Using Oral and Written Forms

During the B-SLIM model the use of “forms” appears at several stages of the model.  It is important to teach “forms” during the Giving It stage and students use “forms” during the Using It and Proving It stages in order to learn through the language and prove what they have learned. Using oral and written forms in the classroom is an excellent way for the students to apply their knowledge in different situations, but as a teacher it is imperative that one supports the students appropriately. The teacher must provide the tools needed to complete the task. In this section we will discuss forms and their role in the language classroom.

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Anna's case study
Marguerite's case study

What is a "form"?

Forms refer to well recognized units of oral and written language. Their parts can be clearly recognized by native speakers even though many native speakers may not be cognizant of those parts or the order in which they typically appear. The function of a form is to use to use specific language content for a purpose.

What types of forms are there?

Every day we are exposed to language in all aspects of our lives; we use these forms, we see these forms and we hear these forms. These language forms are either delivered in oral or written form and it is important students recognize these forms and be able to use them as they progress in their language development.

What are the differences between oral and written forms?

If you are having problems thinking about oral and written forms, keep in mind that these are not only forms that you use, they are forms that you see and hear. Anything you write or read can be considered a written form; anything you hear or say can be considered an oral form.

 Think about all of the different print materials that are common to you every day. All of these can be considered written forms, from the newspaper, to the grocery coupons, to book covers. When thinking of oral forms, think of all the conversations you have or listen to throughout the day. These can consist of a tour guide, to describing the weather, to a poetry reading.  

Time yourself (1 min) and try to come up with as many oral forms as possible.  Now do the same thing with written forms.
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Why are oral and written forms important in the learning process?

Variety and creativity are important elements in learning and instruction.  Learners want to experience new activities as they progress through review and practice exercises.  They also want and need to have opportunities to display what they have learned through creative projects.

When learning a language, students need to know not only the grammar but also how to apply language in real life contexts. By allowing students to use language in these contexts, it makes learning more instrumental and therefore more realistic for them. By using forms students are learning how to apply the language they have learned in the classroom to situations that could happen outside the classroom. The concept of transfer involves taking what one knows from one context and applying it in another, thereby showing that one actually understands that concept. This is an excellent way to gauge student understanding of particular concepts.

Creating a lesson sequence for teaching a FORM

Watch these beginner teachers as they learn how to create a form. (time 6:37)


  1. Choose a form.
  2. Prepare an overview of the parts of the form – decide what the form consists of.
  3. Prepare sample texts for the form at three levels of difficulty – helps the teacher with assessment level on as well as gives students an example of what an excellent example of the form looks like
  4. Prepare  a vocabulary list for students (and teacher) – give the students the support to complete the form on their own
  5. Prepare sample stories that teachers can use to present the form in real life contexts – presenting the form in a context makes it more real to the students, so this isn’t just another assignment, it’s a task with a purpose
  6. Prepare sample examples for students to listen to (oral forms)
  7. Prepare visual Stimuli (cues) for each form
  8. Prepare sentence strips for several examples of each form – provides more structure for the students, ie gives them a way to start and end the form
  9. Prepare a template for the form – another form of support for the students
  10. Prepare a quality check - criteria for the teacher
  11. Prepare a listening comprehension sheet (oral forms)
  12. Prepare a self, peer or teacher assessment sheet
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