What is a cline?
The British Council Teaching English website defines a cline as ‘a scale of language items that goes from one extreme to another, for example, from positive to negative, or from weak to strong’.
Why are clines useful in language teaching?
Clines can be very effective in conveying and clarifying language, giving a very visual representation of meaning. They highlight shades of meaning, they are efficient and can cut down on teacher talking time. They also provide students with a good record of language to take home.
What language points lend themselves well to use of clines?
Clines are very versatile and can be used for vocabulary or grammar.
Some examples I have used follow:
Expressing likes and dislikes
E.g. Degrees of hunger
Modals of deduction
Adverbs of frequency
It can be a nice idea to write the sentences or expressions onto cards and get the students to come up to the board and stick them where they think they go on the cline. If you are technologically minded and have access to an IWB, you could also get them to drag the expressions to the appropriate position. This exercise promotes peer collaboration and usually some interesting discussion.
Any other ideas for using clines in class?
I recently spoke about this topic at the IH Online Teachers Conference. You can see the talk here: