, like has one morpheme while dislike has two: like to describe appreciation and dis to indicate the opposite. The process of identifying morphemes assists comprehension, vocabulary building and spelling.


Principles of word formation and inflection, especially with respect to constituent morphemes.

multimodal text

A text which involves two or more communication modes; for example, the combining of print, image and spoken text in film or computer presentations.


A story of events or experiences, real or imagined.

narrative devices

Techniques used to help in the narrating of a story or reported event. For example, imagery, metaphor, allusion.


A part of speech that includes all words denoting physical objects such as man, woman, boy, girl, car, window. These are concrete nouns. Abstract nouns express intangibles, such as democracy, courage, success, idea.


An ability to express oneself in and to understand spoken language; it includes oral and aural proficiency.


Writing words with correct letters or characters according to common usage.


Additional elements of spoken communication which are integrated with vocal (voice) and verbal (words) elements, and contribute significantly to communication and meaning-making. For example, voice quality, volume and pacing, facial expressions, gestures, posture and body movement.


A combination of conceptual knowledge, practical skills and reflective capabilities which constitute the ‘art and science’ of teaching.


A use of the language in real situations, putting language knowledge into practice; it involves accuracy, fluency and complexity.

persuasive texts

Their primary purpose is to put forward a point of view and persuade a reader, viewer or listener. They form a significant part of modern communication in both print and digital environments. They include advertising, debates, arguments, discussions, polemics and influential essays and articles.


The smallest meaningful unit in the sound system of a language. For example, the word is has two phonemes: /i/ and /s/; ship has three phonemes: /sh/, /i/, /p/. A phoneme usually has several manifestations dependent on varying phonological contexts. For example, the p in pin and spin differs slightly in pronunciation but is regarded as being the same phoneme; that is, as having the same functional meaning within each word.


A relationship between letters or characters and the sounds they make when pronounced. L2 learning involves developing phonic awareness and proficiency.

phonological awareness

Understanding that every spoken word is composed of small units of sound, identifying relationships between letters and sounds when listening, reading and spelling. It includes understandings about words, rhyme and syllables.


A study of how context affects communication; for example, in relation to the status of participants, the situation in which the communication is happening, or the intention of the speaker.


An informed presumption about something that might happen. Predicting at text level can include working out what a text might contain by looking at the cover, or working out what might happen next in a narrative. Predicting at sentence level includes identifying what word is likely to come next in a sentence.


A meaningful element (morpheme) added before the main part of a word to change its meaning. For example, unhappy.


A part of speech that precede a noun, phrase or pronoun, thereby describing relationships in a sentence in respect to:

  • space/direction (below, in, on, to, under ‒ for example, she sat on the table).
  • time (after, before, since ‒ for example, I will go to the beach after lunch).
  • those that do not relate to space or time (of, besides, except, despite ‒ for example, he ate all the beans except the purple ones)

Prepositions usually combine with a noun group or phrase to form a prepositional phrase. For example, in the office, besides these two articles.

productive language use

One of the two aspects of communication through language (see receptive language) involving the ability to express, articulate and produce utterances or texts in the target language.


A part of speech that refers to nouns, or substituting for them, within and across sentences. For example, Ahmad chose a chocolate cake. He ate it that evening (where he and it are personal pronouns; and that is a demonstrative pronoun).


A manner in which a syllable is uttered.

purposeful learning

Learning which results from authentic language experiences that involve real purpose and achievable outcomes.


A commonly employed prompt to elicit language use. A key element of scaffolding to support learners’ use of language and to encourage further contributions. Different types of questions provide different prompts:

  • closed questions are questions for which there are predictable answers, for example, What time is it? These are typically used as prompts for short answers, as a framework for testing comprehension or reviewing facts, and for routinized interactions. They are frequently used to scaffold early language development.
  • open questions are questions with unknown and unpredictable answers that invite and support more elaborated and extended contributions from learners, for example, How do you feel about that? What do you think might happen next? They are used as a stimulus for discussion, reflection and investigation.

Questions are an important element of intercultural language teaching and learning. The quality of questions determines the quality and substance of the learning experience. Effective questions relating to the nature of language, culture and identity and the processes involved in language learning and intercultural experience guide the processes of investigating, interpreting and reflecting which support new understanding and knowledge development.


Process visual or tactile symbols (for example, braille), words or actions in order to derive and/or construct meaning. Reading includes elements of decoding (of sounds and symbols), interpreting, critically analysing and reflecting upon meaning in a wide range of written, visual, print and non-print texts.

receptive language

One of the two components of communication through language (see productive language): the ‘receiving’ aspect of language input, the gathering of information and making of meaning via listening, reading, viewing processes.


An integrating element of intercultural communication that involves movement and relationship, interpreting and creating meaning, and understanding the process of doing so. It involves not only the exchange of words but also an exchange of understanding between the people involved. It comes into play when the learner ‘self’ encounters and interacts with the ‘other’ (the target language speaker, the target language itself as text or experience); when the existing language code and cultural frame encounters a different code and frame. This experience impacts on the learner’s perspective and sense of identity and on their usual ways of communicating. Reciprocating involves conscious attention to the process: attention to the self (intraculturality) and to the likely impact of the self on the other person involved (interculturality). Things previously taken for granted are noticed in reference to new or different ways. Key elements of reciprocating include conscious attention, comparison, reflection and analysis:

  • recognition that both partners in an exchange are involved in the ‘effort of meaning’
  • willingness to work out what the other person means, the cultural and social context they are speaking from and the perspectives, which frame what they are saying
  • making necessary adjustments to own and each other’s input, orientation and stance that will help the exchange to be successful.


Participating in intercultural exchange, questioning reactions and assumptions; and considering how interaction shapes communication and identity.


A variety of language used for a particular purpose or in a particular situation, the variation being defined by use as well as user. For example, informal register or academic register.

role of language and culture

Analysing and understanding the role of language and culture in the exchange of meaning.


A transcription from a differently scripted language, such as Chinese Pinyin or Japanese Romaji, into the Latin alphabet.

root of a word

A word/word element that cannot be reduced to a smaller unit and from which other words are formed. For example, plant in replanting.


Support provided to assist the learning process or to complete a learning task. Scaffolded language support involves using the target language at a level slightly beyond learners’ current level of performance, and involves incremental increasing and decreasing of assistance. Task support provides assistance to perform just beyond what learners can currently do unassisted, to progress to being able to do it independently. Scaffolding includes modelling and structuring input in ways that provide additional cues or interactive questioning to activate existing knowledge, to probe existing conceptions or to cue noticing and reflecting.


A text processing strategy adopted to search for specific words, ideas or information in a text without reading every word. For example, looking for a word in the dictionary or a name in a phone directory. Scanning involves moving the eyes quickly down the text looking for specific words and phrases to gain a quick overall impression/to get the gist.


A writing system in which characters or symbols represent components of language (letters, syllables, words).

semantic knowledge

Knowledge gained at a meaning rather than a decoding level. This involves understanding the relationship between signifiers (words, phrases, symbols, signs) and the meanings they represent. Semantic information is supported through reference to prior knowledge, cultural connotations and contextual considerations.


A text processing strategy aimed at gaining information quickly without focusing on every word.


Interacting orally and in writing to exchange ideas, opinions, experiences, thoughts and feelings; and participating in planning, negotiating, deciding and taking action.


Convey meaning and communicate with purpose. Some students participate in speaking activities using communication systems and assistive technologies to communicate wants, and needs, and to comment about the world


A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing


An emphasis in pronunciation that is placed on a particular syllable of a word; for example, she will conduct the orchestra; her conduct is exemplary.


A meaningful element added after the root of a word to change its meaning (for example, to show its tense: –ed in passed. Common suffixes in English include –ing; –ed; ness; –less; –able).


Occurring or existing at the same time.


An ordering of sentence elements such as words, group/phrases and clauses. In some education settings, the terms syntax and grammar are used interchangeably.


Convey meaning and communicate with purpose. Some students participate in speaking activities using communication systems and assistive technologies to communicate wants, and needs, and to comment about the world


An integrated experience and use of language, set in a context, accomplishing a purpose, focused on meaning. A task provides an organising structure and context for meaning-focused language learning. Unlike form-focused language activities and exercises, task-based learning involves the achievement of a goal or authentic outcome. Learners draw from existing language resources and seek out unfamiliar resources as needed to complete the task. Scaffolding is provided by the teacher via the task cycle, which includes form-focused teaching. Examples of tasks: researching an issue, sharing ideas and then categorising and presenting results; planning and having a picnic; designing and publishing an online newsletter.


An identified stretch of language, used as a means for communication or the focus of learning and investigation. Text forms and conventions have developed to support communication with a variety of audiences for a range of purposes. Texts can be written, spoken or multimodal and in print or digital/online forms. Multimodal texts combine language with other systems for communication, such as print text, visual images, soundtrack and spoken word, as in film or computer presentation media.

text processing strategies

Strategies learners use to decode and understand text. These involve drawing on contextual, semantic, grammatical and phonic knowledge in systematic ways to work out what a text says. They include predicting, recognising words and working out unknown words, monitoring comprehension, identifying and correcting errors, reading on and re-reading.

text structure

Ways in which information is organised in different types of texts (for example, chapter headings, subheadings, tables of contents, indexes and glossaries, overviews, introductory and concluding paragraphs, sequencing, topic sentences, taxonomies, cause and effect). Choices in text structures and language features together define a text type and shape its meaning. Different languages/cultures structure texts differently in many instances.

text types (genres)

Categories of text, classified according to the particular purposes they are designed to achieve, which influence the features the texts employ. For example, texts may be imaginative, informative or persuasive; or can belong to more than one category. Text types vary significantly in terms of structure and language features across different languages and cultural contexts. For example, a business letter in French will be more elaborate than a similar text in English; a request or an offer of hospitality will be expressed differently in Japanese or in German.

textual features/textual conventions

Structural components and elements that combine to construct meaning and achieve purpose, and are recognisable as characterising particular text types (see language features).


A use of pitch and contour in spoken language to nuance words and, in some languages, to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning. In Chinese, for example, the tones are distinguished by their pitch range (register), duration and contour (shape). All Chinese syllables have a set tone, which distinguishes it and its meaning from another syllable. However, in certain environments tones can change or be modified, while in rapid spoken Chinese a great many unstressed syllables carry no tone at all.


Moving between languages and cultures orally and in writing, recognising different interpretations and explaining these to others.


A process of translating words/text from one language into another, recognising that the process involves movement of meanings and attention to cultural context as well as the transposition of individual words.


Analysing and understanding language and culture as resources for interpreting and shaping meaning in intercultural exchange.


A part of speech which expresses existence, action, state or occurrence. For example, they watch football; she is exhausted; the day finally came.

auxiliary verb – a verb that combines with another verb in a verb phrase to form tense, mood, voice or condition. For example, they will go, I did eat lunch, she might fail the exam.

word borrowing

A practice of incorporating words from one language into another. For example, the use of Italian words such as pianissimo, cannelloni in English and the use of English ICT terms in many languages. The increasing frequency of word-borrowing between languages reflects intercultural contact, contemporary cultural shifts and practices in a globalised world, issues of ease of communication and efficiency and technological specialisation.