The Emphasis on the Need for Teaching Productive Skills
The productive skills, in my definition, are skills that require the students to articulate or produce words, sounds, speeches, or sentences either in written or typed form. The productive skills are speaking and writing. The productive skills are essential and are needed for communicative purposes in our day to day activities.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Taiwo B. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Why are Productive Skills Important?
Other skills are being taught in the English language, which is reading and listening (receptive skills). However, while these other skills are important, the most important of them are productive skills, particularly speaking skill. This is because for effective communication and understanding to occur between individuals, they must be able to speak a common language. On the contrary, most schools at the primary and secondary levels focus on reading and writing skills more. For instance, in a country like China, much emphasis is placed on reading and writing skills, at the expense of speaking skill. To teach speaking skills, some steps and procedures must be followed depending on the language level of the students. Additionally, the intention or the aspect of the speaking skill (accuracy and fluency) to be improved must be defined beforehand. While both aspects are important and needed to be improved, they have to be done in succession.
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Preparation for Teaching
Before teaching speaking in classroom, it is important that the teacher creates an atmosphere where the students are relaxed and are not afraid of making mistakes with the language, because one of the reasons why students do not speak or interact in classroom is the fear of making mistakes, which in turn affects their confidence to speak. And once the students do not feel confident enough to practice the language in the classroom, it becomes more difficult to speak it outside the classroom. Also, the students must enjoy communicating with the teacher and the other students as well. Some of the tips, steps and procedure to follow when teaching speaking in the classroom, when the focus is on fluency, are creating communicative activities like free role play, discussions, short debates depending on the students’ level, short storytelling, information gap where the student will have to say the answer to a question, etc. When the focus is on improving accuracy while encouraging the students to speak, some of the activities that can be used are choral and individual drilling, prompting, model dialogs and role-play guided by the teacher.
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In addition to the above-mentioned tips, other techniques can be used by the teacher to further reinforce speaking in the classroom. Some of these are, making students to work in pairs, work in groups, having lot of controlled and guided activities to help students improve their accuracy and to know the needed words before the speaking activities, changing the student arrangement and dynamics, making the speaking activities purposeful and choosing speaking activities and topics that interest the students. Using one or mix of these methods will help the teacher develop and hone the students’ speaking skills.
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The need for speaking skills cannot be over-emphasized as most students will at one point or the other be faced with the need to communicative in the English language, and at that point, the reading or writing skill may not be useful to communicate. Hence teachers need to pay more attention to this skill in the classroom and help the students develop this needed skill, because once the students develop the confidence to speak in the classroom, then it will become easy to be able to speak and communicate outside the classroom.
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