Why Teaching Productive Skills is Important
Teaching is the passing on of knowledge and ideas to a particular person or group, especially about politics, religion, science or society. The ability to use a language is called language skill. When we learn a language we usually learn four for skills to effectively communicate in that language. These usually are, listening being the first, speaking the language, reading and finally writing skills. Productive skills can be defined as the production of good or useful things in large quantities or to do something well or type of workability that you learn through training and continuous practice.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Sepo M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Speaking and Writing
In language, productive skills are speaking and writing. These skills are very important because learners need to articulate words and write to produce language. Learners receive language by listening to conversations, music, videos, podcasts, audiobooks and also by reading comprehension, newspapers, poems, books, etc. Speaking and writing skills are crucial as they allow students to practice real-life activities in the classrooms and can help with day to day communication especially in a foreign country, one has to at least have the basic knowledge of sentence construction in of the particular foreign language to have an easier time communicating. In a classroom, These two skills can be used as a barometer to check how much the learners have learned.
Speaking is vital unless someone is learning English purely for academic reasons and does not intend to communicate in English which is quite rare. Good command on speaking skills develops a sense of progress among learners and boosts their confidence inside and outside the classroom. Teaching writing skills is equally important because written communication is a basic life skill that can also come in handy for students or people in general with a speaking disability or speech impairment. Students may need to take notes, fill in forms, write letters, reports, stories, etc. Many need to fill in detailed questionnaires relating to health, education, and employment.
Also Read: Do I need a degree to teach English abroad?
Reasons to learn productive skills
Another reason learners need to write is for assimilation. Writing is an effective way of reinforcing what they have already been studying and they benefit greatly from seeing new or unfamiliar language in written form. Writing is a good way to practice grammar and look up new vocabulary and learn English punctuation rules. It encourages learner’s autonomy when they are asked to keep Journals or turn in regular writing assignments that they carry out at home. Either way, students and new learners should give each skill of language equal importance and extensive practice opportunities to use English fluently for a variety of purposes especially for the overall improvement of their communicative skills. As Peregoy and Boyle State in the book ‘Reading, Writing and Learning in ESL’ (2011: P236), ‘listening, speaking, reading and writing occur naturally together in learning events at all levels in schools’.
Productive and Receptive skills complement each other in every way from a thought that needs to be written, a speech that needs to be read, instructions that need to be heard or conversations that need to be had. Students should be able to use the English language in an all-purpose way and not only rely on one particular skill and expect to use that skill in every situation. These four skills are what we need to complete communication. Productive language skills are paramount to learning because, without these skills, we cannot make sentences or communicate our understanding of a particular subject. Learners need to develop their language skills and specifically academic English to:
- Understand and make the most effective use of study materials
- Develop the specialized language and vocabulary relevant to the subject.
- Interpret assignment questions and select relevant and appropriate responses.
- Write well-structured and coherently presented assignments without plagiarism
- Communicate own needs to their tutors f) Work productively with other students.
To develop a student’s condition of productive skills in the classroom, teachers should be given the knowledge and training of the philosophy of English teaching methods and approach properly. The teachers should adopt different teaching techniques and strategies to let learners write independently. Teachers should try to design some innovative writing activities for the class so that the students can be more involved in the learning process and speaking exercises that will enable them to improve with the target spoken language.
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In conclusion as a universal medium of communication, English has become the only language for the world citizen to have as a survival tool. English can be understood fully or to an acceptable extent in almost every country. It is the common language of communication and a necessary language to learn in the 21st century. In Zambia, English is being taught as a core subject from class 1- 12, yet it is painful to watch that students are still lagging to achieve the expected level of proficiency in respect of productive skills. For a long time, communicative methods at schools and colleges aim at developing the four skills, reading, writing, listening and speaking. However, proper planning, implementation, and monitoring can make it possible to achieve a student’s language proficiency in four skills simultaneously.
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