What is Concept Checking?  Concept checking is a technique used by the teacher during the lesson that involves the language learner in the process of discovering and understanding language. It often follows on from eliciting (see Eliciting), but can also be used whenever new words/ terms/ concepts have been introduced in a lesson.

The objective of concept checking is to allow the learners the chance to participate in the learning process by letting them express their acquired or intuitive knowledge, and through critical thinking which will enhance their language abilities by adding to what they already know.

To understand what effective concept checking is it will help to know what it is not.  Concept checking is not asking, “Do you understand?”  Concept checking allows us to determine if learners in fact do understand new concepts that are being introduced. It draws out what the learners know through their relationship to the words they understand. But further than that, it allows the teacher to see what the learner knows, and so permits the teacher to add to their knowledge. It also allows the teacher to give a clearer definition for learners if there is something that they do not understand.

The key to successful concept checking lies in an artful interaction between the teacher and the learner. Although it is often used after eliciting information from learners, it can be used as needed—during any of the engage, study and activate sections of the lesson.

Suggested concept check questions for lexis:

Nouns

  • What is another example of a ____?
  • What does a ____ do?
  • Where do we find a ____?
  • Why do we need a ____?
  • What does a ____ smell/ feel/ look/ taste/ sound like?
  • Do you have a ____? Tell me more about it.

Verbs

  • Show me how to ____.
  • What is the opposite of ____?
  • Who ____s?
  • Why do people ____?
  • Do you ____? When? Why? How?

Adjectives

  • Who is usually ____?
  • What is usually ____?
  • Do you ever feel ____?
  • What is the opposite of ____?
  • Show me ____.

Expressions, Idioms, and notational phrases

  • Who says this?
  • When is it said?
  • Where would you say this?
  • To whom would you say it?
  • To whom would you probably not say it?
  • When should it not be said?
  • How does this sound to you? Polite? Informal? Rude?