In the communicative classroom, teaching listening skills should be approached in the same way as the other skills – with a communicative purpose. Often, listening is taught with a linguistic purpose first and foremost – to improve and develop listening skills in the target language (this applies to other language skills as well). This is, of course, a key goal of most listening lessons; however, in the “real world,” how often do we listen with this goal in mind? Do your students go to the shopping mall on the weekend to buy a cell phone, and then listen to shoppers and store workers intent on improving their listening? In the shopping mall we listen because we need to get certain information, whether that information includes specific prices and options on a cell phone, or another shopper telling you why she prefers shopping at one store instead of another.
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Photos or pictures are excellent tools to integrate writing and speaking skills in a lesson. You know how the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Choose a picture or photo that shows a place and one or more people. Divide the class into two groups. One group has to write the story of what happened before the photo was taken and the other group has to write the story of what happened after it was taken. Then, the two groups put the two parts together to make one story.
Flashcards are excellent tools to use with classes of all levels.
They are simple to use and you can use them to present or review vocabulary, grammar topics, practice pronunciation, play games, get your students to make sentences, or write stories.
You can create your own flashcards with cut-outs from magazines, photos you can find online, or have your students make them as a task when practicing vocabulary or any grammar topic.
Another good thing about flashcards is that once you create them, they can be reused with different groups of students for different topics.
Simplifying the way we word the language of instruction, especially when teaching beginners, is very important. As teachers, we have to remember that we are talking to learners of the English language, not to native speakers. The more difficult the words are and the longer and more complex the sentences are, the less our beginner students will understand our instructions, or explanations.
When you plan to use an activity in any section of your lesson, make sure that it has a focus. Let’s consider, for example, a listening activity. One of the most common mistakes made by a teacher is to play a recording and then ask the students to say what it is about. There isn’t any focus in such activity. The students may get lost as there could be a lot of information in that recording. When you focus the activity on certain information, for example, “Listen and complete the chart with all the numbers you hear” you are helping your students improve their listening skills in a very measurable way.
Lesson plans definitely take a long time to prepare at first. There is no question about it. However, the more you practice and understand the basics of lesson planning, the less it will take.
The type of lesson plan will depend on the approach you use, but in any approach or method there are steps to follow. At first, it is not easy to see the whole picture and how each step paves the way for the next, in order to make the lesson flow smoothly. Once you have internalized the steps and the purpose of each, you will find that the ideas come much more quickly.
Do not forget that writing detailed lesson plans will help you be very well prepared for teaching any sort of lesson. It is important to know that many ESL schools ask for detailed lesson plans and some ask for them in advance so they can be approved or rejected.
Another reason that learning how to write professional lesson plans is very important is because many employers ask applicants to write a lesson plan on any given topic and on the spot. So, practice writing lesson plans to impress your future employer.
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