Teach English in SAndu Zhen - Chenzhou Shi

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Receptive skills When acquiring a new language, the skills required can be split into two main categories; receptive and productive. These can be split again into reading and listening (receptive) along with writing and speaking (productive). Many decisions around the planning of lessons such as learning materials, activities, student participation levels etc. are all heavily influenced by the students’ receptive skill levels and as such, they must always be taken into account if planning is to be effective. Receptive skills are particularly valuable to a student in that they not only allow them to engage with the language effectively in a classroom or real-life setting, they also allow a student to engage with media in their chosen language, such as books, television, radio and internet forums; all excellent tools for their own self-directed learning outside of the classroom. Preparation Before planning any task in which a student exercises their receptive skills, first you must consider their existing level of skill and how to best utilise it. If you are new to an individual or group of students, it may be advisable to do an assessment of their existing skills before preparing future lessons; how comprehensive that assessment should be will depend on their skill level and the tasks you plan to assign. If, on the other hand, the students’ are part of a regular class, they can be monitored ‘on the fly’ to some extent with more substantial assessments at regular intervals. From there, it is often advisable to give students new information relating specifically to the task at hand, such as new vocabulary they will be seeing or hearing in a piece of media they may be analysing. For example, words relating to cooking, names of food and utensils could be covered before the class watched a cooking show, in order to give them more points of understanding throughout the media, as well as setting them up to practice hearing and comprehending those words throughout the presentation. Finally, it is advisable to spend some time generating interest in the topic at hand among your students; a more casual conversation about the upcoming topic can help establish an objective, motivate the student to learn and facilitate participation among the class. Materials When selecting materials for a lesson it is imperative that the level of complexity of the source material is a good match to the abilities of the student or class. Presenting material that is too complex can cause students to find it difficult to gather any new information from the material; as there are fewer, or perhaps even no familiar points of reference to build upon or to reinforce in their memory. This is not only an inefficient use of time, but also frustrating to the learner, who may tire themselves and become frustrated from attempting to comprehend the unfamiliar language. Conversely, if the material is too simple it is again an inefficient use of time, as more complex language could be introduced at an earlier stage and a student may get bored at the lack of challenge and lose motivation. Learners in the early stages of language acquisition will be far more restricted in the kind of media they can reasonably interpret and as such, purpose-made media (created materials) is usually most appropriate; materials such as worksheets, videos or audio specifically made for beginners, and board-work being good examples. Intermediate and advanced learners are far less restricted in what they can use, allowing them to pursue information more specific to their own needs or interests; for example, intermediate students may enjoy media created for a general audience (authentic materials) that fits their personal interests, rather than media made specifically for the purpose of learning. Advanced pupils could be tasked with analysing complex texts, such as technical, literary or artistic works. Picking the appropriate material for each of these groups will ensure time is spent effectively and students stay interested during the task and motivated to keep improving. Activities There is a wide variety of activities that facilitate learning receptive skills; which activities are chosen will depend on many factors, mostly relating to the student. Students of different ages, skill levels and cultural backgrounds will relate better to and learn more efficiently to differing tasks. Popular activities include word games, worksheets based on audio/visual media, role playing, conversations in groups or as a class, ‘jigsaw reading’ and re-organising jumbled text. Varying the activities regularly is important to maintain interest, as well as to ensure that skills are developed across multiple contexts and to ensure that people’s differing learning styles are catered to effectively. Activities should be chosen that will allow all styles of learners to learn in their preferred way; if not possible every lesson, then at least on a regular basis. Following an engage, study, activate lesson plan or a variation thereof (eg; boomerang, patchwork) is recommended regardless of the specific activities you may choose for each stage of the lesson. As with the materials, care must be taken to ensure that the activities are within a suitable range, in which they are challenging but not out of reach, providing a realistically achievable goal for the student. Flexibility No matter how good a lesson plan, or plan for longer periods may be, it is essential to keep in mind that classrooms are dynamic environments; things change and don’t always go to plan. In light of this fact, flexibility is key to maintaining an effective learning environment; if the situation changes, or differs from how you may have originally perceived it, plans based around those expectations will never be optimal and should be tweaked as well as possible without disrupting the flow of the class. Following these principles, from material selection, assessment, lesson planning and student interaction, will give the best chance to create an exciting, entertaining and most importantly, effective curriculum. Teflonlinenet_266008 | Joseph van Harsel | [email protected]