2. Recall

Teaching Ideas

Recall, in this context, can be used to refer to not only focusing on strengthening the memory of specific items, but also increasing one’s familiarity and understanding of the theme under consideration.

Simply speaking, students individually, in pairs or in small groups write down or say what they have just done or learned. It could be

1) to remember (memorize) a list of certain items,

2) to recall a group of ideas (like different situations which require different structures when referring to the future) or

3) even to consider how things were done and to what end.

I have found this especially useful when done during pair-work and with small groups, either immediately after the activity or sometime later in the class. Through their interaction, they can exchange their perspectives and collaborate to add to their learning experience. It helps students bond with other students and feel more ‘normal’, realizing that there are others who might feel the same frustrations or insights. Giving and receiving support is, of course, another positive aspect and should be encouraged as students collectively work towards a common goal.

Also challenging (and effective) is asking the student to do it at home as a type of homework or in the following class just prior to a follow-up on the theme.

Whether this exploration of recalling is done individually or in groups, it would be a good idea to set aside some time to deal with doubts and further questions, which is quite often the result. My recommendation is to set a time limit and to keep focused on the particular theme that was introduced. Going beyond the time limits or allowing questions and statements to develop further away from the topic is a judgement call, depending on the teacher, the interest level of the students, and the demands placed from the course.

Some care should be taken in deciding how frequently to use this technique. Some students can appreciate it if done sparingly, but may feel that if overdone, can be a waste of time. While the students are working together on the task of recalling, monitor the different groups to see how they are participating and how they might feel about it. Very likely some will be more involved or interested than others so it’s a good idea to vary your techniques in the attempts to appeal to everyone and to strengthen their learning in different ways.


See how the teaching idea can be used in a classroom activity


Students try to recall what different principle ideas were just covered when categorizing some types of prepositions.