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The Straight Arrow Engage Study Activate Teaching Method

As teachers, we’re always on the lookout for effective methods that simplify language learning while keeping students engaged. The Straight Arrow ESA method does just that.

Developed as a practical variation of the classic Engage, Study, Activate (ESA) framework, it offers a clear and straightforward approach to language teaching.

The Straight Arrow method in ESA (Engage, Study, Activate) follows the fundamentals of ESA. It utilizes the three stages in order Engage – Study – activate – In contrast to The Boomerang and Patchwork methods of E.S.A which add stages and are more adaptable to variable teaching situations

In this article, we’ll delve into the Straight Arrow ESA method, breaking down its key elements and sharing insights on how fellow educators can implement it in their classrooms.

Join us in exploring this practical and teacher-friendly (and student of course) approach to language education.

The Straight Arrow 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 the Straight Arrow Method in ESA?

The Straight Arrow method is a streamlined and teacher-friendly variation of the classic Engage, Study, Activate (ESA) framework, designed to provide a clear path for effective language teaching.

At its core, it maintains the fundamental principles of ESA while simplifying the structure for educators and students alike.

In the Straight Arrow ESA approach, the journey flows logically from one phase to the next, making it easy for both teachers and learners to follow.

This simplicity doesn’t compromise the method’s effectiveness but enhances it by offering a straightforward roadmap.

PhaseDescriptionPurposeExamples of Activities
EngageSetting the stage for learningCapture students’ interest and readiness to learn.Short videos, discussions, thought-provoking questions, games
StudyBuilding language foundationsFocus on language acquisition and practice (vocabulary, grammar, etc.).Vocabulary drills, grammar exercises, pronunciation practice
ActivatePutting language to practical usePromote fluency and practical language use in real-life scenarios.Role-plays, debates, storytelling, discussions

Engage, Study, and Activate – A Three-Phase Approach

Engage – Setting the Stage for Learning

In the Straight Arrow ESA method, the Engage phase marks the beginning of an exciting language learning journey. Its purpose is simple yet crucial: to capture students’ interest right from the start.

During this phase, teachers act as facilitators, setting the tone for the lesson.

Engaging activities, such as short videos, discussions, or interactive games, create an atmosphere where students are eager to dive into the language.

Study – Building Language Foundations

Moving forward, the Study phase takes center stage in the Straight Arrow ESA method. Here, students focus on language acquisition and practice.

The purpose is to provide a solid foundation in vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and language skills.

Activities like vocabulary drills, grammar exercises, and pronunciation practice help students master these essential elements.

Teachers serve as guides, offering explanations and support to ensure students grasp the language concepts effectively.

Activate – Putting Language to Practical Use

The final phase, Activate, aims to transform language learners into confident communicators. Its goal is to promote fluency and practical language use.

In this phase, students engage in real-life scenarios through activities like role-plays, debates, storytelling, or discussions.

Teachers step into a facilitating role, providing the necessary support and constructive feedback. It’s about creating a safe space where students can express themselves freely, fostering language fluency and effective communication skills.

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.

Balancing the Three Phases in ESA

Balancing the Engage, Study, and Activate phases is vital for effective language teaching. Striking the right equilibrium ensures a well-rounded learning experience. Tailor the length and intensity of each phase to align with lesson objectives and student proficiency levels.

Beginners may require extended Study phases, while advanced learners benefit from longer Activate phases.

ESA’s hallmark is its flexibility; it adapts seamlessly to diverse teaching contexts. Whether in traditional classrooms or online environments, this adaptable framework empowers educators to create engaging, dynamic language lessons that cater to students’ unique needs.

The Straight Arrow Engage Study Activate Teaching Method

Implementing the Straight Arrow ESA Method in the Classroom

Implementing the Straight Arrow ESA method in your language classroom requires thoughtful planning and a clear understanding of its principles. To make the most of this approach:

Lesson Planning with ESA:

Begin by carefully structuring your lessons, ensuring a balanced integration of the Engage, Study, and Activate phases. While these phases follow a sequence, remember that flexibility is a key advantage of the method.

Adapt the length and intensity of each phase based on your lesson objectives and your students’ proficiency levels. See below for a brief example lesson plan with the Straight arrow ESA approach.

Tailoring ESA to Student Levels:

Recognize that different students may have varying proficiency levels. Adjust the complexity of activities in each phase accordingly. Beginners may benefit from more time and simpler activities during the Study phase, while advanced learners might engage in more complex challenges.

Inclusivity in Activities:

Cater to diverse learning styles by incorporating visual, auditory, and kinesthetic elements into your activities. This ensures that all students, regardless of their preferred learning style, are engaged and benefit from the lessons.

Feedback and Assessment:

Offer timely and constructive feedback, especially during the Study and Activate phases. Use a variety of assessment methods, including formal tests and informal observations, to gauge students’ progress and tailor your teaching accordingly.

Engage – Study – Activate Straight Arrow lesson Plan Example.

ESA StageLesson Plan: Exploring Past Tense Verbs
ObjectiveBy the end of the lesson, students will be able to identify and use past tense verbs correctly in sentences.
Materials*Whiteboard or digital board
*Markers or digital writing tools
*Worksheets with sentences (for Study phase)
*Small whiteboards or devices for each student (for Activate phase)
Engage (10 minutes):*Start with a short video clip or storytelling session about a fun adventure in the past, using visuals to engage students’ interest
*Begin a brief discussion by asking questions like, “What happened in the story?” or “What do you think the characters did?
*Encourage students to share their thoughts and responses, using past tense verbs naturally.
Study (15 minutes):*Introduce the concept of past tense verbs on the board.
Present a list of regular and irregular past tense verbs.
*Explain the basic rules for forming regular past tense verbs (e.g., adding ‘-ed’ to the base form) and mention that irregular verbs don’t follow this pattern.
*Distribute worksheets with sentences containing both regular and irregular past tense verbs.
*Ask students to identify and underline the past tense verbs in the sentences.
Activate (20 minutes):*Organize a pair or small group activity. Provide each group with a scenario (e.g., “You went on a camping trip last weekend”).
*In their groups, students take turns sharing a short story using past tense verbs about the scenario. They can include details like who they went with, what they did, and how they felt.
*Encourage creativity and storytelling skills.
*As each group presents, other students listen and identify the past tense verbs used in their peers’ stories
*Conclude by discussing the students’ experiences and reinforcing the correct usage of past tense verbs.
Wrap-up (5 minutes):*Summarize the lesson by highlighting key points about past tense verbs.
*Review the importance of using past tense verbs when describing past events.
*Assign homework exercises to practice past tense verbs at home, such as writing short paragraphs about their weekend activities

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.

Educators can choose the ESA method that best suits their teaching objectives and their students’ learning needs, making ESA a versatile framework for language instruction

Challenges and Solutions in Using ESA

Implementing the ESA method can pose challenges, but they come with practical solutions:

Engagement Difficulties: In some cases, students may not respond as expected to engagement activities. To address this, diversify your activities and relate them to students’ interests or current events.

Complex Study Phases: If students encounter difficulties during the Study phase, break down information into more manageable segments. Utilize various teaching aids to accommodate different learning styles.

Lack of Participation in Activate Phase: To encourage participation from reserved students, foster a supportive atmosphere where making mistakes is seen as part of the learning process. Group activities can also empower less confident students to engage actively.

ESA in Different Teaching Contexts

ESA’s adaptability extends to diverse teaching environments:

Online vs. In-Person Teaching: In online settings, leverage digital tools for the Engage phase, screen sharing for Study, and breakout rooms for Activate. Regardless of the setting, promoting interaction remains pivotal.

Cultural Considerations: Exercise cultural sensitivity, acknowledging variations in communication styles and learning preferences. Foster inclusivity and respect for the diverse backgrounds of your students.

By tailoring ESA to different contexts, you enhance the inclusivity of language education, ensuring its responsiveness to the unique needs of diverse students.


The Straight Arrow ESA method offers a straightforward yet effective approach to language teaching. With its clear progression of Engage, Study, and Activate phases, educators can create engaging and comprehensive lessons that cater to students’ needs.

  • The Engage phase sparks interest,
  • the Study phase builds language foundations, and
  • the Activate phase encourages practical language use.

The method’s adaptability allows teachers to tailor lessons to different contexts and student levels. While it may seem structured, the Straight Arrow ESA method retains the flexibility to respond to students’ needs dynamically.

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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