Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Listening and Speaking Anyone?

Have you ever wondered why English classes are quiet? This is something English teachers need to think about seriously. If you walk into a school and just try to stay for a bit, you will notice that you hardly hear any loud reading or choral reading in English classes,let alone group work and presentations. They are basically QUIET. I'm not suggesting no teaching is taking place in these classes but isn't it strange that teaching a second language (a foreign language to many actually ) can be a very quiet affair? Small wonder our students read poorly, have no confidence in pronouncing words they've never come across and are not able to speak after 11 years of learning English in school!! This is certainly food for thought.

I think these skills have been neglected by English teachers as the emphasis usually lies in reading and writing. Teachers are always saying the need to complete the syllabus as the main reason for not doing listening and speaking but I would like someone to tell me what it means to 'finish the syllabus' really. Can you ever 'finish' teaching a language as it is skills based rather than content based? I am often lost when the school administration asks me to state (as part of a monitoring exercise) whether I've 'finished' the syllabus! Isn't language learning a cyclical process rather then a linear one? You always need to repeat and therefore when does it end? Anyway, I'd like to share a lesson I conducted recently in 4S1. Here goes...

Skills: Listening and Speaking (Consensus-seeking Activity)
Time: Double-period
Orientation: Group work (5 in a group)
Materials: mahjong paper, marker pens, a situation
1. Put ss in gorups of 5.
2. Give each group a situation.
3. ss discuss and come to a consensus based on the situation given.
4. Presentation adn Q and A

The situation

The Earth is doomed. All life is going to perish in two days due to radiation.
A spaceship from another solar system lands and offers to rescue eight people, who could start a new world on an empty planet very much like earth. Imagine you are the selection committee and you have to decide who may be rescued.

Which eight would you choose from the list below?
• a policeman (45 male)
• a teacher (35 ,female)
• a university professor (60, male)
• an athlete (28, male)
• a popular singer(30, female)
• a novelist (45, male)
• a scientist (55, male)
• a historian (38, female)
• a politician (55,female)
• a dancer(30, female)
• an architect (42,male)
• a soldier(26, male)
• a doctor(32, female)
Happy teaching!


  1. Great idea.
    Will definitely put it into practice.

  2. I do teach speaking and listening but the administrator does not like it.Buang masa!Bagi pelajar jawab soalan berformat peperiksaan.That's why I sometimes contemplating to resign.No satisfaction in teaching.I was trained to teach English but others taught me how to teach otherwise.

  3. hi anonymous, i've heard of similar stories even from my own english teachers...well, i'm glad no one has told me what to do in my classes. That will be the death of me! I can practically plan my lessons and execute them as I please. I think as long you know what you're doing, then listening-speaking shouldn't be a problem. It's a pity if administrators interfere with your creativity in the class. But hey don't quit! We will lose a trained English teacher and you know there's never enough! Cheer up!

  4. Hi Rahmah!
    Great Job. I'm very proud of you. You are an asset to the language and to mankind. Keep up the kind act of sharing the knowledge. It is a divine act that should be followed by others. May God bless you.

    Noorjan, Paloh.

  5. hi noorjan,
    thanks for dropping by. hope you find my blog useful :)


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