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.
3 - Part I - Teaching Techniques (Language Skills)
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
framework can be used to design a listening lesson that
will develop your students' listening skills and look
at some of the issues involved.
Applying the framework to a song
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
• 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
the framework to a song.
Here is an example of how you could use this framework
to exploit a song:
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
o Students listen and decide if the song is happy
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.
- Focus on content
- Discuss what they liked / didn't like about
- Decide whether they would buy it / who they
would buy it for
- Write a review of the song for a newspaper or
- 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
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.
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.
are the skills that listening teachers should be teaching
in their classes but all too often are not
Teachers Need to Do
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).
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
Good listening strategies:
Trying to predict
To be able to monitor
To ask and clarify
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.
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:
Time: 10 minutes
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
Time: 10 minutes:
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
4. After the action the teacher then confirms
whether the word and the action are same
5. The one who does the action now gets
the chance to whisper.
Age: 10 to 15 years:
Time: 10 minutes:
To improve listening skills
1. Teams are created; each team is given
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
6. Possible categories
• Famous people
• Members of the class
• The teacher
• Stories from films or other TV programmes
Time: 10 minutes:
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
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.
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
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.
mention the following:
3. Aids used:
5. Age level:
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,
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.
first rule of improving speaking skills is to speak, converse,
talk, gab, etc. as much as you can!
is meant by "teaching speaking" is to teach
ESL learners to:
Produce the English speech sounds and sound
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
Use the language quickly and confidently
with few unnatural pauses, which is called
To Teach Speaking
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
teaching speaking skills one has to keep in mind that
intonation and stress are key to understanding and being
this sentence aloud and count how many seconds it takes.
beautiful mountain appeared transfixed in the distance.
required? Probably about 5 seconds. Now, try speaking
this sentence aloud.
can come on Sundays as long as he doesn't have to do any
homework in the evening.
required? Probably about 5 seconds.
a minute the first sentence is much shorter than the second
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
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
importance (there is stress, but each syllable has its
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.
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.
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".
can't come on Friday.
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.
what does this mean for developing speaking skills?
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
e.g. the, a, some, a few
Auxiliary verbs e.g. don't, am, can, were
e.g. before, next to, opposite
e.g. but, while, as
Pronouns e.g. they, she, us
return to the beginning example to demonstrate how this
beautiful Mountain appeared transfixed in the distance.
can come on Sundays as long as he doesn't have to do any
homework in the evening. (22 syllables)
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
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.
we can conclude just how important it is for the teachers
to help students know about stress.
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.
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
• Reduce teacher speaking time in class while
increasing student speaking time.
Step back and observe students.
• Indicate positive signs when commenting on a
• 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
• 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
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:
• 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
• 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
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
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
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
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:
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 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…"
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
According to you what is the difference between fluency
and accuracy? What should come first in a curriculum and
under what circumstances?
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.
models can be divided into 3 categories:
Bottom – up model
Top- down model
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.
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
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.
reader uses various strategies depending on the purpose
of reading. The common strategies are:
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
4. Intensive reading - accurate reading for detailed
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
of Extensive Reading
The latest marketing strategy book
A novel you read before going to bed
Magazine articles that interest you
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
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
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
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
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?
brainstorm • predict • skim • assess
prior knowledge • preview headings • learn
Two: During Reading
This step allows students to measure comprehension, clarify,
visualize, and build connections.
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.
reread • infer • question • support
predictions • summarize
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.
reread • confirm predictions • summarize •
synthesize • reflect • question.
to effective reading
This section shows 3 different strategies and techniques
that you can use to read more effectively.
Knowing what you need to know, and reading
• 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
• 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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
the passage and do the following quiz
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.
when his mother opens the present she screams with
because she sees a spider
special Christmas present
Choose the correct answer
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.
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.
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
- Help them to build strategies for prewriting,
- 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.
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
Two writing strategies you may want to use in your lessons
are free writing and revised writing.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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
decided on the target area, the teacher can focus on the
means to achieve this type of learning.
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?
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.
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
teaching writing it is mandatory that an ESL teacher keeps
the following in mind
Influences on How ESL Students Learn to Write
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.
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.
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.
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.
Issues to Keep in Mind
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
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.
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
classes often emphasize considering one's
audience, but ESL students may feel they
don't know their audience's expectations
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.
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?"
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.
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
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
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
Errors Found in ESL Papers
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)
Omission of 3rd person singular
"s" (he walk)
of the "ed" of the simple
past tense (Yesterday he play ball)
of the "ed" in formation
of passive voice (The scientists
were honor for their work)
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.
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
Examples include appear, believe,
have, hear, know, like, need, see,
seem, taste, think, understand,
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.
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)
meanings are highly idiosyncratic from language
to language-- (I
prefer to live in home, at the day of her
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,
Failing to use the with nouns whose
specific identity is known to the
(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.
of adverb clauses by using two conjunctions
(Although international students need money,
but they are not allowed to work in the
U. S. )
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.
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.
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.
: can motivate students to write , its fun and interesting
and takes out the stress form the process.
- Cinquain Poetry
Basket stories: Students tell stories based on a basket
full of prompts that they have generated.
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.
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,
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).
Everyone writes Part B
(the "middle" of the story), and
gives it to the third person in the group.
The last person writes Part C
(the "end"), and the story is
or in groups (optional).
- 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".
Magazine stories : Students create stories from
magazine picture collections.
Surprisingly simple instructions yield complexly creative
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)
1. Students can work alone, in pairs, or in small
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
3. If more than one author, the storytelling must
be equally shared.
1. Students can work alone, in pairs, or in small
2. Each author/author group receives a stack of magazines
and selects a minimum of 4-5 interesting pictures
then used to tell a story.
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
Guess the title of this one ! --------------------------------------------
the following questions
As a teacher which writing strategy would you use to
teach writing , demonstrate with an example (50
• What aids would you use to teach creative writing.
Demonstrate with examples
• How would you correct errors ? (50 words)
note worksheets, flash cards ……. are mandatory
to attach with your assignment.