The ABC of ELT

Elicit functional language for the task


[Part of the Top TEFL tips series]

Fluency tasks (following the ECRIF framework) are usually (see hopefully) a highlight to a students lesson. The chance to see how the language they have been practising and bring in other areas of language that they know with what they have just been studying.

However, a common ocurrance can be that students either strain to fit what they have just been studying into the activity or they only use what they have just been studying in both cases with very limited utterances and a lack of response to what the other person said.
This can be partially due to not creating a good task, not presenting the idea clearly enough but mainly due to their minds being so focused on what they have just been studying they look at the activity through the prison of their last activities.
There are two ways to help prevent this which compliment each other nicely. 
  1. The first is modelling how to complete the task and including different language and then drawing attention to that fact.
  2. The second is to elicit functional language to help with a task.
This could be; backchanneling [really? tell me more! No! well, I never! Etc] to encourage further speaking, phrases to agree/disagree with someone, phrases to offer advice, etc.
Usually these also help promote the students speaking skills [an area often forgotten about]
Most of the time students know some phrases that fall under these areas. However, throwing in some new ones from time to time can certainly help them develop these skills.
How often do you elicit functional language for a task? How else do you develop speaking skills?

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

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