Hello Exam Seekers,
How many of you can relate to the statement below or have already heard it from at least one of your students?
“I can understand when people talk to me, but I don’t know how to answer them.“
Well, this happens because receptive skills are usually the first skills we learn in a foreign language while productive skills tend to be more developed – or better noticed – by the students after a longer time. The ability to put sentences together and start reacting to what is heard or read rather than merely understanding what you listen to or read is something that is perhaps the biggest struggle of students.
Chances are that during the CELTA you will probably come across these terms frequently and you will need to understand the difference between them since you will probably prepare lesson plans on both skills. Therefore, you will need to know which are the steps you will need to receptive skills and which ones are for productive skills. Even though they may seem very similar, they are not. To put it shortly, what we call receptive skills are the reading and listening abilities while speaking and writing are also known as productive skills. Nevertheless, what does it mean exactly?
All in all, these terms are closely related to comprehension and use of language, respectively. Therefore, in the language acquisition process, it is perhaps a rule of thumb that you will need to understand and have considerate input and opportunities to engage in the target language before you start producing it. After all, the more language you have been exposed to and the more chances to put it into practice, the better its acquisition and development.
For this reason, it is of great importance to keep in mind what could help learners to develop both skills appropriately and with balance.
Regarding listening and reading, there are two ways students are going to develop these abilities. The first one is through extensive exposure, which tends to be done out of the classroom when they read books, the news, watch series and listen to a variety of things in the target language. This type of exposure is closely related to leisure and pleasure. But on the other hand, there is the intensive exposure, which usually happens in class and students are led through a path in which they engage in the text or audio presented. In the CELTA you will be more familiar with the following steps for receptive skills: vocabulary exercises, tasks to help general and detailed comprehension and even a reaction to what was read or listened to.
In terms of speaking and writing, this is the opportunity the learners have to practice the language and produce it. So students face here the challenge of putting all they have already learnt into sentences, paragraphs, texts and even speeches. That may be, perhaps, the abilities students fear most since they will not rely on the text to understand, but instead be the ones saying the things for others to follow. During the lessons, students interact with their peers and teacher be it orally or through written texts. Therefore, not only are they evaluated on their speaking and writing but they also tend to have some feedback on what was said or written. There is a different correction criterion if compared to the correction of receptive skills, for instance.
In a CELTA lesson, when designing a lesson plan for a productive skill, CELTees will probably include the following steps in the lessons: a model for the learners, some appropriate vocabulary, chances to practice this new vocabulary and a production. These will all need to fit into the genre of a text or even the type of speaking class the teacher has designed – be it to improve discussing the pros and cons, giving an opinion, etc.
In general, teachers are likely to create classes in which students can practice all skills appropriately, teaching techniques to ease comprehension of receptive skills and also providing vocabulary and strategies used to communicate, be it orally or in written form.
We will talk more about each of these skills in the following posts and explain more features of each one of them!
In the meantime, tell us: how about you? Which skill do you struggle with most? What about the skills you find easier, what are the techniques you know that help you with them? We would love to hear them!
Have a great weekend,
Eve and Patty.