Imagine you go to a party and meet some new people. In this context, when you see a face and realize that you don't know the name, and you want to know that name you are encountering the person and have a need for information. Likewise, you may hear someone call out a name but not know which face it goes with and your curiosity is piqued. In these cases, your attention is focused, you have a desire to learn, and the context makes the name meaningful once you hear it or see the face. In the next moment, you seek to clarify the name by either asking the person a question, looking at name tag or noticing who turned their head when the name was called. You may also seek to clarify the spelling and pronunciation of the name. Next, you may work to remember the name, moving it from short-term to long-term memory. For example, you might repeat it several times, use it in conversation, make a rhyme, or associate it with another person you know who has the same name. As you spend more time with the person, you may internalize the name by building up a set of experiences by hearing, seeing, and feeling things that you associate with that name. These experiences, over time, make it possible for you to fluently use that person's name, meaning that you have become automatic with it; you see the face and instantly think of the name.
In the above example, the content or target language was names of people, but we feel that similar processes occur when people are learning other knowledge or skills.
Not a prescriptive model It is critical to realize that although the ECRIF stages are written in a set order, learning itself does not happen in a prescribed fashion. Moreover, the ECRIF framework does not dictate that a lesson should be staged in a particular order such as the PPP (present, practice, produce) framework suggests. Quite the contrary, the ECRIF framework allows the teacher to look at what students are thinking about at any stage in a lesson. For example, ECRIF can provide insight into the cognitive steps students go through in a Test-Teach-Test lesson.
Test = Students discuss whether their parents were strict or easygoing = At this stage students may be fluently using language they know (including the target language, make/let). In addition, they may be encountering and clarifying vocabulary items as they converse. If students are explaining vocabulary items to each other, it might be helping them internalize those words.
Teach = Students do a variety of exercises with 'make/let' = During these activities, students may be encountering and clarifying the meaning and form of 'make/let.' They probably are also beginning to remember/internalize the meaning and form through practice activities. Some students may be peer teaching, which can help them further internalize the target language.
Test = Student again have discussions about the strictness of their parents with different partners =Some students may be fluently using 'make/let' in their conversations. Other will be actively trying to remember/internalize the target language as they try to use it. Still others may still be encountering and clarifying aspects of the target language by noticing its usage and asking questions. And some students may be not paying the target language any heed at all!
In sum, purpose of ECRIF is not to describe teacher behavior, but rather to provide a way of looking at what students are doing and thinking as they learn during lessons. The chart below provides and overview of possible student behavior and thinking at each stage.