Teaching Frameworks

Engage, Study and Activate

If, as discussed earlier, students need to be motivated, be exposed to the language and have the opportunity to use it, then we need to make sure that all these factors come into play in the classroom. The most effective method for this was put forward by Jeremy Harmer, where he called these elements “ESA” – Engage, Study and Activate.

This approach allows all of the previously mentioned conditions to be applied and gives the teacher a great deal of flexibility in the classroom. Overall, this is probably the most effective of all the methodologies and is particularly appropriate for trainees and new teachers. As such, this is the method that this course is based around.

This is the sequence in the lesson where the teacher will try to arouse the students’ interest and get them involved in the lesson. If students are involved and interested, they will find the lesson more stimulating and fun, thus reducing inhibitions and leading to a more conducive
language-learning environment.

Activities and materials which tend to engage students include games, discussions, music, interesting pictures, stories, etc. Even if such activities are not used, it is vital that students engage with the topic and language that they are going to be dealing with. For example, the teacher will show the students a picture of someone and lead that into a discussion before reading about that person. Or, if the language topic is for example can/ can’t, the teacher might start with pictures and a discussion about favorite animals before discussing what they can and can’t do, etc. Remember, if students are engaged, they will learn far more effectively than when they are disengaged.

These activities are those where the students will focus on the language (or information) and how it is constructed. These activities could range from the practice and study of a single sound to an examination and practice of a verb tense!

Sometimes, the teacher will explain the language; at other times, the teacher will want the students to discover it for themselves. They may work in groups studying a text for vocabulary or study a transcript to discover style of speech. Whatever the method, Study means any stage where the students will be focused on the construction of the language.

This is the stage where the students are encouraged to use any/all of the language they know. Here students should be using the language as “freely” and communicatively as possible. The focus is very much more on fluency than accuracy with no restrictions on language usage.

Typical Activate activities include role-plays (where students act out as realistically as possible a dialogue between two or more people, e.g., doctor and patient), communication games, debates, discussions, and story writing, etc.

These ESA elements need to be present in most lessons to provide a balanced range of activities for the students. Some lessons may be more heavily focused on one stage or another, but all stages should be included wherever possible.

To say that all three elements need to be included does not mean that they always have to happen in the same order. Instead, we can vary the order to give us greater flexibility in the content of our lessons. We can even have multiple stages per lesson which might look more like EASASA.