In the society where we live, the possibilities of cultural interchanges studying abroad, watching TV, so on, determines that, communication, at least one foreign language is a necessity.
– With our educational reform, according the GENERAL ORGANIC act 1/1990 of 3 of October of Educative System, its are persuades THREE AIMS:
· A WIDER EDUCATION: compulsory and free education are extended up to the change of sixteen, which also coincides with the labour ages.
· A BETTER EDUCATION: the number of teachers and school resources are increased; the teacher-in-service training courses are promoted, school resources and vocational guidance programmes are improved.
· MORE USEFUL EDUCATION: a new model of vocational training with greater practice knowledge and with a greater relation with the labour market are proposed, and the necessites of our present society.
In the General Organic Act 1/90 of 3rd of October of Educative System, we can find in the 2nd Chapter, article 13-b that, in Primary Education, among the capacities to develop in our pupils is “ to understand and produce easy messages in a foreign language”.
v We also have in the RD 1344/91 of 6th of September about Teaching Requirements in the territory managed by the old Ministry of Education and Culture, in the Art.4 that the objective a) is “understand and produce oral and written messages in Spanish, language of the community and in a foreign language “ and continuous “The ability to communicate in a foreign language and the knowledge of this language give a good help for a better comprehension and learning the own language”.
So,for these reasons, compulsory education must attend to this social need and give pupils a communicative competence in a foreign language.
Within this communicative competence, we as teachers have to develop the four main skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Thus, in this topic, I will talk about them in the following points:
1. DEVELOPMENT OF THE FOUR BASIC LINGUISTIC SKILLS: LISTENING, SPEAKING, READING AND WRITING
2. COMMUNICATIVE COMPETENCE IN ENGLISH.
1. DEVELOPMENT OF THE FOUR BASIC LINGUISTIC SKILLS: LISTENING, SPEAKING, READING AND WRITING
In the RD 1344/ 91 of 6 of September about teaching Requirements in the territory managed by the old Ministry of Education and Culture, we can read that” the development of the basic linguistic skills it has to be seen as a process of integration. In the real life, communicative acts use different skills, so, it’s not logic, to treat them in an aisle form.”
Now I am going to talk about these skills, and I will start with listening.
1. Listening or learning to listen in order to hear and understand properly.
-First of all, there are several general principles in teaching / learning listening comprehension, and these principles are:
I. Listening comprehension lessons, it must have definite goals, carefully stated. These goals should fit into the overall curriculum.
II. Listening comprehension lessons, it should be constructed, with a carefully step-by-step planning. This implies that the listening tasks progress, from simple hearing based activities, to more complex understanding based ones as our pupils gain in language competence.
III. Listening comprehension lessons should teach not test
IV. Listening comprehension lessons structure it should demand active pupil participation. And finally
V. These lessons should stress conscious memory work.
-We can use several STRATEGIES in order to develop listening comprehension such as: SCANNING, SKIMMING, RECONSTRUCTION OF ORAL DISCOURSE, PREDICTION, RECOGNIZING INTERNAL STRUCTURES AND CONNECTORS, GUESSING FORM CONTEXT, and, EXTENSIVE and INTENSIVE STRATEGIES.
1. SCANNING or looking for specific details. It’s better to say questions before the listening practice.
2. SKIMMING or to identify the principal ideas. F. instance, we want that our pupils ask themselves, what is this text about?. And to guess the type text (poem, folk tale), settings (place, street), characters (formal, informal, neuter), and key words.
3. RECONSTRUCTION OF ORAL DISCOURSE: after we refer to the first listening, the teacher can make a conceptual map on the blackboard, considering a word or sentence as the listening key.
4. PREDICTION, pupils can predict what will be the next one that they are going to listen.
5. RECOGNIZING INTERNAL STRUCTURES AND CONNECTORS: this strategy gives us clues about the content. F. example:
· FALL/RISE INTONATION, and the particle BUT indicate contrast expression
· SO + FALL INTONATION indicate “RESULT”
· FIRST, THEN, FINALLY, help us to identify and arrange sequences in different parts.
6. GUESSING FORM CONTEXT: is to find out the meaning of unknown words. We can use gestures, pictures… and, the two last ones are
7. EXTENSIVE and INTENSIVE LISTENING
Ø EXTENSIVE LISTENING will be a focused or general feature of the styles of discourse. The language level in this kind of listening is, inside the student’s capacity, and they listen for pleasure and interest. This strategy, can be used for the representation of already known material in a new environment and it can also serve the function of introducing new language.
Ø INTENSIVE LISTENING is closer to ear training, and it’s the most widely used for listening practice in classroom. Students are asked to listen a passage, with the aim of collecting and organizing the information it contains. This strategy, can be used for the focus of language items as part of language teaching programme, and for general comprehension and understanding.
– And, finally, in this point, I will talk about PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS. First of all, these are a number of steps that we have to bear in mind when planning the listening work for our class:
1. choose the listening text.
2. check that the activities are suitable
3. adjust the difficulty level of the activities, if we need to
4. consider, whether the listening work you are planning will fit the time available or not
5. think about visual aids
6. decide whether any special equipment will be needed
7. make up our mind about what procedure you will adopt for the listening session
8. if you are planning, to present the listening text “live” practice reading it aloud
-Once we have taken these steps, we must teach our children to develop skills, and according to Harmer, we can divide these skills into TWO TYPES: GENERAL UNDERSTANDING and SPECIFIC UNDERSTANDING:
a. GENERAL UNDERSTANDING is concerned with the treatment of a text as a whole, and includes the following microskills:
PREDICTION: because it is useful to encourage children to predict what they think might come next in a spoken message. This means that they then listen to checks whether their expectation matches the reality of what they hear.
EXTRACTING SPECIFIC INFORMATION and GETTING THE GENERAL PICTURE of an activity of listening and,
b. SPECIFIC UNDERSTANDING, which involve a detailed comprehension of the text. They also include the following microskills:
– INFERRING OPINION and ATTITUDE because an awareness of stress, intonation and body language, such as facial expressions or gestures, will help the children work out meaning, specially in dialogues or story- telling.
– DEDUCING MEANING FROM CONTEXT because although the teacher might like to gloss new words before the children listen to something, she also needs to encourage them to use pictures and their general knowledge about a topic to work out the meaning of unfamiliar words.
-And RECONGNIZING DISCOURSE PATTERNS and MARKERS: words such as first, then, finally, or but, so, give important signals about what is coming next in a spoken text. This is especially important when listening to a sequence of events, such as in a story or a set of instructions.
-About LISTENING ACTIVITIES,, we make sure the children are clear about why they are listening. This means spelling out which part of the message they need to focus on and what they are going to do before listening, while listening or after listening. So, to develop these skills, are commonly divided into THREE CATEGORIES: PRE-LISTENING, WHILE and POST- LISTENING.
o PRE-LISTENING ACTIVITIES have as a main aim to arouse our pupils’ interest and include MAKING LIST OF IDEAS or LABELLING.
o In WHILE LISTENING ACTIVITIES we have TRUE/FALSE or SPOTTING MISTAKER and
o POST- LISTENING ACTIVITIES include SUMMARIZING or DICTATION.
An activity type could be for instance:
-Listen and perform actions/ follow instructions: this kind of activity is used with action songs, rhymes or games such as “ What’s the time Mr. Wolf?”
-Purpose: listening for enjoyment and to improve memory and concentration span.
-Materials: instructions for games.
According the book “The Primary English Teacher’s Guide “ by Brewster, Ellis and Girard, existing methods and materials for primary school English contain recorded phrases for use in the initial classes.
However, it is primarily the teacher who, by conducting the class in English, will provide the opportunity for the pupils continually to improve their listening ability in as natural a manner as possible.
There are other simple ways of training pupils to listen effectively such as the teaching of numbers and letters with dictations, or visuals aids, such as pictures of plants, animals or people, can also be used by the pupils to respond to dictations involving the names of objects.
2. Speaking, or learning to speak in order to be understood
-First, I will say several GENERAL PRINCIPLES in SPEAKING SKILL:
1. The beginning of oral expression will start when the pupil can understand the meaning of language’s first elements.
2. Thus, we will use short dialogues and its will attack attention of them, both the topic and the attractive form to present it.
3. In relation with the first syntactic structures (which we can present in first or second cycle), they are principally GESTALTS or PREFABRICATED LANGUAGE, for instance a greeting like ‘how are you’.
4. Before preparing our activities we have to consider several aspects as COMPETENCE level, if our pupils ARE GOING TO USE A BOOK, AGE, CONTENTS.
– An oral lesson is often divided into STAGES commonly known as PRESENTATION STAGE, PRACTICE STAGE and PRODUCTION STAGE:
q PRESENTATION STAGE has as a main aim to give our pupils the opportunities to realize the usefulness and relevance of the new language and their need to learn it.
In the initial stages, first lessons often focus on teaching simple greetings and introductions, f.ex: “hello”, “What’s your name?”, “My name is”.
In the early stages of learning, not much spontaneous speech can be expected from pupils.
Such speech (language) consists of:
-Simple greetings: hello, how are you
-Social English: have a nice weekend?
-Routines: what’s the date?
-Classroom language: listen, repeat, sit down, good
-Asking permission: Can I go to the toilet?
We have to bear in mind that once we have chosen a context for the presentation, we must decide on a procedure, which includes points in this order:
a) First, build up the situational context by means of pictures and tapes
b) Elicit the new language.
c) Focus our pupils’ attention on the model sentence, and (to) get the repetition both chorally or individually.
d) And, check students’ understanding.
The teacher’s main role during this stage is as INFORMANT
q In PRACTICE STAGE our pupils assimilate and memorizes the new language by means of activities such as repetitions.
The teacher’s role is mainly those as CONDUCTOR and CORRECTOR and
q In PRODUCTION STAGE, the main aims are to give learners the opportunities to integrate the new learnt language into previously learnt language in an unpredictable linguistic context, and to provide both, teachers and pupils, with feedback about the learning and teaching process.
The teacher’s role is as FACILITATOR.
According to Brewster the main thing is to be understood without the listener being obliged to go through a series of mental gymnastics in order to discover what the pupil was most probably trying to say.
From a psychological point of view, it’s a good idea not to force things and to let each pupil start to contribute when they feel ready.
-Some speaking activities that we can use are REPETITION activities like “Chinese whispers (the teacher whisper a word a sentence in the pupils’ ear and this message will be transmitted in the same form to whole class. The last pupils has to repeat aloud what he has just listened or ASKING AND GIVING INFORMATION it can consists of the repetition of certain structures with minimums changes which have been practised previously in class to complete a questionnaire, posters, etc …
For instance, an activity type could be:
Look, listen and repeat: the teacher shows a picture, says the word and pupils repeat: look! An elephant. Repeat.
When the teacher is satisfied with her pupil’s pronunciation she can move another word.
Once several new items have been introduced, the teacher can check by showing a picture and asking, what’s this? And pupils reply.
Purpose: to introduce new vocabulary or structures.
Materials: picture cards, for example animals. Food, colours, actions
3. Learning to read and write
· Learning to read a foreign language is obviously not a primary aim of early learning of English. Nevertheless, the two skills of reading and writing are learning tools, which it would be wrong to ignore, as they occupy a position of fundamental importance in the objectives of primary school education and in the activities of the pupils.
· Learning to read in English will gradually give young beginners an ability to read autonomously as they acquire both the necessary ability and the taste for reading. There are publishers specializing in English as a foreign language that offers illustrated readers for children. The adventures of the animal and human heroes in these books excite the interest of the children and encourage them to read on.
· We have TWO TYPES OF STRATEGIES to develop reading comprehension: ACCORDING TO THE SENSE USED and ACCORDING THE ACTIVITIES.
– ACCORDING TO THE SENSE USED we have READING BY EAR and READING BY EYE
Ø READING BY EAR: we can’t read without the phonic element, that’s to say, reading is a lineal process and we advance identifying and reproducing the phonic elements of texts. This strategy is very important in the first stage of learning a foreign language.
Ø READING BY EYE: the relation between written word and signification is direct. Thus, the words are read as units with meaning without the participation of an intermediate mechanism. This strategy is used with pupils who have a certain reading fluency and.
– ACCORDING TO THE ACTIVITIES USED we have SCANNING, SKIMMING, FOLLOW A SEQUENCE, SURVIVAL READING, PREDICTION, INFORMATION TRANSFER.
1. SCANNING or looking for specific details such as a friends address. It’s better to say questions before reading.
2. SKIMMING or to identify the principal ideas. F. Instance, we want that our pupils ask themselves, what is this text about?. And they can identify type text (poem, folk tale), settings (place, street), characters (formal, informal, neuter), and key words.
3. FOLLOW A SEQUENCE: it’s useful to understand instructions or identifying. F. Instance the life phases of famous people.
4. SURVIVALS READING: it’s referred to localization of text, which help us to find something that we are looking for in an urban context. F. instance: traffic signals with sort text (ONE WAY), or informative signals (EXIT, MIND THE GAP)
5. PREDICTION, when we can use clues which show. What’s going to the next f. instance, we say: ‘there was an Englishman, a Frenchman, and an Irishman.
6. INFORMATION TRANSFER: this strategy permits us to translate determined facts of a text to different ones. F. Instance: a travel, or adventure story can be transformed in a comic or map.
· About READING SKILLS: and according to Harmer we can divide these skills into two types: GENERAL UNDERSTANDING and SPECIFIC UNDERSTANDING.
-GENERAL UNDERSTANDING are concerned with the treatment of a text as a whole. They include the following micro skills: PREDICTION, EXTRACTING SPECIFIC INFORMATION, and GETTING THE GENERAL PICTURE.
-SPECIFIC UNDERSTANDING are subsequently and involve a detailed comprehension of the text. They include: INFERRING OPINION AND ATTITUDE, DEDUCING MEANING FROM CONTEXT, and RECOGNIZING DISCOURSE PATTERNS AND MARKERS.
· We can also talk about READING ACTIVITIES, and are commonly divided into THREE TYPES: PRE- READING, WHILE READING and POST- READING ACTIVITIES.
o PRE- READING ACTIVITIES have as a main aim to arouse our pupils’ interest in what they are going to read. They may include: PRE-LIMINARY DISCUSSION, HEADLINESS AND TITLES, and SEQUENCING PICTURES.
o WHILE READING ACTIVITIES for general and specific understanding. They may include: SUGGESTING A TITLE, UNDERLINE THE INFORMATION REQUIRED, and CHART COMPLETATION.
o POST- READING ACTIVITIES can be thought as a follow up work. They may include PREPARE A SIMILAR NEXT, PARTICIPATE IN A ROLE-PLAY BASED ON THE NEXT MAKE A DRAWING.
· Finally to say that reading in English in the early stages will usually remain at the word level, where children play simple games as dominoes, snap or bingo.
· For instance, an activity type could be:
Playing games such as odd- one out or spot the difference. Pupils identify similarities and differences between letters or words.
Purpose: to develop phonic skills and sight recognition of words.
Material: flashcards or worksheets with words grouped in three or fours.
And about the last skill, writing, we can say that in the early stages of learning English, the pupils will generally write very little. It is a good idea to use copying in a way, which encourages pupils to think, this means using crosswords, and matching, sequencing or classifying activities.
We also have in this skill several stages:
1. First, FAMILIARIZATION AND CONTROLLED WRITING: at the beginning, words and expressions won’t be presented isolated, but with a lot of contextual aids, wallcharts, flashcards. We can use activities such as FILLIG CROSSWORDS, PUTTING UNDER PICTURES the right sentences (with routines expressions)
2. The second stage is GUIDING WRITING and we use pre-communicative activities to reach out the free composition of short texts. We have for instance, INFORMATION TRANSFER STRATEGY: with excursion photographies which give us material to produce texts (they have to write about what they see) and
3. The third stage is FREE COMPOSITION that can be introduced when the previous ones have been filled and with activities such as FILLING CHRISTMAS or BITHDAY CARDS
+ According to Matthew, writing skills can be divided on:
1. GRAPHIC SKILLS which include aspects such as PUNCTUATION or SPELLING
2. STYLISTIC SKILLS refer to our pupils’ ability to express precise meaning in a variety of styles and registers( to say “hello” sad or happy
3. ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS which involve the sequencing of ideas (by using connectors such as “first”, “finally”
4. GRAMATICAL SKILLS refer to our pupils’ ability to use successfully a variety of sentence patterns and construction and (negatives or affirmative sentences)
5. RHETORICAL SKILLS refer to pupils’ ability to use cohesion devices in order to link part of a text into logically related sequences (more or less as organizational)
An activity type could be: Snap:
Materials: 24 playing cards with common words written on them. The words need to be grouped into families which have two or three letters in common, for example: at, hat, mat, cat; the, other, mother, another.
Method: the cards are divided equally between two players. Each player places the card face down in the usual way. When a player says “snap”, she/ he has to say why the two cards are linked. No single letter matching is allowed. The winner is the first player to collect all the cards.
And with that I finish the first main point in this topic.
Now, I will talk about the other main point.
2. THE COMMUNICATIVE COMPETENCE IN ENGLISH
Chomsky defined language as a set of sentences each finite in length and constructed out of a finite set of elements
He said that a native speaker has a subconscious knowledge of the grammatical rules of his language, which allows him to make sentences in that language. This is what Chomsky called COMMUNICATIVE COMPETENCE.
However, DELL HYMES thought that Chomsky had forgotten some very important information about the rules of use, because when a native speaks, he doesn’t only utter grammatically corrects, he also knows WHERE, WHEN, and to WHOM to use these.
He said that competence by itself is not enough to explain a speaker’s knowledge, and, replace it with the concept of communicative competence.
He distinguished FOUR ASPECTS of his CC: systematic potential, appropiacy, occurrence and feasibility
Ø SYSTEMATIC POTENTIAL means that the native speaker possesses a system that has a potential for creating a lot of language. This is similar to Chomsky competence.
Ø APPROPIACY means the native speaker knows what language is appropriate in a given situation. His choice is based on the following variables: SETTING, PARTICIPANT, PURPOSE, CHANNEL and TOPIC
Ø OCURRENCE means that the native speaker knows how often something is said in a language and acts accordingly
Ø FEASIBILITY means the native speaker knows whether something is possible in a language or not
+ These four categories have been adapted for teaching purposes
+ Thus, the Royal Decree 1006/91 of 14th of June which establishes the teaching requirements for Primary Education nationwide sees Communicative Competence as comprising five subcompetences: GRAMMAR C, DISCOURSE, SOCIOLINGUISTIC, STRATEGIC AND SOCIOCULTURAL COMPETENCE.
ü GRAMMAR C.: the ability to put into practice the linguistic units according to the rules of use established in the linguistic system
ü DISCOURSE C: the ability to use different types of discourse and organize them according to the communicative situation and the speakers involved in it.
ü SOCIOLINGUISTIC C: the ability to adequate the utterances to the specific context, in according with the accepted usage of the determined linguistic community.
ü STRATEGIC C: the ability to define, correct or in general, make adjustments, in the communicative situation.
ü SOCIOCULTURAL C: which has to be understood as a certain awareness of the social and cultural context in which the foreign language is used.
Finally and 3. CONCLUSION of this topic, to say that the integrated education of the four main skills, beside to permit us the use of material for practising different linguistics activities, it answer to natural phenomenon in our everyday life: sometimes we talk (orally way) not only what we see, listen, but we also talk about something that we have just read, or, we write about something that we have heard or read.
Any practice, thus, about a determined linguistic skills, must be completed and rested on the other ones.
ü The royal decree 1006/91 of 14th of June about teaching requirements for Primary Education.
ü “The Primary English Teacher’s Guide” by Brewster. Ed. Penguin. English 1992
ü “The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language” by Crystal. Ed. Cambridge. University Press 1987
ü “The Practice of English Language Teaching” by Harmer. Ed. Longman. London. 1983