Career English: useful IT terminology

Information Technology, or IT as it is more commonly known, has changed the world in the last 40 years.

EF English Live students are at the forefront of the technology revolution by using it to learn English online and talking to fellow students across the world.

A lot of EF English Live students also either work in IT or use IT at work, so learning and using IT related words is really useful. Here are some of the most commonly used IT terms.

The word application has been around since the Middle Ages so it’s a very old word with a whole new meaning now that computing has come along. Within an IT context, an application is a noun meaning computer software that is designed to help the user to apply or perform specific tasks.

So for example, Microsoft Office is a computer application, which enables the user to write letters, or enter data, or produce graphics. It is the kind of word that is useful at job interviews as you will probably be asked what applications you are familiar with. “App” is the short form of application and usually refers to a dedicated resource that enables you to do one specific task on your mobile.

A database is one of those applications. It is a modern word made up of two older words, “data” and “base”. “Data” means statistics, or items of information, or a body of facts; while “base” is the bottom support of anything. Once the database is made, you can use the information stored in it in lots of ways, so it is much easier to analyse statistics or send out letters.

Function is an English word with lots of meanings. So sometimes a computer function is a named and specific part of a computer program, a type of procedure or job. However it can also be used as a synonym for an operation or command. The keys labelled F1 to F12 are function keys, for example F1 brings up help.

Install: computers come with some information or programs already installed on there; like a house that already has plumbing, gas, and electricity. You also install other programs on your computer according to your needs. Before you buy a computer, always find out what is installed already.

A computer program is list of instructions kept in a file on the computer’s hard drive. Everything done by a computer uses a program. It is written in special language which the computer reads to carry out the user’s instructions.

A web browser like Mozilla Firefox is a computer program. Computer programs may be categorized by type of function or job e.g. system software and application software.

Computers come with hardware and software. Hardware is the basic equipment, the monitor, key board, mouse and hard drive. Software is a collection of programs installed on the computer so you can run the computer. So applications are a form of software.

All of these words are very closely connected and are hard to explain as they require some knowledge of how to use computers, but once you get used to them and start using them it will all make much more sense. What other computer words do you know and use? Let us know!

image: lizzardo