Teach English in Pingming Zhen - Lianyungang Shi

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The productive skills are speaking and writing, because learners have to produce language when practicing these skills. They are also known as active skills. Speaking is the sharing of information and meaning through verbal and non-verbal symbols in different contexts. Some scholars consider speaking the most important language skill as it is the one most used on a daily basis. It is the crux of fluency in any language. Hence, teaching speaking should enhance learners’ communicative skills i.e. understand what is said and be able to respond appropriately in real-time (Chaney & Burk, 1998). Teaching speaking involves making sure learners can produce speech sounds and sound patterns; use word and sentence stress, and intonation patterns; respond appropriately according to social context, audience, and subject matter; and express values and judgments. Overall, it is using the language confidently with few unnatural pauses. These are done through activities that address awareness, appropriation, and autonomy (Nunan, 2003; Thornbury, 2005) Teachers must first make learners aware of the features of the target language. Teachers can start with recordings or live interaction with students about the target language. Recordings may be authentic (created for native speakers) or non-authentic (created for students). In the long run, students benefit more from authentic materials as language is used in a more natural way and learners get acclimated to the pace and language nuances of native speakers that coursebooks often neglect. The teacher will guide students to identify, classify, count, compare and contrast, or match target language elements to increase their awareness. Appropriation stresses accurate reproduction of the language. The teacher uses restricted exercises so learners can have intensive practice. These exercises enable learners to grasp the language rules through the emphasis of accurate use of the target language. Appropriation activities for speaking include drills, chants, milling activities, model dialogues, and guided roleplay. Drills and chants are individual or choral imitations of words or phrases that make up the target language. They help to fine-tune learners’ articulation as they practice sound patterns, word stress, intonation etc. Milling activities involve learners walking around and asking each other questions to complete a survey or find a match. Dialogues and roleplay give controlled practice of how to use the target language. Autonomy deals with developing the learners’ capacity to use the target language creatively and extensively, without assistance, under real-time conditions (fluency). It is important that all language items involved are already familiar to students and the focus is on real-time communication and not. The teacher usually gives the scenario, but students develop the language content. Such activities can include free roleplay, discussions, debates, information gap, communication games, storytelling, picture narration, and simulations (Thornbury, 2005). Students will not develop fluency if they are reluctant to speak or do not have regular practice. Teachers can overcome these issues by providing a collaborative environment with authentic materials and tasks; practice different ways of student participation so everyone is involved; reducing teacher talk time; provide positive feedback; ask eliciting questions to extend student talk time; and avoiding over correction of students’ mistakes while they are speaking. Speaking should not be about pure memorisation but about meaningful communication. These activities make students give more ownership in the learning process while making learning meaningful and fun. Writing well is a hard skill to develop, especially in a second language. Writing allows more time for language processing than spontaneous conversation. It allows learners to think, reflect, prepare, rehearse, and find alternatives (Scrivener, 2005; Harmer, 2010).It also reinforces the language and keeps it in the learner’s memory. Writing can be as a memory aid or practice tool (writing-for-learning) to reinforce the language learners have been studying. Writing can also be to develop learners’ skills for communicative or specific purposes (writing-for-writing). In this case, the focus is not just on language use but on the whole text. Teachers must guide learners in text construction, layout, style, and effectiveness (Harmer, 2010). Writing tasks must be appropriate to the learner’s age, level, interests etc. It is best to structure writing in three stages: controlled writing, guided writing, and unguided writing. Controlled writing usually encircles writing-for-learning. It usually focuses on giving learners carefully constructed exercises where they must supply single words, phrases, sentences etc in response to a prompt or model given by the teacher e.g. gap-fill exercises. It gives students the chance to allows little room for learner error or creativity. Guided writing deals with learners writing longer texts with the teacher offering samples, models, useful language items, organizational framework etc. Here, the teacher must consider genre and the writing process. Genre is the form of writing such as poem, business letter, advertisement, report etc. The teacher decides the genre that will be useful to the learners. Then, the teacher shows learners an example of the genre and guide them in analysing its conventions. Next, the learners try to construct similar texts of their own. The writing process gives learners a framework for good writing. The stages are planning (thinking of what to write and gathering information), drafting (arranging the information), reviewing (check meaning, get feedback etc), and re-writing. Learners may go back and forth between the stages until they have a satisfactory text (Scrivener, 2005; Broughton, Brumfit, Flavell, Hill, & Pincas, 2016; Harmer, 2010). Unguided writing means the teacher sets a task or title and learners write without overt guidance or assistance during the writing process. This is where many learners engage in creative writing. Creative writing gives learners a sense of pride as they strive harder to produce correct language and express themselves. Creative writing includes poems, stories etc. Teachers must build a writing habit in their learners. It must become a normal part of classroom life. This is done with writing activities that are easy and enjoyable, and present opportunities for students to achieve almost instant success. This makes students involve themselves with enthusiasm. References Broughton, G., Brumfit, C., Flavell, R., Hill, P., & Pincas, A. (2016). Teaching English as a Second Language. London: Taylor & Francis. Chaney, A. L., & Burk, T. L. (1998). Teaching oral communication in grades K - 8 . Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Harmer, J. (2010). How to teach English (2nd ed.). Essex: Pearson Education Limited. Nunan, D. (2003). Practical English language teaching. Singapore: McGraw Hill. Scrivener, J. (2005). Learning teaching: A guidebook for English Language teachers (2nd ed.). Oxford: Macmillan. Thornbury, S. (2005). How to teach speaking. Harlow, England: Longman.