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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Finding out table

Oral language Strategy: Finding out table:

ESOL Principles:

Most strategies can be used to support all seven of the ESOL principles dependent upon how the teacher decides to use the strategy within their teaching and learning planning cycle. This strategy is usually used to support:

Principle 1: Know the learner- finding out about learners’ language and schooling backgrounds and their prior knowledge, using approaches that build on prior knowledge. What do you know about your students' language skills? What do you know about their prior knowledge? How will you find out this information? How will it affect your planning?

Principle 2: Identify the learning outcomes including the language demands of the teaching and learning. What language do the students need to complete the task? Do the students know what the content and language learning outcomes are?

Principle 3: Maintain and make explicit the same learning outcomes for all the learners. How can I make the lesson comprehensible to all students? How can I plan the learning tasks so that all the students are actively involved? Do my students understand the learning outcomes?

Principle 6: Ensure a balance between receptive and productive language. Are the students using both productive (speaking, writing) and receptive (listening, reading) language in this lesson?


Finding out table:

This strategy can be used at the beginning of a topic to find out what students know. The table or grid has prompts that students need to change into questions to ask their peers. They do this by circulating around the class and writing information in the spaces. Students need to be encouraged to ask as many different people as they can. Finding out tables are an effective way of accessing students' prior knowledge on a topic. They also provide practice in forming questions. Once completed, the information can be used in another activity to build on prior knowledge. This strategy is similar to questionnaires.

video icon Secondary level: Making Language and Learning Work DVD 2 - Economics, Year 13.

Teaching and learning sequence planning examples:

Primary level:

Secondary level:

Some possible Teacher Inquiry questions:

  • Will some of my students require a speaking frame in order to complete this task?
  • What is the value of activating prior knowledge?
  • As I circulate and observe students completing this task, what do I notice about my students’ knowledge and understanding? Are there any content or language gaps that I need to plan to teach?
  • How does encouraging students to use their first language strengthen learning?


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Published on: 15 Aug 2012