What is ‘Test, Teach, Test’?
Here’s how to use it in your language lesson.
Test, Teach, Test is a method of structuring your lessons.
Thanks for reading Barefoot TEFL Teacher! Subscribe for free to receive new posts.
This first ‘test’ stage should introduce the context and give the learners a chance to do a task or activity.
This can be anything where they have to use their English, as it will give you a chance to observe them. Watch out for errors or omissions in how they use the language, particularly with the target language that you’re planning on helping them with. It’s a good idea to jot these down when you hear them, as you can use them as examples in the next stage.
If you select the topic and context carefully, you can even steer the learners towards your intended target language. For example, a context where the learners have to ‘give advice’ to each other would hopefully encourage the use of modal verbs (”You could / should / must” etc).
While this is a bonus, it’s not always possible.
So any activity with an information gap, opinion gap or knowledge gap would work well.
Of course, you could literally choose a test, but that seems a bit mean…
The aim of this section is to observe errors that the learners are making with the target language.
This stage is the equivalent of the ‘Presentation’ stage from the ‘Presentation, Practice, Production’ model.
You’ve got two options in this stage. If the learners made errors with the language you thought they would, you can ‘teach’ the target language to them in this stage.
However, if they made some errors in other language points that you feel are even more important (i.e. it impedes fluency even more than the language you anticipated teaching), then you can focus on that instead.
Either way, this means a focus on form and accuracy. You could:
Do delayed error correction with the examples of language from the last stage (elicit the errors or peer correction).
Explicitly tell the learners the target language, form, and usage.
Give learners examples (on the board, on worksheets) and ask them to spot the patterns and work out the usage.
Run through some drills, individual and choral.
Do gap-fills, cloze activities, or other worksheets.
Or anything else that you’d typically do!
Don’t forget to concept check to ensure the weaker learners understand.
There’s also a great way to differentiate at this point — you can ask specific learners to focus on certain errors in the next stage. If student A had a problem with X, ask them to be aware of X during the next stage. Same with student B, who had issues with Y, and student V who had problems with Z.
The focus of this section is on clarification and accuracy.
Finally, the learners should do another task (or the same one, repeated) that encourages the use of the target language that they’ve just been focusing on.
Again, monitor the students, and you should (hopefully!) see that their accuracy and appropriate usage have improved.
The aim of this section is fluency with improved accuracy in the target language.
Thoughts on Test, Teach, Test
I’ve found that TTT is good with classes that you don’t know well (or don’t know how well they know the target language).
It’s also great to use with learners that lack confidence, as they can see/hear their progress in one lesson. Especially if you use the same task for both ‘test’ stages, it’s evident to the students that they’ve improved.
The word ‘Test’ can be misleading, as you’re not testing the students but observing them use it. ‘Task, Teach, Task’ is probably more appropriate.
See you again in two weeks.
Whenever you're ready, there are three ways I can help you:
1. Learn how to plan better, faster and stress-free with my book Lesson Planning for Language Teachers (90 ratings, 4.5⭐ on Amazon)
2. Develop calm students, a relaxed mind and a classroom full of learning with my book Essential Classroom Management (16 ratings, 4.5⭐ on Amazon)
3. Improve your teaching in five minutes a day with my Reflective Teaching Practice Journal (4 ratings, 4.5⭐ on Amazon)