HomeDigital technology & MultimediaOur Secret Code - PLNs are a major EdTech issue

Our Secret Code – PLNs are a major EdTech issue




Confused man looking at codeKieran McGovern decodes the confusing terms of the online world of English Language Teaching.

Every profession has a ‘secret’ code, consisting of vocabulary known only to its practitioners. Who outside the world of education technology (EdTech) would guess that a PLN was a Personal Learning Network?

These code words and phrases only make sense to others involved in the same field. Outsiders can’t understand what you are talking or writing about. You become part of what the Irish writer George Bernard Shaw called a ‘conspiracy against the public’.

Take the word ELT. Most readers of this blog will know that it stands for English Language Teaching. But for a chef it might mean ‘eating large turkeys’!

Here are ten more confusing short forms and acronyms: IELTS, L1, L2, EdChat, (T)ESOL, TOEFL, EFL, ESL, EAP, FCE… Think you know them all? Check out the Terminology of English Teaching on englishlanguage.org.

Most of these ‘code’ words are practical; essential, even. But are there others you feel serve no useful purpose? Or ones that you don’t really understand? I’d love to hear your suggestions for a ‘jargon bonfire’.

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  1. In Ontario, Canada, as a nice added confusion, ELT stands for Enhanced Language Training, which is pretty much ESP, but not the 6th sense kind.

    • I never could find a universal term to describe my site, settling on eslreading simply on the grounds that esl brought up more hits on Google! We are like the Laputians in Gulliver’s Travels: pointy headed professors endlessly agonising over abstruse academic distinctions

  2. Isn’t it just all language teaching….? or teaching? I think that having all these discrete terms can give the idea that they are all totally separate, when the divisions that they describe are far more fluid and nuanced than that.

    Too much division can lead to a lot of wheel-reinventing…

  3. Ha ha…I saw a link to this posted on Twitter today and it’s funny as this morning I started an EFL glossary on my blog to help all those out there confused by the jargon!

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