Modelling is providing learners with a written or oral model of the language you want them to produce.

EAL learners need to notice language in order to be able to practise using it effectively. Providing learners with written and oral models allows teachers to be explicit about the key features of language they are using. Teachers can use modelling to enable EAL learners to cope with the language demands of each task and to support them in practising the target language.

In order for this process to be effective teachers need to be clear about the specific language demands, both written and oral, of the tasks they set for learners and of the curriculum. They may need to model a particular grammatical feature, an appropriate language structure or a way of organising a text. In each case learners notice the key language feature they are expected to practise before they attempt it themselves.

Examples of modelling

  • Providing a model text for a writing task
  • Using sentence starters as a writing frame
  • Writing down the questions you would like learners to ask during a discussion task
  • Giving learners model sentences to highlight a specific language feature
  • Using a writing frame to model how a text should be organised
  • Annotating a text to illustrate how it is structured and/or to point out key features of English
  • Creating a speaking frame which models key vocabulary and language structures
  • Orally modelling the specific language chunks you want your learners to use
  • Telling a story to model past tense structures

Practical ideas for modelling

  • Top tip: Analyse the language demands of the task carefully and fully exploit the models you use to draw attention to key language
  • To consider: Use other learners or adults in the classroom, e.g. Teaching Assistants, to provide good models of language through role playing the task in front of the class
  • Use group tasks e.g. information exchange activities, to necessitate communication between EAL learners and other learners who can provide good models of language.
  • Use substitution tables to provide learners with model sentences. (Read more about substitution tables here)
  • Refer back to written models at the end of a task so that learners can notice similarities and/or differences with their own writing.
  • Analyse a piece of text on the white board with the whole class to look at how it is structured, e.g. Annotating a text written in a formal style - highlighting sentences written in the passive voice in one colour, formal vocabulary in another colour, etc.
  • Group or pair activities annotating a text to look at particular features. This has the dual advantage of focusing attention on specific features of language and providing a real opportunity for exploratory talk through working collaboratively. (Read more about collaborative activities here)

Good for EAL, Good for All: Can I use modelling with the whole class?

Yes, models encourage all learners to notice features of language, to practice using them appropriately and to do so accurately.


Modelling - Word