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The Boomerang: Engage Study Activate Teaching Method

As English Teachers, we are constantly seeking innovative ways to enhance our teaching methods and engage our students more effectively. ( or at least we hope we all are!)

Enter the Boomerang variation of the ESA (Engage, Study, Activate) teaching method.

The Boomerang method in ESA is a more flexible approach. It still involves the three core stages of ESA: Engage, Study, and Activate, but in a non-linear flow. the Boomerang method starts with an Engage phase, followed by an initial Activate stage, then a Study phase and it concludes with a second Activate stage.

This approach aligns with the diverse needs of language learners, adapting to different learning styles and keeping students actively involved in the lesson.

In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of the Boomerang ESA method, exploring its unique structure and how it can be applied to create enriching and effective language learning environments.

The Boomerang Engage Study Activate Teaching Method

We also have a larger in-depth article on the Engage-Study-Activate Teaching method here on the site, as well as a breakdown of other advice, tips and tricks if you need to check up after this. you can access them from the links below.

What is Boomerang ESA?

The Boomerang method is a variant of the traditional ESA teaching strategy that emphasizes a non-linear approach to lesson structure.

Unlike the straight-arrow ESA, which progresses linearly from Engage to Study, and then to Activate, the Boomerang method introduces an initial Activate phase right after the Engage phase, followed by the Study phase, and culminates in a final Activate phase.

This approach encourages students to use the language spontaneously and contextually early in the lesson, enhancing their engagement and understanding.

Benefits of Boomerang ESA

The Boomerang method is particularly effective in lessons focusing on communication skills, where immediate application of language is beneficial.

It allows students to experiment with language in a real-world context from the outset, fostering a deeper understanding and retention of the language concepts introduced later in the Study phase.

This method also caters to diverse learning styles, keeping students actively involved and motivated throughout the lesson.

Planning a Boomerang ESA Lesson

Structuring a Boomerang Lesson

Planning a Boomerang lesson involves careful consideration of how each phase will flow into the next.

  • Start with an Engage activity to warm up the students and pique their interest.
  • This is followed by an initial Activate phase, where students are encouraged to use any language they know related to the lesson’s topic.
  • After this, move into the Study phase, where the new language or grammar point is introduced.
  • The lesson concludes with a final Activate phase, where students use the newly learned language in structured activities.

Tips for Effective Implementation

  • Engage Phase: Choose an engaging activity that is relevant to the lesson’s topic but doesn’t require the use of new language.
  • First Activate Phase: Design activities that encourage students to use their existing language knowledge. This could be a free conversation, a brainstorming session, or a problem-solving activity.
  • Study Phase: Introduce the new language element in a clear and concise manner. Ensure that this phase addresses the language gaps observed during the first Activate phase.
  • Final Activate Phase: Plan activities that require the use of the new language structure or vocabulary, such as role-plays, debates, or story-telling.

Engage Phase in Boomerang ESA

Setting the Stage for Learning

In the Boomerang method, the Engage phase is crucial as it sets the tone for the entire lesson. This initial step is all about capturing students’ attention and sparking their interest in the topic.

  • Techniques to Engage: Start with something intriguing, like a fascinating fact about the lesson’s theme, a compelling story, or an interactive game. For a lesson on city vocabulary, you might show captivating images of famous cities or play city-themed sounds.
  • Creating a Conducive Environment: The aim here is to create an atmosphere where students feel relaxed and ready to participate. Encourage open communication and a sense of curiosity. This phase should feel more like an interactive discussion rather than a traditional lecture.

Role of the Teacher

  • Facilitator of Interest: In the Engage phase, your role is to be an enthusiastic facilitator. Ask questions that provoke thoughts and opinions, and show genuine interest in the students’ responses. Your enthusiasm can be contagious, setting a positive vibe for the lesson.

The First Activate Phase

Prompting Early Language Use

Following the Engage phase, the Boomerang method moves into an initial Activate phase, which is somewhat unconventional but highly effective.

  • Encouraging Spontaneous Use of Language: This phase involves activities that encourage students to use their existing language skills related to the topic. For instance, after engaging students with city imagery, you might ask them to discuss their favorite city and why they like it.
  • Building Confidence: Early activation helps build confidence as students are not yet burdened by the introduction of new language rules. It taps into their existing knowledge and encourages communication, setting a relaxed tone for the lesson.

Teacher’s Role in Early Activation

  • Guidance and Support: Your role here is to guide the conversation, provide encouragement, and gently correct any major errors. The focus should be on fluency and communication rather than accuracy.
  • Offer prompts and cues to keep the conversation flowing and ensure that all students get a chance to participate.

The Engage and first Activate phases in the Boomerang ESA method play a pivotal role in warming up students and getting them actively involved in the lesson from the start.

This approach boosts their confidence and also paves the way for a more receptive learning environment in the next Study phase.

The Study Phase

Focusing on New Language Concepts

After the initial Activate phase, the Boomerang method transitions into the Study phase, where the focus is on teaching new language elements.

  • Introducing New Material: This is the time to introduce new vocabulary, grammar, or pronunciation points. Following the city-themed lesson example, you might introduce vocabulary related to urban infrastructure or transport.
  • Structured Learning: Use exercises like gap-fills, sentence rearrangements, or pronunciation drills. Ensure these activities are directly related to the language used in the first Activate phase to maintain continuity and relevance.

Teacher’s Role in the Study Phase

  • Instructor and Guide: Your role is more directive in this phase. Clearly explain new concepts and provide structured guidance. It’s important to be patient, answer questions, and offer ample examples.
  • Feedback and Correction: Offer constructive feedback. This is also the time to correct any misunderstandings or errors noticed during the first Activate phase, reinforcing correct language usage.

The Final Activate Phase

Solidifying Language Learning

The final Activate phase in the Boomerang method is where students get to apply the new language concepts they’ve just learned.

  • Practical Application: Design activities that encourage students to use the new vocabulary in context. Continuing with the city theme, students could plan an imaginary tour of a city, using the new vocabulary to describe the places they would visit.
  • Creativity and Fluency: Encourage students to be creative and focus on fluency rather than accuracy. The goal is to make them comfortable using the new language in a practical, real-world context.

Teacher’s Role in Final Activation

  • Facilitator and Motivator: Step back and let the students lead the conversation or activity. Your role is to facilitate, offer prompts when necessary, and ensure that all students are participating.
  • Assessment: Use this phase to informally assess how well students have grasped the new language. Note areas that might need further reinforcement in future lessons.

The Study and final Activate phases are crucial in the Boomerang method, providing a structured approach to learning new language elements and then applying them in a communicative context.

This structure ensures that students are not only able to understand new language concepts but are also able to use them effectively and confidently.

The Boomerang: Engage Study Activate Teaching Method

Example lesson Plan for the Boomerang method in Engage – Study – Activate Teaching Method

ESA StageLesson Plan: Mastering Prepositions
ObjectiveBy the end of the lesson, students will be able to identify and use various prepositions correctly in context.
Materials– Whiteboard or digital board
– Markers or digital writing tools
– Worksheets with fill-in-the-blank exercises (for Study phase
– Picture cards depicting various scenes (for Activate phases)
Engage (10 minutes)– Show a slideshow/video of different places with objects/people in various positions.
– Discuss with questions like “What do you see in the picture?”- Students describe scenes using known prepositions.
Activate 1 (10 minutes)– Give students picture cards to describe scenes to a partner using prepositions.
– Encourage use of different prepositions, focusing on fluency.
Study (15 minutes)– Introduce the concept of prepositions on the board.
– Explain types of prepositions with examples.
– Worksheets with fill-in-the-blank exercises for practice.
Activate 2 (20 minutes)– Storytelling activity in groups with scenarios like “Describe a day at the zoo.”
– Use prepositions learned to build the story.
– Group presentations with a focus on correct preposition usage.
Wrap-up (5 minutes)– Summarize key points about prepositions.
– Review creative preposition usage from stories.
– Assign homework focused on prepositions, like writing descriptive paragraphs.

Differences Between the Three ESA Methods

While all three ESA methods (Straight Arrow, Boomerang, and Patchwork) share the core principles of Engage, Study, and Activate, they vary in their approach and sequencing.

  • Straight Arrow: This method follows a linear progression, starting with Engage, then Study, and finally Activate. It offers a structured and clear path for language acquisition.
  • Boomerang: Boomerang ESA, on the other hand, introduces an additional Activate phase after the initial Engage, creating a loop. This method encourages early communication practice, promoting fluency before deeper language study.
  • Patchwork: Patchwork ESA stands out as the most flexible, allowing teachers to insert Engage, Study, and Activate stages as needed. It offers adaptability to tailor lessons based on students’ engagement levels and specific requirements.

We have a more focused article on the differences between the three methods of E.S.A here on the site and you can check that out on the link later.

Challenges and Solutions

Implementing the Boomerang ESA method, while effective, can come with its own set of challenges. Here are some common issues and how to address them:

Adapting to Varied Student Responses

  • Challenge: Students may respond differently to the non-linear structure of the Boomerang method, with some finding the early Activate phase challenging.
  • Solution: Offer a range of activities that cater to different levels and learning styles. Encourage peer support and create a safe, non-judgmental environment that fosters confidence.

Balancing the Phases

  • Challenge: Finding the right balance between the Engage, Study, and Activate phases can be tricky, especially when adapting to the flow of the class.
  • Solution: Be flexible in your lesson plan. If a phase is going particularly well, it’s okay to extend it. Conversely, if something isn’t working, feel free to move on or revert to a previous phase.

Ensuring Effective Transition Between Phases

  • Challenge: Smoothly transitioning between phases without losing student engagement or focus.
  • Solution: Use transitional activities or brief summaries to bridge between phases. Make the objectives of each phase clear to the students to maintain a sense of direction.


The Boomerang variation of the ESA method offers a dynamic and flexible approach to language teaching, one that encourages active student participation from the outset.

By using the Activate phase both at the beginning and end of the lesson, it fosters a more engaging and interactive learning environment.

This method effectively addresses the challenges of keeping students motivated and involved, making language learning a more enjoyable and effective experience.

As educators, adopting the Boomerang ESA method can be a refreshing change that brings new energy into the classroom. It allows us to cater to diverse learning styles and needs, ensuring that our teaching has a lasting impact.




I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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