Why Teaching Productive Skills is so Important
Communication is essential for everyday life activities. It's impossible not to communicate. Even when you don't speak a word, you communicate. That's because communication represents the way we express put thoughts, our ideas, and our opinions. It is as much about effective listening and reading as it is about speaking and writing. Communication is built on these four important skills which are divided into Productive Skills (speaking and writing) and Receptive Skills (reading and listening).
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Valentina D. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
In this text, we take a look at the Productive skills which wouldn't exist without the Receptive ones.
Of the four skills, speaking is the most important but writing seems intuitive to be the most difficult. When speaking you have time to correct mistakes and misunderstandings which appears to be impossible with writing.
People engage in communications for specific reasons:
- They have something to say about that particular topic otherwise they would remain quiet.
- They have some communicative purposes. They aim to make the conversation give the message the wish to convey.Moving this text to a "teaching productive skills"prospective, the teacher must give to the students a reason and a desire to communicate. She must encourage them to participate in class conversations.
As mentioned previously, writing and speaking are the productive parts of communication. They are both characterized by two abilities: fluency and accuracy.
Accuracy is the ability to use correct grammar and correct vocabulary when producing English sentences.
Fluency is the ability to use and understand the language effortlessly and coherently. A teacher should promote and control these two abilities trough some activities.
Accuracy speaking based activities will concentrate on the construction of a language such as:
- Drilling (choral and individual repetitions)
- Prompting (encouraging students to answer questions by pre-planning them)
Fluency speaking based activities don't focus on how students say things but more on what they want to say such as:
- Communication games
A certain level of accuracy is needed for all communications but fluency is just as important. It is difficult to make all students speak in equal measure.
This can happen for a bunch of reasons:
- Students are not interested in the lesson
- Students are afraid of making mistakes
- Students are afraid of peer victimization
- Students don't feel confident
- Cultural reasons
Also Read: Can Americans teach English in Europe?
There are some helpful tips to make students speak more effectively:
- Do not demand a native speaker pronunciation
- Monitor the students
- Give them time
- Pre-teach difficult vocabularies
- Don't correct every mistake
- Don't discuss always the same topics
A teacher should always provide feedback after every activity by focusing on what students were able to do and by discussing what they liked or not about the lesson.
Writing represents the most difficult communication skill. Correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling are the key to written communication writing. That's what makes a reader feel like going on with the lecture.
Handwriting is personal and no student should be addressed to write in a particular way.
Writing is one of those skills that deeply requires students to be motivated. For most of them, it is a painful process that requires times, training and practice. A great number of students see writing as a big obstacle above all the ones whose language uses a different alphabet.Many English words are very difficult to spell because they are not pronounced in the same way they are written (Queue /kjuː/) or some words are written the same but pronounced differently (wind- /wɪnd/, /waɪnd/).
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A teacher must address the students' attention to the different ways a word can be pronounced and have them do exercises. Differences between English and students' native languages can be found in the way they use punctuation. For example, some languages don't use spaces between words and some others write from right to left. Students must be given the chance to be in contact with different punctuation styles. To encourage students to write, creative writing could be used such as poetry, stories, plays or songs.
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