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What is Guided Discovery?

Guided Discovery is a technique used to present and clarify language in an inductive and student-centred way. In this post, we’ll provide definitions, tips and downloadable Guided Discovery activities that you can adapt and use in your classroom.

Defining Guided Discovery:

In guided discovery activities, the teacher provides learners with the chance to be exposed to and analyse language in order to help them understand the rules by themselves. By using a task, questions or awareness-raising activities, students are led to identify the use, meaning, form and pronunciation of the target language. Students can be asked to state the rules they have worked out, or use the language to put the rules into practice to find out how much they understood about the concepts they were working with. It is important to remember that the language presented needs to be contextualised, and learners should be exposed to more than one sample of the target language to be able to compare and contrast language items.

In the next section, you will find three examples of Guided Discovery activities that you can use and adapt to your learners. It is important to remember that these are not lesson plans, but suggestions that can be incorporated to your lessons depending on your lesson aims.


These Guided Discovery activities aim at raising learners' awareness of adjective-noun collocations.

Level: B2/C1

Context: album reviews

Linguistic aim: adjective-noun collocations

You can click on the links below for the answer keys:


This Guided Discovery activity aims at raising learners' awareness of adverbs.

Level: A2/B1

Context: Adverts

Linguistic aim: adverbs

You can click on the links below for the answer key:

Advantages of using Guided Discovery:

Making learning more memorable:

Some authors argue that asking learners to work out the rules by themselves, instead of providing the rules, might help students internalise and retain them in their long-term memory. It is important, however, to understand your students' learning preferences when choosing which approach to use to present and clarify language. It might be a good idea to vary the technique employed in order to cater for different learning needs.

Making learning more student-centred:

Students should be able to work out rules and patterns by themselves, or collaboratively, during Guided Discovery. For example, instead of asking CCQs, the teacher might pose a task for learners to check understanding of meaning by themselves. The role of the teacher is to monitor and provide support should learners need. Using a technique such as Guided Discovery might also help teachers keep their talking time under control.

Fostering learner autonomy:

Guided Discovery activities help students practice how to identify patterns of language and reflect upon them. This might help them become better able to do the same when not in the classroom, leading to more autonomous and independent learning.


Andreia Zakime is an Academic Coordinator at Cultura Inglesa São Paulo, a CELTA tutor and one of the co-founders of What is ELT?

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