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

Split information (information gap)

Oral language, Reading and Writing Strategies: Split information (Information gap)

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 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 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?


Split information: each student only has part of the information they need to complete a given task. The students work in pairs and they must cooperate and share their information by speaking or writing to each other. The information is usually presented in two different formats such as a diagram and a paragraph.

Split information activities are also known as information gap activities or combining tasks. Some examples of split information tasks include barrier activities, shared dictation, and strip story.

video icon Secondary level: Making Language and Learning Work DVD 2 - Year 11 Geography.

Teaching and learning sequence planning examples:

Secondary level:

Some possible Teacher Inquiry questions:

  • Have I also got a language focus built into the design of my split-information task?
  • What can I notice about my student’s listening and speaking as I observe and listen to conversations during the activity? How will I use this knowledge in my future planning?
  • Where in the sequence of learning will it be best to sequence this activity?
  • How will I build in reflection with the students after the activity?


Useful websites:

Published on: 15 Aug 2012