5 Ways to Elicit Effectively in the EFL Classroom

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One of the many teaching techniques we can use in the English as a foreign language classroom is eliciting. Eliciting is a range of techniques which are used by teachers to get information from students. Eliciting is used to get students to come up with vocabulary items, word meanings, ideas or associations.

Why do we use elicitation in the EFL classroom?

More and more we are moving towards student-centred classrooms. Traditionally, teachers stood at the front of the classroom and gave information to students who were passive participants in the lesson, but these days we prefer to give the students more power in the lesson and allow them to do more work. As a result, instead of the teacher giving answers to the students all the time, we encourage the students to contribute what they already know to the lesson. This further helps them to build on their foundation of knowledge.

eliciting

How can we use elicitation in the EFL classroom?

There are a few guidelines for eliciting:

Use pictures

Pictures are the easiest way to elicit a particular item, especially if a word lends itself to visual representation. Use pictures whenever you can but be careful that your pictures are not ambiguous.

Use actions

If you are eliciting an action, the most effective way to do it (if your miming skills are up to scratch) is simply to do it. Follow up your acting with concept checking questions to make sure everyone interpreted your actions correctly.

Use description

If a picture won’t work, describe the word or situation. Use definitions, synonyms and antonyms to provide a context to try to elicit words or meaning.

Don’t try to elicit everything

Eliciting is a useful technique if it is used appropriately. However, you need to be careful not to turn your lessons into guessing games, which may be fun but can also be frustrating and counter-productive. During your lesson planning decide what can be elicited and make sure you are prepared to do so – be it with pictures or easy explanations.

Don’t flog a dead horse

Sometimes even with the best of intentions, our students won’t know what on earth we are trying to elicit and will guess everything under the sun except what we are looking for. This is pointless and frustrating for everyone. If your students are struggling to understand your elicitation, give them the answer and move on.

Elicitation is a technique that should definitely be a part of your teaching arsenal. Elicitation should be a part of every lesson, so make sure you know how to do it effectively and appropriately.

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