Archive for the ‘elicitation techniques’ Category

Elicitation: Purpose and Strategies

July 6, 2009

It’s easy enough to see that by asking students comprehension questions, we’ll get a handle on what they know. What’s less obvious is that carefully phrased questions can have many other benefits.  Questions that successfully prompt students to talk can:

– cause students to take responsibility for their own learning, and in the process create greater motivation;

–allow the teacher to discover language areas that need further work and possible deficiencies in the initial teaching; 

- -develop the sense of a social, collaborative classroom–that is, collaboration both between students and teachers, and between students and students. After all, language is innately social: communication is all about outreach to others–which is why the primary goal of ESL students is typically to improve their speaking.

 –Enhance memory of what was taught. After all, language is to be practiced in order to become available to both short and long-term recall. Without active learner practice, language teaching is merely a display of teacher knowledge.

But questioning is not the only elicitation technique that can achieve these benefits. Other techniques include strategic pausing, which allows any and all students to jump in without undue anxiety about the answer; the use of visuals, like drawing, pointing to a picture, or calling attention to an object; and having students take the lead–the teacher role– in an activity (for example, student “B” can answer a question posed by student “A”); and pantomiming an action to be described by students. Think about these possibilities and take the short poll shown here.

Sample One: Question Technique

July 6, 2009

This teacher, Antonio Graceffo, comments on exactly what he is doing and why.  Watch for two specific techniques in the first part of the presentation (0.0-2.15).  He is both (1) eliciting specific vocabulary as a method of rehearsing, to get the item into long-term memory; and (2) doing a comprehension check to see if a student can recognize a situation that applies to a specific vocabulary terms. (stop at 2:15).

In the comments section, give at least one example of a (1) vocabulary recall question + student response; and a (1) concept check question + student response.

Sample Two: Five More Examples

July 6, 2009

By way of review: you’ve now been introduced to four useful elicitatation techniques:  teacher questions, strategic pausing, visuals, and student-directed activities.  And you’ve seen a bit of structured questioning. There are many other elicitation techniques–in fact, too many to include in this short module–but the next video is worth more reflection. It allows you a quick glance at open ended questions in practice (slightly different from the ones in the previous video), plus four new techniques. All are well worth considering in your teaching.

Master teacher Tony Sivodsi, in this excerpt, teaches idiomatic expressions in several carefully planned stages, each of which elicits student language by means of a prompt.  Note the questions below. The watch the video from point 0.0 to point 3:16 in order to answer the questions  in the comments section.

1. (stage one) How does he elicit the words intended, without direct language? Do the students stop at the single two adjectives he is most interested in?

2. (stage 2) In your opinion, would students learn more vocabulary from a brainstorming session with other students, or from a list provided by a teacher on the board?  Defend your answer.

3. (stage 3) When students do a group task, such as ordering strips, is their language limited to the vocabulary words on the strips? What other language is evoked?

4. (stage 4) Here, language results from his open-ended questions. What are two key wh-  words which can evoke the most language?

5. (stage 5) Fill-in-the-blank activities can be done individually, in shared pairwork, in groups, or in a whole-class environment.  In which setting do students feel safest to hazard a guess?


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