Lesson Planning · Teaching & Learning

Teaching–Learning Structure for Productive and Receptive Skills, Part I

I have written before about Lesson Planning. I have talked at length about constructing learning objectives here and here, and I have given some ideas for a function-based approach to lesson planning. In that last article, I advocated for beginning the planning process with focus skills and practical functions in mind. In this short series, I want to look at the structure of the teaching–learning process depending on the skills you choose as your focus.

While there are some specific and distinct procedures here, it should be noted that everything in this post is intended as a sub-set of my lesson stages, which you can find out more about here. As such, the procedures in this post describe the specific learning processes occurring in a Speaking, Listening, Reading or Writing lesson and how to maximise effectiveness, but they still fit into the greater JLA lesson structure.

Grouping the Macro Skills

As I explained in my article on choosing Focus Skills, there are four main skills, referred to as the Macro Skills of Language, that are common to almost every language on the planet. Anyone reading this will likely already know that these four Macro Skills are Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. In the article linked above, I have already discussed how to choose which skills to focus on in your lesson as well as how to combine them into multi-skill activities and lessons.

Here I want to recap just one part of that article, and that is one of the ways that these four skills can be split and categorised. As well as categorising by medium—spoken or written language—we can also distinguish between Receptive and Productive Skills. Under this system, Speaking and Writing are the Productive Skills because we are producing the language, sending a message to our partner/audience, and Reading and Listening are the Receptive Skills because we are receiving the language.

You might come across this grouping referred to as active and passive, but I do not endorse this terminology. I don’t think any of the skills are passive. Just putting a piece of paper with text on it in front of my face is not the same as me reading it. Seeing something is not reading. I have to choose to engage my eyes and brain and read, the same with listening and my ears. As such, I would say that these skills are just as active as speaking and writing.

In the next couple of articles, productive/receptive is the distinction I will be focusing on rather than spoken/written, for it is the learning processes that are associated with productive skills and receptive skills that matter most when planning and delivering your lesson. The reason for this is that the productive skills and the receptive skills develop differently from each other and require different procedures to develop effectively.

Procedures for Developing Productive and Receptive Skills

As I mentioned above, whatever skill you choose, your lesson should still follow the same basic structure of engaging students with the lesson, finding out their existing ability, introducing some new language, internalising the language accurately, personalising the language, applying it to real life scenarios and finally reviewing the process. Every lesson should cover these seven stages, no matter what the focus or material.

Within that scheme, though, there are a number of different sub-processes that can be incorporated. In this post, I want to look at two skill development processes you can choose from depending on whether you are teaching a productive or a receptive skill. Relative to the lesson structure above, the stages explained below should all happen during the “instructive” part of the lesson, which is from the Encounter stage to the Apply stage. As an overview, I’ll lay out the two processes here, side by side, before elaborating on each one step-by-step.

Productive Skills Receptive Skills
  • Input
  • Analysis
  • Language Practice
  • Idea Development
  • Production
  • Preparation
  • Introduction
  • Input
  • Analysis
  • Response

Find out more about how to plan and implement these processes in the upcoming posts. Make sure you don’t miss any updates by signing up for my mailing list. Sign up now, and  receive for free my handy Lesson Plan Prompter, which will help you plan effective lessons every time.

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