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

New ideas/Novel ideas

Oral language and Reading Strategies: New ideas or Novel ideas

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 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 4: Begin with context embedded tasks which make the abstract concrete. How can I put these concepts into a concrete context?

Principle 5: Provide multiple opportunities for authentic language use with a focus on students using academic language. Is the language focus on key language? Do I make sure the students have many opportunities to notice and use new language?

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?


New ideas or Novel ideas are a form of brainstorm that requires students to activate their prior knowledge in order to make predictions about a text, based on a prompt that the teacher has posed. The students work in small groups of four and they have a short, specified time to agree on an answer and each write it down. Each group then shares their answers with the whole class.

New ideas is a fast way of eliciting the knowledge or intuitions that reside in a group about a specific topic. It helps students to build on their prior knowledge by recalling their own and listening to others' prior knowledge. It encourages students to want to read the text to see if their predictions were correct thus engaging them. It also provides opportunities for noticing and hearing new language for English language learners.

The strategy page provides a detailed description of New ideas or Novel ideas and the video clip shows a simpler variation used to introduce a novel to a class.

video icon Secondary level: Making Language and Learning Work DVD 2 – Year 12 English.

Some possible Teacher Inquiry questions:

  • What prior-reading or oral language skill do your students need to develop? How will this knowledge inform the new ideas prompt that I propose for my students to discuss?
  • As I circulate and listen what language gaps do my ELLs have? How will this knowledge inform my teaching feedback and future lessons?
  • What other strategies could I use to activate my students’ prior-knowledge?
  • Are my students more engaged in the reading process due to the use of this strategy?


Useful websites:

Published on: 14 Aug 2012