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

Oral language: Understand spoken information and instructions in a range of contexts

Learning task 3: Listen to and follow instructions

Dimension of practice

Learning task

What to notice

Teaching and learning purpose

  • Task is completed according to instructions (2.1)
  • Request for repetition of instructions is relevant to the task (2.2)

Identifying the language learners need to complete the task

Share the learning outcomes with your students, for example:

  • I can listen to and follow instructions with two or three steps and ask someone to repeat the instructions if I need to.

Engaging learners with the text

Finding out the learners prior knowledge

1. Listening to instructions

This activity is designed to ensure that students can listen to and follow instructions with two or three steps.Use LT3Listening to instructions-student worksheet (Word 34KB) and LT3Listening to instructions-Teacher sheet (Word 30KB) .

  • Read the instructions to your students in the order indicated by the numbers.
  • The students number the instructions in the order they are given. The first one of each set has been done for the students.
Can all of my students understand these instructions?

Variations for further practice

If students are not familiar with these instructions do a number of examples together. Students could then work in pairs before attempting some tasks individually.


Ensure a balance between receptive and productive language

2. Following single step instructions: Pair dictation

The purpose of this LT3Pair dictation-Student sheet (Word 48KB) activity is to provide further practice at following instructions and opportunities to request repetition.

  • Put students in pairs, A and B.
  • Instruct each student to put the following information in the shapes in any order they wish; first name, family name, age, number of brothers and sister, name of the town they were born in, name of favourite school subject.
  • Student A dictates his/her diagram to student B.
  • Student B dictates his/her diagram to student A.
  • Students compare diagrams to see if they are the same.
Are all of my students able to use the language receptively and productively?

Planning the learning tasks so that all learners are actively involved

3. Following two/three step instructions

The purpose of these activities are to provide additional practice at following instructions and opportunities to request repetition. Use LT3Following two-three step-Studentsheet (Word 38KB) and LT3Following two-three step-Teachersheet (Word 52KB) .

Picture dictation

  • Read the instructions to the students.
  • Display the correct version to correct and read instructions again pointing to the relevant part of the picture.
Can all of my students request repetition if needed?

Barrier exercise

Students get one half of the barrier exercise and take turns giving instructions that their partner has to follow.
Recycling the use of the same language in different ways


Variations for further practice

Further dictations of instructional language, pictures or diagrams given as barrier exercises or running dictations.
Providing opportunities for reflection and evaluation

Do any students need further opportunities to practice these skills?


Write down one thing you can do well and one thing you would like more help with.

What do the students’ reflections tell me about next steps in learning?