How to Translate Language Education Jargon into Effective Copy

I recently started working with a client who has developed a completely new approach to teaching a notoriously difficult language. 

Their product is great, their clients are happy and they really know their stuff. They’re aiming to become the Duolingo of their niche — playful, expressive and supportive.  

But if you were to read their current website, you wouldn’t know it. 

Because their personality, energy and unique strengths are buried so deep under ‘-isms’ and ‘-ologies’, it’s almost impossible to find them. 

Heck, it took me weeks of research to finally figure it out. 

And that’s a problem.

Because if someone who writes for language education businesses has a hard time understanding what they bring to the market, how the heck will their ideal customers know?

Answer: they won’t. Especially if they’re reading in their second language.

The same goes for your ideal students. If your copy is peppered with language education jargon that no one outside the industry uses, you’re going to have a hard time converting them. 

Effective copy is simple. It uses terms your audience effortlessly understands. But as an expert, it can be hard to differentiate what’s common knowledge and what’s not.

So, today I’m going to show you how to translate typical language education jargon into words your ideal students just get. 

But before we get to that, here are three simple steps you can take to simplify and explain any bit of language education jargon. 

Step 1: Look up the definition of the term 

Yep, even if you know what it means. Reading the official definition will help you a) realise what gobbledygook the term really is and b) understand the key points to extract for your revised version. 

Step 2: Think about what it means in practice 

If you use this approach or method, you know the purpose of it. Ask yourself WHY you use it. What’s the benefit? Why should anyone care? This is what you should be saying.  

Step 3: Rewrite your sentence to explain that clearly

Now you’re clear on why the method matters, it’s time to tidy it up, cut out the fluff and add a few power words to craft a clear, concise and benefit-driven sentence that anyone will understand

It might feel like you’re stating the obvious or making your sentence unnecessarily long. But a long sentence your audience understands is better than a short one that makes them feel stupid.

Now, let’s dive into the language education jargon dictionary. 

Teaching methods/resources 

1. Authentic materials 

What it is: Any material written in English that was not created for intentional use in the English language classroom. (Pearson)

Why it matters: Students are exposed to language in real-world contexts, which means they’ll expand their vocabulary and consolidate their understanding of grammar by hearing/seeing it being used in context.

What makes more sense: Step away from the textbook, friend. We’re studying content people actually use, so you learn the language you’ll hear, see and use when you arrive in {country}. 

2. Task-based learning 

What it is: In a task-based lesson the teacher doesn’t pre-determine what language will be studied, the lesson is based around the completion of a central task and the language studied is determined by what happens as the students complete it. (British Council)

Why it matters: Students use the language rather than passively consume it. This means they’re more likely to retain the new words and grammar. They’ll deepen their understanding of the language and improve their communication skills. 

What makes more sense: Using language you already know, you’ll work in small groups to complete tasks based on topics that are relevant to you rather than topics the textbook says you should learn. 

3. Autonomous learning 

What it is: Learners set their own objectives and follow strategies devised by themselves to fulfil them. (Science Direct)

Why it matters: Students learn in a way that suits them, which means they will learn topics relevant to them and enjoy the process more, which means they will become independent learners who are motivated to practise. 

What makes more sense: We’ll share tips and resources you can choose to study from to make sure you enjoy the content and absorb more of the language. 

4. Asynchronous learning 

What it is: Learning that occurs when the learner and teacher are not in the same place at the same time. (British Council)

Why it matters: Students have more flexibility, meaning they can learn at times that work for them. As a result, they may feel more engaged and interested in the language, allowing them to make more progress in a relaxed manner. 

What makes more sense: All course materials are pre-recorded and stored in your digital classroom, so you can access and revisit lessons whenever you want. 

5. Synchronous learning

What it is: The teacher and the students are simultaneously present during the online lesson and the students complete their language learning activities by following the teacher’s real time instructions. (Sanako)

Why it matters: Allows for real-time interaction and engagement, immediate feedback, and a sense of community in the learning process. This enriches the learning experience and enhances learning by encouraging learners to practise the language. 

What makes more sense: We’ll meet at the same time in the same Zoom room each week, so you can regularly practise the language and improve your confidence. 

6. Flipped classroom 

What it is: A flipped classroom simply requires traditional lectures or lessons to take place at home, while class time is dedicated to target language practice. (FluentU)

Why it matters: Students can acquire new knowledge at home and make the most of their class time practising the language, which speeds up their progress. 

What makes more sense: I’ll send you the new content one week in advance, so you can come to class ready to put the language into practice and get real time feedback.

7. Blended learning 

What it is: An approach which takes into account different learning styles and combines different learning environments in a flexible, integrated and complementary way in order to help, support and enhance learners’ diverse needs and provide a successful, efficient and enjoyable learning experience. (Cambridge)

Why it matters: offers students the flexibility to learn at their own pace and access a variety of multimedia resources, which allows for a more engaging and effective learning experience for students.

What makes more sense: Videos and articles will give you plenty to work on between our sessions so you feel fully prepared to ace your exam.

8. Scaffolding 

What it is: A temporary structure which offers support to access learning, but which is gradually removed as the student masters the assigned skills or tasks. (Sanako)

Why it matters: helps break complex tasks into manageable steps, builds upon prior knowledge and enhances understanding, gradually empowering students to become confident, independent learners. 

What makes more sense: In each lesson, we’ll build on what you learned the previous week, so you can expand your vocabulary and communicate more and more effectively as you work through the course.

9. Grammar

What it is: Provides the structure to organise and put your message across. (Teaching English Games)

Why it matters: It gives students the tools they need to express their ideas in the language. 

What makes more sense: Learn the key language structures you need to express your ideas with ease. 

10. Vocabulary acquisition 

What it is: The process by which people learn vocabularies in another language after the acquisition of the first language. (Springer)

Why it matters: Allows students to express themselves more effectively, understand complex texts, and articulate their thoughts with accuracy, enhancing their communication skills.

What makes more sense: Learn common words you’ll need to effectively navigate everyday conversations.

Levels

11. CEFR levels 

What it is: An international standard for describing language ability. (Cambridge)

Why it matters: It provides them with a reference to understand their language proficiency, helping students set realistic language learning goals, track their progress, and communicate their language abilities to institutions or employers.

What makes more sense: Set yourself a target and find out how long it will take you to get there. 

12. Beginner

What it is: Students with little or no prior exposure to a language. (Languages Abroad)

Why it matters: Students can receive language instruction tailored to their level, so they don’t feel overwhelmed by learning too much too soon.

What makes more sense: You haven’t learnt any of the language before, or you’ve picked up a few words and are ready to learn to form a few basic sentences. 

13. False Beginner

What it is: A person who has a basic knowledge of a language, but has started to study it again from the beginning. (Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries)

Why it matters: Students can receive language instruction tailored to their level, so they don’t feel overwhelmed by learning too much too soon.

What makes more sense: You’ve learnt some of the language before, but you want to go back to basics to fill in the gaps and lay a strong foundation. 

14. Intermediate 

What it is: Someone who can speak a language but with some difficulty. (Enhancv)

Why it matters: Students can receive language instruction tailored to their level, so they don’t feel overwhelmed by learning too much too soon.

What makes more sense: You can confidently use the language in everyday situations, but you can’t yet express more complex thoughts and opinions.  

15. Advanced

What it is: Someone who can understand almost everything including idiomatic expressions and can compose complex texts and can use the language for professional or social usage. (Amlanguage)

Why it matters: Students can receive language instruction tailored to their level, so they don’t feel overwhelmed by learning too much too soon.

What makes more sense: You’re a confident user of the language, and you can hold long conversations, follow the news and read novels with ease. 

Acronyms

Acronyms are almost never necessary when you’re speaking directly to an audience of learners. They’re classic language education jargon that no one outside of the industry understands, so try to explain around them to keep your readers’ attention.

16. DELTA

What it is: An advanced blend of theory and practice that provides professional development for teachers with at least one year’s experience. (Cambridge)

Why it matters: It ensures the English teacher has undergone advanced training and possesses a high level of expertise in teaching English as a second or foreign language. 

What makes more sense: Our teachers have taken the most advanced teaching exams that exist — so you can rest assured that when we say you’ll receive top-notch tuition, we mean it. 

17. CELTA

What it is: A qualification for teaching English as a foreign language. (Cambridge)

Why it matters: It means they can expect a teacher who is equipped with fundamental teaching methodologies, lesson planning skills, and an understanding of language analysis, resulting in a more structured and comprehensive learning process.

What makes more sense: I hold a CELTA certification, which means I’ve got the skills and knowledge needed to help you get your English to where you want it. 

18. EFL

What it is: EFL, refers to learning and using English as an additional language in a non-English speaking country. (British Council)

Why it matters: It helps teachers and language professionals know what kind of course it is. It’s kinda irrelevant to your students.  

What makes more sense: Ummm… not saying it at all? Your students know English is a foreign language — they don’t need telling. But if EFL keeps creeping into your copy, try simply saying ‘English’ instead. 

19. TESOL

What it is: Refers to teaching English to non-native English speakers either abroad or in English-speaking countries, though it is most often used to refer to language instruction that occurs in English-speaking countries. (International TEFL Academy)

Why it matters: It helps teachers and language professionals know what kind of course it is. Again, it’s kinda irrelevant to your students.  

What makes more sense: To define exactly what the relevance is to your target audience. For example, ‘A 12-week English language course for university students who have recently arrived in the US.’ 

And voilà. If I see any language education jargon creeping into your copy after that, I’m coming for you. 

Joking. But seriously. Whenever you write a term that just makes sense to you as an experienced language teacher, question it, dissect it and rewrite it. Your conversion rates (and your students) will thank you.  

If you want to learn more about translating language education jargon into copy that connects, sign up for my free marketing crash course. Delivered to your inbox once per week, these short and sweet lessons teach you everything you need to know about marketing your teaching business.

did you enjoy this post?  Share it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *