Language Sensei

A Language Teacher's Journey

“Wheel of …..Detail!” A Strategy to Aid Novices in Adding Detail to Communication


With 2 months to go in the semester, my  Yr1 Intensive students (2 semesters in 1) are now using their language for communicating more than just “I went to the mall”. I am a big believer in using the idea of ‘follow up questions‘ to drive details – but it’s sometimes hard to encourage the ‘brainstorming’ required for this. As my students  were prepping for an oral I pulled out what I call the “Wheel of Detail”. Essentially its a modified mind map and I use it for both presentational writing and oral interpersonal activities.  I like it as it connects details to a central activity.   Have a look at the one below. Wheel of DetailIt is centred on two topic areas for the oral – ‘what I like to do’ and ‘what I did on the weekend’.  On the side (in red) you can see the prompts for the kinds of follow up questions we have been working on.  You see the brainstorming in English as this is for an ‘oral’. They put down all the details that they want and (if they are unsure of the word) they can add it (you see one example in red above the word park). I am a big believer for orals in allowing English prompts. If this was writing – I’d be doing this in the target language (as we did last week with a similar kind of write). I like it better than a ‘list’ as the Wheel is an effective way to quickly, and visually, connect ideas.

How do you encourage/support adding detail in communication?


PS – the word ‘hint’ on the post-it? Well we’re coming up to a summative write and every once in a while I was ‘dropping hints’  – yes holding up the post-it and dropping it! 🙂


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