The CELTA Trainer’s Diary Part 8 – Loop Input

The 8th Day of the CELTA was about introducing the trainees to the Lexical Approach and the idea of language existing as chunks, rather than individual pieces of vocabulary strung together to make meaning.


Trainees were getting experiential training through the use of a demo lesson of a jigsaw reading method I use to encourage learners to remember language in chunks.


Trainees, acting as learners, were divided into two groups (blues and yellows) and given different texts to read and summarise. The catch was that they were only allowed to make notes in the form of drawings to help them remember the content. This means that the learner would not be able to simply read the words off the page, but is encouraged to truly understand the meaning of the text and remember some of the chunks of language.


The trainees, now learners, are put in a carousel, with the Blues on the inside and the Yellows on the outside. The Blues then had to relay their summaries, with the help of only their drawings, to the yellows. The Yellows then moved a place to their left and had to re-tell what they had heard to their new Blue partner.


This achieves two things. It practises the very common communicative function of re-telling stories and reporting what one has heard, while allowing the new blue partner to fill in the gaps of the retold story, thus co-constructing the information learnt and reformulating the chunks of language from the text.


As Güven has very concisely summarized the lesson in his blogpost, I will refrain from describing the rest of the input session here.


What makes this input session slightly different from those with a demo lesson which employs the technique of a straight forward experiential learning/training, is that the text given to the trainees was about the Lexical Approach itself.


The Blues were given a page-long definition about the Lexical Approach from An A-Z of ELT (Thornbury, 2006) while the Yellows were given a page from the same book about lexis, lexical sets and lexical verbs.


Loop de Loop
Photo by Mike Hogan, from

Combining content (i.e. What the trainee is trying to learn: the text about the Lexical Approach) and process (i.e. How the trainee is trying to learn: the ‘drawing jigsaw reading’ which enforces the Lexical Approach), this specific style of teacher training sessions could be described as a loop input (Woodward, 1986).


Being multi-sensory, loop input allows for lots of recursion and for the reverberation of learning to take place through content (the text) and through experiencing the process (pretending to be students in the demo Lexical Approach lesson), thereby resulting in a deeper understanding and learning of the concept (Woodward, 2003).


What is perhaps most important in loop input sessions, and in fact any experiential learning process involving a demo lesson, is that trainees are given the chance to unpack (or what Woodward calls ‘decompress’) the lesson.
This means that time is given to trainees to have a detailed discussion of the main stages of the lesson they have just experienced, the aims of each stage, the content and materials used, and the participant experience of the activity (ibid).


In this loop input session for example, I asked the following questions in the unpacking stage:


What were the main stages of that lesson?

Why did I only allow you to draw and not write words?

Why did I ask you to re-tell what you had heard?

What words did you use when re-telling?

Did you remember individual words or chunks of language?

How did you remember the words you had to use to re-tell what you had heard? How did you feel as a student?


And judging from Güven’s blogpost, it seems like the trainees got the gist of the Lexical Approach.




Thornbury, S. (2006) An A-Z of ELT, Macmillan.

Woodward, T. (1986) ‘Loop Input – a process idea’ The Teacher Trainer 1: 6-7.

Woodward, T. (2003) ‘Key Concepts in ELT: Loop Input’ ELTJ 57/3: 301-304

Author: Chia Suan Chong

I am a writer, communication skills trainer and a teacher trainer based in York, UK. I have been English Teaching Professional's resident blogger since 2012 and have a regular feature in their bimonthly magazine. My book Successful International Communication was published in Dec 2018.

8 thoughts on “The CELTA Trainer’s Diary Part 8 – Loop Input”

  1. Sounds like a perfect TT session when participants get two kinds of input: the actual content (in this case the Lexical approach) and, indirectly, the way it is delivered (jigsaw reading). I like workshops with such a dual purpose when the procedural aspect enhances the learning outcomes, making the workshop both content-rich and experiential.

    By the way I need to update my “Lexicalise Your Lesson” workshop (Introduction to LA). Do you mind if I use your jigsaw idea?

    1. Sorry for the late reply, Leo.
      Thank you so much for taking time to comment. I would really feel honoured if you use the jigsaw reading idea. After all, that’s what blogging is for, isn’t it?
      As someone once told me, sharing is loving!


  2. I’ve just caught up with your CELTA Trainer’s Diary posts, Chia. Thank you for taking the time to write them. They are all interesting reads and will make a great reference – for both new and trainee teachers and for ideas for training sessions.


    1. Thanks, Carol.
      Sorry I haven’t replied sooner.
      Two of the CELTAs I’m running are overlapping and I haven’t had much time to spend on the blog lately…
      I’m just glad this is useful…


  3. ‘Unpack’, I like it. I’d love to do activities with my trainees and then recap later but I’m not sure they appreciate it. I know that I was never into doing ‘fun’ things in TT sessions. Then I realised that if I didn’t enjoy them perhaps my learners didn’t too. Thus, I went into Monday’s class and asked for an honest conversation. Turned out they hated silly games, find someone who and even the book. then it went into host families.

    Anyhow, the problem I now have is how to teach teachers activities and things to do in class without getting them to experience them. Videos maybe???

    Keep up the great blogging Chia. I’m torn now. First I was going to redo my CELTA with Anthony but you’re giving him a good run for his money. Why on earth aren’t you 2 DELTA tutors?


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