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TEFL TEACHING INTEGRATED SKILLS Mihaela Tnase Dogaru Spring semester, 2010 READING Almost everyone would agree

with the concept of teaching grammar either deductively or inductively. The reasons for teaching grammar have been dealt with extensively in the previous lectures and they should be quite clear. However, when faced for the first time with the idea of the need for teaching the four basic skills in English reading, writing, speaking and listening, most trainees find it quite superfluous. The question that is most likely to spring to mind is why teach something that is already known?. This attitude stems from the deeply -rooted belief that in order to learn a foreign language in the sense of becoming a proficient learner one should master grammatical structures. The rest like the ability to speak, to communicate ideas, to read and understand a foreign text is supposed to develop by itself. However, things are quite different. Mastering the entire edifice of grammatical structures in English has little to do with being able to transfer them in actual speech. On may be quite good at doing all sorts of grammar exercises and still quite incapable of reading and truly understanding an English text be it a newspaper article or a Dickens short story. In reading an English text, students may do so for different reasons: for their careers (English for Specific Purposes), for study purposes pr simply for pleasure. Reading is useful for other purposes, too: any exposure to English is a good thing for language students. At the very least, some of the language sticks in their minds and if the reading text is especially interesting, the process of language learning is likely to be even more successful. Reading texts also provide good models for English writing. When we teach the skill of writing, we need to show students models of what we want them to do. Reading texts also provide opportunities to study language: vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, and the way we construct sentences, paragraphs and texts. Good reading texts can introduce interesting topics, stimulate discussion, motivate the students to become creative, etc. So, the need for teaching reading as a basic skill has to do with the desire of teaching language learners how to use the language in a creative way. RECEPTIVE SKILLS There are four basic skills in English: reading, listening, speaking and writing. Reading and listening are called receptive skills, because the students receive information and have to develop a number of strategies to cope with the amount of information. Speaking and writing are called productive skills because students have to be able to produce new language. Again, there are number of productive strategies that help students to speak or write. The students already have these skills or strategies. What a language teacher should do is help them transfer these skills in English: Predictive skills efficient readers are able to predict what they are going to read. The whole process of understanding a text is the process of seeing how the content of the text matches up to these predictions. At the very beginning, their predictions stem from the expectations they have. For instance, when a student is told that he is going to read a newspaper article entitled Storm in the Commons. He expects to read about a political debate and not about a love -story. As the students continue reading, their predictions will change as they receive more information from the text. Extracting specific information very often, we read something because we want to extract specific bits of information. We may quickly look through a fashion magazine juts to find out the name of the models on the cover. Or we may look through a timetable just to find out what time our train is due. This is another skill/strategy that students already possess. They have to transfer it to English. Getting the general picture we often read things because we want to get the general idea. We want to have an idea of the main points of the text, without paying attention to the details Extracting detailed information a reader sometimes has to be able to access a text for detailed information. He has to be able to answer questions like: What does the writer mean?, What is the speaker trying to say?, How many times did a certain thing happen?, Why did a certain thing happen? and so on. Recognising function and discourse patterns recognising discourse markers is an important part of understanding how a text is constructed. A student has to know, for instance, that when he reads for

example, this phrase is likely to be followed by a concrete example. Or when he reads in other words, it means that a concept is about to be explained in a different way. Deducing meaning from context teachers of English have to help students develop their ability to deduce the meaning of unfamiliar words from the context in which they appear. As we have mentioned earlier, these skills are already present in the minds of language learners. They have these skills in their own language but have to be helped to transfer them in English. Some of the reading strategies we have presented have equivalents in the English class. There are four basic techniques for reading a text. The teacher should make it clear from the very beginning in what specific way he wants the students to read a text. We do not read everything in the same way. There are four ways of reading a text: Skimming fast reading to get the main idea(s) or gist of a text. Students need to be able to skim a text to get a general idea of what it is about. They have to be able to skim a newspaper article to get the general idea of what has been happening. If they try to concentrate on all the details at this point they may fail in getting the main idea. Scanning reading for specific information. This technique means that students do not have to read every word or line. One scans a timetable and when finding the information, one stops. Similarly, one scans a computer manual to find the one piece of information one needs to operate the machine. Intensive reading reading for detailed information, a very careful and close reading of the text. Extensive reading reading for pleasure, a slower and closer kind of activity, which is done outside the classroom. The teacher should persuade students of the advantages of reading at home. SOME PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE TEACHING OF READING Reading is not a passive skill Students have to be aware that reading a text is an active occupation. They should not remain at the surface of a text, but go deeper, not only understand what the words mean, but understand the arguments of the text and see if they agree with them. Students needs to be involved with what they are reading If students find the text boring, too easy or too difficult, they do not benefit from it. They have to like it. Students have to be encouraged to respond to the content of a reading text, not just the language The message of a text is just as important as studying the number of relative clauses it contains. It is very important to allow students to express personal feelings about the topic. Prediction is a major factor in reading The moment one sees the cover of a book, one gets some idea of whats in the book. Teachers should give students hints before reading the text so that they can predict whats coming. Match the text to the topic Teachers have to be very careful when choosing a reading task the right kind of questions, useful activities, etc. the most interesting text can become boring if the teacher sets inappropriate tasks or asks uninteresting questions. Exploit reading texts to the full It doesnt make sense just to get students to read a text and then drop it to move o to something different. The text has to be integrated into a sequence of activities, using the topic for discussion and further tasks. Since we are discussing the principles behind the teaching of reading, it is worth mentioning that there has been a debate about what kind of reading texts are suitable for English language students. The main point in this controversy has to do with the texts being authentic or not. Traditional language teaching mate rials tend to use artificial and oversimplified language, which any native speaker would find comical. On the other hand, if you give low-level students a copy of The Times (authentic material), they will not understand anything. A balance has to be struck between real English o the one hand and students abilities on the other. There are some authentic materials which beginner students may understand: menus, timetables, signs and basic instructions. But if we want to present our students with longer pieces of prose, we can offer them texts that simulate real English, in the sense that they sound like authentic English but are adapted to their level. STAGES OF TEACHING READING I. Pre-reading activities Such activities are extremely important. You dont just give the students a text and ask them to read it. The aims of pre-reading activities are the following:

They activate the students background knowledge related to the topic They allow students to make predictions and develop strategies of coping with the text The activate the vocabulary set associated with the topic They give a reason for reading

For example, if you want the students to read an article called Big Day Breaks for the Russian Brr (in appendix), it is necessary to conduct pre-reading activities, such as: 1. Brainstorming The teacher gives cold as key word and he gets a number of associated words from the students: e.g. cold warm clothes, Siberia, walruses, polar bears, etc. Brainstorming ca be done as: a) class activity in which case the teacher is the leader b) group activity in which case there are 4 or 5 students in a group and they select a leader 2. Class discussion In this case, the teacher should give them clear tasks and precise questions, like: Find 8 reasons for which people like to bathe in frozen water or Find 8 ways to survive hypothermia after a shipwreck II. While-reading activities The teacher should always set a task for the students to complete while reading, such as: 1. a skimming activity like: a) read the text quickly and assign a title b) divide the text into smaller parts and ask students to create their own subtitles c) complete a This text is about sentence either in the students own words or from a selection given by the teacher. 2. a scanning activity like: Find out (names, dates, items of vocabulary). This kind of activity can be conducted as a competition students raise their hands when they have the answer. III. After/Post-reading activities (corresponding to intensive reading) 1. Comprehension questions: a) true/false statements b) yes/no questions c) multiple-choice exercises d) wh-questions e) inference questions (why do you think ?) 2. Matching exercises Match the text with a picture / diagram / map 3. Transfer exercises Transfer information from the text on to the picture / diagram / map, etc Before ending the discussion of teaching the skill of reading, another problem that we have to mention is that of reading aloud. Especially with lower and intermediate levels, reading aloud is not a successful activity. It is an unnatural activity (people dont read aloud); students tend to concentrate on every word and its pronunciation and fail in getting the message. Reading aloud inhibits comprehension and it slows down the students reading speed. With advanced levels, one can conduct reading aloud because students can concentrate both on words in themselves and on the message. Appendix Big day breaks for the Russian brr It was 13 degrees below zero; a bracing breeze was blowing from the steppes, and in a Moscow park onlookers shook, shivered and shuddered as a walrus limbered up in the snow, ready for his dip. Last Sunday was the walruses big day, their 17 th anniversary, and more than a hundred of them came from as far away as Volgograd and Tallin to take part in the celebration. They belong to a group that swims outdoors daily throughout the harsh Russian winter, and they made an amazing sight. Men and women wearing swimming costumes performed aerobic exercises and whirled hoola hoops

around their hips as they played to the 500-strong crowd, while nearby a 50-metre swimming pool, its ice removed, was being swirled by men with long poles to prevent a new crust forming. The walruses all looked horribly cheerful, including Mikhail Kotlyarov, an 81-year-old former miner from the southern Donbass coalfields, with a shock of shining silver hair framing his beaming face. I used to be ill, but this has done the trick; this puts some life into you, he said and whispered with a twinkle: I just got married, you know. A blonde woman called Ninel (Lenin backwards, she said) Zyabitseva explained that it took months of daily training to build up for winter dips. A walrus had to start in the summer so that the body gradually got used to the lower temperature. She herself takes a dip at 5.30 every morning. The worst thing is in the autumn when its windy and rainy. When it gets to deep winter its fine, Ninel said. She was dressed as a fairy queen for the festivities, with a crown to set off her bathing suit. There wasnt a goose pimple on her body: when she held out her arm for a shivering, fur-clad photographer, it was warm. The photographer clung on to it for a few seconds to heat her frozen fingers. (Louise Branson) LISTENING Why Teach Listening? In the previous lecture, we tried to demonstrate that the need for teaching students how to read in English is a real and significant one. The conclusion we drew was that the students already possess reading skills in their own language, but that they have to be activated and transferred in the second language. Things are quite the same when it comes to listening skills. Students already have the basic listening skills in their mother tongues, but they have to be taught how to cope with the information presented in the second language. a) As for the reasons for teaching listening, one of the main objectives is to expose students to a whole range of different varieties and accents rather than just the voice of the teacher. In todays world, students need to be exposed not only to one variety of English, (British English, for example) but also to varieties such as American English, Australian English, Caribbean English, Indian English or West African English. When people of different nationalities speak to each other, they often use English, so that a Romanian student needs to be able to understand a Swiss or Japanese variety, a.s.o. Despite the desire to expose students to many varieties of English, however, common sense in choosing the listening material has to prevail. The number of different varieties will be a matter for the teacher to judge, based on the students level, where the classes are taking place, etc. But even if they only listen occasionally to very moderate varieties of English that are different from the teachers, they are much more likely to learn English successfully (in the sense of becoming successful communicators in English). b) The second major reason for teaching listening is because it helps students acquire the language subconsciously even if teachers do not draw attention to its special features. Exposure to language is a fundamental requirement to the language learner. Listening to appropriate tapes provides such exposure, through the use of taped material which can exemplify a wide range of topics, such as: advertisements, news broadcasts, poetry reading, plays, pop songs with lyrics, telephone conversations, etc. c) A third major reason for teaching listening is the need to practise the skill in itself. Just as with reading, students get better at listening the more they do it. Listening skills are probably the most neglected skills in teaching. Teachers often forget that listening to taped material in a foreign language is not easy, in the sense that students find it difficult to follow the amount of information on the tape. Listening in ones own language may be done for different reasons, for information or for pleasure. Moreover, when listening to their own language, students employ a number of unconscious strategies like using the context to recreate the text. In an actual communication (face to face), speakers rely a lot on the so-called redundancies, which help them get the meaning without paying attention to each and every word. Such redundancies may be: situational or contextual: gestures, feedback linguistic: intonation, stress on key-words When listening to the tape, however, there is no feedback, nor any extra redundancies. That is why students have to be taught how to listen, they have to understand that there strategies that help them cope with listening material. Usually, students experience a feeling of panic during the listening activities, because all students have to go with the speed of the voices they are listening to. Unlike reading, listeners cannot go back to a previous paragraph, they cannot stop a bit to think before continuing etc. More often than not, if they fail to recognise a word or phrase and if, therefore, they stop to think about it they often miss the next part of the tape and fall behind in terms of

comprehension. It is especially for this reason that students need to be encouraged to listen for general understanding first rather than trying to identify all the details. When first listening to the tape, they have to achieve general comprehension before returning to listen for specific detail. Another thing that teachers should make sure the students understand before actually listening to the tape is the uniqueness and peculiarity of spoken language. If students are only used to reading texts of an artificial kind (whole sentences, etc.) or to listen to teachers articulate instructions, etc., their attention should be dr awn to the unique features of the spoken language, like: the use of incomplete utterances (e.g. Dinner? is a perfect way of asking Is dinner ready?), repetitions (e.g. Im absolutely sure, absolutely sure you know shes right), hesitations (Yes, well, umm, yes, possibly, but, err), etc. d) Another reason for doing listening in the English class is to give further practice and revision of previously taught language in new contexts. To introduce new language items in context. II. Before establishing together some of the more important principles that lie behind the teaching of listening, it might be helpful extract or deduce such principles from actual examples of teaching listening, of both the negative and positive kind. This is a two-minute recording of a scene in a wine bar. Although it has been specially recorded for students of English, it sounds reasonably authentic (it sounds spontaneous rather than scripted). We hear a couple briefly discussing the menu, then ordering two meals and some wine. The waitress explains that one dish is off so the man re-orders. MAN: Dont think I want meat today. WOMAN: Theres trout MAN: Cant stand it. WOMAN: Could you just move the thanks MAN: Fresh caught cod sounds good. WOMAN: Should be at 7.95! Beef and stout pie yuk! Mm lasagne dyou think thats meat? MAN: Youre not a vegetarian, are you? WOMAN: No, not really. Sort of 50/50. Excuse me. Is the lasagne vegetarian? WAITRESS: We do a vegetable one. WOMAN: Can I have that, please? MAN: And a cod and chips. WAITRESS: Sorry. The cods finished. We do have trout left. MAN: Oh well Ill have the same as her. WAITRESS: Right anything to drink with the meal? MAN: Ill stick to wine, I think. WOMAN: Ill join you. MAN: A bottle of house red, please. WAITRESS: Thank you. Here is the opening of a lesson procedure intended to improve students listening skills: Say to students: Listen to this. Play tape once. When finished, quickly ask individual students the following questions: 1. What price was the cod? 2. What was in the pie? 3. Why does the man choose lasagne? 4. What words did the man use to order the drink? Look coldly at students who get the answers wrong and tell them that they should have listened harder. Apart from the insults, in what other ways might this lesson plan be unsatisfactory? The questions are pointless; they are not necessarily what one would listen for if he heard the conversation in real life The questions seem more like a memory test; when listening to the tape, the students feel that there are some comprehension questions on the way and they struggle to listen to everything and to remember everything. The consequence they remember very little. There is nothing in this plan to help students learn to listen better Here is a second version of the same lesson plan: Hand out a copy of the text of the conversation to all students. Play tape. When finished, ask individual students the following questions: 1. What does the man order? 2. What does the woman order? There still seems to be a serious problem with that. What?

Although the questions are a lot more reasonable and the tone is less threatening, the problem is that students do not actually need to listen at all. Giving out the text turns it into a reading exercise

From these two negative examples, what do you think are the most important things to remember when devising a listening activity? The activity must really demand listening. It mustnt be simply a memory test. Tasks should be realistic or useful in some way. The activity must actively help students to improve their listening skills. The activity shouldnt be threatening. Help students work around difficulties to achieve specific results. The simplest way to achieve these goals is by setting the questions before the tape is listened to (rather than after). This way the students listen with a clear aim in mind. In everyday life we usually have some purpose in mind when we listen: to find out todays weather, to learn something, to be entertained, etc. By giving the learners a clear purpose in listening we turn the exercise from a memory test into a listening task. Now, think again about the lesson procedures we have just discussed. Can you redesign them so as include the checklist of features above? A simple plan would be as follows: 3. Set questions. 4. Play tape. 5. Check if the students have found the answers. 6. If not, go back to step 2 as often as necessary. 7. Use follow-up exercises based on the tape. This an example of the question first technique or the task before tape technique Some Principles behind the Teaching of Listening. After having talked about both negative and positive examples of lesson procedures when teaching listening, we will try to extract some general principles to be kept in mind whenever using listening material in the English class. The tape recorder and the tape should be in good condition. Preparation is very important. Listen to the tape before going to class and be prepared for all difficulties that you may encounter. Also, engage students in pre-listening activities that prepare them for listening. Once is not enough. Students need to listen to the tape first to get the general idea and then to look for specific bits of information. Students should be encouraged to respond to the content of a listening, not just to the language. Questions like Do you agree? are just as important as What language did she used to invite him? Different listening stages demand different listening tasks. For a first listening, the task needs to be very general and straightforward. Later listening may focus on details regarding information, language use, pronunciation, etc. Exploit the listening material to the full. Listening should not be an exercise in itself, but should be integrated in a teaching sequence. The teacher may use the subject matter, situation or tape-script for new activities. Let students discuss their answers together (perhaps in pairs). Dont be led by one strong student (dont fly with the fastest). Its imp ortant that all should get the answers. Play little bits of the tape (a word, a phrase, and a sentence) again and again until its clear. (during later stages of listening) Give help if they are completely stuck but still with the aim of getting them to work it out if at all possible (e.g. There are three words in the sentence or Listen to what she says here, rather than giving them the answers). Grade the task not the tape. In theory it is possible to use any tape with any level, if the task is set for the right level. We can use a recording of BBC news eve with beginner levels (ask them to catch the names of every famous person they hear). At much higher levels the tasks should be much more complex.

Ways of Listening The receptive skills that we discussed in the previous lecture apply to listening in much the same manner as they apply to reading. They are: predictive skills, extracting specific information, getting the general picture, extracting detailed information, recognising function and discourse patterns, and deducing meaning from context. With reading, there were four basic techniques or ways of reading: skimming (reading to get the main idea), scanning (reading for specific information), intensive reading (reading for detailed information), and extensive reading (reading for pleasure). These four basic techniques apply to listening as well. Students may listen to a text: to get the general picture or the main idea or the gist of the recorded text usually, when first listening to the taped material to find specific pieces of information when listening to the tape the second or third time to find detailed information intensive listening for pure pleasure extensive listening (some students listen to sports commentaries on Eurosport or to MTV language or to other commentaries on Discovery Channel for pure pleasure). Stages of Teaching Listening Pre-Listening Activities. Just as with reading, such activities are extremely important. You dont just play the tape and ask students to listen to it. The aims of pre-listening activities are: to activate the students background knowledge related to the topic to allow students to make predictions and develop strategies of coping with the taped material to activate the vocabulary set associated with the topic to provide a reason for listening as well as a context. 1. Brainstorming 2. looking at pictures and talking about them 3. making lists of possibilities/suggestions/ideas, etc. 4. reading a text 5. class discussion predicting, speculating 6. reading through questions (to be answered while listening) 7. labelling 8. completing part of a chart 9. informal teacher talk While Listening Activities The teacher should always set a task for the students to complete while listening, because this gives them a reason to keep on listening usually take the form of note-taking c) marking/checking items in pictures d) matching pictures with what is heard e) story-line picture sets f) putting pictures in order g) completing pictures h) picture drawing i) carrying out instructions j) making models/ arranging items in patterns k) following a route l) completing grids, forms or charts m) labelling n) using lists o) true/false p) multiple-choice questions q) gap-filling or text-completion r) spotting mistakes s) seeking specific items of information

3. Post Listening Activities answering comprehension questions 1. extending lists 2. form/chart completion 3. extending notes into written responses 4. using information for problem-solving and decision-making activities 5. jigsaw listening students listen to different tapes and, by comparing notes, they have to work out the truth 6. establishing the mood/attitude/behaviour of the speaker 7. identifying relationships between speakers 8. role play Now, lets go back to our couple in the restaurant and try to set while -listening tasks (other than finding answers to comprehension questions) to set students before listening to the restaurant scene. Some ideas: d) From a selection of pictures of food in the book, students pick out the items actually chosen by the couple. e) The waitress is new and has made a lot of mistakes. Students correct mistakes on a copy of her notepad (e.g. beef lasagne) f) Students have a copy of the dialogue but with sentences in the wrong order; they must listen and arrange them in the correct order. The Video/DVD Almost everything we said applies to video, too. We have to choose material according to the level and interests of our students. However, the DVD is richer than the audiotape. Speakers can be seen. Their body movements give clues as to meaning, so do the clothes they wear, their location, etc. Teachers have developed a number of special techniques for videos: IV. Playing the tape without sound. Students discuss what they see and they guess what the characters are actually saying. Then the tape is played with sound and the students can see if they were right. V. Playing the tape but covering the picture. While students listen, they try to judge where the speakers are, what they look like, whats going on, etc. Then, they see the images and whether their predictions were correct. VI. Freezing the picture. The teacher presses the pause button and asks the students whats going to happen next. VII. Dividing the class in half. Half the class face the screen. The other half sit with their backs to it. The screen half describe the images to the wall half. Listening Sequences We are going to look at a very straightforward listening sequence for beginner levels. Before the listening takes place, the students have been introduced to (and practised saying) words like coffee, tea, breakfast, etc. They have also done a quick question-and-answer drill with What do you have for breakfast? They now look at three photographs; a woman at a counter of a caf giving her order, a woman in an office holding a coffee pot and offering coffee to a man, and a woman at a restaurant table being attended to by a waiter. The students look at the pictures and say what they are (caf, an office and a restaurant). They are then asked to listen to three conversations. All they have to do is match the conversations to the pictures (e.g. Conversation 1 is in ). When the teacher has made sure they understand the task, she plays them these tapes: Conversation 1 WAITER: Good morning, madam. WOMAN: Good morning. An English breakfast, please. WAITER: Tea or coffee? WOMAN: Tea, please. Conversation 2 WOMAN: Cup of coffee? CLIENT: Oh yes, please. Thatd be lovely. WOMAN: Sugar?

CLIENT: Just one, please Conversation 3 CUSTOMER: A tea, 2 black coffees and an orange juice, please. WAITER: Anything else? CUSTOMER: No, thank you. While the first task is very general and straightforward, the students are then going to listen in more detail. Listen again. Tick () the drinks they have. conversation Coffee Tea Hot chocolate Orange juice 1 2 3

A further listening task asks the students to say how many drinks the people had. The students can now do a post listening activity such as role-play (offering and accepting various kinds of drinks). More listening suggestions. A. Suggest the appropriate level for the following activities: f) Students listen to a phone massage being given. They have to record the message on a message pad elementary. g) Students hear sound effects. They use them to construct a story of what actually happened elementary. h) Students listen to a narrative and have to plot the characters movements on a map. Upper intermediate. i) Students listen to a news broadcast and compare it with a newspaper report. What are the differences? advanced j) Students listen to three poems being read by three different people. They have to choose a mood / colour / for each and say which they like best advanced. k) Students listen to people describing their occupations. They have to decide what the people look like and what the occupations are (upper) intermediate. l) Students listen to a story. They have put some pictures in the correct order to match the story elementary B. Here is a lesson to exemplify many of the techniques described. The tape is a conversation between two people in a bus station. At one point we hear the announcer list the buses about to depart. The procedures in the lesson plan are jumbled; put the items back into their original order. 4. Play tape; students then compare answers in pairs; tell me their answer. If correct continue; if not play the tape again. 5. Play tape; students then compare answers in pairs; tell me their answer. If correct continue; if not play the tape again. 6. Show picture of a bus station. Where do you think this is? Whats happening? Etc. 7. Lead into a communicative activity based around the topic of travel problems. 8. Set task: how many people are speaking? Where are they? 9. Introduce topic: long distance buses; discuss a little Anyone been on one in England or the United States? 10. Set task: Here is your bus ticket (different destinations for different students). Which bus number must you catch? 11. Set task: Why is the old lady worried? What suggestion would you make? (The task requires listening to and interpreting a longer section of the tape) 12. Play tape; students then compare answers in pairs; tell me their answer. If correct continue; if not play the tape again. The original order is : c, f, e, i ,g, a, h, b, d. The stages a, b, and i are of course interchangeable.

WRITING Introduction Writing is sometimes referred to as the forgotten skill. While listening is arguably one of the most neglected skills in the English class, mainly because its importance is not well understood, writing receives little attention because it is at the bottom of the list of teachers priorities. When designing a lesson plan, teachers are most likely to allot the limited classroom time to other things that have a sense of immediacy about them, like oral activities. From a purely pragmatic point of view, teachers may prefer time in class to be spent on more active aspects of language learning. Likewise, many teachers may regard writing as something that takes care of itself, a side issue that is best taken care of in the form of occasional homework. On the other hand, students may not feel at ease about writing activities in class, since writing is usually associated with homework and examinations, being therefore seen as traditional and irrelevant to the learners immediate needs. Especially when compared with the other productive skill speaking writing tends to be swept under the carpet by teachers and learners alike. However, there are a number of relevant points that emerge out of this comparison and which have to be taken into account when devising writing activities: While feedback on oral production (speaking) can be instant/immediate in the form of correction of syntax, pronunciation, etc errors, when it comes to writing, error correction comes much later, when the original task may no longer have the same relevance to the language learner. When involved in oral production, learners feel much more motivated because they can sense the progress they are making. On the other hand, if feedback on written work comes too late, learners may have already lost interest in the task along with their prior motivation With written work, correction is likely to come mostly from the teacher. What do you think are the main disadvantages of employing only teacher correction? Similarly, what would be the advantages of using peer correction or self-correction? In this case, you can see why peer correction, although it is possible, is less easy to manage and not widely used. Simply returning the text to the learner with all the corrections made is likely to have a frustrating effect on the learner, who is not given a chance to self-correct. A compromise would be rewriting the same text following a scheme of error notation introduced by the teacher. Many learners simply find writing more difficult than speaking. Of course, there are learners who feel more reserved about speaking and are simply terrified when forced to speak in front of the classroom. However, written texts require a greater degree of formal accuracy than spoken discourse. While learners may find it relatively easier to get their message across, despite making lots of errors, they are at a loss when confronted with the necessity of producing written discourse. Despite all these arguments, writing can be as enjoyable and rewarding as far as language learners are concerned as any other skill practised in the classroom. In order to see it like that and to get your own students to like it, you have to stop looking at writing as a mere means of practising language items (because this is the basic underlying attitude behind most writing activities) or a mere means of testing proficiency. You have to start looking at writing as an end in itself students need to master this skill just as well as they master the others. A balance has to be struck between writing as a means of practising language structures and writing as a skill in itself. Reasons for Teaching Writing Reinforcement Students often find it useful to write sentences using new language shortly after they have studied it, because in this way new language sticks better in their minds. Teachers, on the other hand, seem to consider writing a way of consolidating what has been learned, a means of practising language. Similarly, writing is seen as a reference point for learners, a written record of what has been taught. Language development The actual process of writing helps people learn the language as they go along. The mental activity that learners have to go through in order to construct proper written texts seems to help them acquire the language more freely. When writing, there is more time to think, to reflect, to prepare, to rehearse, to make mistakes and find alternative solutions. Writing as skill Writing is a basic language skill, just as important as speaking, listening and reading. Students need to know how to write letters, how to take notes during a lesson/lecture, how to put written reports together, how to reply to

advertisements or to emails. They need to know some of the basic conventions of writing punctuation, paragraph construction just as they need how to pronounce spoken English appropriately. Moreover, many students have specific needs that require them to work on writing skills: examination preparation and business English are two of the most common areas where written work is crucial. Types of Written Texts In the lecture on teaching reading we mentioned a problem that is still likely to cause a lot debate among methodologists, namely: do we have to present students with authentic or specially constructed texts for reading? The conclusion we reached was that reading/listening texts should simulate authentic pieces of discourse, if these are considered to difficult to employ. Like many other aspects of English language teaching, the type of writing we get students to do depends on their age, interests and level. When we set tasks for elementary students, we have to make sure that they have enough language to complete the task. Such students can write a simple story but cannot be expected to create a complex narrative. We can get beginners to write simple poems but we wont give them an extended report on life in the wild. In general, teachers have to train students to write in a number of common everyday styles. These will include writing postcards, letters of various kinds, filling in forms such as job applications, writing narrative compositions, reports, newspaper and magazine articles. Teachers may also want to have students write texts such as dialogues, play-scripts, advertisements, or poems if they think that these can motivate the students. The choice of writing tasks has to depend on the interest of the students, as already mentioned. If everyone in the class works in a bank, they may want to be trained in writing bank reports. If they are travel agents, they may want to know how to write advertisements, a s o. Types of Writing Activities Just like reading and listening, when getting students to write something especially if they are supposed to make a creative contribution, not just copying or doing written exercises do not skip the preparation stage (that we may call pre-writing). Although the three stages that we are familiar with by now are not so easily identified with this skill, there must be a preparation stage and a final stage error correction. Of course you can give them an essay to write and no help at all, except announcing the topic or title, but if you want to help students get better at writing, you should employ a lot of guided writing. Help is given in thinking through ideas, ordering them, considering vocabulary and grammar, preparing notes and drafts, etc. Ways of preparing writing (guided writing): students brainstorm ideas and approaches class discussion about the topic a way of getting new ideas and clarifying thoughts observing an example of a written text dealing wit a similar problem doing preliminary exercises making notes, answering questions, ordering ideas, linking sentences, etc working through some language exercises containing language that may be useful in their writing, such as: reassembling jumbled sentences to form paragraphs, choice of linking words (multiple choice or gap-fill) preparing a rough draft for discussion, correction, and amendment. Here is a typical plan containing the steps that might help students become better writers through guided writing: 1. Introduction of topic. Group discussion. Clarification of main writing task. Consideration of specific requirements style, information, layout, etc. Consideration of likely difficulties and problems. 2. Initial individual or group brainstorming. 3. Selection and rejection of ideas. 4. Sorting and ordering of ideas note-taking 5. Focus on useful language models in other written texts, in board examples, etc. 6. Small groups or class construct a skeleton or example text 7. Individuals or groups prepare draft text 8. Discuss with others and with teacher 9. Individuals or groups prepare final text Other types of writing activities teachers usually employ in class: Copying

One of the easiest and most inevitable writing activities is copying either from the blackboard or from books. Items copied are generally examples of grammatical structures, grammatical rules and items of vocabulary. Occasionally, students are also asked to copy dialogues or short narratives from the board for reference. What do you think are the dis/advantages of copying? Structure-based written exercises Usually, these are exercises meant to practise grammatical structures. What forms do such exercises usually take? writing sentences from prompts following a particular structural pattern answering questions using a particular structural pattern sentence completion matching halves of sentences and writing out complete sentences ordering jumbled sentences gap-filling using the correct tense or word, etc Such exercises are frequently set as homework tasks. If done in the classroom, they can be done individually or in pairs/groups so as to introduce a degree of communication into a fairly dry activity. Again, what do you think are the main dis/advantages of doing such written exercises? Dictation Dictation is felt to be an obsolete method of teaching English. The main criticisms against it can be subsumed under the following: it is felt to be artificial, teacher-centred, test-like and pointless. However, the traditional model of dictation has been recently challenged and altered up to the point of becoming involving and almost communicative. The learners may give the dictation, dictation and note taking, etc. The reasons for still employing more imaginative variants of this activity have to do with the fact that, in order to follow a dictation, students must use in a fairly active manner all their background knowledge (grammar, syntax, lexis, phonology, listening). Dialogues Students may be asked to write new dialogues based on a model seen as a way of practising language functions. Sometimes learners are asked to write completely free dialogues based around a topic. Disadvantages: need for excessive error correction, inauthentic activity. Advantage: it brings language to life by contextualising it in a communicative form. Summaries A means of checking both language ( consolidating structure and vocabulary) and comprehension (follow-up of a reading or listening activity). This type of activity can be done as guided summary, where key words (particularly linking words) are given and the learners are given a framework on which to base their version. Authentic Writing Tasks Such tasks should include the kind of writing normally carried out on an everyday basis, such as: writing letters (real letters to the Prime minister, prisoners, fan clubs, pen friends, local newspapers, etc), filling in forms, leaving messages, writing notices and taking down messages, writing real advertisements (for school events, products, etc), writing questionnaires on interesting issues and spreading them around, etc. Essays Usually seen as a necessary evil something that students do not like doing and teachers do not like explaining, but which, however, needs to be done. Can you think of ways of turning this activity into a more involving one? How would you like this activity to be done in class? Story Writing Students may: write their own versions of well-known stories write stories from sequences of pictures Poetry Writing Even with lower levels, poetry writing is very successful because it is very enjoyable. The most practical forms of poetry writing seem to be those where learners have to write poems according to a widely recognised convention (a funny one like limericks) or where they have to write their own versions in the style of a particular poem (by means of substituting words). Writing Instructions / Commands Students write each other messages containing commands, like Maria, take off your left shoe! Correction of Written Work Most students find it very depressing if they get a piece of written work back and it is covered in red ink. It is a powerful visual statement that their written English is terrible. Over-correction can have a very demotivating effect,

even if the work is indeed full of mistakes. One way of avoiding over-correction is to know exactly what you are going to correct and mark: mistakes of punctuation, spelling, grammar, etc. and tell the students what you intend to do. Another technique which many teachers use is to agree on a list of written symbols (S = spelling, WO = word order etc). when they come across a mistake, they underline it and write the symbol in the margin. This makes correction look less damaging. However many mistakes you my want to identify, it is always worth writing a comment at the end of a piece of written work anything from Well done to This is a good story, but you must look again at your use of past tenses. Writing Sequences Postcards (elementary) In this example at the elementary level, students study a particular type of writing and then write something which is very similar in design and structure to what they have just been looking at. The teacher starts by having students look at this postcard Were staying at a lovely hotel near the beach. We get up late every day and have a large breakfast. Then we lie around all morning, swimming and reading. After lunch siesta! Then its more swimming and a late supper. Paradise! Tomorrow were going to Isla Mujeres (Island of Women). See you soon, Love Mary

Judy Saunders 6 Turtas Road Cambridge CT5 3YR INGLATERRA

The teacher checks that the students understand the information in the card and then she asks them to identify four different patterns in it: the present continuous (Were staying at a lovely hotel..), the present simple (we get up late..), verbless sentences, postcard style (After lunch siesta!) and present continuous for future (Tomorrow were going) The students then discuss the fact that, in postcards, greetings (like Dear Judy) are not necessary. Signings -off are informal (Love Mary) Then the teacher asks the students to imagine that they are on holiday and have to write a postcard, too. They must decide where they are. Like the example postcard, they should say where they are, what they do everyday, what theyre doing the next day, and they should sign informally When the students have completed the task, the teacher can collect the postcards and correct them later or the students can read them out, or they can show their cards to other people. This activity is an example of parallel writing where students stick closely to a model they have been given. Newspaper Headlines / Articles (intermediate) In this sequence, the teacher introduces students to the way newspaper headlines are constructed and then gets students to write their own newspaper articles. The sequence starts when the teacher asks the students if they read newspapers, and what they read about. They have a short discussion. The teacher then gets students to match newspaper headlines with the stories they came from, as in the example: a. Neighbour slams rock party At the monthly meeting of the housing committee of Barkingside district council, chairman Geoffrey Caspar resigned dramatically when his opposite number Glenda Beckett b. Housing chief quits at stormy meeting When his neighbours played loud music until three in t he morning Philip Mitchell (82) went mad. I couldnt stand it anymore, he said. Im an old man and I need.



3. 4. 5.

The teacher now elicits the fact that, for example, headlines frequently use the present simple and invariably leave out articles and auxiliaries. She might point out that there is special vocabulary for headlines (e.g. slams for complains about, quits instead of leaves) Students are then asked to choose one of the following topics: a disaster, a neighbourhood quarrel, a resignation of a public figure, etc. In pairs, they have to think of a short story to go with the topic they have chosen The pairs now write the headlines for their stories and write them up on the board for the rest of the class who have to guess what the story is about The students then write articles to go with the headlines. While they are doing this, the teacher goes round the class offering help when and if they need it The teacher can stick the articles up on the class notice board or, if this is not possible, have students read their stories out to the rest of the class.

More Writing Suggestions Suggest the appropriate level with which you can use the following writing activities: students write letters to a newspaper in response to a controversial article intermediate / advanced students expand a variety of headlines into newspaper articles intermediate / advanced students write / design their own menus beginner / lower intermediate students design posters for a party / play / concert beginner / lower intermediate students write a radio news bulletin elementary / intermediate students write a letter of application for a job any level students write the description of a room while listening to music intermediate students send e-mail messages (real or simulated) to other English speakers around the world any level students write invitations of various kinds elementary / intermediate

SPEAKING Introduction. Reasons for teaching speaking. There are three basic reasons why it is a good idea to give students speaking tasks that provoke them to use all and any language at their command. 1. Rehearsal. Getting students to have a free discussion gives them a chance to rehearse having discussions outside the classroom. Having them take part in a role-play at an airport check-in desk allows them to rehearse such a real-life event in the safety of the classroom. It is a way for students to get the feel of what communicating in the foreign language really feels like. 2. Feedback Speaking tasks where students are trying to use all and any language they know provides feedback for both teacher and students. Teachers can see how well their class is doing and what language problems they are having. Students can also see how easy they find a particular kind of speaking and what they need to do to improve. Speaking activities can give them enormous confidence and satisfaction, and with sensitive teacher guidance can encourage them into further study. 3. Engagement Good speaking activities can be highly motivating. If all students are participating fully and if the teacher has set up the activity properly and can give them useful feedback they will get a lot of satisfaction from it. Many speaking activities (role-playing, discussion, and problem-solving) are intrinsically enjoyable in themselves. Types of speaking activities It is important to be clear about what kind of speaking we are talking. 1. First of all, there is the type of controlled language practice where students say a lot of sentences using a particular piece of grammar or a particular function.

e.g. controlled language practice substitution drill

Hes Weve My friends have Marys Ive 2.


Living on the island Eating raw fish Drinking rain water Watching the sharks Thinking of home


Six months Two weeks Several days Almost a year A fortnight

Second of all, there is a type of freer language practice still under the teachers control but involving students choice of language (they can actually choose what and how to say)

e.g. freer language practice discourse chain A Greet B Reply. Ask B about his/her recent activities Agree. Suggest a time and place Agree. Say farewell. 3.

B Reply. Ask A about recent activities. Reply. Suggest meeting for a drink. Accept the place but suggest alternative time and give reasons. Reply.

Thirdly, and most importantly, there is the kind of speaking activities where students are using any and all the language at their command to perform some kind of oral task.

e.g. Free speaking activity role-play Role-play Card: Shopkeeper You are tired of customers who come to return good they claim are faulty. You think that that the cause for most breakdowns is not following instructions and carelessness. Business has been bad recently. You cannot afford to give money back. Try first to refuse to do anything. Demand a receipt. Blame the customer. If this fails, offer an exchange. Role-play Card: Customer You recently bought a radio cassette and accidentally dropped it. Now the cassette player will not work. As it still is under guarantee, you want to take it bake and get a refund. You do not want an exchange as you have decided to buy a better model you have seen in another shop. Do not admit that you dropped the machine. The important thing when setting up a free speaking activity is that there should be a task to complete and that the students should want to complete it. There are a number of aspects that should be taken into account when setting up such a speaking activity. These can be viewed as conditions that a speaking activity should meet in order to be a communicative activity: 1. There should be student-student interaction pair-work or group-work 2. In order to provide students with a strong motivation to speak, the activity should be based on the information-gap principle 3. The activity should be task-based students should always have a task to complete 4. The activity should involve both structural and functional language focus 5. There should be interactional focus, like in informal discussions, decision-making, debates, exchange of information or role-play. Correction during speaking activities Before getting on with our discussion of speaking activities, it is important to establish some rules for correction during (free) speaking activities. It is important for teachers to correct mistakes made during speaking activities in a different way from the mistakes made during a controlled practice activity. When students are repeating sentences trying to get their pronunciation exactly right, then the teacher will often correct (appropriately) every time theres a problem. But if the same teacher did the same thing while students were involved in a passionate discussion about whether capital punishment should be abolished, for example, the effect might well be to destroy the conversational flow. Constant interruption from the teacher will destroy the purpose of the speaking activity. Many teachers watch and listen while speaking activities are taking place. They note don things that seemed to go well and times when students couldnt make themselves understood or made imp ortant mistakes. When the activity has finished, the teacher either discusses the major mistakes with the class (without mentioning the students who

have made them), write them on the blackboard and asking to students to identify and correct the mistakes, or give them individually to the students concerned. Some teachers get very involved with their students during a speaking activity and want to join in. they may argue forcefully in a discussion or get fascinated by a role-play and start playing themselves. Theres nothing wrong with the teachers getting involved, of course, provided they dont start to dominate. Although it is probably better to stand back so that you can watch and listen to whats going on, students can also appreciate teacher parti cipation (but not too much). Sometimes, however, teachers will have to intervene in some way if the activity is not going smoothly. If someone in a role-play cant think of what to say, or if a discussion begins to dry up, the teacher will have to deci de if the activity should be stopped or if careful prompting can get it going again. Thats where the teacher may make a point in a discussion or quickly take on a role to push a role-play forward. A mistake some teachers make is to think that, once a piece of language has been studied, a good speaking activity will immediately stick it in the students minds. This is not always the case. Most teachers will tell you that it usually takes a bit of time, a few lessons, before new language comes out in fluency activities. Today speaking activities may provoke students into using language they first learnt some time ago. Speaking activities in sequences Speaking activities form part of a much longer sequence that includes reading or listening and, after the activity, study work. Although we often use such activities simply to provide relief from more formal work, they should be placed in a sequence of activities that may start with the introduction of a new piece of language followed by controlled practice and finally by freer speaking activities. Let us examine such a sequence of speaking activities designed for elementary level. Surveys (elementary) One way of provoking conversation and opinion exchange is to get students to conduct questionnaires and surveys. If the students plan these questionnaires themselves, the activity becomes even more useful. In this example for elementary students, the present perfect tense has recently been introduced. The teacher wants students to activate all their language knowledge and would expect the activity to provoke natural use of the present perfect. The topic is sleep ways of sleeping, sleeping experiences, etc. First of all, the teacher talks about sleep. Perhaps he tells a story about not being able to sleep, about a nightmare, or about someone he has seen sleepwalking. He gets students to give him as much vocabulary related to sleep as they can (e.g. dream, nightmare, walk in your sleep, heavy sleeper, light sleeper). The students then work i n pairs to plan questions for their sleep questionnaire and the teacher goes round helping where necessary. A simple student questionnaire might end up looking like this: SLEEP QUESTIONNAIRE How many hours do you normally sleep? . Are you a light sleeper / heavy sleeper? .. Have you ever YES talked in your sleep walked in your sleep had a nightmare fallen out of bed If you answer yes, describe the experience(s): The students then go round the class questioning other students and noting down what they say. While they are doing this, the teacher listens and prompts where necessary and he then gets them to tell the class of any interesting experiences they have discovered before moving on to discussing language mistakes. NO

Encouraging students to get up and walk around talking to other classmates (not only the ones they are sitting next to) has many advantages. It varies the structure of classroom periods, allows people a bit of physical movement, and provides a welcome variety of interaction. Students can design and use surveys and questionnaires about any topic smoking, TV watching, feelings and emotions, transport, musical preferences, etc. They are often a good lead-in to writing work. More speaking suggestions Match the following activities with an appropriate level: Students work in pairs. One has a number of elements (e.g. pictures) arranged in a certain way. The other student has the same elements, but loose, and has to arrange them in the same way by talking to his partner without looking at the partners picture / plan. This is called Describe and Arrange. (elementary/intermediate) Students, in pairs, each have similar pictures, but with differences. Through talking to each other, they have to find the differences without looking at each others pictures. (elementary / intermediate) Students make a list of the kind of things that people like or do (e.g. go jogging, brush teeth five times a day, etc.). They have to go round the class to find someone who does, did, likes etc. those things. This is called a milling activity. (any level) Find someone who:.. Chews chewing gum Likes to have very hot baths Reads more than one book a week Has been to Italy Can recite the alphabet in under 10 seconds Owns a pet with 4 legs Is wearing something purple Has played this game before Has got a driving licence Students think of five famous people. They have to decide on the perfect gift for each person. (any level) Students in groups look at five different photos. They have to decide which one should win a photographic prize. The groups then have to agree with each other to come to a final decision. (intermediate / advanced) Students role-play a formal / business social occasion where they meet a number of people and introduce themselves. (elementary / any level) Students give a talk on a given topic and / or person. (advanced) Students conduct a balloon debate where only on person can stay in the balloon and they have to make their case as to why they should be the one. Students are presented with a moral dilemma e.g. a student is caught cheating in an important exam. Given the students circumstances, which of five possible courses of action should be followed? Groups reach a consensus. (intermediate / advanced) We agreed that speaking should be integrated into a larger sequence of activities. This sequence could contain introduction of new language, controlled practice, and free speaking activities that help students activate and use the new language to communicate ideas in a real life situation. On the other hand, the sequence of activities could contain a reading / listening text that forms the basis for creative use of language. Read the story below and devise both preparing-speaking activities and follow-up speaking activities: IMPORTANT THINGS by Barbara L. Greenberg For years the children whimpered and tugged. Tell us, tell us. You promised to tell the children some other time, later, when they were old enough. Now the children stand eye to eye with you and show you their teeth. Tell us. Tell you what? you ask, ingenuous. Tell us The Important Things. You tell your children there are six continents and five oceans, or vice versa. You tell your children the little you know about sex. Your children tell you there are better words for what you choose to call The Married Embrace. You tell your children to be true to themselves. They say they are true to themselves. You tell them theyre lying, you always know when theyre lying. They tell you youre crazy. You tell them to mind their manners. They think you mean it as a joke; they laugh.

There are tears in your eyes. You tell the children the dawn will follow the dark, the tide will come in, the grass will be renewed, every dog will have its day. You tell them the Story of the Littlest Soldier whose right arm, which he sacrificed while fighting for a noble cause, grew back again. You say that if there were no Evil we wouldnt have the satisfaction of choosing The Good. And if there were no pain, you say, wed never know our greatest joy, relief from pain. You offer to bake a cake for the children, a fudge cake with chocolate frosting, their favourite. Tell us, say the children. You say to your children, I am going to die. When? Someday. Oh. You tell your children that they, too, are going to die. They already knew it. You cant think of anything else to tell the children. You say youre sorry. You are sorry. But the children have had enough of your excuses. A promise is a promise, say the children. Theyll give you one more chance to tell them of your own accord. If you dont, theyll have to resort to torture. 1. Preparing Speaking What should parents tell their children, and when? In groups think about a childs life from the age of five years up to 15 years old. Together, decide on a list of the most important things that parents should tell their children in those years. Consider these and your own: Death (of people and animals) Facts of life Religious beliefs Facts about the planet and the universe Rules of behaviour (dont lie, dont talk to strangers) 2. Follow-up What is your first impression of the story? Compare your own impression with the other students in your group. If the children keep asking to be told about the important things, and the parent can never find an answer that satisfies them, what point do you think the story is making? Do any of the following statements satisfy you? In a small group, discuss your ideas. There are no answers to the important questions in life. Differences between people will always separate them. One generation will never be content with another generations knowledge. There are no important things in the end: you just go on living. Think about your own life. What did your parents try to impress upon you? What lessons have you learnt from you own experiences? Write a few notes under each heading and then exchange ideas with others in the class. Things Ive learnt by experience Things my parents tried to teach me

Writing advice. Imagine you are giving advice to a younger person. Complete these sentences, so that you are giving your own opinions. The important thing to remember about education is One of the most important things about a job is . In relationships, whats important is .. Look at the following speaking activity and try to see if it meets all the conditions to be a communicative activity: The students are put into groups In each group each of the students is given one of the following cards and instructed not to show it to anyone else: A girl kissed lips of stone Had driven her to do it


And her safety was the thing More attractive than a king Of living life alone On the back of Cosmopolitan That made a dull cold statue To advertise a perfume. Fear The groups are told that they must reassemble the poem it is a one-stanza poem. Students can read the lines aloud, but they may not show them to anyone else. The groups are told that they must decide on a title for the poem.