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  • Writer's pictureDiana Nazaryan

Lesson Types: Skill-Based Lessons

The ICELT methodology defines two main types of lessons:

  • Skill-based lessons (SB)

  • Language-based lesson (LB)

The language based lessons focus either on grammar or vocabulary. The skill-based lessons focus on the four language skills: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. This four language skills can, in turn, be divided into two groups: receptive skills (reading and listening) and productive skills (speaking and writing).

Each of the lesson types has its own structure. We will start with receptive skill-based lessons. The steps of a SB lesson are the following:

  • Lead-in

  • PTV

  • Task 1

  • Task 2

  • Follow-up

The Lead-in introduces the context and activates the schemata: vocabulary and information related to the given topic. It can be a topic-related question/image/video/quote called to sparkle a discussion. This stage should take anywhere between 2 to 7 minutes. PTV (pre-teaching vocabulary) introduces the words and expressions which are crucial for the understanding of the text your students are going to work with and to complete related exercises. In the traditional approach, the number of words and expressions used for PTV is limited to seven. I, on the other hand, make use of Quizlet and introduce as many new words as I find necessary. This stage may take 10 to 15 minutes, sometimes more, depending on the size of the set.

Tasks 1-2 (sometimes there might be a 3rd one as well) focus on various sub-skills. Task 1 is usually skimming (reading for gist or for the main idea). This task should be performed alone and should take no more than 4 minutes. My students normally complete it within 2. If the reading text is accompanied by a recording, do not play it as this will interfere with skill development. Task 2 normally focuses either on scanning or reading for details. If it is the former, do not use the recording. If it is the latter, do. Ask the students to work in groups or pairs and give about 7 minutes to complete it. Follow-up The follow-up activity is aimed at helping your students reflect on and use the information received from the text. Most of the time, it is a speaking activity, although writing can also be an option. The follow-up activity usually calls for a discussion during which the students should express their opinion on the topic, share their experience or adapt the situation to their own environment. Example follow-up questions are 'What is your opinion on this matter?', 'Do you agree with the author? Why/Why not?', 'Imagine yourself in this situation. What would you do?', 'Do you normally find yourself in such situations?', 'Do people do this in your country?' or 'Which part of the text did you find particularly interesting or surprising?' The task is normally done in groups or pairs and takes 5 to 10 minutes. If the students have nothing to say on the topic, allow them to make their answers up or Google information. You may also provide the information yourself or, as the last resort, change the questions. I also use this section to prepare my students for IELTS speaking test. We all take a minute to prepare and take notes, then cover the questions in two minutes. This might be boring for those students that do not speak, so check my tips on classroom management to see how you can keep everyone busy.

Listening lesson follows the same core structure. The lead-in can be a picture or a question to sparkle a discussion. You have to prepare the PTV. Most of the books have the transcript of the listening either at the end of the Student’s Book or in the Teacher's Book. Again, remember to include the words from the exercises. There will normally be two or more listening tasks: listening for gist and either listening for specific information or listening in detail. And, finally, a follow-up task will be present. NB Most of the textbooks we use provide questions for the lead-in, task 1, task 2 and often for the follow-up stages. You have to prepare the PTV yourself and so should you act with the lead-in and follow-up questions if the book fails to do so. P.S. With the Young Learners, we mostly follow the same structure: we discuss the pictures and make predictions, we do PTVs, reading tasks and a follow-up discussion. However, at a certain level and age, the students will need to develop their basic literacy skills. For this reason, in addition to the traditional stages, I play the accompanying recording asking the students to read and listen. This is done to make sure they know how to pronounce the words. Afterwards, I assign them a paragraph and challenge them to read it aloud without mistakes. They may also be asked to learn their section by heart.

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