Teach English in Daotenaoer Zhen - Xilinguole Meng — Xilin Gol

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Introduction In the scope of teaching within the TEFL world, there are two main “productive” skills: speaking and writing. Both are equally important and are used heavily as a means to communicate. This Summative task will review the most effective ways to teach students productive skills, important factors to consider, and useful activities that best activate knowledge and comprehension. Speaking Vs. Writing According to the International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT), writing is often one of the most neglected skills. When learning a language, pupils may indeed be more interested initially in strengthening their speaking skills. After all, it could be argued that speaking a language is one of the more common ways of communicating within a culture. It also requires a certain degree of fluency to interact naturally, so students are usually eager to learn as much vocabulary as possible. That said, writing is perhaps the more difficult skill of the two. Writing requires much more accuracy (especially if the student is unfamiliar with Roman lettering) and any confusion that arrives may end up being “lost in translation.” Compare this to speaking - amid a conversation, a student may simply question an unknown phrase or be able to clarify any misunderstandings immediately. Another benefit of writing is that it also allows students the time to consider the question and plan out an appropriate response. So why do teachers hesitate to encourage writing in their classrooms? The answer is simple: many do not wish for valuable and limited classroom time to be spent in quiet, “study” time. The solution teachers typically find is to save writing exercises for homework time, though this can be problematic if students are reluctant to complete it. In this case, the writing skill may never be truly developed. The most effective way to properly teach students equal productive skills then relies on the teacher’s ability to foster the need and desire to communicate. Motivations for Communicating The most common motivators for communicating with others can be generalized into a few main reasons: the students wish to say something, they would like to listen to something, or they are interested in understanding what is being said. Furthermore, students are typically inclined to have a clear vision and purpose for their language-related activities. If they don’t understand the point, they may not fully participate or absorb the lesson. A successful teacher must be willing to incorporate several unique exercises/activities, approaches, and consider the main student motivators to keep attention and focus. The Use of ESA Techniques In Jeremy Harmer’s book How to Teach English, he summarizes the three main elements of the ESA Teaching Model: Engage, Study, and Activate. He argues that to teach students English, the teacher must first have the attention of the students and be able to involve them emotionally in the lesson. By first using an “Engage” technique, the students' interests are hopefully piqued, reducing inhibitions and increasing retention. Once the classroom is fully involved, Harmer suggests moving to the “Study” phase. During this section of the lesson, all activities will be focused on the key language/information and how it is constructed. The Consortium for Global Education explains that focusing on grammar has been a hallmark of teaching English and their value is still a key portion of learning to successfully speak the English language. Lastly, Harmer explores the “Activate” portion of the class: a stage where students are encouraged to use as much of the language they know. The focus should be on fluency and free communication. Without this essential element, students may have trouble taking their classroom or book experiences and moving them into real-world communication. Accuracy and Fluency Activities Accuracy activities are typically found within the “Study” phase of the ESA Teaching Model and are concentrated on allowing students to produce the correct language. Exercises are often controlled to ensure accurate reproduction, while Fluency activities are typically focused on allowing the students to experiment and be creative with language. Here, teachers are less concerned with accuracy and more concerned with creativity, experimentation of effectiveness, and flow. They are also usually seen within the “Activate” phase. Both activities carry equal importance and ITTT explores certain speaking activities in the classroom which are helpful. These activities can be separated into controlled activities, guides activities, and creative communication. Controlled, Guided, and Creative Activities Controlled activities are accuracy-based and the language is controlled by the teacher. These often include drilling (choral and individual listening to and repetition) and prompting (pre-planned question and answer). Guided activities are also accuracy based but allow the students to be a tad more creative and productive with their language. The overall output is still controlled by the teacher but the exact language use is not. These can include model dialogues or a guided role-play. Creative communication activities, in contrast, are fluency based. The scenarios here are modeled by the teacher but allow the students to direct the content of the language. Examples include free role-play, discussions, the use of an Information Gap (where students are required to share their unique information with the class to understand the complete picture or otherwise solve a task), debates, simulations, and communication games. There as also certain techniques to encourage interaction amongst the pupils with their speaking skills, including pair-work, group-work, controlled and guided practice before fluency activities, purposeful speaking activities, a change in classroom dynamics, and careful planning. Understanding Speaking Hurdles A teacher should also be aware of the main reasons students are hesitant to speak in the classroom. This could come down to a lack of confidence, a general fear of making mistakes, or intimidation from their peers. A lack of interest, prior learning experiences, or specific cultural reasons may also be the culprit. It’s important to be cognizant of these issues so that the teacher can work to overcome all hurdles and successfully encourage interaction. The aim of educators should be to create a comfortable atmosphere within the classroom, allowing students the freedom to make mistakes and otherwise enjoy communicating. After the activity, remember to provide valuable feedback to your students. Indicate how well the class communicated and was fluent, focus on overall improvements, and note any glaring recurring errors privately. Individual mistakes can be discussed in private, while common class mistakes can be mentioned and practiced a separate day. Considerations with Writing With writing, on the other hand, there are many differences and factors which much be considered and incorporated: handwriting (overall neatness), spelling (accuracy), layout and punctuation (ex: writing left to right, the absence of spaces to separate words, how business letters differ from e-mails, etc.), and creative writing (such as poetry, stories, or plays). Creative writing, in particular, should be encouraged, as it both engages the students' interests and provides them with a sense of pride. The Use of Games Lastly, perhaps one of the most useful activities in teaching productive skills in the classroom is the use of games. ITTT defines a game as any activity which consists of rules, a goal, and an element of fun. There are two main types of games which English teachers may employ: competitive and co-op. In competitive games, players or teams will race to the goal, while co-op allows students in pairs or teams to work together towards a common goal. These can further be broken down into linguistic and communicative (activities with a non-linguistic goal or aim) games. Some different games have been used in TEFL classrooms and are fun for youths and adults alike: Twenty questions, Tic-tac-toe, Hangman, Twister, Clue, Chutes and Ladders, Connect 4, Charades, Jeopardy, Crosswords, Tongue-twisters, and Pictionary. These all primarily focus on the use of unique skills, ranging from spelling, pronunciation, and grammar, to general vocabulary use. Conclusion In conclusion, this paper explored the two main “Productive” skills: speaking and writing, as well as how to best teach these to students. It mapped important factors to consider as an educator, such as the motivations students have for communicating within the classroom, common speaking hurdles, and potential issues with writing. It also explored the most useful activities to activate knowledge and comprehension: ESA techniques, accuracy and fluency activities, controlled, guided, and creative activities, and games. References Lesson 7, Part 1 . Consortium for Global Education, 2008, https://images.pcmac.org/uploads/cge/cge/divisions/documentscategories/documents/lesson7part1.pdf Unit 3: Theories, Methods, and Techniques. International TEFL and TESOL Training, 2011, https://db.teflserver.com/eeap/index.php/units/#. Unit 12: Teaching Productive Skills. International TEFL and TESOL Training, 2011, https://db.teflserver.com/eeap/index.php/units/#.