How can English best be taught?

THE INTEGRATED approach is one of the most effective ways that teachers can use to enable learners achieve linguistic and communicative competence.
Teachers are encouraged to integrate various aspects of language in order to equip learners with appropriate skills. /Education Times/File photo
Teachers are encouraged to integrate various aspects of language in order to equip learners with appropriate skills. /Education Times/File photo

THE INTEGRATED approach is one of the most effective ways that teachers can use to enable learners achieve linguistic and communicative competence.

Research in English Language teaching has proved that when the various aspects of language are integrated, learners achieve more than when teachers teach each aspect in isolation from the others. Teachers should embrace this approach in order to equip learners with appropriate skills. I have used it for several years and it has yielded positive results. What should we integrate?

Major skills of language

 

The teacher can integrate the four major skills of language in a lesson. The skills include: speaking, listening, reading and writing. The approach requires the teacher to handle more than one skill in a lesson.

 

For instance, in a reading comprehension lesson, learners can read the passage and later on discuss the questions about it in their groups.

 

This creates room for them to speak and listen to one another as they share ideas and they also write their answers jointly implying that they develop the skill of writing as well. This clearly shows that all the four major skills can be developed in one lesson. Moreover, students learn with enthusiasm when they are given the opportunity to practice several skills at the same time.

Sub-skills                                                              

Each of the major skills of language has sub-skills that the teacher focuses on to help learners achieve competence. Such skills can be integrated to enable students achieve more.

For instance, the teacher may choose to emphasise the speaking and listening skills whereby he helps learners practice and develop the various sub-skills of speaking and listening which include pronunciation, stress, intonation, audibility and use of para-linguistic features among others.

The learners are able to practice all these sub-skills in a given lesson. Even when the teacher may want to put emphasis on the writing skill, he can integrate the sub-skills of writing which comprise sentence construction, paragraphing, punctuation and vocabulary. If it is a reading comprehension lesson, the teacher may integrate the sub-skills of reading which include skimming, scanning, prediction and word inference. Integrating the sub-skills widens the learners’ scope of
understanding the major skills.

Teaching methods

There are various methods of teaching English language which include group work, class discussion, role play and discovery among others. These methods can be integrated to enhance the learners’ understanding of the language.

For instance, in a lesson where emphasis is on reading comprehension as a skill, the teacher may use class discussion by asking learners to brainstorm on their experiences related to the passage at the pre-reading stage.

Thereafter, students read the passage. Then the teacher switches to group discussion method by distributing learners in groups and asking them to discuss the questions. When they finish doing group work, each group presents their work and in a class discussion, learners react to each presentation. This approach keeps learners active and they enjoy performing various roles in the lesson.

Subjects     
                                          

The teacher may also integrate subjects when teaching English language. This gives chance to the learners to focus on the relationships between subjects on the curriculum and they are also able to transfer knowledge and skills from one subject to the other. A case in point is where the teacher integrates Literature with English language in a particular lesson.                                                       

He may get an extract from a Literature novel and use it to teach reading comprehension in an English language lesson. He may use an extract from a Biology text and use it to teach vocabulary. This helps learners to realise the connection between English language and the other subjects taught on the curriculum.I therefore advise fellow teachers of English language who have not been using the integrated approach to adopt it for the benefit of learners.

The writer is a teacher at Riviera High School

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