Do You Know What ECRIF is?!

ECRIF stands for five phases of students’ learning: Encounter, Clarify, Remember, Internalize, Fluency.

ECRIF is a framework for understanding learning, looking at how people learn rather than prescribing what teachers should or should not do.

ECRIF framework focuses on the learning process that students go through as they work with the target skill or knowledge rather than what the teacher is doing during the lesson.

This framework can provide a tool that help teachers see student activities and content from the perspective of student learning. In this way, ECRIF is connected to how teachers think about what is happening in their classrooms.

Who developed ECRIF and where is it being used?

ECRIF framework was developed by Josh Kurzweil and Mary Scholl between 2004 and 2005 as they wrote the book Understanding Teaching Through Learning

This framework has been used in a variety of workshops given for governmental and non-governmental organizations. Although it was originally developed for English language teachers, it has also been with content teachers teaching other subjects such as history and math as well as vocational instruction such as using computer software and operating construction equipment.

Benefits of recognizing the ECRIF framework.

ECRIF can be used by the teachers to:

  • plan lessons and adapt course book materials = (reflecting for action).
  • assess where students are in their learning process during a lesson = (reflecting in action).
  • reflect on student learning after a lesson = (reflecting on action).
  • determine what kind of corrective feedback would be useful for the learner.

The phases of ECRIF framework.

ENCOUNTER.

The encounter phase of learning is the first time a learner encounters new material or information.  It is the presentation of new language.  In the ENCOUNTER phase, the learner’s background knowledge is activated and what they already know is found out.

Methods of ENCOUNTER:

  • Inductive or deductive presentation.
  • Storytelling with or without realia, role play, pictures, recordings, etc.
  • Matching exercises
  • Categorizing, sorting, predicting

CLARIFY:

Clarify is something that happens inside the learner when the learner can determine, for example, certain meaning or pronunciation of a vocabulary word or use certain grammar construction in certain situation.  Teachers of course assist in clarifying and check or assess learners’ understanding of material.  One way that teachers check comprehension is with comprehension checking questions.

4 kinds of comprehension checking questions.

  1. Non-verbal affirmation – “Point to the supermarket.”
  2. Positive/negative – “Is this a supermarket?”  “Can I buy bread at the supermarket?”
  3. Discrimination – “If I want to buy bread, do I go to the pharmacy or the supermarket?”
  4. Short answer – “What is the name of a local supermarket?”

Some notes about comprehension checking questions (CCQs): 

They are used to check the understanding of anything that learners have encountered or been presented:  vocabulary, grammar, appropriateness, etc.  They are also to check if students understand instructions for an activity, project, or assignment. It is helpful to write them out at first in your lesson plan.

REMEMBER:

This is the first step in putting new material in memory.  It is usually characterized by repetition, drilling, and referring back to support materials using models or prompts.

Typical activities for remembering:

  • Drilling.
  • Gap filling or cloze test.
  • Information gap.
  • Searches.
  • Scrambled words or sentences.
  • Guessing games.
  • Matching.
  • Reading scripts and dialogues.

Note about remembering: 

The activities for this stage of learning are also called “controlled practice”.  Controlled practice means that the learner has lots of support, and little or no choice in how to successfully complete the activity or exercise.

INTERNALIZE:

When a learner internalizes material, it is transferred to long-term memory. Continued practice is needed to help internalize new language or information. Kinds of practice here differs from the remembering stage in that it will be freer and less controlled. In this stage learners make more choices in how they are using the information and relying less on outside support.

Typical activities for internalization:

  • Guessing games.
  • Information gaps.
  • Storytelling/role play.
  • Short answers.

Notes about activities to remember and internalize:   

Learners go through a process of putting target language into short-term memory and then longer-term memory in order to prepare for later communication by practicing the language in various ways moving from “teacher-controlled” to “learner-initiated” activities.

FLUENCY:

In this stage of learning, learners are using new material and information fluidly, in accordance with their current understanding and internalized grasp of the material.  It is the stage where they freely test internalized knowledge and spontaneously produce the target language creatively in a personal, real-life communication tasks.

Typical fluency activities:

  • Guessing games.
  • Fluency lines, circles.
  • Debates.
  • Role play.
  • Information gap.
  • Discussions.

Note: While corrective feedback is useful at the practice stages of language learning, no corrective feedback is offered during fluency activities, because it interrupts the flow of language production.

Remember: ECRIF is not a linear framework. Learners find themselves practicing fluency before they have internalized target language. They go back to clarify something that is not fully understood, then double back to drill or practice fluency. After learners have internalized the meaning of a structure, they encounter a new meaning or use of the same structure which again leads them to clarify, remember, etc.

Since ECRIF is not linear, the teacher orders the stages of the lesson based upon student learning and chooses to start lessons with fluency practice, or returns to pronunciation drilling based upon the assessment of learner production in the internalization or fluency stage of the lesson.


If you have any more ideas, experiences, questions, or feedback related to the ECRIF framework, please, share them with me. You can email me at eltguide@gmail.com


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