Oct 9

CELTA - Tips for Eliciting Vocabulary

teaching practice
CELTA - Tips for Eliciting Vocabulary
When you introduce new vocabulary, it's a useful idea to try to elicit it from your learners first. This video will tell you why this is true (even if they don't know the word), how to do it and help you avoid the pitfalls.
Transcript

One of the skills that a language teacher needs to have is the ability to teach vocabulary. Your learners need to know what a word or phrase means. But how do you introduce those words? My name is Jo Gakonga from elt-training.com and in this video, I'm going to give you some ideas about the vital skill of eliciting vocabulary.

When you're teaching new vocabulary, there are two possible approaches. You can tell them what the word or phrase means, or you can elicit it from them. Now, if you think that some of them may know the word, it's definitely a good idea to try to elicit it. Remember that when you're learning a language, it's good to be reminded of things, to have to search your memory for them, even if you've learned them before. And maybe not everybody in the class does know it. But what about if you think that they don't know, if you think the nobody in the class would know, if you're fairly sure that they won't be able to tell you? Well, I still think that it's a good idea to try to elicit it. Because even if the learners don't guess, you've created a kind of word shaped hole, so that they know what you're talking about before you supply the plug for that hole, it helps them to understand.

Let's have an example. You're trying to teach a group of intermediate learners the idiom, 'to go above and beyond'. Now, they're probably unlikely to be able to guess what you mean. But by describing it, you're focusing on the meaning first, before the form. Here are two scenarios. Which do you think is better?

Scenario one.
'Okay, I want you to imagine that I asked you to do some homework to learn 10 words, you learn the words, but you also write a two page story and include all of them. What might I say about your work?
'I did a good job. I worked hard'.
'Yeah, we can also say that, but we can say, you went above and beyond. Listen, you went above and beyond'.

Scenario two.
'Here's an idiom, to go above and beyond, it means to work hard, to do a very good job. Listen, you went above and beyond'.

Both of these scenarios are okay. But personally, I think that scenario one is more memorable. And that it gives you an idea that they're with you because they're responding, you're getting a response from them. So you're creating a situation and you're trying to elicit the new vocabulary from them.

Just as a word of caution, you need to make sure that you're eliciting doesn't end up being a bit of a 'guess what's on the teacher's mind' game. This kind of scenario is not what you want...
'What do you say if someone makes a mistake and they feel really stupid?'
'Uhm...ashamed?'
'No, it's similar to that. Maybe they go red in the face'.
'Uhm...'
'It begins with E'.
'I'm not sure'.
'E M M … three Syllables'...

 This is just a waste of time and it makes learners feel uncomfortable. So keep in mind that it's a great idea to try to elicit the meaning as a first port of call, but if they don't know, just tell them, you're the teacher.

I hope that this has been helpful. There are lots of other videos like this in my free CELTA toolkit, so I hope you find them useful too. Thanks for watching.

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