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  • Writer's pictureDiana Nazaryan

Lesson Types: Language-Based Lessons

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

As I have already mentioned, ICELT methodology defines two main types of lessons: Skill-Based and Language-Based. The latter focus on grammar and vocabulary. The stages of teaching a grammar topic are as follows:

  • Introducing the Context

  • Asking CCQs (Concept Checking Questions)

  • Eliciting the Marker Sentence

  • Drilling

  • Asking CCQs (again!)

  • Putting the Marker Sentence on the Board

  • Eliciting the Structure

  • Eliciting any Special Pronunciation Features

  • Eliciting the Interrogative (question) and Negative forms (if relevant)

  • Asking CCQS (I know, right?)

  • Controlled Practice Task

  • Semi-Controlled Practice

  • Free Practice

We will now study them in detail on the example of passive voice.

Introducing the Context

As with lead-in, context can be introduced through a video, image, text or a simple question. In the coursebooks we use, a Skill-Based lesson is usually followed by a Language-Based one. In this case, the reading or listening text IS the context. You may use that or introduce your own if you find it easier to do. In our case, the context will be introduced with a series of questions:

What phone are you using? Expected answers: iPhone, Samsung, Huawei, etc.

Do you know where they make them? Expected answers: California, China, etc. NB They are designed in California but manufactured in Taiwan.

NB A crucial thing about the context and the marker sentence is that they should be memorable and relatable. They cannot be taken out of a thin air. You need to use the text they have only just studied, interesting/funny stories, better yet use situations and examples from your own life and that of your students, e.g. I always tell about the plans I make with my friend Lilit when explaining "will vs going to vs present continuous for future" and I draw a funny man called Bob who used to be a clown to teach "used to". Alternatively, I might ask: "What are some things you did when you were children but you don't do now?. Then I can pick the most interesting one and turn it into a marker sentence. I might even use the information I have elicited from them at the beginning of the lesson about how their weekend went or things I have found out about them earlier, e.g. "Alla, where is your little brother Davit now? Is he at home? Is he at the kindergarten? What do you think he is doing right now?"

Asking CCQs

Language has been created for communicating meaning. Hence, when teaching grammar we should focus on the concept expressed by a given tense, structure, function first and structure second. To teach this you should be familiar with the concept yourself. Some coursebooks have this at the end of the Student's Book or in the Teacher's Book. I also recommend Practical English Usage by Michael Swan. The concept checking questions should be of the Yes/No type and, preferably, no more than three.

In our case, the concept of passive is that the subject of the action is either unknown or of secondary importance and the stress is on the fact that the action is/was/has been done. Hence:

Do we know who specifically makes iPhones? Do we know if it was Hanzi, Pinyin or someone else? Expected answer: No

Is that really important? Expected answer: No

Is our focus on the process of making iPhones? Expected answer: Yes

Eliciting the Marker Sentence

Once the concept has been checked, elicit the Marker Sentence. The Marker Sentence is an example sentence related to the context and representing the grammar we're teaching. In our case it is:

iPhones are made in Taiwan.


Once the Marker Sentence is there, you drill it. Ask the students to repeat it first as a group and then individually. Correct any mistakes that might occur at this stage.

Putting the Marker Sentence on the Board

As the students to remind you the sentence and write it on the board. Try to make sure it fits in a line.

Eliciting the Structure

It is highly recommended that you use different colours for the Marker Sentence, structure and pronunciation. The traditional colours are: blue or black for the MS, green for the structure, red for pronunciation. We avoid using linguistic terminology, such as an auxiliary verb, past participle, gerund, etc. Instead, we use simple words, such as be, verb, first form, second form, verb plus "ing".

In this case, we say that the structure is am/is/are or be + V3/Ved (Verb third form or Verb plus ed)

Eliciting Pronunciation Features

This includes special sounds and intonation. Again, many of the books we use, especially, English in Mind, have this kind of tasks at the end of the Student's Book. In our case, there are very few things to pay attention to. Perhaps, the pronunciation of "are" as shwa in British English and the intonation. Even if your students have not officially studied the phonemes, write them in red over the corresponding sound as a visual representation.

Eliciting the Interrogative and Negative Forms

It is also very important to make sure your students know how to change the sentence. Ask them to turn your marker sentence into a question or negative form and write it on the board. Do the same as with the original marker sentence: elicit the structure and any possible pronunciation features.

Controlled Practice

This is where your students take baby steps practising the structure in a relatively easy way and under your supervision. Again, these tasks are given in our books. It would be a good idea to do this in pairs since the students might lack confidence. Ideally, these tasks should be within the same context, but, unfortunately, this is rarely feasible. Below is an example of a controlled practice task take from the British Council website.

Semi-Controlled Practice

At this stage, the tasks become more challenging as the students are granted a higher level of independence in creating them. Ireccomend that your students do this alone. It will help you understand who is struggling with the topic and work with them closely. Below is an example task:

Free Practice

This is the real test for you. At the Free Practice stage, you assign a speaking or writing topic to your students. The topic or question are called to generate the language using the grammar you have taught. In our case that could be:

What products are made in your country?

Do you know where the things you are wearing or carrying on you are made? Vocabulary

There are many ways and activities to teach vocabulary. First, I would like to talk about the two approaches to teaching a topic:

  • Teach-Test

  • Test-Teach-Test

In the first case, you assume that your students know next to nothing on the topic and introduce it from scratch. In the second one, your assumption is that your students have some knowledge of the topic. You will test their knowledge, teach what they do not know, then test it again.

The methods of introducing vocab are numerous:

  • Matching words to images

  • Matching a word to definition

  • Gap-fill task

  • Showing a real object

  • Giving a situation

  • Drawing

In addition to these we also use:

  • Quizlet

  • Ball Game

  • Miming

  • Alias

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