TEFL Methodology: Elicitation



ELICITATION is drawing out specific information, language, ideas from Ss (e.g. topic, words, structures, correction).

Types of elicitation:

1. directive (direct questions)

2. cued (e.g. with the use of flashcards)

3. indirective (Ss are unaware of elicitation)

 Tips on elicitation:

  • make sure Ss have the knowledge you want to elicit
  • state exactly what you want Ss to do
  • give Ss enough time to come up with answers
  • start with what Ss know
  • don’t be afraid of silence





Positives of using elicitation:

  • Ss’ attention
  • Ss’ participation
  • Ss’ involvement
  • Ss think about the language
  • Ss talk more
  • elicitation helps Ss take responsibility for their learning process
  • T gets the information about Ss’ knowledge






 Negatives of elicitation:

  • time-consuming
  • you can’t elicit what Ss don’t know
  • T may wrongly think all Ss know something if a few do 




Steps of eliciting:

 1. T conveys a clear idea to Ss (using pictures, questions, gestures, etc.)

2. Ss supply the appropriate language, ideas, information

3. T provides feedback

 Elicitation Techniques:

  • face
  • body language
  • words
  • questions
  • intonation





 Elicitation Strategies:

  • use a lot of body language
  • rephrase questions
  • give more than one chance to answer a question
  • remain silent when Ss think
  • if S1 can’t answer, ask S2
  • use effective question (“Does anybody know...?”)
  • use encouraging phrases (“Well done”)
  • encourage further giving prompts
  • use intonation to indicate incorrect part(s)
  • don’t provide the answer immediately
  • make Ss try to correct themselves
  • reject wrong answers tactfully









 Easy ways to give prompts:

  • use simple definitions
  • exemplify
  • echo for correction
  • echo for encouragement
  • echo for confirmation
  • use WH- questions
  • use Yes/No questions
  • use elliptical questions
  • use commands
  • use contextual cues
  • use situational cues
  • use lexical prompts
  • use visual aids










 Types of Questions in Elicitation

Type of Question



Yes / No

  • check understanding (at lower levels)
  • build confidence
  • explore availability of a new topic
  • Ss do not talk
  • lack of real communication


  • build confidence
  • draw direct attention to what T wants


Facts & Info

(Wh- Questions)

  • boost production
  • give an opportunity for discussion
  • Ss give short answers
  • conversation may be unnatural


  • reduce the effect of directness
  • may sound unnatural


  • elicit information
  • natural conversation
  • boost production
  • sometimes too open


  • build confidence
  • natural
  • introduce the topic



  • good for higher levels
  • may be too challenging


  • ensure comprehension
  • too often change the meaning


with question tags

  • elicit a situation, position
  • confusing for lower levels
  • may be considered “confrontation”




Bartram, M. and Walton, R. 1991. Correction. Mistake Management. Language Teaching Publications: 1991.

Brumfit, C. 1994. Communicative Methodology in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Byrne, D. 1990. Teaching Oral Skills. Harlow: Longman.

Byrne, D. 1990b. Teaching Writing  Skills. Harlow: Longman.

Harmer, J. 2001. The Practice of English Language Teaching.  Harlow:  Longman.

Ur, P. 1996. A Course in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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