Glossary of Terms

Abstract noun

A feeling or concept which cannot be touched, such as love, happiness, education.

Active voice

A sentence written in the active voice has the subject of the sentence carrying out the main action.

Adjectival phrase

A phrase built around an adjective – for example ‘bright red’, ‘frighteningly bad’.


A word which describes a noun.


A word which describes how a verb action is being carried out.

Adverbial phrase

A phrase built around an adverb – for example ‘as quickly as possible’, ‘very rudely’.


A letter or syllable that is added to the beginning or end of a word  to make a different word, tense, etc.


A sentence contains ambiguity if it could be open to more than one meaning. students are taught to use hyphens to avoid ambiguity; for example, the sentence ‘Jaws is about a man eating shark’ could be ambiguous, but with the insertion of a hyphen becomes much clearer:

‘Jaws is about a man-eating shark’.


A word with the opposite meaning to another, e.g. good/bad, wise/foolish, long/ short.


A punctuation mark used to show possession or to represent missing letters in a contracted form. See also possessive apostrophe.


Words which tell us if a noun is general or specific. ‘The’ is called the definite article and refers to specific nouns: ‘The man’s hat is blue’. The indefinite articles are ‘a’ and ‘an’, referring to general nouns: ‘A cow eats grass’.

Assessment for learning

An assessment which has a formative purpose in that it is used to provide useful feedback to teachers and students that can improve both teaching and learning.

The term is often used in contrast to assessment of learning which is summative in nature and aims to certify learning for reporting to stakeholders about students’ learning achievements.

Assessment task

An activity that is set to collect learning achievement data for various purposes, including communicating findings to stakeholders, planning further tasks, and for improving teaching and learning.


Authentic materials

Texts we encounter in everyday life. These usually demonstrate language in use for some genuine communicative purposes, e.g., dialogue as found in television programmes, public announcements, written brochures and advertisements.



The ability to carry out an activity or to process information without conscious attention.


Auxiliary verb

A verb which forms the tense, mood and voice of other verbs. The auxiliary verbs are ‘be’, ‘do’ and ‘have’ plus the modal verbs. For example, ‘be’ is used in the progressive tense verbs such as ‘I am running’, ‘he was eating’.


Forming a new word by joining parts of two words.

This involves looking at a written word, looking at each grapheme and using knowledge of GPCs to work out which phoneme each grapheme represents and then merging these phonemes together to make a word. This is the basis of reading.


An online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a web page.

Brackets ( )

A punctuation mark used to set a non-essential section of a sentence apart. Also known as parenthesis. For example, ‘My friend Nida (who is three months older than me) is coming to my house tonight’.


A technique for idea generation in which a student or group of students write down as many thoughts as possible on a topic without paying attention to organisation, sentence structure or spelling.


Bullet points

A way of setting information out in a list of points, which may be phrases, words or short sentences.

Capital letter

A letter used at the beginning of a sentence and for proper nouns. They may also be used at the beginning of the important words in a title or sign, for example, ‘Keep Off the Grass’.


Clauses are the building blocks of a sentence. They are groups of words that contain a subject and a verb. They can be main or subordinate.


Shortening a word by omitting syllables, e.g., telephone ? phone.

Cognitive process

Any mental process which students make use of in language learning, such as making inferences, generalising, learning deductively, monitoring and memorising.


The way a text makes sense to the reader through the organisation of its content and the relevance and clarity of its concepts and ideas. 

Generally, a paragraph has coherence if it is a series of sentences that develop a main idea (i.e., with a topic sentence and supporting sentences which relate to it).


A sentence will have cohesion if all its parts fit together, for example if tenses and pronouns are consistent and determiners refer to the correct noun.

Collective noun

A noun which refers to a group of people, animals or things, for example, ‘a class of student’, ‘a herd of elephants’, ‘a pride of lions’.

Colon :

A punctuation mark used in a sentence to indicate that something is about to follow, such as a quotation, an example or a list. For example, ‘I need three things from the shop: milk, eggs and bread’.

Comma ,

A punctuation mark used in a sentence to mark a slight break between different parts of a sentence, or to separate clauses in order to reduce ambiguity and increase cohesion. Primary students are taught to use commas to separate items in a list, to demarcate clauses and before introducing direct speech.


A type of sentence which instructs or orders an action to take place. Contains an imperative verb which does not need a subject. Often a command will begin with this imperative verb or with a time connective.

For example, ‘Eat your dinner. Next add the eggs to the mixture’.

Common exception word

A word which does not follow the common phonetic spelling rules of the language, or where the usual rules act in an unusual way. Student have a list of these words which they are expected to learn by the end of each year in school.

Common noun

Describes a class of objects (e.g. dog, man, day) which do not have a capital letter (e.g. Rover, Shuja, Tuesday). See also proper nouns.


The comparative form of an adjective compares one thing with another.

For example, ‘My cake is big but hers is bigger’. Usually formed by adding the suffix ‘-er’ (smaller, higher, happier) or the word ‘more’ (more beautiful). See also superlative.

Complex sentence

Formed by joining a main clause with a subordinate clause using a subordinating conjunction. They can also be called multi-clause sentences. The main clause can stand alone but the subordinate or dependent clause cannot. For example, ‘I burned dinner when I was on the phone’.

Compound sentence

Formed by joining two main clauses with a connective. The two clauses can stand on their own as sentences. For example, ‘I like dogs, but my friend likes cats’.

Compound word

A combination of two or more individual words that have a single meaning. For example, ‘football’, ‘timetable’, ‘sunflower’.


Joining two or more root words without using affixes, e.g., blackbird, bookstore.


Concrete noun

Something you can touch. For example, ‘bed’, ‘pencil’, ‘cat’. Can be common nouns, or proper nouns that need a capital letter. For example, ‘Mr Bilal’, ‘Mayfair Tower’.


A type of connective that joins clauses. Co-ordinating conjunctions include ‘and’, ‘but’ and ‘so’. Subordinating conjunctions include ‘because’, ‘if’ and ‘until’. See also subordinating clause.


Any word which joins two bits of text.


Overtones or suggestions of additional meaning that a word gains from the context in which it is used. It usually refers to implied or non-literal meaning.



Any letter of the alphabet other than the vowels (a, e, i, o, u).

Contracted form

Short words made by putting two words together and omitting some letters, which are replaced by an apostrophe. For example, ‘did not’ is contacted to ‘didn’t’


The reduction of a linguistic form and, often, its combination with another form (e.g., I will ?  I’ll; they are ?  they’re; did not?   didn’t).

Co-ordinating conjunction

A conjunction which joins two main clauses to create a compound sentence (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).


The joining of clauses in a way that gives each one equal importance. For example, ‘I am seven and my friend is eight’.


CVC – acronym for consonant vowel consonant words such as d ‘d-o-g’.

Cyber wellness

The positive well-being of internet users, involving issues associated with ethical and legal as well as safe and responsible use of information and communication technology (ICT).


Used in a similar way to brackets or parentheses to set information apart in a sentence. For example, ‘My three friends – Nida, Afshan and Bushra –are coming to my house for tea’.

Definite article

See article.


A word that introduces a noun and identifies it in detail. This may be a definite or indefinite article (a, an, the), a demonstrative (this, that), possessive (your, my), a quantifier (some, many) or a number (six, ten,half).



A sound (phoneme) represented by two letters (grapheme). For example, ship starts with the <sh> consonant digraph, and road contains the <oa> vowel digraph.


Speech sound beginning with one vowel sound and moving to another vowel sound within the same syllable. For example, /??/ in the word boy.

Direct speech

A sentence where the exact words spoken are represented and shown in speech marks (also known as inverted commas). (“Tidy your room, please,” said Mum).

Discourse marker

A word, phrase or clause that signals links or boundaries between parts of a text, beyond the level of a sentence, e.g.,

A: But then he would be late.

B: Well, what if he is?

A: To be frank, I don’t care.

Domain-specific words and phrases

Vocabulary specific to a particular field of study (domain), such as the human body.  



The process of engaging students in activities that require correction of discrete language errors in their writing, such as errors in grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure and spelling.

A part of writing and preparing presentations concerned chiefly with improving the clarity, organization,  concision, and correctness of expression relative to task, purpose, and audience; compared to revising, a smaller-scale  activity often associated with surface aspects of a text; see also revising, rewriting.

Ellipsis ...

Three dots which are used to show missing words or to create a pause for effect. For example, ‘So...tell me what happened’.

Embedded clause

A clause used in the middle of another clause. It is usually marked by commas. For example, ‘The man, walking along with his dog, whistled a tune to himself’.

Emergent reader texts

Texts consisting of short sentences comprised of learned sight words and CVC words; may  also include rebuses to represent words that cannot yet be decoded or recognized; see also rebus.


The origin of words and how they have changed over time. Knowing the etymology of some words can help student to spell them, for example knowing that words with ‘ch’ pronounced ‘sh’ are often of French origin (e.g. machine, chef, brochure).


Facts, figures, details, quotations, or other sources of data and information that provide support for claims  or an analysis and that can be evaluated by others; should appear in a form and be derived from a source widely accepted as appropriate to a particular discipline, as in details or quotations from a text in the study of literature and  experimental results in the study of science.


A sentence which expresses surprise or wonder and ends with an exclamation mark in place of a full stop. Begins with the words ‘how’ or ‘what’ and must also contain a verb. For example, ‘What big eyes you have, Grandma!’ or ‘How cold it is today!’

Exclamation mark !

A punctuation mark used at the end of an exclamation - for example, ‘What a fantastic day we have had!’ It can also be used at the end of a statement or command to show something has been said with feeling or emotion, for example, ‘That was a really scary film!’ or ‘Stop hitting your brother!’

Exclamative statement

See exclamation.

Explicit instruction

Instruction which involves the teacher modelling and providing explanations of the specific strategies students are learning, giving guided practice and feedback on the use of the strategies, and promoting independent practice to apply the strategies.

First person

A sentence is written in the first person if it is written from the point of view of the subject – in other words, using the pronouns ‘I’ or ‘we’.


A term used to describe oral proficiency or reading level, including automaticity in the rate of comprehension.

In writing, it describes a level of proficiency in terms of the ability to produce language with ease.

Focused question

A query narrowly tailored to task, purpose, and audience, as in a research query that is sufficiently precise to allow a student to achieve adequate specificity and depth within the time and format constraints.

Formal assessment

Timed tests in a structured setting, usually conducted in the middle and/or at the end of the school year. Students’ performance in formally assessed tasks will count towards the award of marks

and grades. Assessment criteria for such assessments have to be made known to students.

Formal English

See Standard English 

Formal speech

A type of speech or writing used in formal, ‘serious’ texts and situations. Student in primary school start to be taught the difference between the language we use when speaking informally (for example, to our friends) and the language we may use for a formal text, such as a letter of complaint.

Formative feedback

Information that provides students with direct and useful insight into how and how much they have learned, and the directions they must take to develop further or improve.

In teaching, it is the ongoing evaluation of teaching conducted by the teacher to improve curriculum and instructional planning.


A type of writing for idea generation and expression in which students write freely about a topic. The goal is to write without worrying about grammatical accuracy in order to develop fluency in writing.


Fronted adverbial

Words or phrases used at the beginning of a sentence, used like adverbs to describe the action that follows. For example, ‘With a happy smile, she skipped into the room’.

Full stop

A punctuation mark used to demarcate the end of a statement or command.

Functions of language

Language is often described as having the following major functions: a descriptive function, a social function, an expressive function and a textual function (i.e., for creating written and

spoken texts).

Future tense

A verb tense which describes actions that are going to take place in the future. Often uses the modal auxiliary verb ‘will’. For example,‘Tomorrow I will do the shopping’.

General academic words and phrases

Vocabulary common to written texts but not commonly a part of speech


Distinctive and recognisable patterns and norms of text organisation and structure. Texts of different genres present different ways of communicating ideas and information so as to address a variety of purposes, the needs of different audiences and contexts, e.g., sports writing, crime fiction.

In the study of literature or literary texts, the term genres refers specifically to the common classifications of texts, e.g., prose, poetry and drama.


Stands for grapheme-phoneme-correspondence and refers to the way that sounds heard in words are written down. Knowing a GPC means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme and vice versa.


The rules that cover spoken and written language.


Spelling of a sound in a word. In other words it is a way of writing down a phoneme.

1-4 letter graphemes can represent 1 sound.

e.g. ‘h’ in ‘hat’ is a one-letter spelling; ‘sh’ in ‘ship’ is a two-letter spelling; ‘igh’ in ‘night’ is a three- letter spelling and ‘ough’ in ‘through’ is a four-letter spelling.

Here is an example of a 1 letter grapheme: c a t. The sounds /k/ is represented by the letter ‘c’.

Here is an example of a 2 letter grapheme: l ea f. The sound /ee/ is represented by by the letters ‘e a’.

Here is a 3 letter grapheme: n igh t. The sound /ie/ is represented by the letters ‘i g h’.

Here is a 4 letter grapheme: th r ough. The sound /oo/ is represented by the letters ‘o u g h’.

Some sounds (phonemes) can be spelled by different graphemes (spellings) e.g.:
-the sound /k/ can be spelled ‘c, k or ck’
-the sound /ee/ can be spelled ‘ee, ea, ie, ei, e, e-e, etc’

High progress learners

Students who can work more independently and can be challenged to engage in tasks and processes that require the application of sophisticated skills, including higher-order thinking skills and critical analysis. These students may have a stronger grasp of language skills and can attain mastery of complex language concepts and skills more quickly than their peers.


A word that is identical in form with another word, either in sound (as a homophone) or in spelling (as a homograph), or in both, but differs from it in meaning: days / daze, or lead (guide) / lead (metal), or pitch (throw) / pitch (tar). Identity of form between two or more words is known as homonymy.


Words that sound the same but have different meanings. Some have different spellings and meanings but sound the same - for example, ‘there/their/they’re’; some are spelt the same but have different meanings - for example, ‘fair’ (‘Let’s go to the fair!’/’That’s not fair’).

Hyphen -

A punctuation mark used to link and join words, and often used to reduce ambiguity in sentences: for example twenty-seven, brother-in-law, man-eating, long-legged.


A word whose meaning is a specific instance of a more general word (e.g., red, white, blue, etc., are hyponyms of colour).


A phrase or grammatical construction whose meaning is not equivalent to that of its component words, e.g., follow suit, flat broke.


The use of words and phrases to create a picture or an idea of something. Imagery (or “images” taken collectively) usually appeals to the five senses.


Imperative verb

A verb that stands alone without a subject noun or pronoun in a command.

Indefinite article

See article.


A student performance done without scaffolding from a teacher, other adult, or peer; in the Standards, often paired with proficient(ly) to suggest a successful student performance done without scaffolding; in the Reading standards, the act of reading a text without scaffolding, as in an assessment; see also proficient(ly), scaffolding. 

Indirect speech

A sentence where the main points of what someone has said are reported without actually writing the speech out in full. Speech marks are not used. For example, ‘Mum told us to tidy our rooms’.

Informal assessment

Evaluation of students’ learning and/or performance that does not contribute to the award of marks and grades but serves assessment for learning purposes, i.e., to provide useful and immediate feedback to students for improving learning, and to the teacher for determining what more to follow up with students and how to improve teaching.

Informal assessment is part of classroom routines and learning activities. Inventories, checklists, rating scales and rubrics are used in place of prescribed or standardised criteria for scoring. Examples of informal assessment modes are observations, performance and portfolio assessments, peer and self-evaluation, and teacher-student conferencing.

Informal speech

See formal speech.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

A range of technologies for gathering, storing, retrieving, processing, analysing, and transmitting information. Examples of such technologies are computers, handheld devices, and the Internet.


Information literacy

The ability to access and evaluate information from different sources, and use it meaningfully and effectively.

Informational/ functional texts

Writing about real people, places and events, largely giving factual information to readers. Writers can shape the information according to their purpose and viewpoint, to meet the needs of their audience or the context.

Reports, biographies and news articles are examples of informational/functional texts.

Inverted commas

Punctuation marks used to demarcate direct speech in a sentence. Also known as speech marks.

Learning outcome

An expected attainment target to be achieved as a result of teacher instruction. It specifies the desired result or output; not the input (e.g., content and methods). The key question it addresses is: What will students know and be able to do as a result of instruction?

To determine if outcomes have been attained or achieved, students are expected to demonstrate mastery of basic language skills, learner strategies, attitudes and behaviour, and items and structures, which can be measured through informal or formal assessment tasks.

Literary techniques

Specific, deliberate constructions, choices of language or strategies which a writer uses to convey, reinforce and enhance meaning in literary writing (e.g., use of direct speech, twist-in-the-tale).

Literary texts

Texts that relate an event, a series of events or a story. A literary text can be imaginary, as in a short story.

Low progress learners

Students who require more scaffolding in their learning of language skills. These students may not be equipped with an adequate language background or prior knowledge needed for the completion of tasks and so need more time than their peers in attaining understanding and mastery of the skills.

Organisational structure

Different types of texts are characterised by the way information is sequenced and organised and this structure creates the coherence in a text

Main clause

The leading clause in a sentence which indicates the main subject and action of the sentence. It stands alone without any additional clauses. For example, ‘Even though the weather is bad, I will still go for a walk’.

Media literacy

The ability to access, analyse, evaluate and create information in a variety of forms and media.



A word that names a part of a larger whole (e.g., ‘steering wheel’ is part of a ‘car’).


Knowledge of the cognitive processes used in learning, including planning, monitoring and evaluating the learning before, during and after it has occurred, so as to make decisions about what to focus on, refine or repair to achieve learning progress or to respond to different learning problems

Modal verb

A special verb which affects the other verbs in the sentence by showing obligation (e.g. ‘You should do your homework’), possibility (e.g. ‘I might have pizza for tea’), ability (e.g. ‘You can ride a bike now’) or permission (e.g. ‘You may go out now’).

More sustained research project

An investigation intended to address a relatively expansive query using several sources over an extended period of time, as in a few weeks of instructional time 



The study of words, how they are formed and their relationship to other words in the same language. It analyses the structure of words and parts of words, such as stems, root words, prefixes, and suffixes. An understanding of morphology can help students with spelling strategies, e.g. knowing that ‘medicine’, ‘medical’ and ‘paramedic’ all share a common root.


Use of text, audio, graphics, animation and/ or video to represent information and ideas in more than one form.



Use of more than one mode of communication – spoken, written, visual, gestural, spatial – in a single text to convey meaning.



A naming word for things, animals, people, places and feelings. Can be common, proper, concrete, abstract or collective.

Noun phrase

A small group of words that does not contain a verb. A noun phrase contains a noun plus words to describe it - for example, ‘the spotty, black dog’.


The object of a sentence is involved in the action but does not carry it out. For example, ‘I dropped my cup on the floor’.


The part of the syllable that precedes the vowel. For example, the letter <h> is an onset in hop, and the letters <sc> is an onset in scotch. Some syllables have no onset, as in at or on.

Oral Segmenting

This is the act hearing a whole word and then splitting it up into the phonemes that make it. Students need to develop this skill before they will be able to segment words to spell them.


A distinct section of a piece of writing, which usually has a single theme. It is indicated by starting a new line or indenting the start of the first sentence.


See brackets.

Passive voice

A sentence is written in the passive voice when the subject is having something done to it. For example, ‘The mouse was chased by the cat’.

Past continuous tense

See past progressive tense.

Past perfect tense

A tense used to describe actions that were completed by a certain time in the past. For example, ‘Yesterday I was late because I had walked to school’.

Past progressive tense

Also known as past continuous tense, a form of the past tense where something goes on for a period of time in the past - for example, ‘I was walking in the park’. Usually formed by adding the suffix ‘-ing’ to a verb.

Past tense

Any one of a set of verb tenses which describe action that took place in the past. See also progressive tense, past perfect tense.

Peer editing

An activity in the process of writing in which students receive feedback about their writing from other students/ peers. For example, in the revising and editing of work, students can work in pairs or small groups, read each other’s writing and ask questions or give comments and/ or suggestions.

Performance assessment

Assessment carried out through teacher observation of students’ performance of an authentic task or activity. It makes use of a set of specific band descriptors, rubrics or a checklist to monitor and document students’ progress in their listening, reading, viewing, speaking, writing and representing skills.

Personal pronoun

A pronoun which replaces a person, place or thing. For example, ‘I’, ‘you’, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘we’, ‘they’, ‘it’, ‘me’, ‘him’, ‘her’, ‘us’, ‘them’.


The sound in a word, e.g. ‘cat’ has three phonemes ‘c-a-t’. fly consists of three phonemes: /f/-/l/-/ai/. There are approximately 44 phonemes in English. Phonemes can be put together to make words.


Phonemic awareness

Ability to focus on, discriminate and manipulate the sequence of phonemes in spoken words.



An instructional design for teaching students to read. Phonics involves teaching students to connect sounds with letters or groups of letters (e.g., that the sound /k/ can be represented by c, k, or ck spellings).



A small group of words that does not contain a verb.


More than one. Using plurals can affect the nouns and verbs in a sentence.


A collection of digital media files which is distributed over the Internet.

Point of view

Chiefly in literary texts, the narrative point of view (as in first- or third-person narration); more broadly, the position or perspective conveyed or represented by an author, narrator, speaker, or character. 


A purposeful collection of work that provides information about a student’s effort, progress or achievement in a given area. It is a learning as well as an assessment tool.

Possessive apostrophe

An apostrophe used before the letters to show ownership. For example, ‘This is Maliha’s coat’.

Possessive pronoun

A pronoun which is used to show ownership. Some can be used on their own (‘mine’, ‘yours’, ‘his’, ‘hers’, ‘ours’, ‘theirs’), whilst others need to be attached to a noun (‘my’, ‘your’, ‘her’, ‘our’, ‘their’, ‘whose’).


Letters that go in front of a root word and change its meaning, for example, ‘un-’ (happy/unhappy), ‘dis-’ (appear/disappear), ‘re-’(act/react)


A linking word in a sentence, used to show where things are in time or space. For example, ‘under’, ‘after’, ‘next’, ‘behind’.

Prepositional phrase

A phrase which contains a preposition. For example, ‘under the carpet’, ‘behind the door’, ‘after school’.

Present perfect tense

The tense which describes actions that are completed at an unspecified time before this moment. For example, ‘I have cycled two miles already.’

Present progressive tense

A tense that describes an action, which began in the past and is still going on now. For example, ‘I am learning to speak Chinese’.

Present tense

Any one of a set of tenses that describe actions, which are happening now. See also present perfect tense and present progressive tense.

Print or digital (texts, sources)

Sometimes added for emphasis to stress that a given standard is particularly likely to be applied to electronic as well as traditional texts; the Standards are generally assumed to apply to both 


A student performance that meets the criterion established in the Standards as measured by a teacher or assessment; in the Standards, often paired with independent(ly) to suggest a successful student performance done without scaffolding; in the Reading standards, the act of reading a text with comprehension; see also independent(ly), scaffolding 


Any word which can be used to replace a noun. See personal pronoun, possessive pronoun.

Proper noun

A noun which names a particular person, place or thing. For example, ‘Farida’, ‘Lahore’, ‘Pakistan’, ‘Monday’, ‘December’.


A humorous use of a word that has more than one meaning, or of words with the same sound but different meanings, e.g., The violinist spent the night in a vile inn (where vile inn sounds like violin).

Punctuation mark

A symbol used to create and support meaning within a sentence or within a word, for example full stop, comma, question mark, colon, speech marks.


A type of sentence which asks a question. It either begins with one of the question words (who, what, where, when, how, why) or reverses the (pro)noun/verb order in a statement - for example, ‘Asad is washing the dishes’ becomes ‘Is Asad washing the dishes?’

Question mark ?

A punctuation mark which indicates a question and comes at the end of the sentence in place of the full stop.

Reading readiness

A state of general maturity, based on knowledge, skills and general disposition and aptitude, which allows students to learn to read under given instructional conditions.


A mode of expressing words and phrases by using pictures of objects whose names resemble those words.


Variety of language appropriate to the topic, the setting, the participants and the purpose of the interaction. The register that one chooses to use is based on the formality or informality of the context.

Relative clause

A relative clause is a type of subordinate clause that adapts, describes or modifies a noun by using a relative pronoun (who, that or which). For example, ‘He ate too many cakes, which made him feel ill’.

Relative pronoun

A pronoun used in a relative clause (who, that, which).

Reported speech

See indirect speech.


The active process of applying skills and strategies to present facts, ideas and points of view through a variety of audio and visual texts/ forms.


The process of engaging in thinking about writing to improve areas such as organisation and focus, so that the writing fulfils its intended purpose and addresses the reader’s needs.

A part of writing and preparing presentations concerned chiefly with a reconsideration and reworking of  the content of a text relative to task, purpose, and audience; compared to editing, a larger-scale activity often associated with the overall content and structure of a text; see also editing, rewriting 


A part of writing and preparing presentations that involves largely or wholly replacing a previous, unsatisfactory effort with a new effort, better aligned to task, purpose, and audience, on the same or a similar topic or theme; compared to revising, a larger-scale activity more akin to replacement than refinement; see also editing, revising.


If two words or lines of poetry rhyme, they end with a similar sound, e.g., take and cake.

Rich texts

Literary and informational/ functional texts which are well-written and engaging. They are rich in content and concern themselves with a variety of ideas, issues, topics and themes. These texts can be multimodal.


Used together with onset. Onset refers to the consonant/s at the beginning of a syllable. Rime refers to the vowel and any consonants that follow it. For example, in scotch, the letters <sc> are an onset and the letters <otch> are a rime.

Root word

A basic word with no prefix or suffix added to it. Adding prefixes and suffixes can change the meaning of a root word (e.g., ‘respect’ is the root of ‘disrespectful’).


A teaching strategy where the teacher and students engage in a collaborative task during which the teacher provides demonstrations, support, guidance and input, and gradually withdraws these as the students become increasingly independent.

Temporary guidance or assistance provided to a student by a teacher, another adult, or a more capable peer, enabling the student to perform a task he or she otherwise would not be able to do alone, with the goal of fostering the student’s capacity to perform the task on his or her own later on.

Scheme of work

A teaching plan stating the Learning Goals and Learning Outcomes to be achieved for a term or semester, prepared by an individual teacher or a group of teachers.

Second person

A sentence is written in the second person if it is written from the point of view of a person being spoken to – in other words, using the pronoun ‘you’.


This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order. This is the basis of spelling.


Used interchangeably with self-assessment. It refers to any process where students review and assess their own progress and achievement, in tandem with their personal target-setting, in order to improve their language learning.

Semi-colon ;

A punctuation mark used in a sentence to separate major sentence elements. A semicolon can be used between two closely related independent clauses, provided they are not already joined by a coordinating conjunction. For example, ‘My car is red; my friend’s car is blue’.


One word or a group of words that makes sense by itself (a grammatical unit). Begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark. Usually contains a subject and always contains a verb.

Sentence stress

Emphasis placed on a word in a sentence so that it is heard more prominently than the rest of the words.

Short research project

An investigation intended to address a narrowly-tailored query in a brief period of time, as in a few class periods or a week of instructional time. 

Sight vocabulary

Words that can be identified immediately without being decoded.

Sight word

A word that has to be learned by sight as it cannot be easily decoded by means of the principles of phonics. For example, one, head, what, could, eye and tongue all have unexpected pronunciation so they are taught as sight words.

Simple sentence

Has a subject and one verb. See also compound sentence and complex sentence.


Referring to only one. Use of the singular may affect the nouns, pronouns and verbs in a sentence.


A text used largely for informational purposes, as in research. 


Speech marks “ ”

Punctuation marks used to demarcate direct speech in a sentence.

Split digraph

A digraph that is split by a consonant. Usually represent long vowel sounds ‘a-e’ (for example, ‘cake’), ‘i-e’ (five), ‘o-e’ (code) and ‘u-e’ (rule).

Standard English

In the Standards, the most widely accepted and understood form of expression in English.


A group of verse lines forming a section of a poem and sharing the same structure as all or some of the other sections of the same poem, in terms of the lengths of its lines, its metre and, usually, its rhyme scheme.


A sentence that conveys a simple piece of information. For example, ‘It is a sunny day today’.


See Sentence Stress and Word Stress.


The subject of a sentence is the thing or person carrying out the main action. For example, ‘The donkey ate the grass’.

Subordinate clause

A clause that cannot stand alone as a complete sentence, but is linked to a main clause using a subordinating conjunction. It does not express a complete thought, and if read on its own it requires additional information. For example, ‘I take my dog to the park every day, even though sometimes it is raining’. Subordinate clauses contain a subject noun and a verb.

Subordinating conjunction

A conjunction that connects a main clause to a subordinating clause. Examples include ‘because’, ‘until’, ‘when’, ‘as’, ‘since’, ‘whereas’, ‘even though’.


The joining of clauses and phrases in a way that links a main clause to a subordinate clause that does not stand alone.


A string of letters that go at the end of a root word, changing or adding to its meaning. Suffixes can also show if a word is a noun, verb, adjective or adverb.


A form of an adjective used to compare one object to all others in its class. Usually formed by adding the suffix ‘-est’ or the word ‘most’. For example, ‘Shireen ran fastest on Sports Day’. ‘I am hungry, you are hungrier than me, but he is the hungriest of all’. See also comparative.


The process of breaking a word into syllables, or the forming of syllables.


A sequence of speech sounds in a word. The number of syllables in a word sounds like the ‘beats’ in the word and breaking a word into syllables can help with spelling. One- syllable words include words such as, ‘dog’, ‘cat’, ‘walk’ and ‘bath’; two-syllable words include ‘teacher’; three-syllable words include, ‘beautiful’, ‘manager’.


Part of a word that usually consists of a vowel sound with one or more preceding and following consonants. For example, pet has one syllable while carpet has two and carpeting has three.


A word which has exactly or nearly the same meaning as another word.

Systematic instruction

The design and delivery of instruction that examines the learning outcomes to be achieved and selects and sequences the essential skills, learner strategies, attitudes and behaviour, and items and structures necessary to achieve them. Instruction is introduced in sequential units, building on prior knowledge and integrating what the students know with what they need to learn. Progression is made from easier skills and tasks to more challenging ones. Previously taught skills are also revisited and reinforced to consolidate learning.


Within the classroom, an activity that is designed to help students acquire or develop a specific skill, learner strategy, attitude, behaviour, item and/ or structure or, specifically, a learning outcome.

Technical subjects

A course devoted to a practical study, such as engineering, technology, design, business, or other workforce-related subject; a technical aspect of a wider field of study, such as art or music 


A task or situation planned specifically for the assessment of students’ achievement.

Tests can include:

  • Standardised test items prepared by professional test developers
  • National public examinations
  • Short test items devised by teachers for classroom use


Refers broadly to both print and non-print material which can be spoken, audio and/or visual.

Text complexity

The inherent difficulty of reading and comprehending a text combined with consideration of reader and task variables; in the Standards, a three-part assessment of text difficulty Source – A text used largely for informational purposes, as in research.

Text complexity band

A range of text difficulty corresponding to grade spans within the Standards; specifically, the spans from grades 2–3, grades 4–5, grades 6–8, grades 9–10, and grades 11–CCR (college and career readiness)  

Text form

The purpose of a text may be expressed in various forms, depending on the intended audience. Examples of narrative text forms include fairy tales, fables, short stories and novels, while procedures can take the form of instructions or recipes.

Within a text form, there may be features characteristic of various text types. For example, a letter of complaint to the news editor may have characteristics of a factual and/or personal recount, as well as those of an exposition.

Text type

The purpose and context of a text determine its type. Text types (e.g., personal recounts, narratives, factual recounts, information reports and expositions) are defined by their purposes.

Text/paragraph structure

The organisational pattern of ideas and information that is required for coherence in a text/paragraph.

Textual evidence

See evidence  



In non-fiction prose, theme is the main idea of the piece; in literature, it is the dominating idea or the “message” implicit in a work. Seldom stated directly in the writing, it is an abstract concept that must be inferred by the reader.

Third person

A sentence is written in the third person if it is written from the point of view of a person being spoken about – in other words, using the pronouns ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’ or ‘they’.

Time connective

Words or phrases which tell the reader when something is happening. For example, ‘After dinner you must do your homework. Then you can read your book’.


In Listening and Speaking, it refers to the modulation of the voice that expresses a particular meaning / feeling / attitude of the speaker.

In Writing, it is the mood or atmosphere of a work. It can also refer to the attitude that the writer/narrator conveys to the reader (e.g., formal, intimate, pompous) or the writer’s / narrator’s treatment of the subject-matter (e.g., ironic, light, solemn, satirical).


What a text is about, i.e., its subject.

Topic sentence

A sentence which describes the topic, purpose or main idea of a paragraph, stating what the paragraph is about. A topic sentence may be the first sentence in a paragraph, with the other sentences adding illustrative or supporting details, or it may be the final sentence of a paragraph. Sometimes the topic sentence in a paragraph may not be stated but implied.


A string of three letters which make a single sound, for example ‘igh’.

A grapheme containing three letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).

Type of text

The purpose and context of a text determine its type. Types of texts (e.g., personal recounts, factual recounts, narratives, descriptive reports and arguments) are defined by their purposes.

Typographical and visual features

Typographical features in a text can include the font type, colour and size of letters, letter or word spacing, punctuation and line length.

Visual features of a text can include its shape, as in poetry.

Writers can use typographical and visual features to draw attention to particular words or parts of a text so as to enhance the expression of specific ideas or to create different kinds of impact on readers.

Unit plan

A teaching plan stating the Learning Goals and Learning Outcomes to be achieved for a few weeks and describing a sequence of lessons. It can be prepared by an individual teacher or a group of teachers.


Minimally, a spoken word, phrase or sentence. It may also consist of more than one sentence.


A word used to describe an action, occurrence or state. An essential part of a sentence.


The active process of applying skills and learner strategies to interpret and understand a variety of visual texts.

Visual literacy

The ability to construct meaning from symbols and images, and to communicate through visual means.

Visual resources

Still and moving images and other features such as transitions, colours, shape and shading.

Visual texts

Texts that are constructed using only images (still or moving) or that have a combination of image and written/oral language. Examples include illustrations, maps, posters, TV broadcasts, and films.


An online diary that has mainly video content.


Online delivery of video on demand or video clip content.



The self-representation or positioning that writers present in a text. Voice may be reflected in the way they represent the world, in their relative tentativeness or authority in terms of their relationship with readers, and in their preferred way of turning meaning into text.


(1) A “vowel letter” is one of <a>, <e>, <i>, <o> or <u>.

(2) A “vowel sound” is a sound that is produced without a  constriction in the vocal tract, such as /a:/ or /e?/.

Word family

A group of words which may share a common root word or morphology. For example, ‘happy’, ‘unhappy’, ‘happiness’, ‘happily’, ‘unhappiness’, ‘unhappily’.

Word stress

Emphasis placed on a syllable in a word so that it is heard more prominently than the other syllables.

Writing conference

An activity in the teaching of writing in which the teacher and students meet for a short period of time to discuss the student’s writing and different aspects of the writing process.

Writing processes

The skills, strategies, procedures and decision-making employed by writers as they write. Writing is viewed as the result of complex processes of planning (idea generation, development, and organization), reviewing and revision.

Year levels

They refer to:

Lower Primary – Primary 1, 2, and 3

Upper Primary – Primary 4 and 5

Middle- 6, 7, 8

Secondary- 9, 10

Higher secondary  11, 12

Year plan

A broadly-outlined instructional programme for a school year or level of study developed on the basis of selected learning goals.



Glossary of Terms

For Whom

The key terms in this syllabus are listed here in alphabetical order. Though by no means

exhaustive, this list is intended to be a source of quick reference for teachers.


Basis of Selection

These terms are taken from:

Baldick, C. (1996). The concise Oxford dictionary of literary terms. New York: Oxford

University Press.

Centre for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence


Cuddon, J.A. (1992). The Penguin dictionary of literary terms and literary theory (4th

ed.). London: Penguin.

Earl, L.M. (2003). Assessment as learning: Using classroom assessment to maximize

student learning. California: Corwin Press, Inc.

Harris, T.L. (1981). A dictionary of reading and related terms. Newark, Delaware:

International Reading Association.

Harmon, W., & Holman, H. (2003). A handbook to literature (9th ed.). New Jersey:

Prentice Hall.

Jones, S.A., & Deterding, D. (2007). Phonics and beginning reading. London: McGraw


National Educational Technology Standards for Students


Matthews, P.H. (2007). Concise dictionary of Linguistics. (2nd ed.). UK: Oxford.

Ministry of Education (2003). Effective literacy practices in years 1 to 4. New Zealand:

Learning Media Limited.

Quinn, E. (2004). Collins dictionary of literary terms. Glasgow: HarperCollins.

Richards, J.C., & Rodgers, T.S. (1986). Approaches and methods in language teaching:

A description and analysis. USA: Cambridge University Press.

Richards, J.C., & Schmidt, R. (2002). Longman dictionary of language teaching &

applied linguistics (3rd ed.). Malaysia: Longman.

Wolvin, A., & Coakley, C.G. (1996). Listening (5th ed.). USA: Brown & Benchmark