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  Home > TEFL Clinic > Teaching Knowledge > Glossary

Presentation Techniques, Approaches and Introductory Activities


Activity-based learning: A way of learning by doing activities. The rules of language are looked at either after the activity or not at all.

Communicative Approach: A way of teaching which is based on the principle that learning a language successfully involves communication rather than just memorising a series of rules. Teachers try to focus on meaningful communication, rather than focusing on accuracy and correcting mistakes all the time. See Grammar-Translation method.

Concept checking: The technique of asking concept questions or other techniques to check that students have understood a new structure or item of lexis. A concept question is a question asked by the teacher to make sure that a student has understood the meaning of new language, e.g. the new language structure – used to – He used to live in Paris. Concept question Does he live in Paris now? Answer No.

Concept questions: see concept checking.

Content-based learning: When a subject, e.g. maths or history, is taught through the second language.

Contextualise: To put new language into a situation that shows what it means, e.g. The music in the disco was very loud. See set the scene, context.

Definition noun, define verb: An explanation of the meaning of a word, e.g. in a dictionary.

Elicit: When a teacher asks careful questions to get students to give an answer.

Emphasis noun, emphasise verb: When special force is given to a word when it is said because the word is important, e.g. I want to start the lesson at six oclock not seven.

Functional Approach: A way of teaching which uses a syllabus based on functions rather than on grammatical structures.

Gesture noun + verb: A movement with part of the body, e.g. hand, head.

Grammar-Translation method: A way of teaching in which students study grammar and translate words into their own language. They do not practise communication and there is little focus on speaking. A teacher presents a grammar rule and vocabulary lists and then students translate a written text from their own language into the second language. See communicative approach.

Guided discovery: A way of teaching in which teachers provide examples of the target language and then guide the students to work out the language rules for themselves.

Ice-breaker: An introductory activity that a teacher uses at the start of a new course so that students can get to know each other.

Illustrate meaning: To show what something means, e.g. I was nervous when I got on the plane because I hate flying.

Introductory activity: An activity which takes place at the beginning of a lesson. Introductory activities often include warmers and lead-ins.

Lexical Approach: A way of analysing language that is based on lexical items such as words, multi-word units, collocations and fixed expressions rather than grammatical structures. Some ELT books and materials organise their syllabuses around the Lexical Approach.

Meaningful: 1) something which shows the meaning of language, 2) something which has a value for students in the real world.

Mime noun + verb: Body movements used to convey meaning without using words.

Presentation noun, present verb: To introduce new language.

Presentation, Practice and Production (PPP): A way of teaching new language in which the teacher presents the language, gets students to practise it in exercises or other controlled practice activities and then asks students to use the same language in a communicative way in their practice.

Situational presentation: A way of presenting new language through a simple story or situation. The teacher may use pictures or other aids to help them create the situation.

Structural Approach: A way of teaching which uses a syllabus based on grammatical structures. The order that the language is presented is usually based on how difficult it is thought to be.

Task-based Learning (TBL): A way of teaching in which the teacher gives students meaningful tasks to do. The teacher may ask students to think about the language they have used to do the tasks, but the main focus for students is on the task itself. Project work is task-based.

Teaching strategy: The procedure or approach used by a teacher in the classroom, e.g. a teacher may choose to give thinking time to students before they speak.

Test-teach-test: A way of teaching new language. The teacher asks students to do a task without giving them any help, to see how well they know a certain piece of language (this is the first test). The teacher then presents the new language to the students (teach), then asks the students to do another task using the new language correctly (this is the second test).

Total Physical Response (TPR): A way of teaching in which the teacher presents language items as instructions and the students have to do exactly what the teacher tells them, e.g. Open the window! Stand up! This method is very meaningful and good for beginners when they start to learn a new language, as they have a silent period and can make fast progress.

Warmer noun, warm up verb: An activity that a teacher uses at the beginning of a lesson to give the class more energy. See energy levels.







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