In the eighth article in this series, Kay Bentley explains how feature identification can be used as a task. Feature identification is not only helpful for the understanding of subject knowledge but also for identifying text types.

Feature identification is a type of task which can be used to help learners notice particular language used in the presentation of a curricular topic. Either the teacher or the learners highlight, underline or circle features of language which are key to the understanding of subject knowledge and which may have to be produced to communicate that knowledge. Often those features highlighted are content-obligatory language.

Examples of features likely to be identified include:

  • technical vocabulary: e.g. the water cycle - word endings: transpiration, condensation, precipitation, evaporation
  • collocations: e.g. climate change: rain, heavy rain, tackle the problem, make progress
  • grammatical structures: e.g. history - hypotheses: If we’d lived in the 12th century, we could have seen … , If they’d invented light bulbs, they wouldn’t have had to ... .
  • functional language: e.g. art - location: In the background you can see ... , Towards the side there is … , At the edge, he has ... .

Feature identification is also used as part of teaching genre (see recount). At the modelling stage, the teacher identifies language particular to a type of text. In a persuasive text, for example, superlative adjectives, repetition of vocabulary, rhyme and suggestions could be highlighted. Learners then find examples of these language features in different advertisements. This process enables learners to understand what language is required in order for them to communicate their ideas effectively.
Teachers could also decide to focus on prosodic language features. If they teach subjects such as drama or literacy in CLIL programmes, they may want to help learners notice intonation, rhythm or stress patterns in connected speech used in different contexts. This would be appropriate for historical drama or role-play while learning about issues of citizenship. Identification and understanding of prosodic features is also useful for contexts where teachers like to hear learners read aloud.

Knowledge of language features is tested in Part 1 of TKT: CLIL and feature identification is tested in knowledge of activity types in Part 2 of TKT: CLIL.

For more information about the TKT: CLIL visit the Cambridge ESOL TKT: CLIL website.