The Ultimate Glossary of CELTA Terms

If you're a complete beginner to the wonderful world of EFL teaching, it's unlikely that you'll be familiar with a lot of the things they will focus on during your CELTA course.

But even if you have been teaching for a number of years, as is the case with many CELTA trainees, there are always new terms, and new skills to be learned.

So dive into our guide to CELTA jargon, and learn all of the important stuff ahead of time. 

Let's start with those pesky acronyms.


This is the part of the course that most new trainees dread, but have no need to! TP stands for 'Teaching Practice', and is your chance to prove yourself in front of a room full of learners. During the course, you need to complete 8 hours of teaching practice. These hours are split into time periods ranging from 20 minutes to a full hour at a time. You'll have your fellow trainees willing you on for support, and it gets quite fun!


Do you have nightmares about losing your voice from so much teaching? No need! CELTA actively encourages you to cut down on 'Teacher Talking Time', and pass that the baton to your students. The more they speak, the more they learn, so make sure to cram in lots of 'Student Talking Time'.


When you're not in the classroom with your CELTA learners, you'll probably be thinking about the next lesson you're going to cook up. To make sure that you deliver something you're really proud of, your 'Lesson Plan' should be top notch. You'll be shown how to make an amazing plan, one that ensures a solid class.


The three jewels in the crown of a great lesson. These letters stand for 'Meaning, Form, and Pronunciation'. If you can introduce new language and include practice in all three of these areas, you're going to be a CELTA superstar!

ICQs and CCQs

It's the question that every teacher sometimes has occasion to ask themselves, have my learners understood me? But upon being asked “Do you understand?”, a learner will inevitably say yes just to avoid the embarrassment of being the only person in class who doesn't. That's where 'Instruction Checking Questions' and 'Concept Checking Questions' come in.

Instead of “Do you understand?”, ask them “Do you need to fill in the gaps for this activity?” (ICQ)
or perhaps, “My friend Charlotte always arrives on time and does everything she says she is going to do, is she unreliable?” (CCQ).

They are great ways of checking understanding, either for a task that you've just outlined or for new language you have just introduced.


Yes, another one! This time, our letters stand for 'Test, Teach, Test'. It's a teaching method that involves finding out exactly how much students know before introducing something new. Perhaps you don't have to start from zero at all. TTT also allows you to check understanding after you have taught the material and see progress from your learners.

Phew! That's it for the acronyms. 

Congratulations, there is now no series of letters on the CELTA that can confuse you.

Moving on, here are some terms that you'll be using extensively in lesson plans, and general CELTA life.


If you're doing speaking practice in one of your lessons, you'll have to decide to what degree you wish students to produce the language accurately. If you're introducing something specific to the class and you want them to get it right, accuracy will be one of your lesson aims.


This is a feature of 'connected speech' which we'll mention later. Simply put, it's when a phoneme changes so that it's more similar to nearby sounds. For example; The word 'cupboard' is pronounced /kʌpəd/ and not /kʌpbɔːd/ as the spelling and etymology of the word might suggest.  

Connected Speech

Rather than pronouncing words in isolation when teaching vocabulary, you may provide learners with examples of the target language in connected speech. This usually takes the form of a sentence in which you would naturally use the word or phrase. When planning your lesson, you should detail these examples in your lesson plans, along with the phonemic transcription.

Cuisenaire Rods

Originally intended for use in mathematics teaching, these have become a valuable tool in any teacher's arsenal! They can be used to teach everything from prepositions to how to tell the time! 


Also known as a compound vowel, a diphthong is the combination of two sounds in a single syllable. These have their own section on the phonemic chart. 


Another fantastic way to practise language with your learners! You model the way that the target language should be pronounced and they should repeat it back to you. You can have some fun with this technique and practise with the whole class (choral drilling), or perhaps just with one learner who can't quite grasp it (individual drilling).


One skill that you'll be practising all the time on your course is how to elicit information from students. Instead of giving them the answer straight away, tell them a story or provide a situation in which they provide you with the word you're looking for. A huge part of avoiding that 'Teacher Talking Time', and definitely encourages learners to be active participants in your lesson.


Another feature of linguistics that you'll be taught during your CELTA. Elision involves the omission of certain sounds from a word or phrase. This happens, for example, with the word 'Mathematics', which is actually pronounced 'Mathmatics'. 


Earlier, we mentioned that you'll be undertaking 8 hours of teaching practice for your course. After all of these sessions you'll get the chance to evaluate your own performance, as well as hearing feedback from your fellow trainees and your course trainer. These sessions are one of the most useful and insightful things about your CELTA. They are a large part of making you a wonderful teacher, and are to be enjoyed and made the most of.


As we mentioned earlier, you'll need to decide how much you want your students to focus on accuracy and getting the target language correct, especially in a speaking activity. If you aren't focusing too much on accuracy, fluency might be more appropriate. This means that you want learners to gain fluidity when they speak, and not worry so much about precision.


Sometimes you might use your lesson to teach grammar, or perhaps vocabulary, maybe even a mix of lots of things. But you will also need to know how to teach functions, useful little language chunks in bite size form. Practise ordering a meal at a restaurant, or telling the doctor where it hurts, any number of things can be learned using functions, and they are great fun to teach.

Gist Reading / Listening

A very important term to grasp when trying to get your head around receptive skills. Gist reading, or listening, means skimming the audio or text for a basic understanding of the tone and general meaning. 

Intensive Reading / Listening

This means analysing an audio recording or a text as a whole in order to infer meaning, feelings, and intentions of the writer / speaker. 

Interaction Patterns

Something you must include in your lesson plans. In any given moment, you should know if learners are meant to be talking to you, or with each other. This kind of planning ahead is exactly what is needed for a high grade.


A way of practising target language with your students. When you provide a perfect example of how it should be used and pronounced or, 'Model' it, they can improve their use of whatever it is that you're teaching.


The opposite of a diphthong, monophthongs have only one perceived sound. You'll be taught about these in your introduction to linguistics and phonemes on the course, and will then be expected to use your new knowledge to help students with pronunciation.


Instead of students relying on you for the correct answers, get them to check their work with the person sitting next to them. You'll be encouraged to use this method while planning your lessons and learning about interaction patterns. 


On your CELTA course, you can look forward to lots of direction on the study of phonology. Basically, it means the sounds of English and how they all relate to one another. 


When planning an activity to do with your classes, you might come across language that they need to know beforehand. This is an opportunity to first teach them the language they need to be successful at the activity, and then let them run away with it and practise!


Using real life objects to teach vocabulary. For example; Bringing in fruits when teaching about food.
Using realia is one of the quickest methods of effectively introducing new language to the learners. 

Receptive and Productive Skills

Teaching English successfully involves focusing not just on one skill, but on all of them together. Some lessons are devoted to the productive skills: Speaking and Writing. Others focus on receptive skills: Listening and Reading.

Your course will teach you how to craft fantastic lessons that help learners hone these skills, and make you a proud teacher.

Scan Reading / Listening

Another form of practising those receptive skills. This type of reading or listening involves picking out only specific information that they need from the audio or text. This might take the form of a phone number, name, or any other piece of information they need. 


If some of these terms or concepts seem a bit confusing, don’t worry. Many who have come before you once felt the same way. They will become second nature very quickly once you embark on your CELTA journey. 

A willingness to learn and a keen desire to become the best teacher you can be, will stand you in the best stead possible for those top grades. 

Good luck!