Two tips on ‘psychological preparation’ from Adrian Doff

Last night’s webinar ‘More than just speaking’ by the venerable Adrian Doff covered a lot of familiar territory – natural speech, interactional strategies etc. He categorized these concepts under language preparation. However, towards the end of his talk, he shared a couple of tips he termed ‘psychological preparation’ i.e., allowing Ss an opportunity to prepare their thoughts and giving them thinking time before they start speaking with a partner or in a group. I suspect most of us get our Ss to make notes before they start talking but I thought Doff’s tips provide an interesting variation.

Tip 1

Give Ss a question to mull over like this one on privacy. However, instead of getting them to write notes – ask them to rate their perspective on a Likert scale. Allow them time to think about their selection before sharing their opinions with a partner.

Adrian Doff speaking


Tip 2

When using a picture prompt to facilitate speaking, allow time to individually reflect on the picture. Display or distribute the image. Then ask a series of questions to get the cognitive juices flowing (no responses necessary at this stage).

  • Take a look at this house, where is it?
  • Why is it in this place?
  • What is it used for?
  • Does someone live there?
  • You go up into the house, what do you see?
  • What sort of atmosphere does the house have?
  • Are there people? What are they doing?
  • Is it a beautiful house? Or is it not a nice place to live?

Then turn to the person next to you and share.

Adrian doff speaking 2

The bottom line according to Doff is that having thought about it, Ss are more likely to have something to say. I concur.

Image attribution: Both these images are sourced from Cambridge ELT’s (@CambridgeUPELT) Twitterfeed.


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