Polyglot Nerd Dictionary

When I write articles, I assume that people are interested in languages ​​like me and sometimes I end up using a specific vocabulary. To resolve this problem, I made this little vocabulary compendium on the world of language learning. Of course, not everybody will agree with these definitions. If you think I should change something, write a comment below.


Accent: a characteristic pronunciation, determined by the region, country of someone.

Active vocabulary: words a person uses to communicate through speech and writing.

Alphabet: set of letters/signs of a language.

Anki: spaced repetition software.

Artificial language (conlang): constructed languages. Examples: Esperanto, Klingon, Games of Thrones’ languages.

Assimil: a French company that publishes books for language learning using assimilation. See the review of the French course here.

Celi (Certificate of Knowledge of Italian Language): Test of the Università per Stranieri di Perugia, accepted throughout Italy.

CILS (Certification of Italian as a Foreign Language): qualification offered by the Foreigners University of Siena, accepted throughout Italy.

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: guidelines created by the European Union that describe the levels of language skills of European students. These guidelines are now spread to other parts of the world. There are six levels:

A1 – Beginner: you can interact in a simple and very limited way with natives about simple topics such as family, age and profession.

A2 – Elementary: can exchange simple information with native, order food in the restaurant or shopping.

B1 – Intermediate: can exchange information about familiar matters, such as work, studies and family. Can read and write short texts. In addition, can communicate using hypothetical past and future, albeit in a limited way.

B2 – Upper intermediate: understand the main ideas of complex and abstract texts. Can understand technical texts within his specialty. Can understand arguments and knows how to defend his point of view.

C1 – Effective operational proficiency: understand implicit meaning in complex texts. Understand some common idioms. Do not struggle to speak and can communicate in formal situations.

C2 – Mastery: easily understand almost everything you read and hear. Can communicate with precision, knowing how to use the nuances of a language. Makes few grammatical errors and communicate fluently and consistently.

Conjugation: inflections of a verb according to mode, time, person, voice, etc.

DALF (Diploma in Advanced French): official examination from the French government, which assesses students in the C1 and C2 levels.

Declension: inflection of nouns, pronouns, articles and adjectives with respect to categories such as case, number, and gender.

DELE (Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language): most common examination that attests Spanish proficiency, issued by the Ministry of Culture, Education and Sport of Spain.

DELF (Studies Diploma in French Language): official examination of the French government, which evaluates students up to the B2 level.

Dialect: variety of a language.

DLI (Defense Language Institute): a United States Department of Defense institution that researches on language learning and teaches languages ​​to the defense and military officials.

Duolingo: web and mobile application that teaches several languages. See the review about it here.

Endangered languages: languages ​​that are in the process of disappearing due the lack of native speakers.

ESL: English as Second language

Fossilization: errors in the use of foreign language, internalized and difficult to be eliminated.

FSI (Foreign Service Institute):US government agency that trains employees serving abroad, such as diplomats and consuls.

Goethe-Zertifikat: official certificate of the Goethe Institute, accepted throughout Germany and which encompasses all levels.

Grammar: rules that determine the correct use of language.

Hangul: alphabet used in the Korean language.

Hiperpolyglot: person who speaks several languages. The minimum number is not consensus, but is usually between 6 and 10 languages.

IELTS (International English Language Test System): proficiency exam accepted in most universities in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Immersion: intentionally being surrounded by the language.

International Phonetic Alphabet: international system of phonetic notations that represents the sounds of spoken languages.

Interpreter: a person who interprets one language to another (through speech or signs) or which acts as an intermediary between two people who do not speak the same language.

Kanji: Chinese ideograms used in the Japanese language.

L1: first language, native language, source language.

L2: second language, target language.

Lexicology: study of all the words of a language.

Lexicon: existing words in a language.

Libras (Brazilian sign language): sign language, recognized by law, used by the deaf community in Brazil.

Linguistics: the scientific study of ​​language.

Morphology: study of the internal structure of words.

Parole: spoken language.

Passive vocabulary: words a person recognizes, but does not uses in speech and writing.

Philology: study of ancient texts and languages.

Phonetic transcription: visual representation of speech sounds.

Phonetics: study of the sounds used in speech.

Phonology: study of patterns of basic sounds of a language.

Pimsleur: language learning audio method. See the review on the German course here.

Polyglot: person who speaks several languages. The minimum number is not a consensus, but usually the minimum number is four languages.

Pragmatics: study of how speech is used in everyday communication.

Proficiency test: tests that certify the level of a student of languages.

Register: how one communicate conditioned by the formality of the situation.

Rosetta Stone: software that uses text, images and sounds to teach languages.

Semantics: study of the meanings of phrases and words.

Sign language: communication method using gestures, signs, facial and body expressions.

Silent Period: stage where a language student does not attempt to reproduce the language.

SRS (spaced repetition system): memorization method based on the forgetting curve, where something is repeated at specific intervals.

Stylistics: study texts in regard to their linguistic and tonal style

Syntax: study of the structure of a language and how language sentences are formed.

Target language: language studied .

TestDaF (Test of German as a Foreign Language): test accepted throughout Germany that assesses students in the B2 and C1 levels.

Toefl (Test of English as a Foreign Language): exam that assesses English at an academic level. Required in most United States universities.

Translator: person who translates a text to another language.

Missing a word? Comment below and we will include it.

About Nathalia

Polyglot Nerd creator, love foreign cultures and learning languages. Speak: English, Portuguese and Spanish. Learning: French
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