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Cambridge ESOL CELTA Written Assignment 1

Language Skills Assignment

30th April 2012 Zia Sherrell

Part 1 Reading, writing, speaking and listening are the four skills (macro-skills) which form the basis of English language teaching and learning (1). These skills can be divided into two groups; reading and listening are referred to as receptive skills or input and speaking and writing as productive skills or output. Harmer (1) stated that the processes of reading and listening are where language is developed and meaning is obtained. They require meaning to be derived from material that is being listened to or read whereas with the speaking and writing processes language is actually produced. Consequently, it is necessary for the teacher to set a listening or reading exercise for students in order to develop their receptive skills. Listening and reading skills both employ comparable classroom procedures according to Harmer (1), despite the obvious differences between the skill sets. The identification of the receptive skills that could be practised during a reading lesson is the focus of this assignment. However, as both Eli Hinkel (2) and Harmer (1) point out, it makes little sense to talk about skills in isolation since, in meaningful communication, people employ incremental language skills not in isolation, but in tandem Hinkel (2). Receptive skills and productive skills interdepend; output is heavily swayed by input. Harmer highlights (1) that when a student produces a piece of language and sees the result, that information is fed back into the acquisition process. The output and students' response to their own output becomes input. It is possible to divide the receptive skills into are further categorised into 6 sub-skills (micro-skills) as outlined in Harmer (3): 1. Identifying the topic; requires use of schemata to relate the topic to prior knowledge. 2. Predicting and guessing; making the correct inferences, deductions and speculations of what to expect in a text. 3. Reading for general understanding; determining the main topics, concepts, and construction of the text by skimming the text. This involves quickly running the eyes over the text for the overall idea. 4. Reading for specific information; establishing the precise details required by scanning the text. This involves finding the appropriate information without extensive reading. 5. Reading for detailed information; used to comprehend the entirety of a text when the extraction of all details is required. It involves reading carefully to understand each number, word or fact, for example when reading a contract. 6. Interpreting text; relies on shared schemata to take the reader beyond the verbatim meaning. Harmer (3) also discusses the difference between extensive (reading longer texts frequently over a period of time, normally done independently, not in the classroom and for pleasure) and intensive reading which is frequently used in the classroom and selected and led by the teacher in order to develop the specific receptive skills outlined above.

Cambridge ESOL CELTA Written Assignment 1

Language Skills Assignment

30th April 2012 Zia Sherrell

In 1996, Williams (4) identified three phases involved in a reading lesson: prereading, while-reading and post-reading. When examined, the phases can provide the teacher with a framework to exploit any chosen text in order to develop reading skills in a manner which motivates the students and aids the teacher. 1. The pre-reading phase occurs before the text is introduced to the students. It should; Introduce and arouse interest in the topic. Motivate students by providing reasons to read or by facilitating them to specify their own reasons. Provide language preparation for the text by introducing selected new vocabulary and language structure to enable the student to extract sufficient comprehension of the text. The pre-reading phase aims to activate existing knowledge or schemata of the topic, perhaps using a discussion connected to the subject of the text linking it to the students interests and experience. This provides speaking and listening practice and some reading practice when introducing the essential vocabulary. Suitable task types; Class discussion which utilises speaking and listening skills, related to the theme of text: o Extricates the opinions, ideas and experience of the students o Introduces any essential lexis that appears in the text which can lead onto a review of vocabulary or grammatical structures. o The teacher can elicit answers from the students which will aid them in their reading and understanding of the text. o Talking about the author's background, writing style, and usual themes. Creating a list of questions composed by the students: o Compels students to think about and use the sub-skill of predicting the content of the text o Offers additional practice at writing and reading skills. Using the title, subtitles, and divisions within the text to predict content and organisation of information. 2. The while-reading phase introduces the text. It should; Enable the reader to grasp the writers purpose. Help understanding of the text construction. Make clear the content of the text. This phase utilises skimming, scanning and intensive reading sub-skills. The general principle is to commence with a general understanding of the text and then move to paragraphs, sentences, phrases and words. This approach is considered top-down and it gradually focuses the student on the context of the text, therefore the tasks chosen need to be sequenced correctly. Suitable task types; Initially skimming the text to see if it answers the questions compiled by the students in the previous phase.
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Cambridge ESOL CELTA Written Assignment 1

Language Skills Assignment

30th April 2012 Zia Sherrell

Placing the order of events in the correct order. Scanning the text rapidly to find specific information. Fill out a form with information from the text. Determine which of a set of pictures is being described by which part of the text. Comprehension exercises; matching words with definitions, filling in the blanks on a hand-out, answering questions about the text. Vocabulary and grammar analysis tasks.

3. The post-reading phase should: Consolidate the knowledge acquired whilst reading the text. Relate this to the students schemata. It does not refer directly to the text, but rather grows out of it Williams (4), which means this phase uses productive as well as receptive skills. Suitable task types; A discussion about the text; what students liked, disliked, agreed with, had experience of themselves. Completing the story from another perspective or continuing the story. Summarising the text perhaps using diagrams or other suitable visual. Role plays using characters from the text. Mini-presentations. Homework can be given to further enhance the task. Part 2 "How to have the perfect interview" (MORE!) Pre-Reading o To introduce the theme I would use pictures which depict an interview (slide 1) and elicit the topic. o To activate students schemata and to personalise I would ask the students to discuss in pairs what an interview was, if they had been to one, was it stressful or enjoyable etc. and then feedback from the pairs to the class. o To predict text content I would ask the same pairs to discuss what they think makes a perfect interview and then feedback from the pairs to the class whilst writing the answers on the white board. o To ensure the text is understood I would introduce the essential lexis in the text that might cause issues. I would elicit as much as possible by miming slumping, handshake etc. then show pictures on slide 2. While Reading o To develop the students skim reading skills, I would ask the students to read the text for 2 minutes and then in pairs check if their predictions were correct. This task uses a hand-out of slide 3 that the students can tick. o To develop the students scanning skills they must now match the paragraph with the headings using sections of text which have been cut up into 8 titles and 8 details.
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Cambridge ESOL CELTA Written Assignment 1

Language Skills Assignment

30th April 2012 Zia Sherrell

o To read for specific information the students must complete the cloze text sentences hand-out on slide 4. o To develop reading for detail skills I would provide a hand-out of slide 5 with a list of synonyms for adjective in the text and ask students to complete the questions, this would also cover grammar. After Reading o A discussion to see if the students think the text is correct? Is there anything that has been missed out? o Role play where students offer each other advice before going to an interview. References: 1. Harmer, J. (2007) The Practice of English Language Teaching. Longman 2. Hinkel, E. (2006). Current perspectives on teaching the four skills. TESOL Quarterly, 40 (1), 109-131. 3. Harmer, J. (2001) The Practice of English Language Teaching. Longman 4. Williams, E. (1996) Reading in the Language Classroom. ELTS