Welcome: Renan Herrera  
Certification Program

The Current Phase:
Using a language is a skill. No amount of knowledge about the language can ensure that one may use it effectively. Language is for communication and needs to be competently used in order to develop proficiency. The four skills are Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing and the teacher has to integrate all these skills in the classroom.

Phase 3 - Part I - Teaching Techniques (Language Skills)

  Listening Skills

Teaching listening skills is one of the most difficult tasks for any ESL teacher. This is because successful listening skills are acquired over time and with lots of practice. It's frustrating for students because there are no rules in teaching listening. Speaking and writing have very specific exercises that can lead to improved skills. This is not to say that there are no ways of improving listening skills; however they are difficult to quantify.

One of the largest inhibitors for students is often mental block. While listening, a student suddenly decides that he or she doesn't understand what is being said. At this point, many students just tune out or get caught up in an internal dialogue trying to translate a specific word. Some students convince themselves that they are not able to understand spoken English well and create problems for themselves.

The key to helping students improve their listening skills is to convince them that not understanding is OK. This is more of an attitude adjustment than anything else, and it is easier for some students to accept than others. Another important point is that they need to listen to English as often as possible, but for short periods of time.

There is a famous analogy:

Imagine you want to get in shape. You decide to begin jogging. The very first day you go out and jog seven miles. If you are lucky, you might even be able to jog the seven miles. However, chances are good that you will not soon go out jogging again. Fitness trainers have taught us that we must begin with little steps. Begin jogging short distances and walk some as well, over time you can build up the distance. Using this approach, you'll be much more likely to continue jogging and get fit.

Students need to apply the same approach to listening skills. Encourage them to get a film, or listen to an English radio station, but not to watch an entire film or listen for two hours. Students should often listen, but they should listen for short periods - five to ten minutes. This should happen four or five times a week. Even if they don't understand anything, five to ten minutes is a minor investment. However, for this strategy to work, students must not expect improved understanding too quickly. The brain is capable of amazing things if given time; students must have the patience to wait for results. If a student continues this exercise over two to three months their listening comprehension skills will greatly improve.

As discussed earlier listening is one of the most challenging skills for our students to develop and yet also one of the most important. By developing their ability to listen well we develop our students' ability to become more independent learners, as by hearing accurately they are much more likely to be able to reproduce accurately, refine their understanding of grammar and develop their own vocabulary.

A framework can be used to design a listening lesson that will develop your students' listening skills and look at some of the issues involved.

  • The basic framework
  • Pre-listening
  • While listening
  • Post listening
  • Applying the framework to a song
  • Some conclusions

The basic framework
The basic framework on which you can construct a listening lesson can be divided into three main stages.

• Pre listening, during which we help our students prepare to listen.
• While listening, during which we help to focus their attention on the listening text and guide the development of their understanding of it.
• Post listening, during which we help our students integrate what they have
learnt from the text into their existing knowledge.

There are certain goals that should be achieved before students attempt to listen to any text. These are motivation, contextualization, and preparation.

• Motivation
It is enormously important that before listening students are motivated to

• listen, so you should try to select a text that they will find interesting and then design tasks that will arouse your students' interest and curiosity.

When we listen in our everyday lives we hear language within its natural environment, and that environment gives us a huge amount of information about the linguistic content we are likely to hear. Listening to a tape recording in a classroom is a very unnatural process. The text has been taken from its original environment and we need to design tasks that will help students to contextualize the listening and access their existing knowledge and expectations to help them understand the text.

• Preparation
To do the task we set for students during listening activity, they may need specific vocabulary or expressions. It's vital that we cover this before they start to listen as we want the challenge within the lesson to be an act of listening and not of understanding what they have to do.

While listening
When we listen to something in our everyday lives we do so for a reason. Students too need a reason to listen, to know what they should focus their attention on. For our students to really develop their listening skills they will need to listen a number of times - three or four usually works quite well - as I've found that the first time many students listen to a text they are nervous and have to tune in to accents and the speed at which the people are speaking.

Ideally the listening tasks we design for them should guide them through the text and should be graded so that the first listening task they do is quite easy and helps them to get a general understanding of the text. Sometimes a single question at this stage will be enough, not putting the students under too much pressure.

The second task for the second time students listen should demand a greater and more detailed understanding of the text. Make sure though that the task doesn't demand too much of a response. Writing long responses as they listen can be very demanding and is a separate skill in itself, so keep the tasks to single words, ticking or some sort of graphical response.

The third listening task could just be a matter of checking their own answers from the second task or could lead students towards some more subtle interpretations of the text.

Listening to a foreign language is a very intensive and demanding activity and for this reason I think it's very important that students should have 'breathing' or 'thinking' space between listening. I usually get my students to compare their answers between listening as this gives them the chance not only to have a break from the listening, but also to check their understanding with a peer and so reconsider before listening again.

There are two common forms that post-listening tasks can take. These are reactions to the content of the text, and analysis of the linguistic features used to express the content.

•Reaction to the text
Of these two I find that tasks that focus students reaction to the content are most important. Again this is something that we naturally do in our everyday lives. Because we listen for a reason, there is generally a following reaction. This could be discussion as a response to what we've heard - do they agree or disagree or even believe what they have heard? - or it could be some kind of reuse of the information they have heard.

Analysis of language
The second of these two post-listening task types involves focusing students on linguistic features of the text. This is important in terms of developing their knowledge of language, but less so in terms of developing students' listening skills. It could take the form of an analysis of verb forms from a script of the listening text or vocabulary or collocation work. This is a good time to do form focused work as the students have already developed an understanding of the text and so will find dealing with the forms that express those meanings much easier.

Applying the framework to a song.
Here is an example of how you could use this framework to exploit a song:

• Pre-listening
o Students brainstorm kinds of songs
o Students describe one of their favourite songs and what they like about it
o Students predict some word or expressions that might be in a love song

• While listening
o Students listen and decide if the song is happy or sad
o Students listen again and order the lines or verses of the song
o Students listen again to check their answers or read a summary of the
song with errors in and correct them.

• Post listening
- Focus on content
- Discuss what they liked / didn't like about the song
- Decide whether they would buy it / who they would buy it for
- Write a review of the song for a newspaper or website
- Write another verse for the song

• Focus on form
- Students look at the lyrics from the song and identify the verb forms
- Students find new words in the song and find out what they mean
- Students make notes of common collocations within the song

Two principles of listening:

• bottom up listening skills
• top down listening skills

Bottom up listening skills, or bottom up processing, refers to the decoding process, the direct decoding of language into meaningful units, from sound waves through the air, in through our ears and into our brain where meaning is decoded. To do this students need to know the code. How the sounds work and how they string together and how the codes can change in different ways when they're strung together. And most students have never been taught how English changes when it's strung together in sentences.

Top-down processing refers to how we use our world knowledge to attribute meaning to language input; how our knowledge of social convention helps us understand meaning.

These are the skills that listening teachers should be teaching in their classes but all too often are not

What Teachers Need to Do

Give students practice in listening which ask students to interpret and understand meaning, together with listening which teaches learners about how English is actually spoken. That is, students need practice in listening for meaning and instruction about how to do this, (a focus on form).

Objectives of listening:

  • We listen to sounds
  • We react to it
  • We listen to comprehend
  • It is receptive skill
  • We listen to the tone inflection and to the inferred

Types of listening:

  • Specific
  • Global
  • Inferences

Good listening strategies:

  • Trying to comprehend
  • Speak well
  • Trying to predict
  • To be able to monitor
  • To ask and clarify

Triumphs and tribulations:

One of the main advantages of teaching listening is that students get to hear a recording of different voices, accents, genders and so forth. They do not have to just rely on the teacher to help perfect their spoken English, but they can also learn to
understand others who speak. It helps prepare students for real life situations, where

they will have to listen, respond to, and make sense of a variety of voices. But while in the classroom, the recording can be played again and again for the students to get the gist of what is being said and to make inferences about the overall meaning
based on the context.

Audio recordings are useful because of the diversity of speech patterns that students can benefit from in their progress with the English language. Teachers can pick out from two way dialogue, radio recordings or a monologue. These are examples of natural speech that students will need to get used to outside the classroom as they put their English to use.

However, one of the disadvantages of listening exercises is that students are not able to see extra linguistic features such as facial expressions, gestures and body language in order to be able to tell how the speaker feels and infer further meaning from what is said. Italian and Greek are examples of two languages that make good use of such extra linguistic features, as people "speak" with their hands and eyes, as well as with their mouth. That is why students from these countries may find it difficult to make sense of what they hear, as they are used to the visual delivery of language, as well as the spoken word. But a change in tone or pitch can help students to guess at the meaning of what is being said.

1. Do as I say, not as I do:
10 minutes

Objective: To improve listening skills

1. First practice Simon Says with the students so that they understand the game
2.Now tell them to do as you SAY, not as you do, and repeat playing the game - only this time, when you say 'touch your knees' etc, touch your ears instead, or any other part of your body. This is a good way to see who is listening to you correctly and
who is just copying your movements. Students find this game much more fun than
the original.

2. Chinese whisper
Time: 10 minutes:

Objective: To improve listening skills


1. Arrange the class in a circle
2. The teacher whispers a word/phrase into the ear of one student and indicates that it has to be passed around till it reaches the last person.
3. The last person then has to act out the word/phrase.
4. After the action the teacher then confirms whether the word and the action are same or not.
5. The one who does the action now gets the chance to whisper.

Age: 10 to 15 years:

1. Lie detector
Time: 10 minutes:

Objective: To improve listening skills


1. Teams are created; each team is given a topic.
2. The teams must create four sentences about that topic, but one of those sentences contains an untruth.
3. The sentences are then presented to the class and it is the task of the other teams to identify the lie.
4. The response must be exact and not sentence 3 is wrong.
5. For example:
• Tom cruise is a superstar
• Tom Cruise has acted in many movies
• Tom Cruise is married to Nicole Kidman
6. Possible categories
• Countries
• Famous people
• Members of the class
• The teacher
• English
• Grammar
• Stories from films or other TV programmes

2. Giving directions
Time: 10

Objective: To improve listening skills


1. Ask for a volunteer who is blindfolded.
2. The furniture of the room is rearranged (if the tables are fixed then the chairs can be manipulated) The classroom is like a maze.
3. Place a coin or a wrapped sweet somewhere in the room.
4. In order to reach the target the blindfolded person is now asked to follow directions as told to him /her
5. Gently turn the student two or three times to confuse his / her sense of direction.
6. Then the teacher remains silent as the rest of the class gives instructions.
7. This could be done in groups too.


1. Why is listening considered to be an active process? What difficulties do listeners face in processing language?
2. Design a listening activity to be used in class for any one of the following categories:

- Age group 8 to 10
- Non native speakers who are novice to this language

- Age group above18

You can choose anything to teach as a topic like, grammar, vocabulary, or plain conversation. Please state the steps involved in detail. Kindly note that you are not allowed to use the activities that have already been mentioned in the course.

Please mention the following:

1. Objective:
2. Warmer:
3. Aids used:
4. Duration:
5. Age level:

Speaking skills


Speaking is "the process of building and sharing meaning through the use of verbal and non-verbal symbols, in a variety of contexts" (Chaney, 1998, p. 13). Speaking is a crucial part of second language learning and teaching. Despite its importance, for many years, teaching speaking has been undervalued and English language teachers have continued to teach speaking just as a repetition of drills or memorization of dialogues. However, today's world requires that the goal of teaching speaking should improve students' communicative skills, because, only in that way, students can express themselves and learn how to follow the social and cultural rules appropriate in each communicative circumstance. In order to teach second language learners
how to speak in the best way possible, some speaking activities are provided below, that can be applied to ESL classroom settings, together with suggestions for teachers who teach oral language. One of the common complain a teacher gets to hear is that " Many English students complain that they understand English, but don't feel confident enough to join a conversation. There are a number of reasons for this including:

  • Students are trying to translate from their native language into English.
  • Production "blocking" is occurring due to nervousness, lack of confidence, etc.
  • The speaker is looking for a specific word, rather than using simple language
  • There aren't enough conversation opportunities in or outside of class.
  • Students aren't able to speak to peers
  • Exam preparation focuses on grammar, vocabulary, etc. and leaves little time for active use.

The first rule of improving speaking skills is to speak, converse, talk, gab, etc. as much as you can!

Teaching Speaking

What is meant by "teaching speaking" is to teach ESL learners to:

  • Produce the English speech sounds and sound patterns
  • Use word and sentence stress, intonation patterns and the rhythm of the second language.
  • Select appropriate words and sentences according to the proper social setting, audience, situation and subject matter.
  • Organize their thoughts in a meaningful and logical sequence.
  • Use language as a means of expressing values and judgments.
  • Use the language quickly and confidently with few unnatural pauses, which is called as fluency.

How To Teach Speaking

Now many linguistics and ESL teachers agree on that students learn to speak in the second language by "interacting”. Communicative language teaching and collaborative learning serve best for this aim. Communicative language teaching is based on real-life situations that require communication. By using this method in ESL classes, students will have the opportunity of communicating with each other in the target language. In brief, ESL teachers should create a classroom environment where students have real-life communication, authentic activities, and meaningful tasks that promote oral language. This can occur when students collaborate in groups to achieve a goal or to complete a task.

While teaching speaking skills one has to keep in mind that intonation and stress are key to understanding and being understood.

Say this sentence aloud and count how many seconds it takes.

The beautiful mountain appeared transfixed in the distance.

Time required? Probably about 5 seconds. Now, try speaking this sentence aloud.

He can come on Sundays as long as he doesn't have to do any homework in the evening.

Time required? Probably about 5 seconds.

Wait a minute the first sentence is much shorter than the second sentence!

The beautiful Mountain appeared transfixed in the distance
He can come on Sundays as long as he doesn't have to do any homework in the evening

You are only partially right!
Namely, English is considered a stressed language while many other languages are considered syllabic. What does that mean? It means that, in English, we give stress to certain words while other words are quickly spoken (some students say eaten!).
In other languages, such as French or Italian, each syllable receives equal

importance (there is stress, but each syllable has its own length).

Many speakers of syllabic languages don't understand why we quickly speak, or swallow, a number of words in a sentence. In syllabic languages each syllable has equal importance, and therefore equal time is needed. English however, spends more time on specific stressed words while quickly gliding over the other, less important, words.

Let's look at a simple example: the modal verb "can". When we use the positive form of "can" we quickly glide over the can and it is hardly pronounced.

They can come on Friday.
On the other hand, when we use the negative form "can't" we tend to stress the fact that it is the negative form by also stressing "can't".

They can't come on Friday.

As you can see from the above example the sentence, "They can't come on Friday" is longer than "They can come on Friday" because both the modal "can't" and the verb "come" are stressed.

So, what does this mean for developing speaking skills?

Well, first of all, you need to understand which words we generally stress and which we do not stress. Basically, stress words are considered CONTENT WORDS, such as

  • Nouns e.g. kitchen, Peter
  • (most) principal verbs e.g. visit, construct
  • Adjectives e.g. beautiful, interesting
  • Adverbs e.g. often, carefully

Non-stressed words are considered FUNCTION WORDS such as

  • Determiners e.g. the, a, some, a few

  • Auxiliary verbs e.g. don't, am, can, were

  • •Prepositions e.g. before, next to, opposite

  • Conjunctions e.g. but, while, as

  • Pronouns e.g. they, she, us

Let's return to the beginning example to demonstrate how this affects speech.

The beautiful Mountain appeared transfixed in the distance. (14 syllables)

He can come on Sundays as long as he doesn't have to do any homework in the evening. (22 syllables)

Even though the second sentence is approximately 30% longer than the first, the sentences take the same time to speak. This is because there are 5 stressed words in each sentence. From this example, we can see that there is no need to worry about pronouncing every word clearly to be understood. One should however,

concentrate on pronouncing the stressed words clearly.

The best way to improve speaking skills is by speaking to native English speaking friends and listening and concentrating on the stressed words rather than giving importance to each syllable. Better listening leads to better communication skills. All those words that the students thought they didn?t understand were really not crucial for understanding or making oneself understood. Stressed words are the key to excellent pronunciation and understanding of English.

Thus we can conclude just how important it is for the teachers to help students know about stress.

Another important part of learning to speak English is to concentrate on pronunciation. To help facilitate pronunciation, songs poems and tongue twisters are the most effective, as they take out the stress from the activity and helps students
to get into the flow.

Suggestions For Teachers

Here are some suggestions for English language teachers while teaching oral language:

• Provide maximum opportunity to students to speak the target language by providing a rich environment that contains collaborative work, authentic materials and tasks, and shared knowledge.
• Try to involve each student in every speaking activity; for this aim, practice different ways of student participation.
• Reduce teacher speaking time in class while increasing student speaking time.
Step back and observe students.
• Indicate positive signs when commenting on a student's response.
• Ask eliciting questions such as "What do you mean? How did you reach that conclusion?" in order to prompt students to speak more.
• Provide written feedback like "Your presentation was really great. It was a
good job. I really appreciated your efforts in preparing the materials and efficient use of your voice…"
• Do not correct students' pronunciation mistakes very often while they are
speaking. Correction should not distract student from his or her speech.
• Involve speaking activities not only in class but also out of class; contact parents and other people who can help.
• Circulate around classroom to ensure that students are on the right track and
see whether they need your help while they work in groups or pairs.
• Provide the vocabulary beforehand that students need in speaking activities.
• Diagnose problems faced by students who have difficulty in expressing themselves in the target language and provide more opportunities to practice the spoken language.

Teaching speaking is a very important part of second language learning. The ability to communicate in a second language clearly and efficiently contributes to the success of the learner in school and success later in every phase of life. Therefore, it is essential that language teachers pay great attention to teaching speaking. Rather than leading students to pure memorization, providing a rich environment where meaningful communication takes place is desired. With this aim, various speaking

activities such as those listed above can contribute a great deal to students in developing basic interactive skills necessary for life. These activities make students more active in the learning process and at the same time make their learning more meaningful and fun for them.

To start speaking:

Conversation Tips

Speak about location: Talk about location. When speaking to a stranger, ask them where they are from and then make a connection with that place. For example: "Oh, I have a friend who studied in Los Angeles. He says it's a beautiful place to live in." Most Americans will then willingly talk about their experiences living or visiting that particular city or area.

Talk about work: commonly ask "What do you do?” It's not considered
impolite and is a popular topic of discussion between strangers.

Talk about sports: Everybody love sports! Some sports such as soccer cricket tennis are played globally therefore it?s a great way to start a conversation.


Speaking Skills - Asking Questions

Many post beginner to lower intermediate students are quite capable of expressing their ideas reasonably well. However, they often run into problems when asking questions. This is due to a number of causes: i.e., teachers are the ones that usually ask questions, the inversion of the auxiliary verb and subject can be especially tricky for many students. This simple lesson focuses specifically on the question form and helping students gain skill while switching tenses in the question form.

Aim: Improving speaking confidence when using question forms

Exercise 1: Ask an appropriate question for the response

  • A steak, please.
  • Oh, I stayed at home and watched tv.
  • She is reading a book at the moment.
  • We are going to visit France.
  • I usually get up at 7 o'clock.
  • No, he is single.
  • For about 2 years.
  • I was washing up when he arrived.

Exercise 2: Buzz Groups

A problem is discussed in small groups for a few minutes before views or solutions are reported to the whole class.

This activity has works well with students to brainstorm identical material prior to larger group work or open class discussions, such as a jigsaw activity. One topic that works well is a real life controversial news issue that happened in their community: What consequences should apply to officials of local and state government who argued about whose department was to send rescue teams to a group of people that drowned while they were figuring it out?

Exercise 3: Playing Cards

In this game, students should form groups of four. Each group will represent a topic. For instance:

  • Diamonds: Earning money
  • Hearts: Love and relationships
  • Spades: An unforgettable memory
  • Clubs: Best teacher

Each student in a group will choose a card. Then, each student will write 4-5 questions about that topic to ask the other people in the group. For example:

If the topic "Diamonds: Earning Money" is selected, here are some possible questions:

• Is money important in your life? Why?
• What is the easiest way of earning money?
• What do you think about lottery? Etc.

Other activities

Role Play

One other way of getting students to speak is role-playing. Students pretend they are in various social contexts and have a variety of social roles. In role-play activities, the teacher gives information to the learners such as who they are and what they think or feel. Thus, the teacher can tell the student that "You are David, you go to the doctor and tell him what happened last night, and…" (Harmer, 1984)


Simulations are very similar to role-plays but what makes simulations different than role plays is that they are more elaborate. In simulations, students can bring items to the class to create a realistic environment. For instance, if a student is acting as a singer, she brings a microphone to sing and so on. Role plays and simulations have many advantages. First, since they are entertaining, they motivate the students.

Second, as Harmer (1984) suggests, they increase the self-confidence of hesitant students, because in role play and simulation activities, they will have a different role and do not have to speak for themselves, which means they do not have to take the same responsibility.


On a given topic, students can produce ideas in a limited time. Depending on the context, either individual or group brainstorming is effective and learners generate ideas quickly and freely. The best part of brainstorming is that the students are not criticized for their ideas so students will be open to sharing new ideas.


Students can briefly summarize a tale or story they heard from somebody beforehand, or they may create their own stories to tell their classmates. Story telling fosters creative thinking. It also helps students express ideas in the format of
beginning, development, and ending, including the characters and setting a story has to have a good plot. Students also can tell riddles or jokes. For instance, at the very
beginning of each class session, the teacher may call a few students to tell short
riddles or jokes as an opening. In this way, not only will the teacher address
students? speaking ability, but also get the attention of the class.


Students can conduct interviews on selected topics with various people. It is a good idea that the teacher provides a rubric to students so that they know what type of questions they can ask or what path to follow, but students should prepare their own interview questions. Conducting interviews with people gives students a chance to practice their speaking ability not only in class but also outside and helps them becoming socialized. After interviews, each student can present his or her study to the class. Moreover, students can interview each other and "introduce" his or her partner to the class.

Story Completion

This is a very enjoyable, whole-class, free-speaking activity for which all the students must sit in a circle. For this activity, a teacher starts to tell a story, but after a few sentences he or she stops narrating. Then, each student starts to narrate from the point where the previous one stopped. Each student is supposed to add from four to ten sentences. Students can add new characters, events, descriptions and so on.


Before coming to class, students are asked to read a newspaper or magazine and, in class, they report to their friends what they find as the most interesting news. Students can also talk about whether they have experienced anything worth telling their friends in their daily lives before class.

However, the teacher should state at the very beginning of the activity that students are not allowed to prepare yes-no questions, because by saying yes or no students get little practice in spoken language production. Rather, students ask open-ended questions to each other so that they reply in complete sentences.

Picture Narrating

This activity is based on several sequential pictures. Students are asked to tell the story taking place in the sequential pictures by paying attention to the criteria provided by the teacher as a rubric. Rubrics can include the vocabulary or structures they need to use while narrating.

Picture Describing

Another way to make use of pictures in a speaking activity is to give students just one picture and having them describe what it is in the picture. For this activity students can form groups and each group is given a different picture. Students discuss the picture with their groups, then a spokesperson for each group describes the picture to the whole class. This activity fosters the creativity and imagination of the learners as well as their public speaking skills.

Find the Difference

For this activity students can work in pairs and each couple is given two different
pictures, for example, picture of boys playing football and another picture of girls playing tennis. Students in pairs discuss the similarities and/or differences in the pictures.


1. According to you what is the difference between fluency and accuracy? What should come first in a curriculum and under what circumstances?
(200 words)

Reading is a receptive skill. Different researchers have considered different variables while attempting to define reading both as a process and a product. Reading is a fluent process of readers combining information from a text and their own background knowledge to build meaning. The goal of reading is comprehension. Strategic reading is the ability of the reader to use a wide variety of strategies to accomplish the task of reading and comprehending the content of the reading material.

Meaning does not rest in the reader nor in the text, the reader's background knowledge integrates with text to create meaning. Therefore the text, reader, fluency and strategies combined together define the act of reading. Understanding the process of reading has been the focus of much research over the past century. Models of how the printed word is understood have emerged from this research. Understanding what happens from the moment our eyes meet the page to the moment of comprehension has only been researched for the past half a century.

The models can be divided into 3 categories:

  • Bottom – up model
  • Top- down model
  • Interactive model

The bottom – up model typically consist of lower-level reading process. Readers start with the basic of letter and sound recognition, identification of grammatical structures, sentences and then longer text. A phonic approach to teaching reading supports this model. Many teachers and researchers suggest that readers should be able to break a word down to individual sounds. This helps the reader to read unknown words too. The blending together of the various sounds allows the reader to then comprehend the material. One element of a bottom-up approach is a graded reader approach. Within a bottom-up approach to reading, the most typical classroom focus is on intensive reading.

Top-down models on the other hand begin with the idea that comprehension resides in the reader. The reader uses background knowledge, makes predictions and searches the text to confirm or reject these predictions. A passage can thus be understood even if all the individual words are not understood. Goodman (1976), a strong advocate of this model criticizes the bottom-up model because readers may be able to read the words on a page but may not understand what they have read. He believes teachers make reading difficult by breaking “whole-natural language into abstract little pieces.”
A meaning based or whole language approach supports this model. This approach uses books with authentic language, is student-centered and emphasizes on constructing meaning. Therefore the reader begins with the largest elements and works down towards the smaller elements to build comprehension. Extensive reading plays a key role in this approach to reading.

The models that are accepted as the most comprehensive description of the reading process are interactive models. This combines elements of both top-down and bottom-up models assuming that “a pattern is synthesized based on information provided simultaneously from several knowledge sources”. The best second language reader is one who can integrate both bottom-up and top-down processes.

A reader uses various strategies depending on the purpose of reading. The common strategies are:

1. Skimming - used to understand the "gist" or main idea
2. Scanning - used to find a particular piece of information
3. Extensive reading - used for pleasure and general understanding
4. Intensive reading - accurate reading for detailed understanding

1. Skimming
Skimming is used to quickly gather the most important information, or 'gist'. Run your eyes over the text, noting important information. Use skimming to quickly get up to speed on a current business situation. It's not essential to understand each word when skimming.

Examples of Skimming:
• The Newspaper (quickly to get the general news of the day)
• Magazines (quickly to discover which articles you would like to read in more detail)
• Business and Travel Brochures (quickly to get informed)

How to skim?
Skim several times
When reading a large amount of material, you can first skim over the chapter and section titles to give you an idea of what the material is about. Then quickly scan through the material again to get a better idea of the topic. Finally, you read the assignment, but still reading rapidly.

Read first sentence
Since often the first sentence of each paragraph states the main idea of that paragraph, while the other sentences elaborate on that idea, you can skim read by just reading the first sentences. In some cases, you can get enough information by only reading the first sentence from each paragraph. Unfortunately, some writers make their paragraphs so long, that they have several ideas in them, and others stick the important sentences in the middle. In such cases, you can't use the first sentence method effectively.

Grouping words
Most people read one word at a time, saying the words to themselves. This is a slow way of doing the task, especially when your mind is capable of processing
information at a much higher rate.

Look at groups of words
One of the primary tricks in speed-reading is to look at phrases and groups of words instead of individual words. Instead of reading word-by-word, you read in chunks of information. You don't have to say the word to understand what it means.

Speed is important
It certainly is more enjoyable to be able to read something rapidly, instead of spending what seems like forever struggling through the words.

2. Scanning
Scanning is used to find a particular piece of information. Run your eyes over the text looking for the specific piece of information you need. Use scanning on schedules, meeting plans, etc. in order to find the specific details you require. If you see words or phrases that you don't understand, don't worry when scanning.

Examples of Scanning

  • The "What's on TV" section of your newspaper.
  • A train / airplane schedule
  • A conference guide

3. Extensive reading

Extensive reading is used to obtain a general understanding of a subject and includes reading longer texts for pleasure, as well as business books. Use extensive reading skills to improve your general knowledge of business procedures. Do not worry if you don?t understand each word.

Examples of Extensive Reading

  • The latest marketing strategy book
  • A novel you read before going to bed
  • Magazine articles that interest you

4. Intensive reading
Intensive reading is used on shorter texts in order to extract specific information. It includes very close accurate reading for detail. Use intensive reading skills to grasp the details of a specific situation. In this case, it is important that you understand each word, number or fact.

In order to make students aware of these different types of reading styles, I find it useful to provide an awareness raising lesson to help them identify reading skills they already apply when reading in their native tongues. Thus, when approaching an English text, students first identify what type of reading skill needs to be applied to the specific text at hand. In this way valuable skills, which students already possess, are easily transferred to their English reading.

Reading Instruction in Content Classrooms
Incorporation of reading instruction into the content classroom is not as daunting as one might believe. Any reading assignment can be broken down into three comprehension-building steps:


Step One: Before Reading
This step activates a knowledge base upon which students can build and establishes a purpose for reading.
There are some simple methods that one can use to pay better attention and get more out of the textbook reading time. If one somehow "preview" the passage before one actually sits down and reads every word , better understanding takes
place .

To do a preview one could :

Take 30 to 60 seconds.
• Look over the title of the chapter.
• Look at all the headings, subheadings and marked, italic or dark print.
• Look at any pictures or illustrations, charts or graphs.
• Quickly skim over the passage, reading the first and last paragraph and glancing at the first sentence of every other paragraph.
• close the book and ask yourself:
• What is the main idea?
• What kind of writing is it?
• What is the author's purpose?

Before Reading Strategies
brainstorm • predict • skim • assess prior knowledge • preview headings • learn crucial vocabulary

Step Two: During Reading
This step allows students to measure comprehension, clarify, visualize, and build connections.

Read in thought groups. Visualizing means what? Studies have shown that when we read, our eyes must make small stops along the line. Poor readers make many, many more fixations (eye stops) than good readers. Not only does this slows one down, but it inhibits comprehension because meaning is easier to pull from groups of words rather than from individual words or even single letters. Try to read in phrases of three or four words, especially in complete clauses and prepositional phrases. The mind may internalize them as if the whole phrase is like one big meaning-rich word. Clarification of what is being read can be done by „looking for support phrases those which connect the predictions and therefore leads to build connections.

During Reading Strategies
reread • infer • question • support predictions • summarize

Step Three: After Reading
This step expands prior knowledge, builds connections, and deepens understanding. Comprehend what has been read , this can be done by asking questions from the passage and comparing the answers to see whether true comprehension has taken place.

After Reading Strategies
reread • confirm predictions • summarize • synthesize • reflect • question.

Tips to effective reading

Key points:
This section shows 3 different strategies and techniques that you can use to read more effectively.
These are:

• Knowing what you need to know, and reading appropriately
• Knowing how deeply to read the document: skimming, scanning or studying
• Using active reading techniques to pick out key points and keep your mind focused on the material
• Using the table of contents for reading magazines and newspapers, and clipping useful articles
• Understanding how to extract information from different article types
• Creating your own table of contents for reviewing material
• Using indexes, tables of contents, and glossaries to help you assimilate technical information.

Reading Efficiently by Reading Intelligently
Good reading strategies help you to read in a very efficient way. Using them, you aim to get the maximum benefit from your reading with the minimum effort. This section will show you how to use 6 different strategies to read intelligently.

1: Knowing what you want to know
The first thing to ask yourself is: Why you are reading the text? Are you reading with a purpose or just for pleasure? What do you want to know after reading it? Once you know this, you can examine the text to see whether it is going to move you towards this goal. An easy way of doing this is to look at the introduction and
the chapter headings. The introduction should let you know whom the book is targeted at, and what it seeks to achieve. Chapter headings will give you an overall view of the structure of the subject. Ask yourself whether the book meets your needs. Ask yourself if it assumes too much or too little knowledge. If the book isn't ideal, would it be better to find a better one?

2: Knowing how deeply to study the material
Where you only need the shallowest knowledge of the subject, you can skim material. Here you read only chapter headings, introductions and summaries. If you need a moderate level of information on a subject, then you can scan the text. Here you read the chapter introductions and summaries in detail. You may then speed read the contents of the chapters, picking out and understanding key words and concepts. .Only when you need detailed knowledge of a subject is it worth studying the text. Here it is best to skim the material first to get an overview of the subject. This gives you an understanding of its structure, into which you can fit the detail gained from a full, receptive reading of the material. SQ3R is a good technique for getting a deep understanding of a text.

3: How to study different sorts of material
Different sorts of documents hold information in different places and in different ways. They have different depths and breadths of coverage. By understanding the layout of the material you are reading, you can extract useful information much more efficiently.

The sQ3R technique

  • Survey or skim the text for main ideas.

  • Question the reader for the purpose of the text.

  • Read- the text and look for answers to the questions.

  • Recite- reprocesses the salient points.

  • Review the importance of the read material.

Sample Activity

The final objective
The final objective of reading is comprehending. In order for the teacher to know that the students have been able to comprehend, he or she can conduct a quiz on a given passage . Example:

Read the passage and do the following quiz

A special Christmas present
David wants to buy a Christmas present for a very special person, his mother. David's father gives him $5.00 a week pocket money and David puts $2.00 a week into his bank account. After three months David takes $20.00 out of his bank account and goes to the shopping mall. He looks and looks for a perfect gift.

Suddenly he sees a beautiful brooch in the shape of his favourite pet. He says to himself "Mother loves jewelry, and the brooch costs only $l7.00." He buys the brooch and takes it home. He wraps the present in Christmas paper and places it under the tree. He is very excited and he is looking forward to Christmas morning to see the
joy on his mother's face.

But when his mother opens the present she screams with fright
because she sees a spider

A special Christmas present
Choose the correct answer


Design a reading activity for a class. Mention the skills you want to develop, the age or level it is intended for. Remember to divide the stages into pre-reading, while- reading and post-reading. Attach the text to be used.

If possible use the lesson in a class and write a feedback regarding the effectiveness of the lesson and the difficulties faced both by the students and you.

  Teaching Writing

Writing can be defined by a series of contrasts – it is both a physical and a mental act. Its purpose is both to express and impress. It is both a process an a product. The writer imagines, organizes, drafts, edits and all these are a process but what the audience sees is a product. Earlier rule of writing were concerned more with correctness of form over function. In the 1960s writing began to include the entire process – invention, drafting, feedback and revision – not just the product what began to develop was what is now termed the process approach to writing.

Writing as a process focuses on:

- Lead to the final product
- Help writers to understand their own composing process
- Help them to build strategies for prewriting, drafting, rewriting
- Give students time to write and rewrite
- Importance on the process of revision
- Give feedback throughout the composing process and not just on the final product
- Encourage feedback from peers and instructors.

Good writing conveys a meaningful message and uses English well, but the message is more important than correct presentation. If you can understand the message or even part of it, your student has succeeded in communicating on paper and should be praised for that. For many adult ESL learners, writing skills will not be used much outside your class. This doesn't mean that they shouldn't be challenged to write, but you should consider their needs and balance your class time appropriately. Many
adults who do not need to write will enjoy it for the purpose of sharing their thoughts and personal stories, and they appreciate a format where they can revise their work into better English than if they shared the same information orally.

Two writing strategies you may want to use in your lessons are free writing and revised writing.

1. Free writing

Free writing directs students to simply get their ideas onto paper without worrying much about grammar, spelling, or other English mechanics. In fact, the teacher can choose not to even look at free writing pieces. To practice free writing, give students 5 minutes in class to write about a certain topic, or ask them to write weekly in a journal. You can try a dialog journal where students write a journal entry and then give the journal to a partner or the teacher, who writes another entry in response. The journals may be exchanged during class, but journal writing usually is done at home. The main characteristic of free writing is that few (if any) errors are corrected by the teacher, which relieves students of the pressure to perform and allows them to express themselves more freely.

2. Revised writing

Revised writing, also called extended or process writing, is a more formal activity in which students must write a first draft, then revise and edit it to a final polished version, and often the finished product is shared publicly. You may need several class sessions to accomplish this. Begin with a pre-writing task such as free writing, brainstorming, listing, discussion of a topic, making a timeline, or making an outline. Pairs or small groups often work well for pre-writing tasks. Then give the students clear instructions and ample time to write the assignment. In a class, you can circulate from person to person asking, "Do you have any questions?" Many students will ask a question when approached but otherwise would not have raised a hand to call your attention. Make yourself available during the writing activity; don't sit at a desk working on your next lesson plan. Once a rough draft is completed, the students can hand in their papers for written comment, discuss them with you face to face, or share them with a partner, all for the purpose of receiving constructive feedback. Make sure ideas and content are addressed first; correcting the English should be secondary. Finally, ask students to rewrite the piece. They should use the feedback they received to revise and edit it into a piece they feel good about. Such finished pieces are often shared with the class or posted publicly, and depending on the assignment, you may even choose to 'publish' everyone's writing into a class booklet.

Teaching Writing: Strategies

The most important factor in writing exercises is that students need to be personally involved in order to make the learning experience of lasting value. Encouraging student participation in the exercise, while at the same time refining and expanding writing skills, requires a certain pragmatic approach. The teacher should be clear on what skills he/she is trying to develop. Next, the teacher needs to decide on which means (or type of exercise) can facilitate learning of the target area. Once the target skill areas and means of implementation are defined, the teacher can then proceed to focus on what topic can be employed to ensure student participation. By pragmatically combing these objectives, the teacher can expect both enthusiasm and effective learning.

Choosing the target area depends on many factors;

  • What level are the students?,
  • What is the average age of the students,
  • Why are the students learning English, Are there any specific future intentions for the writing (i.e. school tests or job application letters etc.).

- Other important questions to ask oneself are:

  • What should the students be able to produce at the end of this exercise? (a well written letter, basic communication of ideas, etc.)
  • What is the focus of the exercise? (structure, tense usage, creative writing).

Once these factors are clear in the mind of the teacher, the teacher can begin to focus on how to involve the students in the activity thus promoting a positive, long-term learning experience.

Having decided on the target area, the teacher can focus on the means to achieve this type of learning.

With both the target area and means of production, clear in the teachers mind, the teacher can begin to consider how to involve the students by considering what type of activities are interesting to the students;

  • Are they preparing for something specific such as a holiday or test?,

  • Will they need any of the skills pragmatically?

  • What has been effective in the past?

A good way to approach this is by class feedback, or brainstorming sessions. By choosing a topic that involves the students the teacher is providing a context within which effective learning on the target area can be undertaken.

Finally, the question of which type of correction will facilitate a useful writing exercise is of utmost importance. Here the teacher needs to once again think about the overall target area of the exercise. If there is an immediate task at hand, such as taking a test, perhaps teacher guided correction is the most effective solution. However, if the task is more general (for example developing informal letter writing skills), maybe the best approach would be to have the students work in groups thereby learning from each other. Most importantly, by choosing the correct means of correction the teacher can encourage rather discourage students.

While teaching writing it is mandatory that an ESL teacher keeps the following in mind

Personal Influences on How ESL Students Learn to Write

Language Overload

International students will commonly backslide, making errors they had seemed to master on previous papers, because their knowledge of English

(and how it interrelates with the language or languages they already know) is constantly shifting and stretching. A student may indiscriminately apply rules, writing "She cans do it" because he has learned that a third-person singular, present tense verb will have an "s" on the end. This can be frustrating for the teacher and the student, but it may (as long as the student tries to understand mistakes) be integral to language acquisition.

Gender Issues

Some female students may come from countries where women are not supposed to speak in a group of men unless addressed, while some male students may find it difficult to share power with female students in groups. Still other students may find a female teacher threatening or alien, not being used to women in authority positions.

Political Issues

It must be noted that some students may have negative feelings about America because of the effect of American foreign policy and business on their home countries. Some students may have experienced prejudice in America-- for example, Iranian students were harassed during the hostage crisis, Iraqis during the Gulf War. Asians may feel other students are hostile toward them because of the stereotype of Asians as hard-working and competitive. Some students also may have experienced racism from instructors.

Cultural Issues

In reading for composition classes, international students face the obstacle of cultural assumptions that underlie many essays and stories. In literature, students may be baffled by Biblical symbolism that American students take for granted, or they may need a crash course in pop cultural history in order to decipher a compare/contrast essay on punk rock vs. heavy metal.

Some Issues to Keep in Mind


Students may be surprised by the level of informality in the classroom--they may feel students are challenging your authority when they eat during class or wear cut-offs and sandals. Your manner--sitting on the edge of the desk, using slang, swearing--may also surprise them.


Students may interrupt others during class discussions because the cues for taking turns in a conversation may be different in their home countries, and they may still be learning the cues here. Also, if they have been rehearsing how to phrase a response in their heads, they may want to get it out before they've forgotten how to say it.

Volunteering in Discussions

Students may be reluctant to volunteer answers or comments because they don't want to look as if they're trying to one-up native-speaking students.


Composition classes often emphasize considering one's audience, but ESL students may feel they don't know their audience's expectations or background.


Page numbers and dates may be difficult for some students to hear, so make sure to write them on the board or give them in writing in a hand-out.

Plagiarism and Clichés

The concepts of plagiarism and clichés may require some extra explaining, because in some cultures, notably Chinese culture, students learn by memorizing aphorisms and passages from classical literature, and they are encouraged to use other people's "words of wisdom" without formally quoting them. The concepts of "personal expression" and "finding your own voice" may strike some students as ridiculously egotistical, as in "Why should I write my opinions when this ancient thinker has already said it so much better?"

One-on-One Conferences

When discussing a paper with a student one-on-one, don't assume that the student understands because he or she nods or answers yes. Try to ask questions that require more than a one-word answer, and try to balance your talking with getting them to talk and ask questions of you. Choose an error in a paper that's representative of other errors, and after explaining that error, ask the student to find similar ones and talk about how to correct them.


Another important consideration is how you use humor in talking to the student. You may feel that smiling or making a joke about errors in a student's paper will help "lighten up" a grueling session, but many international students fear looking comical or "cute," and they may feel humiliated by jokes. The best strategy is to get to know the student before kidding around with him or her.

Types of Rhetorical Discourse

Cultural differences may come into play in terms of methods of developing ideas--Chinese students are often trained to "circle around a subject," and they consider explicitly spelling out an idea insulting to the reader, while a Spanish student who comes from a tightly-knit, family-oriented community may seem to over-generalize because he or she expects everyone to

understand the context of his or her conclusions. No cultural generalization can cover each individual student, so the best strategy is to ask questions to gauge a student's familiarity and comfort level with American composition standards.


Tactful correction of student writing is essential. Written correction is potentially damaging to confidence because it's very visible and permanent on the page. Always make positive comments and respond to the content, not just the language. Focus on helping the student clarify the meaning of the writing. Especially at lower levels, choose selectively what to correct and what to ignore. Spelling should be a low priority as long as words are recognizable. To reduce ink on the page, don't correct all errors or rewrite sentences for the student. Make a mark where the error is and let the student figure out what's wrong and how to fix it. At higher levels you can tell students ahead of time exactly what kinds of errors (verbs, punctuation, spelling, word choice) you will correct and ignore other errors. If possible, in addition to any written feedback you provide, try to respond orally to your student's writing, making comments on the introduction, overall clarity, organization, and any unnecessary information.

Typical Errors Found in ESL Papers

Grammar Trouble spots

1. Nouns

  • Omission of the -s plural
  • Pluralizing non-count nouns or nouns used in non count sense (homework's)
  • Using indefinite article a(n) with a non count noun or a noun used in non count sense (a flour, a wine is good to drink)
  • Failing to make nouns and noun determiners agree (this doctors, seven page)

2. Verbs

  • Omission of 3rd person singular "s" (he walk)
  • Omission of the "ed" of the simple past tense (Yesterday he play ball)
  • Omission of the "ed" in formation of passive voice (The scientists were honor for their work)
  • Use of intransitive verbs in passive forms (The earthquake was occurred last Friday)--verbs such as occur, happen, sleep, die, and fall often cause problems because they seem to have passive meanings even though they are intransitive.
  • Misuse of progressive verb forms (I am reading the paper every day, What are you wanting?)--it can help to emphasize that certain verbs expressing a state of being or mental activity are generally not used in the progressive sense.
    Examples include appear, believe, have, hear, know, like, need, see, seem, taste, think, understand, and want.
  • Misuse of perfect forms--while English uses present perfect to describe an action that began in the past and continues to the present, as in "I have been here for six months now," other languages would just say "I am here six months now." Other students may omit the -ed ending on the past participle: Many churches have offer shelter to the homeless.
  • Misuse of modal auxiliaries--Out of the twenty-three English helping verbs, nine, called modals, can only work as helping verbs. These are can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will, and would; verbs that can be either helping or main verbs are forms of do, have, and be. Some students may have trouble coordinating helping and main verbs, but it can help to tell students that modal auxiliaries do not agree in number with the subject (He cans do it) and that modals are followed by base, not finite verb forms (He can does it)

3. Preposition Errors

Preposition meanings are highly idiosyncratic from language to language-- (I
prefer to live in home, at the day of her arrival)

4. Articles

  • Failing to use a(an) with singular countable nouns whose specific identity is unknown to the reader (Mary Beth arrived in limousine)
  • Using a(an) with non count nouns (a sugar, a furniture, a patience) Commonly used non count nouns include words for food and drink (bacon, beef, candy, milk, pasta); nonfood substances (air, water, coal, snow); abstract nouns (advice, anger, intelligence, fun); and others (biology, clothing, luggage, homework, furniture, money, news, work)
  • Failing to use the with nouns whose specific identity is known to the reader
    (Gun on top shelf was loaded, Don't slam door when you leave)
  • Using the with plural or non countable nouns meaning "all" or "general" (In some parts of the world, the rice is preferred to other grains.)
  • Using an article with proper nouns (the South America, the Lake Geneva)-- this can be confusing because some proper nouns do take an article (the Mississippi River, the Sahara Desert) The best strategy is to check the dictionary, an atlas, or an encyclopedia when in doubt.

Adverb Clauses

Misconstruction of adverb clauses by using two conjunctions (Although international students need money, but they are not allowed to work in the U. S. )

These certainly don't cover all the bases, but they do touch on some of the major errors you'll see cropping up in papers. More detailed discussion of strategies for dealing with these errors can be found in the original sources mentioned above, all of which are available at the Writing Center.


ESL students challenge teachers to question their own assumptions about culture, writing, and how the English language works. Explaining the use of articles to a student from Iran, a teacher may actually realize something about the difference between "the" and "a" that he or she always took for granted--hearing a student

from China complain that American writing teachers "want everything spelled out for them, like they are children," may inspire a teacher to question the rigidity of the three-point enumeration essay. With open-mindedness and patience, teachers can learn lessons from ESL students that will make them better teachers of every student.

Many people believe writing is a talent present in only a few, fortunately writing is a teachable and learnable skill and can be developed through strategic steps of invention, drafting, review, revision and evaluation.


Poems : can motivate students to write , its fun and interesting and takes out the stress form the process.

- Limericks
- Cinquain Poetry
- Haiku


- Basket stories: Students tell stories based on a basket full of prompts that they have generated.

Sample Activity:

1. Student Level: High Beginner+
Description: More structured than the "Story Box" activity, this style of storytelling allows the teller/author more control over the person, place or action s/he will incorporate into the story.


- One basket for every group of 3-4 students.
- Three kinds of objects from nature (flat leaves, sticks, stones...), or 3 colors of paper, cut up into small squares.
- Permanent marking pens

2. Chain stories: Multi-authored stories.

ESOL Student Level: High Beginner+

Description: Students co-author a very short story in three parts, a beginning, middle and end.


1. Set the Stage: (optional) use as a process-writing activity (based on a class experience), or pre-select a theme (e.g. mystery, false fable, soap opera, etc.).

2. Set up the authoring teams. Divide the class into groups of three.

3. Everyone writes Part A (the "beginning" of the story), and gives it to another person in the group (either through email or on paper).

4. Everyone writes Part B (the "middle" of the story), and gives it to the third person in the group.

5. The last person writes Part C (the "end"), and the story is finished!

6. Illustrate individually or in groups (optional).

7. Hints:
- Make sure each person's name gets on the story at each turn.
- This works best if it's done in one day -- then copies are not "lost" and chains are not "broken".

3. Magazine stories : Students create stories from magazine picture collections.

Description: Surprisingly simple instructions yield complexly creative results!
ESL Student Level: Beginner +
Examples from low-level adult ESL students

• Old magazines with a variety of pictures/topics
• Tape or glue
• Paper (poster size or booklet size)
• Scissors


1. Students can work alone, in pairs, or in small groups.

2. Each author/author group receives a folder containing a set of magazine pictures. A story must be created using at least 5 of those pictures
(characters can be "melded" -- e.g. all young boys in the set are John even though they have different faces).

3. If more than one author, the storytelling must be equally shared.


1. Students can work alone, in pairs, or in small groups
2. Each author/author group receives a stack of magazines and selects a minimum of 4-5 interesting pictures which are
then used to tell a story.

4. Bag of tricks


- Students write captions or stories to fit wordless cartoons (originally wordless, or with the words whited out by a peer or instructor). Remember that you can copy and paste non-copyrighted images from the Web into a word processing document if you want to make the selections yourself!

Guess the title of this one ! --------------------------------------------


Answer the following questions

• As a teacher which writing strategy would you use to teach writing , demonstrate with an example (50 words)
• What aids would you use to teach creative writing. Demonstrate with examples
• How would you correct errors ? (50 words)

Kindly note worksheets, flash cards ……. are mandatory to attach with your assignment.


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