martes, 30 de noviembre de 2010

Chapters 6 and 9 - Hedge

Here is my comment of an article on teaching reading comprehension and the development of writing skills in English lessons at schools. It was published by the GCBA and below you can find the link to download it. I found it very interesting and easy to read so I hope you like it too!

The article is in fact a guide designed for teaching reading and writing in primary and secondary school with a communicative approach. You can read about theory and take a look at many activities to use in your lessons.

The main idea is to highlight the importance to give a purpose and a context for all reading and writing activities. It is true that many teachers do not think of this or do not apply this in the classroom because it is more challenging and demanding for them. However, it has been proved to be a better way to learn. When we relate what we study to our feelings or our own personal experiences we get to understand and to learn in a better way, and we remember it more easily.

As regards reading, the guide makes reference to the need to understand clearly what we read. In general, what we teachers do in our lessons is to pre-teach some words and let students read a text to ask them questions later. But this is a very complex task because there is not previous work. Our students need time to start dealing with texts, therefore, they must have a purpose and know the source and the style of the text. It is of great help to make students read different genres and to include paratextual elements to help their reading. What we can learn from this article is to present texts for reading comprehension with a great emphasis on pre-reading activities to make the tasks more success-oriented and while-reading activities to check real comprehension.

Writing in a foreign language implies a difficult process too because not only do we have to pay attention to vocabulary, tenses, punctuation and collocations but also to the message we are conveying. Therefore, when students write at school, they also have to know the purpose of doing it. As teachers, we tend to present a sample text, analyse it grammatically and ask students to write a similar one. But a previous work is fundamental for the students´ needs. The key point is to give them a trigger to start writing and then a context, a genre, the vocabulary and grammar needed and an audience. It is also important to vary the kind of writing because we can make learners work on paper and later on computers or we can ask them to write alone or in groups so as to give more dynamic, challenging and interesting tasks.

I think that most of the information found in this article can also be seen in many books of teaching English as a second or foreign language. However, this guide is easily explained and presented with images, texts, questionnaires, etc; so it smoothly invites you to build your own reading and writing activities following different steps. It is of great help because you revise the theory learnt through many years and you can see different activities ready to be used in your lessons.

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