AN INTRODUCTION TO LANGUAGE
What skills do different activities practise?
First, try this exercise.
When considering each activity, remember to think about whether it is done individually or with other students, as this will affect your answers.
Which skills do the following activities practise?
1. gap fill.
2. sentence completion.
3. picture story.
4. role play with role cards.
5. information gap activities.
6. jigsaw activities.
7. class survey.
8. planning a meal.
9. filling in a form.
10. producing a class poster.
11. correcting language mistakes in a formal letter.
12. choosing appropriate linking devices.
13. paragraph ordering.
14. sentence ordering.
15. sentence combination.
16. filling gaps in a song.
17. class discussion.
18. "The man who planted trees"- a short story by Jean Giono, which shows how the actions of one person can change the world.
19. for and against - living in the city.
20. ordering pictures.
21. correcting punctuation mistakes.
22. matching headlines to articles.
Reading and listening are referred to as the Receptive Skills, and writing and speaking as the Productive Skills.
Traditionally, the four skills were taught separately, but nowadays the emphasis is on their integration and a lesson will typically contain at least two. This often contrasts with language testing, such as in the TESOL and IELTS exams, in which the skills are tested individually.
Language skills do not exist in isolation, and there is constant interaction with the context in which they are used. A speaker constantly interprets what is being said, both based on what has already been said and what is predicted to come next. When someone speaks, they make a decision to address someone. They have a communicative purpose, i.e. they want something to happen as a result, and they select from their store of language to achieve their aim. Similarly, when someone listens, they have a desire to listen. They want to find out what the speaker is saying, i.e. they are interested in the communicative purpose. In listening, they process a variety of language. Writing and reading are really no different.
Frequently, one language skill cannot be employed without another, and people use different skills when dealing with the same subject. By integrating the skills, a focus on one skill can lead to practice in another.
Here is a list, by no means exhaustive, of factors that affect each skill:
Speaking - Fluency, Accuracy, Pronunciation, Cultural factors
Writing - Script, Spelling, Grammatical differences, Cultural factors
Reading - Speed, Vocabulary, Grammar, Text literacy
Listening - Speed, Sounds/pronunciation, Vocabulary, Decoding (listening/ hearing?), Context literacy (signals)
A core part of the face-to-face session consists of a team quiz based on the questions set in the pre-session task;
if you were unsure of the answers to these important questions, now's the time to do some research!
Points for discussion
Go to this link for an activity which raises some important theoretical points related to the skills.
As with the pre-session task, best results will be achieved by discussing them with a couple of colleagues.