How to Set a Context for Language Teaching

And why it’s absolutely necessary.

David Weller
4 min readNov 3, 2021


‘How to set a context’ — it’s the one main ingredient that is missing from most coursebook based lessons. This is a shame, as it’s absolutely necessary for an effective lesson.

Every time we use language, it’s in a clearly set situation. The speakers know where they are, and why the interaction is taking place.

Unfortunately, when we teach language, we often fall into the trap of getting learners to just practice the language — drilling or repeating sounds, words, patterns or dialogues — without them knowing why.

This leads to confusion for our students. Why is it useful? Where can I actually use this without sounding like an idiot? Is it too formal/informal for some scenarios?

How to Set a Context

Where does the language you’re teaching take place? Why is it happening? How is it connected to real-life, and to your students?

Answering these questions will give a reason to engage with your lesson.

A lesson without context is like a textbook without an introduction, a film without a trailer or a book without a blurb. Learners end up with no reason to care about what’s going to happen.



David Weller

Lessons, stories and visuals to develop your language teaching and learning. 20 years in education, 3 books, and a twice-monthly newsletter.