As I have presented before in this blog, the best way to teach is often to shut up. Give the students the opportunity to teach. This is best achieved through elicitation, or eliciting.
What is it?
Answers, words and ideas are elicited from the students to provide necessary information. It basically means that instead of providing information yourself, you draw it out from the learners. This is best achieved through a kind of question and answer dialogue.
When is it used?
Eliciting can be used for any number of purposes. One way I often use it is to define the meaning of words, or get synonyms for new words from the class. You can also elicit new sentence structures. By modelling the structure first yourself, you can elicit further examples from your students in a controlled way.
A third purpose of elicitation is the definition of rules and grammar. This can be done simply by asking about the tense, condition and meaning of a piece of language which will draw students to a logical conclusion.
Why is it used?
An article on the BC’s Teaching English website states that ‘the teaching of new knowledge is often based on what the learners already know’. Eliciting draws out that knowledge and helps students to put new words and ideas in context.
It’s also a positive and constructive way to use the language that students have in store. Using what language they already know also helps to increase confidence and fluency.
- If you don’t get the answer you want, deal with it sensitively and elicit another example
- If the class remains silent, don’t be obstinate – give them the answer
- Look for new ways to use elicitation
- Open-ended questions tend to be counter-productive with students from some cultures – gauge the needs of your class
- Use elicitation to motivate and encourage your class, not to test their knowledge
In the modern English classroom you have to elicit. It doesn’t always come naturally to teachers at first, but it is an essential skill so keep trying. What are your eliciting tips? Leave a comment below!
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