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Teaching receptive skillsThis research article will look at teaching receptive skills, of which consists of reading and writing. We call these skills ‘receptive skills’ as “learners do not need to produce language to do these, they receive and understand it” (TeachingEnglish, 2012). It is important to look at the reasons people read and listen. It can be said that reading instructions on how to set up a new computer is very different to reading a book for leisure. It can also be noted that listening to instructions is very different to listening to music we enjoy or a friend’s story.
We are able to divide the receptive skills into two main categories, for a purpose and for entertainment. As has been previously mentioned, reading and writing that is done for a purpose takes place so that an end goal can be achieved. We can see this in the example of reading instructions or listening to instructions and/or directions. In looking at reading and writing that is done for entertainment, it can be seen in the example of reading a book for leisure and listening to good music.
Reading and writing is not only done with our ears and eyes, but it is important to understand that our mind and our understandings is important, as without an understanding of the words we are unable to process the words. Our minds also shape the way we hear and see, as we have pre-existing knowledge that shapes the way we interpret things.
There are many problems that are related to teaching receptive skills of which are mainly related to the language in the text, the topic and the tasks the students will perform. Sentence length, word length and a number of unfamiliar words can also present problems to learners of english
. In noting this, reading is not as problematic as the words are captured on paper and can be read countless times, whereas the spoken word is fleeting.
It is important that the teachers pre-teach vocabulary to the students so that they can be taught difficult language and structures prior to commencing a reading or listening activity. It is also important that teachers choose the text they present to the students very carefully. If chosen correctly, the text that is presented to the students can be a mix of authentic and non-authentic texts. Non-authentic texts will allow students access to material that contains language more suited to the students’ abilities, whereas authentic texts will expose students to texts that should give them confidence in their skills.
Teachers need to be able to carefully choose the topic of their dialogues and/or texts so that they interest the students. Therefore teachers need an adequate understanding of their students in order to choose and very the topics to maximize the interest in the classroom. Teachers need to fully engage the students in the topic in order to increase enthusiasm for reading and listening. It is very important that the teacher provides the class with comprehension tasks which can promote understanding, as opposed to just checking understanding.
Receptive skills are very important for students to learn, and thus teachers need to take note of the fact that focus needs to be placed on these skills so that students have an adequate understanding and base when it comes to receptive skills. Teachers need to also take note of the many teaching problems that may result whilst teaching receptive skills. “Every individual needs to be well equipped with the tools to communicate effectively, whether it is on the personal front, or at work” (Communication skills, 2012). Therefore it is very important for students to have the ability to use receptive skills in communications.
Communication skills. 2012. “Definition of communication skills”. Online. Available: http://www.communicationskills.co.in/definition-of-communication-skills.htm (05/03/12).
TeachingEnglish.com. 2012. “Receptive skills”. Online. Available: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/knowledge-database/receptive-skills (05/03/12).
Unit 11. 2011. “Teaching receptive skills”. ITTT.