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This unit is about teaching speaking and writing, which we call “productive skills.” We use these skills for communicating, which we must great a need or desire to do in class. Writing is often a neglected skill and should be focused on more.
Usually students learn to speak because they have some communicative purpose, want to say something, want to listen to something, or are interested in what is being said. There are two sub-skills of learning to speak, accuracy and fluency, and they are equally important. Accuracy focuses on producing correct language and grammar, where fluency focuses on one’s ability to speak without stopping to think. There are three main types of activities we can do with students to teach speaking: Controlled activities, which are accuracy based and controlled by the teacher, guided activities, which are somewhat controlled by the teacher and a little more creative than controlled activities, but still accuracy based, and creative communication. These activities are fluency based, with little control from the teacher, usually carried out in the activate phase of a lesson.
Students may be reluctant to speak due to several factors including lack of confidence, peer intimidation, cultural reasons, etc. To encourage speaking and more interaction we can do things such as have them work in groups or pairs, carefully plan the classes, give the students time to think about what they are going to say, have plenty of controlled or guided activities before fluency activities, and to make them purposeful.
Teaching writing has some similarities but many differences from teaching speaking. We need to consider a number of factors. The first is handwriting, which tends to be personal but can be difficult for students whose native language uses a different alphabetical system. Having incorrect spelling creates misunderstandings and gives the impression of lack of education. Like handwriting, layout and punctuation can differ between languages, and if wrong, can make writing look awkward or difficult. Lastly, creative writing must be encouraged, which can include stories, dialogues or poetry. Other writing tends to be situational such as writing a postcard, an email, or a formal letter.
This unit also talked about the use of games. Games must have rules, serve a goal to the class, and should have an element of fun. They should be used often enough to help students understand and be engaged and interested in the lesson. They can be cooperative games or competitive. There are so many games that can be used for all skill sets.