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Guide to Teaching Receptive Skills in the EFL Classroom

Guide to Teaching Receptive Skills in the EFL Classroom | ITTT | TEFL Blog

When students learn English as a second language, there are two types of skills that they work towards obtaining proficiency of: receptive and productive skills. As an EFL teacher, you need to understand how to incorporate the learning of these skills into your lessons - and this guide will help you with that.

This post was written by our ITTT graduate Leah B.

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Receptive Skills Definition

Within the category of receptive skills, there are two types of subcategory skills the English language learner works towards: proficiency in reading and listening. There are two reasons as to why the student would want to gain mastery in these two receptive skills. The first motivation is for a purpose; the use of English when reading and/or listening for a purpose helps the individual achieve a specific goal or objective.

Motivations for the Students

An example of this particular motivation for receptive skills is seen when someone is reading an instruction manual regarding how to put a chair together; the individual is reading the manual for a purpose. The second reason why an individual would use receptive skills is for entertainment; this means the individual is listening and/or reading information because he or she finds it enjoyable. An example of this specific motivation for the use of receptive skills is recognized when someone is listening to the radio; the individual is listening to the radio for enjoyment.

Challenges for the Students

While it is helpful for teachers to become aware of the motivations that students have for learning English, it is also key that teachers understand the challenges that come with learning receptive skills. Students not only have to recognize the word they are hearing or seeing, but their brains also have to grasp the overall meaning from a previous understanding of the word. In regards to reading, it is easier for students to understand the language because the text is revealed on paper and can be read over as often as need be. On the other hand, listening presents more of a challenge for language learners. When listening to the language, it is only heard once, which limits the amount of time the student has to interpret the meaning and think about the language that is presented.

Planning Your Lessons Considering the Motivations and Challenges

With the knowledge of both the motivations and challenges that language learners face, it is vital that teachers incorporate these understandings within their lessons. In order to successfully teach English to language learners, teachers must approach their lessons with some specific plans in mind. First and foremost, teachers need to choose material that is interesting and motivational for their students as a means to maintain their student’s attention throughout the lesson. Prior to their lessons, teachers must build interest for their students. This can be portrayed through engage activities that allow students to discuss or make predictions about the topic.

Before a lesson, teachers must also pre-teach vocabulary so students can gain a better understanding of the unknown language and structures that exist within the lesson. Throughout their entire course, teachers must make sure to vary their material type so that the range of materials provide students with the opportunities to practice different skills. In order to aid students’ greater understanding of receptive skills, it is essential that teachers use realistic comprehension tasks. These particular tasks can be depicted through jigsaw reading or jumbled texts. Ultimately, throughout every lesson taught by the teacher, activate phases that lead on from the text must exist so that the student’s knowledge of receptive skills continues to grow.

Great Resources for Teaching Receptive Skills

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Overall, it is essential when teaching a language that the teacher gains a better understanding of his or her students. No skill or plan can truly be successful unless the teacher takes time to know students’ interests and motivations. With a better understanding of the topics that fascinate their students, teachers are able to give more successful lessons on receptive skills because of the students’ desire to learn and understand the material.

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