The last stage of the TEFL pyramid: Free Stage 2. Main aspects of the free stage.

The last stage of the TEFL pyramid: Free Stage 2. Main aspects of the free stage.

To arrive at the free stage, the last stage of the TEFL teacher's pyramid, the point to which our students should have been taken so far is to be able to use the target language with reasonable ease, having quite a sense of confidence with it in a limited context, but probably producing some redundant error as well as hindered fluency (pauses, half-finished utterances which are then repeated and a lot of use of delaying and thought gathering techniques known as discourse markers). They have also been heavily dependent on the TEFL trainer and environmental support and have been receiving a lot of correction.

All these factors distance the student from our aim of making them truly communicative, so we need to devise an activity for them that both remedies these inadequacies and provides the student with the necessary freedom of expression - hence the FREE stage. The qualities that a free stage should have are as follows:
  1. The target language is to be necessary to achieve the task but with a frequency that reflects its use in real life.
  2. Correction is reduced to a feedback session at the end of the activity when you invite students to correct the mistakes you've been noting down during the activity. In a case where there is a general problem, or a misunderstanding in how to carry out the activity, then it would be appropriate to correct.
  3. The relevant pre-teaching should be done to an extent that new vocabulary isn't a hindrance, and involves greater input than the close control stage.
  4. The activity should try to be done in a different place to the class, as in real life.
  5. The TEFL teacher should set up the activity and then their role is reduced to a passive one in which they limit themselves to taking notes and acting as a ‘promoter’ of the activity i.e. moving people from one place to another, supplying materials, or hurrying people along if they are slowing up a cascade activity (one which requires all participants to supply information before the next stage can be tackled).
  6. The activity must be meaningful - and usually more realistic than the close control. If the free stage is an information collection exercise, then we must have a conclusion. E.g. it wouldn't be any good for the students to gather 'age' information about each other and leave it at that. We would need to go on and present some kind of conclusion such as who is the youngest, oldest, or create an ‘average age poster’ at the end.
 In the following articles, we’ll deal with these points in turn.


Posted on August 20th, 2017


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