A short guide to concept checking vocabulary

by celtaconfessions

Not my pet love… maybe my pet hate? 😉

As Rachael says, it ‘feels ridiculous, unnatural and patronising to be asking a series of questions to which we already know the answers’ and that ‘concept questions can be overdone and, particularly if they’ve been badly devised, they can be completely ridiculous.’

OK, so they have their good points. Agreed. BUT, and a big BUT, concept checking ought to be used ‘fairly sparingly, and most of all wisely’, not the way CELTA courses ask you to because, bear in mind, they are ‘testing’ to see if you know how to use it. It’s just that some tutors get overzealous and want you to use CCQs all the time and you might leave the course thinking they’re the best thing to happen since sliced bread!


Back in 1978 the psychologist Melissa Bowerman observed her 13 month old daughter, who was starting to talk. (Psychologists do a lot of this. In fact, I sometimes wonder if that’s the main reason they have children.) Anyway, her daughter was observed pointing at a ball, and saying ‘ball.’  She knows the word ball, you might conclude.

But then, over the next few months, the child also used the word ‘ball’ to describe a balloon, an Easter egg and even a pebble. So what exactly had she learnt? Probably that ball was something (more or less) spherical. That’s certainly part of the meaning, but we’d probably also have to add:

  • You play games with it, such as tennis or football
  • It doesn’t break when you throw it
  • It usually bounces
  • It can be between around 3 cm to about 12 cm in diameter

All these points go to make up…

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