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Language Enhancing the Achievement of Pasifika. Ministry of Education.

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Effective language-learning activities

  • The activities listed below all promote student engagement with learning and language.
  • Each activity helps language learners in specific ways.
  • Effective teachers constantly extend their repertoire of activities, trying new ones and varying old ones.
  • Pasifika students can engage in some of these activities in their Pasifika languages as well as in English.

Language-learning activities

Language learning takes place when students understand language input and when they use language to engage in interaction. Their depth of processing of ideas and language is important. This is part of developing language complexity.

Students learn more language when they spend time elaborating and exploring one area, using the associated language in many different ways. The activities below all help them to do this, as do the activities suggested in the Selections series teachers’ notes and other Ministry of Education ESOL resources.

You can use these activities repeatedly in any curriculum area. Repeated use allows your students to become familiar with key strategies for processing ideas and language, such as the comprehension strategies in the two Effective Literacy Practice books (Ministry of Education, 2003 and 2006). You can then encourage students to use these strategies independently.

The students can use the activities in English or in a Pasifika language, or they can decide to complete parts in different languages. For example, they might have discussions in English and then write up their conclusions in a bilingual version.

Language-learning activities outlined in LEAP



Helps students to:


Information transfer

(diagrams, tables, graphs, maps, and texts)

(See the inquiry Generic patterns in texts.)

  • express information in their own way
  • remember ideas, language, and information


Split information

Divide information among students so they each have to understand a part of the whole and communicate what they understand to the others.

(See the inquiry Learning from talking and writing.)

  • read and understand long or complex texts collaboratively
  • speak about what they read, hear, or see


Cooperative group work (problem solving, creating, inventing, evaluating, ranking)

(See the inquiry A caring and inclusive classroom environment.)

  • engage in exploratory talk about a topic
  • make final written or spoken presentations of their ideas


Reciprocal teaching of reading

(See Palincsar and Brown, 1985; Palincsar, 1986a, b; and Ministry of Education, 2003, page 101.)

  • predict, clarify, question, summarise
  • gain more information from their reading


Brainstorming, including structured brainstorming – PMI, OPV, CAF, AGO 1

  • explore a topic and the related language
  • generate and organise ideas


Mental images, mind maps, concept maps, and semantic maps 2

  • understand a text/topic by exploring it
  • remember ideas, language, and information


Role-play, ‘Say It‘, simulation, and drama

(See the inquiry Supporting spoken output.)

  • understand in a holistic way
  • understand a context or topic from several perspectives
  • express ideas and feelings in speaking
  • learn to imagine other contexts in detail



(See the inquiry Scaffolding students’ writing.)

  • think about a topic from several perspectives
  • link the topic with other learning
  • structure their thinking and writing in increasingly complex ways, from description to analysis, application, and argument (see Bloom, 1984).

ESOL Online has many good teaching activities, with examples from curriculum materials.

Effective Literacy Strategies in Years 9 to 13. A Guide for Teachers (Ministry of Education 2004) also lists and describes language-learning strategies and their purposes. See, in particular, pages 14–15 and 143.


  1. These brainstorming techniques were developed by Edward de Bono. See details of his tools for thinking at www.edwdebono.com/. Retrieved 22 May 2006.

  2. The term ‘mind map’ and its use in learning as used by Tony Buzan. See www.thethinkingbusiness.co.uk/mindmappingapplications.htm. Retrieved 22 May 2006.

Supporting materials

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