Productive and Receptive Skills in the ESL Classroom - Why do we speak?


So, we'll focus first of all on a speaking skills lesson and perhaps a starting point for this would be to ask a question which is: Why do we speak to each other? The reason that it's important to ask ourselves this question is that whatever answers there are to this should be present in our lessons. So, why do we speak to each other? Well, there are a multitude of answers to that but when you boil them all down to their essence, they probably actually come down to one or two things. We communicate to each other by speaking because of either a need. We need something. We want something or a desire to achieve something.

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.

Language teaching has a long history and because of this it was influenced by many changes that affected the students' needs and teachers' methods. The main idea during all these changes was to improve the effectiveness of language teaching and to incorporate the best of every teaching method and use it in the best possible way. Although, there are many methods that can be used to evoke students' interest, in my country Republic of Macedonia, I have noticed that the following methods are most often applied during the lesson. Grammar-translation method: The method itself suggests learning through finding the translated word or a phrase in L1. The grammar in Macedonian language is quite different of the one in L2 (English language) and most of the time the students have difficulties in following the correct sentence pattern , because they are trying to use the word order that our language has. For example: L2 (English language) There are seven members in my family. VS. L1 ( Macedonian language) ?? ????? ????????? ??? ????? ???????. The word order is completely different and students often make mistakes because they are trying to translate word by word so the sentence has a different meaning. In my opinion this method would be useful in teaching vocabulary, but not for oral communication. The second most common method would be Presentation, Practice and Production. In the beginning of the lesson the teachers first present the new language. Afterwards, they ask the students to practice the language in a certain controlled manner, and in the end the students move on the production stage where they feel more confident to use the language. Even though, this method is useful when teaching simple words or phrases, I think that it lacks creativity and the students are already aware what follows. Communicative approach or CLT, is also commonly used but during some parts of the lesson. Because activities in CLT typically require students to use the language in real life situations role play activities are popular. Sometimes this can be a drawback, because the students are afraid of making mistakes and mispronunciation, or feel incompetent to communicate in L2. The teachers should be the ones that encourage the students that these kind of activities would help them to use L2 in real life. Despite the methods, the teachers use many different techniques to keep the students motivated and interested. When the teachers decide which technique to use they should be aware of the student's language level, of his/her culture and local language, and the stage of the lesson (engage, study or activate). It is also very important to give feedback. In this way, teachers can help students to overcome some difficulties and to evaluate their progress.

Check out ITTT's Blog Posts