Oct 14

CELTA - Seven ways to check for meaning

Checking for meaning
CELTA - Seven ways to check for meaning
Checking that your learners have understood what you've taught them is a crucial skill in language teaching. Asking 'Do you understand?' isn't very helpful, so here are seven alternatives.

Checking that learners understand is a really useful technique in teaching. But there are lots of different ways to do it. Here are seven. I'm Jo Gakonga from ELT-training.com and this is an idea borrowed from a fellow CELTA trainer, Sarah Findlay. So thanks Sarah.

How you check will of course depend on what it is that you're teaching. So as I go on this whistlestop tour through this, I'm going to be going pretty quickly, then see if you can think about a word or a tense or a grammatical structure, which would be useful with this methodology.

Number one, visuals and realia. Which one is a suitcase? Visuals and realia - that just means real stuff, things - are great for when you're teaching concrete nouns, especially where there might be some similarity between something else like a suitcase and a briefcase, for example.

Number two, physical movement. Wave at me. If you're teaching action verbs, then obviously this call for action. Get them to do it and show you that they can. That will definitely check that they've understood.

Number three, exemplification. What can you have as a pet? Getting them to give examples is particularly useful when you're talking about teaching hyponyms, that means a category of things that's got lots of hypernyms in it. For example, like this.

Number four, timelines. I was walking along when... If it's to do with time, or the duration of time, then timelines are definitely the go. They're really, really, really helpful. But you have to be careful that they're only helpful, where time is the most important issue. And sometimes it isn't. With different tenses, some it is, some it isn't. So for example, I'm talking to you now, that's about time. But I'm playing tennis tomorrow with Peter is not about time, really, it's about the arrangement.

Number five, extension. Sara hates coffee. She never drinks it, she always has tea. Getting learners to complete a logical sentence will definitely ensure that you know, that they know what it means.

Number six, discrimination. What's the difference between shy and embarrassed? This is really useful if learners know one thing and you're trying to make sure that they understand the difference between that and another thing which is similar. It's really helpful for vocabulary. It's also really helpful for different tenses.

And last but not least, number seven, personalization. Tell me something you used to do. I used to live in Prague. This can definitely make checking more interesting and it can lead to further talk which is of course always a useful thing. But it does mean that you have to know something about your learner's to ensure that what they said does correlate with the meaning that you're trying to teach them.

If you found this helpful, and you'd like more information about concept checking, and how to make those concept check questions, they can be quite tricky. Then try my Concept Checking Made Easy course. It pretty much does what it says on the tin.

I hope that was helpful and thanks very much for watching. Bye bye