Educational Lingo – Cracking the Code

teacher lingo

Understanding Common Education Terms

Have you ever had a conversation with your child’s teacher where you left wondering what she was saying? Trying to understand educational terminology can leave your head spinning if you are a parent. Just like doctors, the teaching profession has it’s own lingo that can sounds like a lot of nonsensical gibberish if you are not familiar with it.

As a parents you should always feel comfortable asking your child’s teacher to explain any terminology you don’t understand. In the meantime, here’s a list of common educational terminology to help you crack the code on some of this secret lingo.

Keep this literacy glossary of educational buzzwords handy! Feel free to bookmark this page!

Educational Terms

  • alphabetic knowledge – Knowing the names and shaped of the letters of the alphabet.
  • big books – Oversized books that allow for the sharing of print and illustrations with children.
  • blending – Putting together individual sounds to make spoken words.
  • developmental spelling – The use of letter-sound relationship information to attempt to write words.
  • differentiated instruction – when teachers modify a lesson for students’ individual needs. For example, if a teacher is presenting a lesson on rhyming words with a component for independent practice for higher achieving students plus additional small group instruction for students that would need reinforced instruction in this skill.
  • emergent literacy – The view that literacy learning begins at birth and is encouraged through participation with adults in meaningful reading and writing activities.
  • emergent reader -A reader in early stages of literacy development.
  • environmental print – Print that is a part of everyday life, such as signs, billboards, labels, and business logos.  Take a peek at my post Learning to Read with Environmental Print for more information.
  • experimental writing – Efforts by young children to experiment with writing by creating pretend and real letters and by organizing scribbles and marks on paper.
  • guided reading – Teachers work with students in small reading groups usually according to reading levels. Instruction is designed to give the teacher the ability to assist students in a way that can focus on individual needs and reading ability.
  • independent reading level – Level at which a student can read independently with  95-100% accuracy. (See my post The Five Finger Rule & Choosing a Just Right Book) 
  • instructional reading level – Level which a student can read and understand text with the help of a teacher with 90-100% accuracy.
  • invented spelling – See developmental spelling.
  • just right books – Books appropriate for students independent reading level. Students should understand all but 1-2 words on each page. (See my post The Five Finger Rule & Choosing a Just Right Book)
  • literacy – Includes all the activities involved in speaking, listening, reading, writing, and appreciating both spoken and written language.
  • phonemes – The smallest parts of spoken language that combine to form words. For example, the word hit is made up of three phonemes (/h/ /i/ /t/) and differs by one phoneme from the word pit, hip, and hot.
  • phonemic awareness – The ability to notice and work with the individual sounds in spoken language.
  • phonological awareness – The understanding that spoken language is made up of individual and separate sounds. In addition to phonemes, phonological awareness activities can involve work with rhymes, words, sentences, and syllables.
  • pretend reading – Children’s attempts to read a book before they have learned to read. Usually children pretend read a familiar book that they have practically memorized.
  • print awareness – Knowing about print and books and how they are used.
  • Remediation – For some students, a concept doesn’t stick the first time it is taught. Remediation is going back and learning the skill that was missed, along with all the subsequent skills missed as a result. A tutor or teacher’s aide may provide remediation, or the child’s teacher may be able to provide remediation in a small-group setting.
  • section 504 – is a particular portion of the Rehabilitation act of 1973, the civil rights statute that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. It requires recipients of federal funding to provide appropriate educational services to students with disabilities. Some students may not qualify for services under the Individuals With Disabilities Act (IDEA) but still qualify for accommodation under Section 504.
  • segmentation – Taking spoken words apart sound by sound.
  • spoken language – Thea language used in talking and listening; in contrast to written language, which is the language used in writing and reading.
  • syllable – A word part that contains a vowel or in spoken language, a vowel sound (e-vent, news-pa-per, pret-ty)
  • vocabulary – The words we must know in order to communicate effectively. Oral vocabulary refers to word that we use in speaking or recognize in listening. Reading vocabulary refers to words we recognize or use in print.

National Institute for Literacy’s

Parent & Child Magazine

School Family




  1. As teachers we are so immersed in the educational language we sometimes forget that our parents don’t use or understand the terminology we are speaking. Maybe each grade level should have a handout of terminology used to describe instruction at that level to help parents. Just a thought.

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

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