Inductive and Deductive Approach in TESOL


Understanding Inductive and Deductive Approaches in TESOL

As an instructor in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL,it’s vital that some of your training focus on different approaches to effective teaching in the English language classroom. The inductive approach and deductive approach in TESOL are two common methods for teaching English grammar. In the western world, deductive teaching approaches are common in classrooms where English is the first language. There are benefits to both approaches, though they are quite different.


The inductive teaching approach in TESOL is a sort of discovery learning that focuses on the student. For example, an instructor might use or show a few examples of a grammar point in English and then ask students what they notice. In many cases, the grammar point might be introduced by simply engaging the students in a directed conversation to slowly introduce it. The teacher guides the students to noticing the grammar pattern, and finally explicitly exposes them to it.


A teacher writes on the board a few examples of simple present and simple past sentences. The teacher then asks the students what differences they notice in the sentences. The students discuss the differences and maybe even try converting some simple sentences from present to past on their own. Finally, the teacher explains the rule for converting sentences from past to present.


Although inductive teaching takes longer than deductive, many educators agree it is a very efficient method in the long run. Benefits include:

  • Student interaction and participation.
  • Students rely on their critical thinking to figure out the language.
  • Students gain deeper understanding of the language.


A deductive approach is more teacher-centered learning where the points of English grammar are explicitly stated to the students and then tested. Once the grammar is introduced and explained, students usually complete grammar exercises to become familiar with the pattern. This is a method that has been commonly used in English classrooms in the west.


A teacher writes examples of simple present and simple past sentences on the board. The teacher then proceeds to explain the differences between present and past in English. Once the lecture is complete, worksheets are handed out and students are asked to convert simple sentences from present to past.


Although a little less effective than inductive teaching when used in TESOL, benefits to the deductive approach are:

  • Time in the classroom is spent only on the language principle.
  • Most material can be easily taught this way.
  • It encourages faster learning of material

There are clear differences to the inductive approach and deductive approach in TESOL. Inductive tends to be more efficient in the long run, but deductive is less time consuming. Much depends on the teacher and the students. You might try and compare both of these approaches at certain points in your teaching to see which is more effective for your students.