Productive and Receptive Skills in the ESL Classroom - Receptive Skills - Potential Problems

 

Before we go into looking at the actual receptive skills lesson, if we were thinking about what potential problems there could be in these lessons. So, what things could go wrong in a reading lesson? Well, firstly the students when they are reading in a language that is not their native language, they tend to read every word as a separate piece and by reading word to word it?s very difficult to get an overall impression of what that particular text is saying. Secondly, the sentence length in a lot of articles that we will get will be very long and many of our students will not be used to that structure of language. So, here it's important to have a think about the way in which the text has actually been written and will it be fairly easy to read. The final thing is the actual structure of the article itself. So, how is it written? Is it very formal? Is it in the form of a postcard or an email and are the students familiar with that type of writing? Some of the problems that occur with listening or perhaps the most difficult thing is the fact that in a listening lesson the information is in the form of a continuous stream. This means that a certain word will enter into ear, pass through our brain and then that word is then gone. So, unlike reading where if we're scanning through and we're not sure what that word means we can go back. In a listening lesson, once something has been said it's gone. So it's very difficult to get that information back. The second problem that can occur in a listening lesson is when the information is presented too quickly. So, for many students, the actual speed of speech can be a problem. One final potential problem that could occur could be that due to the teacher?s accent. Very often our students are used to us as that their teacher. We're speaking to them every day but if we play some information from a CD or a tape recording of a different situation with different people, then they may not be used to those particular accents. However, when we consider that there are these potential problems, one thing we can do is to think about ways in which to avoid them.


Below you can read feedback from an ITTT graduate regarding one section of their online TEFL certification course. Each of our online courses is broken down into concise units that focus on specific areas of English language teaching. This convenient, highly structured design means that you can quickly get to grips with each section before moving onto the next.

This unit is about teaching equipment and aids. Many different teaching aids can be used to make lessons more interesting, effective and less dependent on textbooks. Some of the teaching aids and equipment found in classrooms and study centers are white/black board, interactive whiteboard (IWB), overhead projector (OHP), visual aids, worksheets/work cards, cassette recorder, CD player, videos and DVDs, video camera, dictionaries, course books, resource books, photocopier, computers and online resources. All classrooms have boards. Most of the boards these days are white boards as they are easier and cleaner to use. Some are traditional chalk black boards too. Boards can be used for writing, drawing, sticking things on, projecting overhead transparencies, etc. Some of the basic principles for effective board work for teachers are writing clearly and neatly, planning board work to fit the space available, using different colours to highlight important language items, avoid unnecessary capitalisation of text, etc. Some of the important consideration for the teacher when using an interactive whiteboard are training to use an IWB, testing the system before starting the lesson, having a backup system in case of system failure, lesson planning with IWB, etc. For the use of an overhead projector, teachers can plan and prepare their material sheets in advance, spend less time with their back to the class, it helps to focus student attention, etc. Visual aids can be used to elicit language and prompt discussion, can often show the meaning more effectively than a spoken explanation, to engage the students in the lesson, to teach new vocabulary items, etc. Worksheets and work cards are most commonly used for a controlled grammar exercise during the Study stage of an ESA lesson. For the use of a cassette recorder in the classroom, the teacher should check the volume level is appropriate, cue the tape to the start prior to starting the lesson, be aware of the counter reading for the length of the extract being used, etc. The common uses of DVDs in the classroom are improving listening comprehension skills while holding the students attention, to stimulate student involvement and discussion, to provide students with authentic audio/visual material, etc. Video cameras in the classroom can be used as part of an activity or project, it allows students to analyze their pronunciation and as a tool for self-correction. the main uses of computers are using word processor by teachers, for EFL CDs, reference tools, for e-mails, audio/video clips, Youtube and for Podcats/MP3, etc. Dictionaries are also very useful aids for students to look meaning of words, its pronunciation and usage in contexts.


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