Arrow icon
Chevron icon

Eliciting Expertly – Part 1

Avoid assumptions

Eliciting is important as it helps you see how much prior knowledge students have.  If the topic is ‘weather’ and you are able to elicit the main weather types (sunny, cloudy, etc.) from students, you know you don’t need to waste valuable time teaching them something they already know. Students in summer school classes come from different backgrounds and it is impossible for us to know what English they already know and what English is new to them.  Always assume your learners know something and try to elicit before you move into teaching.  Students appreciate this and they will respect you for not patronising them.


Use visuals

To elicit a lexical set like weather, food or clothes, you can use flashcards.  Hold them up and see if students can give you the word(s), then teach the ones you can’t elicit.  An even better option is to use realia – real objects.  If you’re teaching items of clothing, classroom objects or parts of the body, point to items in the classroom and bring extra items in. This also helps to clarify meaning.

Use body language and mime, especially if you want to elicit actions, e.g. watching TV – pretend to sit down with a remote in your hand flicking through channels.  This is also useful for eliciting animals, musical instruments, or any other concrete nouns that lend themselves well to actions.  You can also use this technique to elicit common phrases, e.g. wave and pretend to shake hands with someone to elicit “Nice to meet you”.


Fill in the gaps

If you’re trying to elicit a structure, gap the sentence and include one or two words in it so students can guess what should go in the gaps.  E.g. I ______  ______ brother = I have a brother.  If students can’t get it straight away, put the initial letters of the words they have to guess in the gaps to help them.  Even if they are only guessing, making students work hard in this way aids learning and they are more likely to remember the structures.