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Here Below you can check out the feedback (for one of our units) of one of the 16.000 students that last year took an online course with ITTT!
Unit 12 covered the productive skills of Speaking and Writing (including games)
Speaking and writing are substantially different in many ways, but they are both used for the same purpose - to communicate. People communicate with each other for the following reasons:
> They have some communicative purpose
> They want to say something
> They want to listen to something
> They are interested in what is being said
The teacher should incorporate these things into teaching communication skills and must create the need and desire, in the students, to communicate. Otherwise it will be difficult for them to engage and be successful in learning the topic at hand.
A teacher also needs to include both accuracy and fluency activities, which are of equal importance, to produce the most effective communication.
> Accuracy activities are usually part of the study phase and are usually controlled in order to ensure reproduction of correct language.
> Fluency activities are usually part of the activity phase and are more concerned with effectiveness and flow of the communication. The activities are less guided to allow the student to experiment and be creative with language.
There are three types of speaking activities in the classroom and some examples of each:
> Controlled activities are accuracy based activities and the teacher controls the language
> Guided activities are accuracy based but a little more creative and productive
1. Model dialogs
2. Guided role-play
> Creative communication activities are fluency based. The teacher creates the scenario but the content is up to the students to produce.
1. Free role-play
3. Information gap
6. Communication games
There are a variety of reasons why students will be reluctant to speak in the classroom. But a teacher can encourage student interaction by creating a comfortable and safe atmosphere where the students are not afraid to make mistakes and enjoy communicating with the teacher and students. Some techniques to encourage interaction are:
> Plenty of controlled and guided practice before fluency activities
> Create a desire and need to communication (make speaking activities purposeful)
> Change the classroom dynamics
> Careful planning
> If helpful, allow students time to think about what they are going to say
Guidelines for a free/creative speaking activity:
Before the lesson -
> Decide on the goals of the lesson
> Try to predict student contributions and problems
> Determine how long the activity should be
> Prepare necessary materials
> Work out the instructions
During the activity -
> Arouse the students' interest
> Review necessary vocabulary and structures
> Give clear instructions so students understand the point of the activity
> Make sure students have enough time to prepare
> Try to make the activity more process based, which could include rehearsals
> Monitor the activity and the time
> Evaluate based on fluency and for feedback after the activity is over
After the activity, provide feedback -
> Indicate how well the class communicated, focusing on the positive
> Perhaps record the activity and play back for discussion
> Note down recurrent glaring errors in grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary use. Comment on these things to the class as a whole if they are common problems, and prepare a remedial lesson later to address the errors. If it's just an individual problem, talk to the individual privately.
Teaching writing skills requires a number of additional items to teach and consider:
> Handwriting - Allow it to be personal but correct poor handwriting to avoid negative impact
> Spelling - Many words sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. Other words are written the same but sound differently. Good spelling is essential to effective writing.
> Punctuation - Rather personal but must produce clear pieces of writing with good flow
> Layout - Different forms of writing will require different layouts for the students to be exposed to.
Creative writing should be encouraged. A teacher must assist the student in having a desire, and need, to write. Creative writing can include poetry, stories and plays. The students can work together in pairs or groups to make the learning and production processes easier.
Games can be an effective and popular way for learners of all ages to learn a topic. They can provide useful controlled and free practice. A game is an activity with rules, a goal and an element of fun. Many games can be adapted to language teaching. There are two kinds of games: competitive games and co-operative games. Each of these can be broken down into communicative and linguistic games.
This unit helped to expand my understanding of effective teaching for the sake of producing effective communicators out of the language learners. Even shy students can learn ways of communication for the sake of achieving a desired purpose, be it for business or social reasons. This unit reminded me of the need to consider focusing more on writing skills. I can see that especially being able to write a clear and appropriately worded business email would be one of the most important forms of written communication that a learner might ultimately do, but of course there are other items as well.