Friday, August 29, 2008
Using English as a Foreign Language Skills Coupling for Virtually Immediate Improvement
Foreign Language Skills Coupling
“Teacher, can you please repeat?” It was now the third time that my university English level learners requested a repeat playing of the listening exam section. It consisted of a twenty three second conversation set in a restaurant, but my learners shrieked and moaned at its apparent “difficulty”. This was even despite the fact that the selected listening was from two English language levels below their current one.
Language Skills are Inter-Related
The four basic language skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking are inter-related even though they are not necessarily equal. For example, if you want to speak better, then practice more listening. If you want to improve your listening comprehension, then practice reading aloud. If you, or your learners, would like to write better prose in English, read more and more in English. And if you want your reading comprehension skills to develop to a much higher level, then improving your writing will help to do the trick.
Both individual and integrated practice of each of the four basic language skills will aid in developing overall English or other foreign language communicative abilities. Reading aloud, for instance, improves speaking and pronunciation in addition to listening comprehension. It also promotes internalization of language elements from short term into long term memory.
Language Skills Development by Coupling
Improvement of inter-related language skills is not equal, however. When your reading improves, so will your writing, but not as much as your reading does. Then if you focused on writing, your reading comprehension would also improve, but likely not as much as your writing would.
A Quick Activities List
So for some really fast English language skills improvement, try some of these activities for starters:
• Reading texts, poems and stories aloud
• Practice pronunciation using spoken riddles, rhymes, fairy tales and stories
• Mimic speakers on the television, newscasts, narratives and speeches
• Write down a speech or other oral discourse as a dictation-type activity
• Try saying tongue twisters, quirky quotes and short jokes on a regular basis
Oral Recitation Practice Activities
For speaking and listening skills development, reading aloud is such an effective method that I now incorporate it into all of my English as a foreign language courses regardless of the EFL learners` level. This single, seemingly simple activity impacts not only speech, but pronunciation, fluency and vocabulary too. As you vocalize the reading or text content, your listening skills become more finely attuned as well. With the possible exception of say, a radically different foreign, regional or other accent being suddenly thrown at you, you’ll generally understand other speakers, native or not, far better after even a limited amount of practice in reading English texts aloud.
Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, prolific writer, author and public speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 100 countries. Get your FREE E-book, "If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: firstname.lastname@example.org Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.