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The Importance of Properly Teaching Receptive Skills

The Importance of Properly Teaching Receptive Skills | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Receptive skills, reading and listening, are important skills that all students should master when learning a new language. They are important because they surround the world and can be used for purpose and entertainment. In my own experience, I have seen the consequences of underdeveloped receptive skills and have helped to develop my students’ receptive skills in the classroom. With this experience and the information I have learned in this course, I am hoping to continue to develop receptive skills in my students.

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

Why do we need receptive skills?

As mentioned above, receptive skills are necessary for the many sources of information that are made with a direct purpose, such as manuals and research articles. Without the ability to read, one would not know how to use the information that is present in these materials. Likewise, when it comes to listening to podcasts or directions, it is equally impossible to gain information or carry out an order if listening skills have not been gained. Similarly, the same scenarios can be given for entertainment purposes and there would be a communication gap based on the lack of receptive skills.

In my own experience, I have seen the consequences of poor receptive skills while teaching. Some of my former students were English Language Learners and had not developed the proper receptive skills for their grade level. When they completed math algorithm problems, they understood the procedure and were able to correctly solve the problem. However, when the students were given a word problem that tested the same objective, they were unable to complete the problem, and generally tended to add the numbers together because that is the first operation that came to mind. It occurred to me that while these students were getting the problem wrong, it was not their math skills that needed remedial attention, but their receptive skills.

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How to teach receptive skills?

When it came to helping my students further develop their receptive skills, I found success in approaches that were mentioned in this course. In particular, I focused on not only pre-teaching the vocabulary that appeared, but I also created an interest in the problems. When I chose or wrote problems with my English Language Learners in mind, I focused on using their names and using applications that were relevant to them. For example, one of my problems was “Angela gave 2 cupcakes to each of her 5 friends. How many cupcakes did she give to her friends?” Problems like this captured the interest of my students because they felt a connection when their name was used, and they had experience with giving cupcakes to their friends. What might have been a difficult problem was now much easier since they could visualize the problem for themselves.

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Do you want to teach English abroad?

While I may not always be teaching the same subject in the future, I have learned that it is always important to teach receptive skills in all subjects. All subjects have opportunities where receptive skills can be used as listening and reading are evident in all subjects and manners of life. In order to better prepare students for an experience where they can properly use their new language, they must have ample opportunities to practice it in all the available domains. I will continue to do this by creating an interest for my students, pre-teaching the vocabulary, and carefully selecting texts and activities with my students in mind.

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