Aug 31, 2019 in Education

Teaching Second Language

Teaching second language is one of the most challenging tasks for instructors. It is always vital to ensure that students acquire relevant macro-skills including listening, speaking, reading, and writing for them to have a clear understanding of the second language. Therefore, instructors have to adhere to relevant teaching principles that would ensure the development of these skills. In the views of Ellis, one of the most significantly relevant principles that could be effectively applied to the instruction of the skills is the following principle: any instruction needs to ensure that leaners focus predominantly on meaning. This could be primarily applied to the teaching of listening and speaking skills. The second critical principle is that instructor needs to take into account individual differences of learners. According to Ellis, students have varying rates of learning, and it is vital to consider these differences when teaching second language and the acquisition of both reading and writing skills. This paper explicates the principle of focus on meaning and the principle of individual differences among learners as relevant principles in teaching and learning of four critical macro-skills.

Listening skills are quite critical for students of second language because it is one of the modalities that are used frequently. Archibald affirms that the most important thing to understand is that listening entails the processing of message and understanding it effectively to create meaning. Therefore, the principle emphasizing that learners focus predominantly on meaning is directly relevant to teaching and learning of listening skills. In line with this principle, any instructor has to basically ensure that learners derive pragmatic meaning from the communicated information. Pragmatic meaning is the one that emanates from the act of communication. In tandem with the principle, students are supposed to be engaged in numerous listening activities such as listening to recorded speeches in the target language with the focus on pragmatic meaning. Richards and Rodgers agree that this creates some intrinsic motivation on their part, and they are always able to acquire skills in the most efficient manner. More so, the principle where instructor needs to take into account the individual differences of learners is relevant to the teaching of listening skills in the sense that learners should not be expected to draw similar pragmatic meanings from the communicated information at once. They tend to draw different meanings, and the instructor has to be patient with this.

Speaking skills are an essential measure of knowing the language. Accordingly, the fluency of learners tends to be seen in terms of how they converse with others in free speech based on the language taught. Richards and Renandya explain that mechanics such as pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary form the largest part of effective speaking skills for learners. The principle in which instructor needs to ensure that learners focus predominantly on meaning is relevant to teaching and learning of speaking skills because it promotes the focus on both the semantic and pragmatic meaning for learners. The semantic meaning is more concerned with grammatical structures. Dios and Agudo point out that learners get the opportunity to treat second language as an important object. In respect to the development of pragmatic meaning, learners get the opportunity to view second language as a tool of communication hence putting them in a position where they function as communicators. This principle is vital in fluency creation in the course of speaking among learners. The second principle where instructor needs to take into account individual differences of learners also comes into play in the course of teaching and learning speaking skills. From the perspective of this principle, speaking skills are acquired effectively using a flexible approach entailing different learning activities such as practical public speaking.

Reading skills are better expressed when a learner is able to read through different works without having to necessarily look up for meanings in different vocabularies. Ellis states that fluency and speed of reading are also factors that many instructors consider in the course of evaluating reading abilities of their students. The notable principle governing teaching and learning reading skills is the view that any instructor needs to take into account individual differences of learners. Since most learners are used to their first language, it is not easy for all of them to adjust at the same levels to reading a particular piece. Their response levels and flexibility to reading would vary. Therefore, teaching reading skills in line with this principle requires instructors to motivate their students through easy reading exercises. Moreover, using simple learner-training materials focused on making students aware of their reading approaches would offer some form of accommodation. Richards and Renandya are of the view that the relevance of the predominant focus on meaning principle comes into play in teaching reading skills through the use of a task-based approach to teaching of the second language. In this case, tasks should entail practical reading lessons.

Lastly, writing skills are important life-long skills, and educators have to ensure that they are effectively passed to students by following these two principles. Tomlinson states that the selection of resources supporting the development of writing skills is the first step to learning and acquisition of this skill. For instance, teaching instructions should be developed in a way that recognizes the view that learners have varying writing level. According to Dios and Agudo, the learners will not learn how to write at the same levels. Thus, it would be critical for teachers to motivate them using approaches such as writing quizzes, printable worksheets, interactive games, and video lessons. Furthermore, the principle where instructor needs to ensure that learners focus predominantly on meaning comes into place when learners have chances to come up with sentences that make a pragmatic sense rather than meaningless sentences as taught in the second language.

In conclusion, the macro-skills including listening, speaking, reading, and writing are only taught and learned successfully in cases where instructor follows the principles of focusing on pragmatic meaning and development of instructions that reveal the differences among learners. With these principles in place, it is far much easier to develop a lesson plan that facilitates appropriate learning for all learners in a classroom.

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