Teaching receptive skillsIn the ESL classroom, reading and listening reinforce the language skills learned in writing and speaking, expose the students to vocabulary and grammar not covered in lessons, and simulate authentic english
conversation (Maxom, 2009; Broughton et al., 1978; Wharton and Race, 1999).
When selecting materials for a listening and reading exercises, the effective ESL teacher will bear the following in mind:
1. The use of a wide variety of audio text, videos, and reading materials will keep class interesting and expose learners to a rich variety of english
vocabulary (Wharton and Race, 1999; Maxom, 2009).
2. The chosen material must be suitable for the learners’ level of english
competency (Maxom, 2009; Broughton et al., 1978; Kilfoil and van der Walt, 1997).
3. The chosen material must be relevant to the learners’ interests and english
needs (Wharton and Race, 1999; Maxom, 2009; Broughton et al., 2009; Kilfoil and van der Walt).
4. The chosen material should ideally review and expand on vocabulary and grammatical structures which the students have been taught (Maxom, 2009; Broughton et al., 1978).
5. Short reading and listening texts should be used to avoid overwhelming the students and exceeding the time-limits of the lesson (Maxom, 2009).
6. Both authentic and created audio texts can be effective, but the use of each is dependent on the needs of the class and the aims of the lesson (Wharton and Race, 1999; Maxom, 2009; Broughton et al, 1978). Authentic audio texts may provide greater motivation to students and an accurate representation of english
conversation. Created texts are graded to specific language levels and allow the teacher to practice particular skills such as pronunciation or identifying certain grammatical structures.
7. The purpose of listening and reading exercises must be authentic and clear. Students respond better when they understand the purpose of the task given to them (Maxom, 2009; Wharton and Race, 1999).
An effective receptive-skills ESL lesson may have the following plan:
An initial ‘warm-up’ activity causes learners to focus on english
and develop an interest in the lesson to follow (Maxom, 2009; Harmer, 1991).
2. Receptive skills activities: progressively challenging exercises
3. Task relating to the receptive skills activity
Finishing with a task related to - but not based on - receptive skills, will cater to the strengths of all students and add variety to the lesson (Maxom, 2009).
A lesson in listening skills may contain two exercises: the first a simple exercise which builds the learners’ confidence, the second a more demanding exercise which challenges the learners’ understanding of english
(Maxom, 2009; Harmer, 1991). In both cases the learners must be provided a background to the text and a guide to what they are listening or reading for (Maxom, 2009; Wharton and Race, 1999; Kilfoil and van der Walt, 1997; Harmer, 1991). This simulates authentic english
interactions where we seldom listen to audio input without the knowledge of what type of information will be given to us, or what information we hope to gain from listening.
An ESL reading lesson is more complex than a listening lesson and may incorporate skim-reading, scanning and in-depth comprehension. Once learners have come to grips with the alphabet, vocabulary and sentence construction (Broughton et al., 1978), reading can be made less daunting by guiding learners through the text in a systematic way that teaches them how to navigate an english
text (Maxom, 2009). Learners should be prompted to identify the heading, subheading, introduction, paragraphs and conclusion of the text, and predict the gist of the text base on information gleaned from these (Maxom, 2009; Broughton et al., 1978; Kilfoil and van der Walt, 1997). A timed skim-reading exercise will teach learners to quickly search text for very general information while disregarding the majority of text (Maxom, 2009; Broughton et al, 1978; Kilfoil and van der Walt, 1997). Similarly, more time can be allotted to a succeeding scanning exercise where after learners must answer more precise information in the text (Maxom, 2009; Kilfoil and van der Walt, 1997). Finally, the learners must learn to read the text in detail and answer a number of detailed questions which demonstrate a deeper understanding of the language (Broughton et al. 1978). Care should be taken to ask questions that require some form of interpretation of the text and demonstrate an understanding of the language structures used (Wharton and Race, 1999).
Broughton, G., Brumfit, C., Flaveli, R., Hill, P and Pincas, A. (1978). Teaching english
as a Foreign Language. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd.
Harmer, J. (1991). The Practice of english
Language Teaching. Essex: Longman Group Ltd.
Kilfoil, W.R. and van der Walt, C. (1997). Learn 2 TEACH: english
language teaching in a multilingual context, 3rd edition. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik Publishers
Maxom, M. (2009). Teaching english
as a Foreign Language: for Dummies. West Sussex: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.
Wharton, S. and Race, P. (1999). 500 Tips for TESOL (teaching english
to speakers of others languages). London: Kogan Page Ltd.