Eliciting in the ESL classroom

In this article Raymond Van Neste has created a summary of information  which teachers can use as a resource for the sequence and procedure of teaching grammar in the ESL classroom.

The sequence involves specific use of eliciting language from students which is a very important and particular part of the CELTA approach to teaching English language in the classroom.

Particular emphasis is placed here on the PPP system as a framework from which to teach an English Language lesson.  Finally, the exact same sequence and use of eliciting can be used when a lesson is based around the global goals as the theme for a lesson.

Summary for the PPP system: 

A PPP system is simply a framework or a setting in which an ESL lesson can be carried out.  It gives a sequence or an order in which things have to be done during a lesson.  The PPP system has three parts.  During the first part which is Presentation it uses what is known as MPF and this is the major part of the Presentation stage (see below)


PPP: presentation / practice / production


Here, present the target language.  To do this you   1. give meaning            2. pronunciation, 3. form.  This is known as: MPF.

For MPF, first give Meaning from a story / context, and then elicit the TL from the students (ss).  Here the relevant sentences are put on to the board and the ss are asked if anybody knows what is the word that is needed to fill in a blank, in order to complete a sentence (this is the eliciting procedure).  This is the meaning.  In other words the teacher is trying to find out from the ss if they know what is the word (the TL) that is needed to fill in the blank/s in the sentence which is on the board.   Once the sentence is complete, the ss will have the meaning.

Second give Pronunciation ie here, once the meaning has been established, the ss recite the TL, with a drill and everyone repeats it over and over. 

Third, give Form.  Here you write a full sentence (the blanks are now filled-in) on the board (the TL) and the ss see it written and you can say more about the form.  For example, is it a verb, noun, adjective, pronoun etc.  The teacher will state and make clear the form: how many parts are there in the word and any further information needed.

Also, with the form you could do more pronunciation.  For example some words or expressions when said in the context of a sentence or spoken in conversation are pronounced differently such as: must have, is pronounced: ‘mustve’.  Finally, you can use the IPA (which is an international system of pronunciation) system to help the students with the correct pronunciation of vocabulary.

The final part of the MPF is to ask related questions to the ss, and this is one way of finding out if they are keeping track of the learning and understand the TL.  In ESL, these questions are known as CCQs (concept check questions).


To continue with the PPP sequence, the second part is Practice:

For example, first start with a controlled practice.  Here, you fill in the blanks:
He ……   ……..  ……… (go) to bed  (must have gone is the only possible answer for the verb: must have).

Part of the Practice stage also involves a semi-controlled, exercise, for example:
Semi Controlled: 
A.  How does he speak French so well?
B.  He ………………………………………………..
Here, for example, there are a few things that you can say, ie ‘he must have lived in France’.

The third and final part of the PPP sequence is: Production. 

Production is a ‘free’ personalised practice with the TL.  For example, exercises for Writing or Speaking skills can be utilised here.   With a speaking exercise the ss can write a paragraph where they use the TL once or twice.  Or, give the ss a discussion question and then they have to include the TL in the discussion.

Anything could be done here because with writing and speaking skills there is no framework in ESL, so it allows the teacher to be adventurous when applying exercises for the ss with both writing and speaking skills.  Writing and speaking skills are also known as: Sub skills.


Raymond Van Neste

19 June 2018



Raymond Van Neste’s blog: Learn English by Thinking Globally