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Teaching Language Skills: Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening

Teaching Language Skills: Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening | ITTT | TEFL Blog

There are 4 different types of language skills: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. When teaching, a teacher should make sure that students develop all four language skills. This can be achieved through different teaching techniques as well as through practicing them through exercises.

How to teach reading?

Reading is important for students in many different ways and it is an important part of a teacher’s job. Many students want to improve their reading skills in order to be able to read texts in English for their career, studies, or for pleasure. Reading allows the students to be exposed to the language that sticks to their minds and makes the language acquisition more successful. Vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation are also improved during the reading process.

Anything that the teacher can do in order to improve the students’ reading skills is good. Reading can be a great way to introduce many new topics that are great for discussions. The teacher should make sure that the texts they use are a good balance between the ’authentic’ material and the material the students can comprehend. The texts they read should be on their level of knowledge so that they can understand the material to some degree. Those texts should also be as real English as possible. The texts should also be related to the job they are doing.

While reading the texts, the students should scan them for specific information and skim the text to get a general idea. Which technique they will use will depend on what they want to get out of it. The students can also read for details.

There are many principles behind the teaching of reading. It is not a passive skill but an active one and in order to be done successfully you need to understand the words, and the arguments, and work out if you agree with them. Students should be engaged with what they are reading to benefit from it. They should be encouraged to respond to the content of a reading text, not just the language. Prediction is also a major factor in reading. The topic should be matched to the task and they should be used as discussion topics.

How to teach writing?

The reasons for teaching writing to students of English as a foreign language include reinforcement, language development, learning style, and writing as a skill on its own. Reinforcement is when students acquire language when they see it written down. The visual representation of language is very important for understanding of how it all fits together and as an aid to committing the new language to memory. Students find it useful to write short sentences using new languages shortly after they have studied it. Language development is acquired through the process of writing. Some students learn better when writing, while some other learn better by looking and listening which are all different learning styles. Writing as a skill is very important and students need to learn how to use it.

The type of writing depends on the students’s age, level, and interest. When the teacher sets the task he/she should be aware of the students’ vocabulary abilities and try to get the students to write in a number of everyday styles such as letters, postcards, reports, magazine articles etc.They should write about what is interesting to them and write on as many different themes as possible.

There are 4 examples of writing. The first example is ’parallel writing’ where the students follow the model they have been given and it is useful for formulaic wrigint like podcasts, letters, invitations, etc. The second example is dictation where the teacher dictates the students and they write. The third example is students writing their own newspapers article while the fourth type is writing reports on a certain theme.

When writing the teacher should be careful when correcting mistakes. That can be done in sveral ways. Teachers should have a balance between being accurate and truthful, but on the other hand treat the students sensitively and sympathetically. They should not over-correct the students and make sure that the correction does not look very damaging.

Handwriting is also very important when practising writing skills and the teachers should insist on students writing neatly and legibly.

How to teach speaking?

While practising speaking the students use all the language they know. Giving students a chance to speak gives students a chance to rehearse having free discussions outsie the classroom. Feedback hey get is also really important because the teacher has a chance to see what the students are good at and what their weaknesses are. These activities are motivating for the students but only if the students are involved fully and the activity is set properly.

There are 4 examples of speaking activities. The first example are information gaps which are for the intermediate and elementary level. The second type are surveys which are also at an elemntary level. Students can design their own surveys and questionnaries about any topic. The third example is discussion on an intermediate or upper intermediate level an the important thing is that the students are engaged with the topic. The fourht example is roleplay on upper intermediate level. It can be a whole class activity which is very enjoyable and useful.

It is important that the teachers correct mistakes when the students are speaking. Many students watch and listen while speaking activities are taking place and take notes with important mistakes. When the activity has finished, they correct mistakes. It is important not to single out the students for particular criticism. The best way to correct them is to listen and then correct as a feedback.

How to teach listening?

One of the main reasons for practicing listening skills is that they are exposed to different variants and accents of language, rather than listening to the teacher only. Depending on the student’s level, the teacher will get them to listen to a certain variant of English. The main idea is to expose them to spoken English through taped material. Students acquire language subconsciously while listening to appropriate tapes and improve not only their grammar and vocabulary but also pronunciation, rhythm, intonation, pitch, and stress.

The tapes the students listen to are on their level of language and their engagement. Listening to different tapes brings different kinds of speaking into the classroom and the teacher should play many tapes to them in order to motivate the students to think and talk about different topics.

These activities can cause students to panic due to the speed of the tape and that is why there should be some adaptation period.

There are 6 principles when it comes to the teaching of listening. The first one is the tape recorder which should be of good quality in order not to destroy the activity. The second principle is preparation which is vital for both the students and the teacher. The third principle is that a recording should be played two times in order for the students to understand as much as possible. The fourth principle is that the students should be encouraged to respond to the context of listening and not just to the language. The fifth principle is that different listening stages demand different listening tasks which means that for the first listening the task should be very straightforward in order for them to get the general idea and later listening to focus on details. The sixth principle is that good teachers exploit listening texts to the full.


The importance of every single one of these skills is huge. That is why the teacher should make sure to include all of them during his/her classes. This can be practiced and the improvement comes with the experience. This text described only some ways that can help you with teaching and practicing language skills. However, every teacher and every class is different. Therefore, make sure to find your own ways that help you teach these skills.

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