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Teaching Productive Skills in the Classroom: How Is It Achieved?

Teaching Productive Skills in the Classroom: How Is It Achieved? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

In the process of building a strong foundation for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), there are many items to consider. Some of these include parts of speech, theories and methodologies, tenses, lesson planning, and testing. One of the most important parts of this process is teaching productive skills, including speaking and writing, to students of all age groups. While the lesson planning for speaking and writing will be different, they are both used for the primary purpose of communication. When people are communicating with each other, they want to be able to say something through proper communication. They also want to listen and be able to hear what is being said. Productive skills can have immediate gratification but also be very time-consuming. Accuracy and fluency are both very important when teaching speaking and writing skills. This is why the teacher will need to bring the desire to motivate the student to speak and write properly.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Walter S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

What is important for productive skills?

The productive skill of speaking requires the student to show a high degree of fluency with the English language. During the process of learning to speak English, it is of benefit to let the student know that he may take time and proceed slowly until they become more familiar with the language. When speaking, the person will not have time to plan an appropriate response but can have an incorrect response corrected immediately. Accuracy based activities to utilize with lesson planning should include controlled and guided activities. For controlled activities, listening to and repetition of proper pronunciation, called drilling, is a good starting point. Another controlled activity is prompting or the use of pre-planned questions and answers. Guided activities are also of benefit for accuracy. These include model dialogues and guided role-play. For fluency of the language, creative communication techniques can be used. Some of these include discussions, free role-play, debate, and communication games. Because many students are afraid to speak in the classroom setting, the teacher needs to create a comfortable atmosphere and encourage the students to speak. Some helpful techniques to encourage the students to become more involved would be to change the classroom dynamics, pair-work, or group-work, along with controlled and guided practice sessions. A major role of the teacher, after activities are performed, is to provide feedback. Feedback should focus on how well the class is communicating, possible improvements rather than mistakes made and handling recurrent mistakes on an individual and group level. In perfecting good speaking skills, the student will enhance his or her ability and motivation to learn the English language.

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The productive skill of writing requires the student to show a high degree of accuracy with the English language. Writing is a more neglected skill but is no less important than speaking. Writing is also more difficult than speaking but prepares the student for their future educational projects and proper communication in the professional world. Written text has several differences, but all need to be utilized and incorporated. Not only do they have differences in grammar and vocabulary that should be mastered, but also differences in spelling, handwriting, layout, and punctuation. Handwriting, though a major challenge, will positively influence the reader when presented clearly. Correct spelling, for the reader, will eliminate misunderstanding and better communication. Punctuation is a matter of personal style and layouts of writing are better prepared with practice and repetition. Examples of formal layouts might include business letters and emails. A major technique for preparing a student to enhance his or her writing skill and use appropriate language is to assign creative writing projects that require him or her to produce a personal story. As with speaking, all items should be encouraged for continued improvement. Though the writing skill is more neglected in the teaching process and can be boring and tedious for the student, the accuracy acquired can only benefit the student’s understanding and proper usage of the English language.

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In a review of the many teaching skills offered for TESOL, the productive skills of speaking and writing are two of the most important in the student’s education. While they are very different in their makeup and teaching perspectives, the main purpose of both is communication. Speaking focuses mainly on the fluency of the English language while writing focuses mainly on the accuracy of the English language. Though some of these tasks may be tedious and boring at times, the benefits for the student in the form of being able to speak and write properly will help them integrate with the English-speaking population more effectively. As with all classroom sessions, there is a need to motivate the student and bring a desire to learn. With proper instructions and ongoing guidance from the teacher, the student will benefit greatly by learning good productive skills in the English language.

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