Cuisenaire rods in ELT

rodsCuisenaire rods are one of those classroom tools that people on training courses often ask me about. If we have time, I try to fit in a few techniques with them. I don’t know why but in this age of all things oriented towards technology in ELT many teachers still seem to latch onto rods and like using them in class. They are one of those tools that if you read about them in an ELT methodology book never seem very interesting but once you see them in action you’re often converted. Surprisingly there are very few YouTube videos showing them in action in ELT classes so I made a short one with some standard ways to use them for presenting. Maybe it’ll inspire you to either go out and try them or to suggest other ways you use them with students.

Categories: Teacher Training

Tags: , ,

8 replies

  1. Hi John,
    Thanks for posting that video. It’s great to have the activities demonstrated so clearly.
    Ceri Jones and I wrote a post of Cuisenaire ideas a couple of years ago: and Christina Rebuffet-Broadus has recently posted about using them in her class too:
    Hope they’re useful to you in some way!

  2. Thankyou so much for this. It’s really helpful. I loved the city scene! I’ve only ever used them in my Silent Way Delta EP, for word stress. I loved that class, but like you said, I wasn’t really sure how else to use them.

    Three more ways? Blimey, there were so many covered in there. Could you use them to represent whole paragraphs or ideas, to illustrate the different types of essay structures you can use in IELTS writing part 2? You had the example of word stress, but I guess you could also use them to show stress at sentence level, particularly with using it contrastively. Maybe also question tags? The colours could be used well to highlight the negative / positive correlation. Phew, that’s my three!

    • Hi Katy.As I say, they are one of those tools we often hear about and are used here and there but it’s rare these days to have a whole session on them. Following your suggestions, yes you can use them to represent paragraph sturcture with one rod representing the topic sentence and three other rods representing supportng sentences. And I have used them to show essay structure as you suggest. They can also work like this to show the structure of a presentation. Sentence stress and contrastive stress works – Adrian Underhill in ‘Sound Foundations’ suggests a quite a few ways. Question tags? Never seen that one done but yes it could work….Heck we nearly have enough for a video sequel Katy!


  1. Silent way : Cuisenaire rods « English Post
  2. Useful links for CELTA | Sandy Millin
  3. Links I have found useful along the way – Throwing Back Tokens

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: