Teach English in YuanjiApu Zhen - Yueyang Shi

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Reading and listening skills are called receptive skills. They are vital in communication which is the prime aim of language learning and are part of the literacy skills. They also form the base on which the other two literacy skills – writing and speaking are built. Reading and listening are called receptive skills as they are used to receive information namely the concepts of language. Reading and listening are either done for a purpose or for entertainment. They are done for a purpose when we read the operations manual to understand how equipment works. We read a novel or listen to music for entertainment and enjoyment. While reading or listening we do so not only with our senses (eyes and ears) but also with our pre-existing knowledge of the language as it aids in understanding the nuances of language. A number of skills come into play when we listen or read. They are: 1.Predictive skill helps us to predict what is written just by reading the headline. This becomes useful even while listening to a text. 2.Scanning technique is used to get specific information quickly. 3.Skimming is used to get the overview of a text. 4.Reading for detail is used when students need to get detailed information. 5.Deducting skill is used when we need to deduce the meaning of a word from the context. All these skills are called specialist skills and a student’s listening or reading comprehension will depend on the successful use of these skills. Challenges The major challenge associated with the receptive skills is the language of the text, the topic and the tasks that students will perform. Language In listening language, the problem could be in the form of sentence length, word length or unfamiliar words. In reading too these problems may be encountered though on a smaller scale because unlike in listening, in reading the words and sentences can be seen and hence there is a chance for re-reading and deducing the meaning of the sentence or word. But in a listening segment the word or sentence is heard only once. A solution for this is to prepare the students before the activity by pre reading the text or teaching them difficult or unknown language and structure before the activity. However the teacher must be cautious not to overdo the helping. Learning to understand a text without knowing every word is a skill worth promoting in students. One way to overcome the language problem is to select the text carefully appropriate to the level of the students. There are two types of texts- non-authentic and authentic. Non-authentic texts are designed to suit the students’ abilities whereas authentic texts give students confidence in their skills. Authentic materials should be carefully selected so as to focus on what the students know rather than how much they don’t know. Another problem is the topic of the text or dialogues. The students’ interest should be considered while selecting the text. Knowing their interest is important because it guarantees their undivided attention and wholehearted participation. It is important to the teacher to know the interest of the students. If the teacher can get her children motivated and engaged in the task there is much greater possibility that they will read and listen with greater enthusiasm even if they were originally not interested in the topic. If there is not much interest shown in the selected text then the teacher can generate interest by showing pictures or predicting what the text is about and other engage phase activities. An important feature of teaching receptive skills is comprehension task. However these tasks should be to promote understanding rather than checking to see if the students have understood. The task should be realistically achievable. A common activity is jumbled text where paragraphs of a text are jumbled up and the students have to re order it. Two stories can be used as jumbled texts. The basic keys to a successful receptive skill lesson are: 1. Choose a text that is of interest or motivates students. 2.Build interest in the text before the activity. 3.Pre teach difficult vocabulary or structures. But care should be taken by the teacher not to overdo the helping. 4.Use realistic comprehension tasks that are easy to understand. 5.Incorporate activate phase tasks that naturally follow on from the text. ________________