Making your clarification more effective

Published on 17th June, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

‘Clarification’ refers to the ‘teach’ stage of your lesson, where the rules of meaning, use, form and pronunciation are clarified. In the past it was called the ‘presentation’ stage, but nowadays this term can hold slightly negative connotations, and be associated with more teacher-fronted lessons.

 In a grammar lesson, the clarification is where you focus on an example sentence used to highlight a verb form, eg the present perfect. The term also covers lexis and other areas, eg you might be clarifying linkers such as although, however and despite or verb patterns after certain words.

 Here are some suggestions to help make your clarification stage more effective, in a lesson where the clarification is teacher-led.

• Use colour. Be systematic, eg use one colour to mark the auxiliary verb and another to highlight the subject; always use the same colour for model sentences.

• Choose a model sentence to highlight your target language which is crystal clear and unambiguous. It is likely to come from a bigger context such as a text. However, try using examples which are personalised, either student-related or teacher-related, eg Andrea has lived in this town since 2008. Alternatively, use – humour, eg I’ve had this hairstyle for 16 years.

• Use model sentences that lend themselves naturally to immediate practice, so that you can see if students are connecting with the new language. Thus, the Andrea example (above) can easily be personalised and practised whereas, an example such as I have waited a long time is likely to be less generative.

• Elicit and involve students throughout the clarification: ask them to give you a similar example, a negative or question form, the pronunciation, etc.

• Particularly in a monolingual class, exploit the mother tongue where feasible, to highlight or explore differences, subtleties or similarities in meaning.

1 Comment

  • When explaining present perfect it’s suggested to use the mother tongue. Earlier on it was clarified that usage of a present perfect form doesn’t exist in most other languages. I am teaching dutch people. They relate to similarities in dutch but I’m unaware of present pefect in the dutch language. Do you?

    Frances Logan on 25 August, 2010