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The Teaching and learning of receptive

Quick Activity: in groups, work with the following statements:
1.- Comment and make a short list of situations in which people
listen/read things in everyday life.
2.- Identify the reasons why people do these activities.
3.- What do we do in order to listen and read successfully?
Specialist skills

Readers or listeners use different specialist

skills when reading or listening and their
success at understanding the content
depends a lot on their expertise at these
specialist skills. We will explore six skills
which are essential in the development of
reading and listening.
1.- Predictive skills

Efficient readers or listeners predict what they

are going to read or hear; understanding is the
result of a mixture of between the information
found in the text and the predictions made by the
reader or listener. We have to remember that
these predictions will be the result of the
expectations they have about the text.
We will see that one of the purposes of the pre-
reading/listening activities is to encourage
predictive skills.
2.- Extracting specific information

One the purposes a reader/listener may have is to

get specific information about something. We do
not need to read a complete text if we are only
interested in specific information. For example, if
we need to buy Chinese food, we may Want to
look for the yellow pages and look under
restaurants first, and then Chinese restaurant. We
focus on what we need and search for that specific
piece of information.
The skill is used to do this type of search is called
3.- Getting the general picture

A different purpose in reading/listening can be

the general idea or picture of something; in
this case, we want to have an overall idea of a
situation rather then looking for details. When
applied to reading this skill is often called
skimming. This skill implies the ability to
concentrate on what is relevant and disregard
what is irrelevant or not essential to the
general picture.
4.- Extracting detailed information

Detailed information is not exactly the same as

specific information. Sometimes the
reader/listener may have to look for details such
as the writer/speaker’s attitudes or opinions. In
our emphasis to develop scannig or skimming
skills, we should also remember the importance of
5.- Recognising function and discourse functions

This refers to the organization of a given text. As

speakers of any language, we know, for example,
that when we see or hear a phrase like ‘after that’
some information related to a sequence will be
given. If we read or hear a word like ‘him’, we
know it refers to a male person that was mentioned
before. These are called cohesion devices and we
need to make our students aware of these features
of language. This is another ability that will help
readers/listeners to become more effective in their
task of understanding a text.
6.- Deducing meaning from context

This is a very important skill in the development

of understanding of written/spoken texts. As
teachers, we have to train and help our students
to deduce meaning from context.
As mentioned before, when we read or listen to
things/people in everyday life we pay attention to
the context of what we want to read/listen to, we
have a purpose in mind in doing so, and we
inevitably create expectations as a result of our
Quick Activity: With your classmates make a list of the
things your students read/listen to in their everyday lives.

Quick Activity: Now make a list of the things your students

read/listen to in the context of school. Discuss the reasons they
have when they do these activities.

Quick Activity: Compare the reasons that you, as adults, have to

do listening and reading in everyday life an the reasons your
students may have to do these activities in the context of school.

Quick Activity: Discuss how is reading or listening in school

different from reading and listening in everyday life?
Some general guidelines

These are some useful tips you can do in order to bridge the gap between
classroom and everyday life in reading and listening activities:

1. Alternate between authentic and non.authentic texts;

2. Find out what your students want to listen or read;
3. Make the purpose of reading/listening activities explicit to your students;
4. Vary the purpose of reading and listening activities ;
5. If possible, give your students more choice in what they can listen or read;
6. If resources are available, create an ‘English corner’ in you school library .
You can use materials your students have contributed.
Stages in the development of receptive skills

Experience has taught us that a lesson is made up

of different stages or phrases. Each of them serves
a different purpose, and, as a whole, they help us
to pave the way in the achievement of the general
objective of a lesson. The teaching of reading and
listening is also part of this scheme. Thus, we can
identify three stages in the development of a
reading or listening:
Pre- or before listening/reading

While or during Listening/reading

Post or consolidation listening/reading

Before you listen or read activities

The main objective of the pre-

listening/reading activities are to motivate,
anticipate and prepare students for the reading or
listening. These activities relate what students are
going to listen or read to their own experience,
activate previous knowledge, focus their attention
and lead them to the understanding of the key
words. Since these pre-activities are a way of
preparing the atmosphere for the reading or
listening, they should always be followed in the
same session by, at least two activities belonging
to the while stage.
While you listen/read activities

These activities lead the students to gradually

understand the oral and written texts from the
most general to the most specific details. The first
group of activities leads to check their predictions,
identifying the type of text and obtaining the
general idea. Other activities require a deeper and
more specific understanding (specific information,
identifying the communicative purpose of the text
organizing information and summarising main
ideas, among many others).
After you listen or read activities

At this stage, students are challenged with activities that go

beyond the texts that they have listened or read. Students
not only become aware of the way language works or
reinforce and enlarge their vocabulary, but they also reflect
and share opinions about the text with other students.
Consequently, this is also the stage when students apply
what they have learned and create new oral and written
texts. Of course, this creations are simpler than the ones
they read or listen, remember that accuracy is relevant but
is not the priority.
Activities for teaching
receptive skills
Activities for teaching receptive skills

Types of reading activities

Quick activity: Get in groups and make a list of different classroom activities
you use in order to develop reading skills
•Reading a text and identifying the main idea or gist.
•Reading a text and identifying specific information.
•Guessing the meaning of words from context.
•Filling in blanks.
•Expressing the same idea in a different way.
•Translating to L1.
•Inferring meaning from a context
•Providing a title for a text
•Inventing the end of a story.
Types of listening activities
No overt response: Learners do not have to do anything in response to the
listening; however, facial expression and body language often show if they
are following or not. For example, stories, films and videos.

Short responses: Learners are asked to react to the listening by giving

a short response. Here are some examples:

•Obeying instructions
•Ticking off items
•True/false questions
•Detecting mistakes
•Filling in the blanks
•Completing a form
•Guessing definitions
Longer responses: Learners are asked to produce more language as
a response to the listening. Here are some examples:

•Answering questions

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