Process language

process language will engage your students

The genius of process language! I can’t believe I never used this before, it’s fantastic! I’ve also been wrongly getting annoyed with my students for using their L1, when in fact it has been my fault for not giving them the process language to complete the task.

Process language is the language you give you students so they can complete the task you set them in English. For example if they are playing a card game the process language could be: “it’s your turn; it’s my turn; who is next?; pick up the card; I’m the winner; you’ve won; let’s play again”. I usually write the language on the board and then drill the students so that they feel confident using the language. I would then recommend a demonstration of the activity with stronger students and where appropriate, elicit the process language from them. This will aid the students in understanding where and when to use the process language.

The first time you do this with your students allow for at least fifteen minutes in your lesson plan as it takes a while for students to get the hang of it. You will also need about one minute per phrase for drilling. However, as the students get more used to using process language they will catch on very quickly. You’ll also find that the same process language can be used for many different types of activities.

I find it pays to think carefully about the process language the students will need before doing the activity. However, elicit as much from the students before you start the activity, I’ve found quite often the students come up with much better, useful language than I’ve thought of.

By helping students use process language they get to use more English, for longer, it also makes it more authentic. For monolingual classes, it can help limit the amount of L1 being spoken in class. For students with different L1’s it enables them to successfully complete the task.

Give process language a go in your class, you’ll be amazed at how satisfying it is to see your students using so much English and getting so much more out of an activity than just the language point.

process language will engage your students


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Joey has been teaching overseas for more than six years and has experience teaching EAP in the UK, young learners in South Korea and teaching all ages and abilities in Thailand. She has a CELTA and an MA TESOL.