English Language Arts Glossary



Oklahoma English Language Arts side by side HS

This is the glossary for the Oklahoma ELA document for all Language Arts from early through high school. For that reason some of the words are not appropriate for what we will be studying in high school English.


affix - an element added to the base, stem, or root of a word to form a fresh word or stem. Principal kinds of affix are prefixes and suffixes. The prefix un- is an affix which added to balanced, makes unbalanced. The suffix -ed is an affix which, added to wish makes wished.


alliteration - a device commonly used in poetry and occasionally in prose: the repetition of an initial sound in two or more words of a phrase, line of poetry, or sentence (e.g., ―Our souls have sight of that immortal sea.‖).


analogies - comparisons of the similar aspects of two different things.


antonym - words which have opposite meanings (e.g., hot and cold).


archetype - a descriptive detail, plot pattern, character type, or theme that recurs in many different cultures. One such archetype that appears in Shakespeare’s Macbeth is the battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil.


autobiography - the biography of a person written by oneself.


balanced reading program - dual emphasis, stress on both skill and application of skills. A balanced reading program includes instruction in word identification skills as well as instruction in reading comprehension strategies. A balanced reading program includes reading to whole groups of students, guided reading activities with groups of students, shared reading, and independent reading by individual students.


base word - a word to which a prefix or suffix may be added to form a new word (e.g., go + ing = going).


biography - story about the achievements of others; helps students see history as the lives and events of real people and to appreciate the contribution of all cultures; subjects include explorers; political heroes and heroines; and achievers in literature, science, sports, the arts, and other disciplines; effectiveness depends on accuracy, authenticity, and an appealing narrative style.


CVC - consonant/vowel/consonant


choral reading - group reading aloud (e.g., choral reading may be used with a group to develop oral fluency or to make a presentation to an audience).


cinquain - poetic form; structure may follow a 2-4-6-8-2 syllable pattern or may follow a simpler form using words per line in a 1-2-3-4-1 pattern.


compound word - a word made by putting two or more words together (e.g., cowboy).


consonant blend - the joining of the sounds represented by two or more letters with minimal change in those sounds; consists of two or more consonants sounded together in such a way that each is heard (e.g., bl, gr, sp)


consonant digraph - consists of two consonants that together represent one sound (e.g., sh, ch, th, wh).


consonants - the letters of the alphabet (excluding a, e, i, o, u, usually including w and y); represented by a single sound made by a partial or complete obstruction of air.


context clue - the information from the immediate textual setting that helps identify a word or word group.


contraction - a short way to write two words as one by writing the two words together, leaving out one or more letters and replacing the missing letters with an apostrophe (e.g., cannot = can’t).


convention - accepted practice in written language.


cooperative learning - activities in which students work together in groups to achieve a common goal.


critical thinking - logical, reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do. It may include analyzing arguments, seeing other points of view, and/or reaching conclusions.


cubing - a method for discovering ideas about a topic by using six strategies (in any order) to investigate it: describe it, compare it, associate it, analyze it, apply it, and argue for or against it.


cues/cueing system - Sources of information used by readers to construct meaning. The language cueing system includes the graphophonic system — the relationship between oral and written language (phonics); the syntactic system — the relationship among linguistic units such as prefixes, suffixes, words, phrases, and clauses (grammar); and the semantic system — the meaning system of language.


decode - to analyze spoken or graphic symbols of a familiar language to ascertain their intended meaning.


descriptive writing - One of four chief composition modes. Writing which paints a picture of a person, place, thing, or idea using vivid details.


dialect - a social or regional variety of a particular language with phonological, grammatical, and lexical patterns that distinguish it from other varieties.


diamante - poetic form; structure follows a diamond shape of seven lines as follows: one noun, two adjectives, three participles, four related nouns, or a phrase of four words, three participles, two adjectives, and one noun.


diphthong - a vowel sound produced when the tongue moves from one vowel sound toward another vowel in the same syllable; two vowel sounds that come together so fast they are considered one syllable (e.g., ou, ow, oi/oy).


directionality - the ability to perceive spatial orientation accurately (left to right).


epic literature - long narratives detail the adventures of a single heroic figure; the center of action revolves around the relationship between the heroic figure and the gods; the main character symbolizes the ideal characteristics of greatness; many were originally written as poetry or songs; language is lyrical, stately, and rich with images.


essays - documentary records on diverse topics such as slavery, life in the 12th century England, or songs of the American Revolution; content is based upon or adapted from an original document in diary, letter, or essay form.


etymology - the study of the origins of words; an account of the history of a particular word.


evaluative - questioning that requires the reader to use experiential background knowledge in conjunction with information explicitly stated in the text (e.g., reading beyond the line). expository - a reading or writing selection which explains, defines, and interprets. It covers all compositions which do not primarily describe an object, tell a story, or maintain a position (e.g., content-area textbooks, magazine articles, editorials, essays).


fables - tales concern human conduct with moralistic overcomes; animals exhibit human qualities and behaviors.


fairytale - a folktale about real-life problems usually with imaginary characters and magical events.


fantasy - characters or settings depart from what is realistic; the author makes the impossible believable; characters include humanized animals, good and evil stereotypes, heroes and heroines with magical powers.


fiction - plots are simple, fast-paced and predictable; characters and their actions appeal to young children; illustrations contribute to story line; rhyme and repetition encourage reading aloud; story and language appeal to sense of humor through word play, nonsense, surprise, and exaggeration; illustrations encourage participation through naming, pointing, and seeking.


figurative language - writing or speech not meant to be taken literally. Writers use figurative language to express ideas in vivid or imaginative ways (e.g., ―the apple of my eye,‖ ―forever chasing rainbows‖). flashback - the technique of disrupting the chronology of a narrative by shifting to an earlier time in order to introduce information.


fluency - freedom from word-identification problems that might hinder comprehension in silent reading or the expression of ideas in oral reading; automaticity, the ability to produce words or larger language units in a limited time interval.


folktales - time and place are generic (e.g., ―Once upon a time in a faraway castle . . .‖); stories are not intended to be accepted as true; plots use predictable motifs (e.g., ogres, magic, supernatural helpers, quests); story line is frequently a series of recurring actions; characters are one-dimensional.


foreshadowing - the technique of giving clues to coming events in a narrative.


genre - a category used to classify literary and other works, usually by form, technique, or content. The novel, the short story, and the lyric poems are all genres.


grapheme - a written or printed representation of a phoneme (e.g., b for /b/ and oy for /oi/ in boy)


graphophonic cues - the relationship between graphemes and the phonemes they represent. These symbol-sound-association skills can be used as an aid in recognizing a word that is not firmly fixed in sight vocabulary, especially if used in conjunction with other cues (e.g., determining the sound of the initial letter or two and the use of context may be all that is needed to recognize a word).


high frequency words - a word that appears many more times than most other words in spoken or written language (e.g., the, of, said, for).


historical fiction - stories are grounded in history but not restricted by it; the historical setting is an authentic and integral part of the story; characters’ actions, dialogue, beliefs, and values are true to the historical period.


homographs - words which are spelled alike but have different sounds and meanings (e.g., bow and arrow vs. bow of a ship).


homonyms - words which sound the same but have different spellings and meanings (e.g., bear, bare).


hyperbole - obvious and deliberate exaggeration; an extravagant statement; a figure of speech not intended to be taken literally. Hyperboles are often used for dramatic or comic effect. Example: ―He died a thousand deaths.‖ ―The discussion lasted an eternity.‖ idiom - an expression that does not mean what it literally says (e.g., to have the upper hand has nothing to do with the hands).


imagery - the use of language to create vivid pictures in the reader's mind.


independent reading level - the readability or grade level of material that is easy for a student to read with few word-identification problems and high comprehension.


inferential - a reasoned assumption about meaning that is not explicitly stated (e.g., reading between the lines).


instructional reading level - the reading ability or grade level of material that is challenging, but not frustrating for the student to read successfully with normal classroom instruction and support.


irony - a figure of speech of which the literal meaning of the word is the opposite of its intended meaning (e.g., I could care less); a literary technique for implying, through plot or character, that the actual situation is quite different from that presented.


journal - a less private form of diary. It is more readily shared, allows more flexibility, and is more adaptable as a teaching tool. It is especially useful when used to elicit responses to reading, issues, and events under study.


legends - plots record deeds of past heroes; stories are presented as true; stories are usually secular and associated with wars and victories.


literal - information directly from the text (e.g., on the line). literature – text created for a specific purpose (poem, story, novel, etc.).


main idea - the gist of a passage; central thought.


medial - coming in the middle of a word.


metaphor - a figure of speech in which a comparison is implied by analogy but is not stated.


mode of writing - any of the major types of writing (e.g., argumentation, description, exposition, narration).


mood - the emotional state of mind expressed by an author or artist in his or her work; the emotional atmosphere produced by an artistic work.


mystery - tightly woven plots have elements of suspense, danger, or intrigue; plots are fast-paced and frequently involve foreshadowing or flashback.


myths - stories are seen as true in the represented society; plots are usually associated with theology or ritual; accounts frequently explain natural phenomena.


narrative - a reading or writing selection which tells a story (e.g., fables, fairy tales, legends, tall tales, short stories, novels).


neologism - a new word or phrase, or a new meaning of, for an established word. Neologism also applies to new doctrines, such as a fresh new interpretation of the Bible or of some other work of literature.


nonfiction - information is factual and may be presented by detailed descriptions or examples; organization follows a logical pattern and may include textual aids.


onomatopoeia - the formation and use of words that suggest by their sounds the object or idea being named (e.g., bow wow, bang, buzz, crackle, clatter, hiss, murmur, sizzle, twitter, zoom).


onset - all of the sounds in a word that come before the first vowel.


pacing - setting one’s own reading rate by using a pattern appropriate for the reading task.


personification - metaphorical figure of speech in which animals, ideas, and things are represented as having human qualities.


phoneme - a minimal sound unit of speech that distinguishes one word from another (e.g., lace, lake).


phonemic awareness - ability to manipulate, detect, and change sounds in spoken language (precedes phonics instruction).


phonics - a way of teaching reading and spelling that stresses symbol sound relationships; the ability to associate letters and letter combinations with sound and blending them into syllables and words.


point-of-view - the way in which an author reveals a perspective/viewpoint, as in characters, events, and ideas in telling a story.


predictable text - books with dramatic cumulative repetitions and dependable schemes of rhyme and language that help children anticipate and thereby decode the printed page (e.g., Brown Bear, Brown Bear).


prediction strategy - a person’s use of knowledge about language and the context in which it occurs to anticipate what is coming in writing or speech.


prefix - a syllable or group of syllables attached to the beginning of a word, or root, to change its meaning (e.g., reprint, unpack, dislike).


prior knowledge - knowing that stems from previous experience. Note: prior knowledge is a key component of schema theories of reading and comprehension.


propaganda - an extreme form of written or spoken persuasion intended to influence the reader, though sometimes subtly, and usually by one-sided rather than objective argument (e.g., advertising propaganda to sell a product).


Readers Theatre - a performance of literature, as a story, play, poetry read aloud expressively by one or more persons, rather than acted.


r-controlled vowels - the modified sound of a vowel immediately preceding /r/ in the same syllable, e.g., care, never, sir, or.


recursive process - moving back and forth through a text in either reading or writing, as new ideas are developed or problems encountered. In reading a text, recursive processes might include rereading earlier portions in light of later ones, looking ahead to see what topics are addressed or how a narrative ends, and skimming through text to search for particular ideas or events before continuing a linear reading. In creating a written composition, recursive processes include moving back and forth among the planning, drafting, and revising phases of writing.


representing - the presentation aspect of viewing. It is nonverbal depiction of communication.


rime - the part of a syllable that contains the vowel and all that follows it (e.g., the rime of bag is -ag; of swim, -im).


root word - a word with no prefix or suffix added; may also be referred to as a base word.


Rule of Thumb - a method students can use to make their reading selections. Students select a book, open it to any page, and read. One finger is raised for each unknown word. If they encounter more than five words that they cannot pronounce, probably it is a good idea to select another book.


schwa - A mark showing an absence of a vowel sound. The neutral vowel sound of most unstressed syllables in English, e.g., sound of a in ago or e in agent. This is the symbol, (, for this sound.


science fiction - relies on hypothesized scientific advancements and raises questions about the future of humanity; can be a useful vehicle for examining issues related to human survival in an uncertain future.


semantic cues - semantic cues involving word-meaning knowledge and a general sense of the test’s meaning.


sight word - any word recognized by memory only.


silent e - an e that makes no sound that is usually found in the final position of an English root word.


simile - a combination of two things that are unlike, usually using the words like or as (e.g., soft as a kitten).


soft c and g rule - when c or g is followed by e, i, or y, it is usually soft.


structural analysis - the process of using knowledge of root words, endings, and affixes to decode words.

subvocalize - reading to oneself.


suffix - a syllable or group of syllables attached to the end of a word, or root, to change its meaning (e.g., s, ed, ing).


Sustained Silent Reading/Drop Everything and Read - child reads self-selected literature 10-30 minutes daily. A brief pair discussion, approximately 2 minutes, follows SSR/DEAR.


syllabication - the division of words into syllables.


syllable - a minimal unit of sequential speech sounds made up of a vowel sound or a vowel consonant combination and always contains a vowel sound.


symbolism - use of one thing to suggest something else, specifically the use of symbols to represent ideas in concrete ways; the implied meaning of a literary work.


synonyms - words which have the same meaning.


syntactic cues - syntactic cues involve implicit knowledge of word order and the functions of words. Only certain word sequences are allowable in English, and only certain kinds of words fit into particular slots in our sentence patterns (e.g., the baseball player the ball. The missing word must be a verb).


tall tales - a story about an impossible or exaggerated happening related in a realistic, matter-of-fact, and often humorous way (e.g., Paul Bunyan).


text – any printed material.


theme - a topic of discussion in writing. A major idea broad enough to cover the entire scope of a literary work of art. A theme can be a noun or phrase (e.g., friendship, justice).


transitional spelling - the result of an attempt to spell a word whose spelling is not already known, based on a writer’s knowledge of the spelling system and how it works.


VC - vowel/consonant


vowel digraph - two vowels pronounced in such a way that the letters together stand for one sound (e.g. /a/ in sleigh).


vowels - a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y and w; made without any air obstruction.


webbing - instructional activities, particularly graphic ones, that are designed to show the relationship among ideas or topics in text or to plan for writing: cognitive mapping.


writer’s workshop - instructional time that includes mini-lessons, peer/teacher conferences, process writing, sharing time, author’s chair, sustained silent reading, and small teaching groups.


writing folders - a folder or notebook that contains writing generated during the various stages of the writing process.

y as a vowel rule - if y is the only vowel sound at the end of a one-syllable word, y has the sound of long i; if y is the only vowel at the end of a word of more than one syllable, y has a sound almost like long e.