In order to teach effective lessons and help their students succeed, English teachers need to be well-versed in key teaching concepts such as context, eliciting, modeling, and drilling. By understanding and using these teaching strategies effectively, English teachers can provide their students with the tools they need to become successful speakers of the English language. In this guide, we will explain in detail the English teaching concepts of context, eliciting, modeling, and drilling and provide lots of examples so you can implement these strategies in your class. First, let’s look at the concept of teaching in context.
What Is Context?
Teaching in context is incredibly important for English language teachers, especially when introducing new vocabulary or grammar. But what do we mean by ‘context’?
Context, in relation to English language teaching, means creating easy-to-understand situations that help to convey the meaning and use of a particular language item to students. This could be achieved by drawing a scene on the board, describing a scene to students, showing students a picture or video, etc. Let’s look at an example.
In a lesson teaching about plural nouns, you might draw a simple farm on the board with different animals. This is a great context to teach plural nouns because most children and beginner learners will know what a farm is and what animals are. After drawing the farm and animals, you could elicit from students how many cows, sheep, chickens, etc, they can see.
After putting the lesson’s language item in context, it is a great idea to elicit the target language from students to find out what they already know and to activate any existing knowledge.
What is Eliciting?
When you elicit language from students, you are encouraging them to say something themselves. You can elicit something from students by asking them a question, asking them to complete an unfinished sentence, showing them a flashcard or a picture of a scene, miming an action, etc.
For example, in a lesson about plural nouns, having drawn different animals on the board, you might ask, “How many cows do I have?” and students would answer, “One cow.” Then, you could draw another cow and ask, “How many cows do I have now?“, to which they would answer, “Two cows.” Here, you are eliciting the singular and plural forms of the noun ‘cow’ from students.
You can use eliciting to reduce teacher talking time and to involve students in class. Eliciting is also used to find out what students already know and to have them recall the information they have learned in the lesson. You can also use eliciting as a way to encourage students to share their own thoughts and ideas about a particular topic in the lesson.
What Is Modelling?
Modeling involves demonstrating and imitating the desired language or behavior from students. In English language teaching, modeling is used to show students how to form or pronounce a particular word or sentence. It is important when modeling language to students to speak loudly and clearly with a natural intonation so that students can hear the language item as it is said normally.
The term ‘modeling’ is also used in classroom contexts to refer to the process of showing students how to do a particular activity. For example, if you were playing one of our many ESL games, before you start, you would demonstrate an example of how to play so that students know how to play and what target language to use during the game.
What Is Drilling?
In English language teaching, drilling refers to the practice of modelling a sentence or grammatical item and then having students repeat what you just said. This can be done chorally as a whole class or you can have individual students repeat after you. The purpose of drilling is to help students focus on and improve things like pronunciation, word order, tense, and so on.
Drilling is not really a realistic or communicative use of language, but it is very useful to help students with things that require a lot of practice. The learner’s native language may have different sounds, word orders, and grammatical structures, and so they often need lots of practice drilling to speak English accurately and confidently.
More Useful Teacher Guides
Now that you understand these key concepts in English language teaching, head over to our other teacher guide articles to see lots of useful content on how to teach particular grammar points and various topics that English language learners typically study.