CAP – Context, Analysis, Practice: A lesson planning model for language teacher education

The first of 2 articles on the 3-stage lesson planning model that I propose has just been published in the IATEFL Teacher Education Newsletter. In the article I argue that CAP is more appropriate and more relevant for today’s teaching and teacher education courses than alternatives such as PPP, ESA, etc. It’s also the topic I’ll be talking on at IATEFL Glasgow 2017 (scroll down for details).

I also provide a little initial data from trainee teachers who found it useful, offer example CAP lesson skeletons from my forthcoming book the Trinity CertTESOL Companion and also link it to text-based language teaching, an approach that is fairly well established in Australia, but still poorly known in the UK.

A trainee teacher sketch using the CAP model for planning an integrated skills lesson.

What are the three phases of CAP?

The three phases of CAP are simple, logical and easy to remember as follows:


The context for learning is established through a text (listening, reading or video), a presented ‘situation’ (in the classroom or through audio-visual resources), or the involvement of learners. This may be accompanied by activities that raise background schemata, check comprehension, or engage learners meaningfully in the text.


Language features are noticed and analysed explicitly for meaning, form, pronunciation and usage/use as appropriate. This may include grammatical, functional, lexical or textual aspects of the language. This is roughly equivalent to Harmer’s Study stage or Scrivener’s Clarification.


Learners practise using the language. This may include controlled and freer speaking or writing practice of the language analysed, scaffolded and independent text construction or a communicative task.

An optional 4th stage, turns ‘CAP’ to CAPE’:


When practice involves text construction, self-, peer and teacher evaluation of the text are possible, such as in a gallery walk activity after a writing task or performance of role plays for the class.

There are possibility for changing and adapting the model, depending on lesson type and context. As always in the article, I offer it as a scaffolding tool, not a rule or dogma.

More on CAP

A second article on CAP is due out later this year, where I explore changes in how coursebooks have provided context over the last 30 years, offer compelling evidence that they also support a C-A-P model, and explore ways the model can be adapted to suit different lesson shapes and theories of teaching and learning.

To find out more about CAP and to hear about the evidence I present from coursebook analysis, come along to my IATEFL Glasgow 2017 talk in the Forth Room on Wednesday 5th April from 15:15-15:45. It’s called: “Context, Analysis, Practice: The hidden paradigm in contemporary ELT.”


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