Friday, November 23, 2012

Richard-Amato, Ch 5: Developing Skills: Implicit and Explicit Teaching

Richard-Amato, Ch 5: Developing Skills: Implicit and Explicit Teaching Strategies, p. 114- 150

      This chapter highlights some important strategies for teaching listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The three basic processes going on during listening are: decoding, comprehension, and interpretation. Decoding is what allows listeners to "process and recognize parts of words, whole words, phrases and partial meanings" (121). In order for a new learner to be able to decode well the input should be slowed down. I have found this to be especially important when talking with new English speakers. I meet on a weekly basis with an Architecture professor from Spain. He is always asking me to slow down my speech.
       The other two, comprehension and interpretation, require a synthesis of what is being said and cultural knowledge. Richard-Amato recommends teaching prelistening, during listening, and postlistening strategies. Some prelistening strategies are to have students use graphic organizers or take notes. An important aspect of listening is to let the speaker know when they do not understand the meaning of key vocabulary. An effective postlistening strategy is to have students meet in small groups to discuss the key points of what they heard.
      The most important aspects of speaking practice are allowing many opportunities for unstructured interaction. One pronunciation strategy is to have students learn to contrast sounds in the target language with sounds in their native language (128).
    Some common strategies for teaching reading are to encourage students to make predictions, to connect the text to prior knowledge, to ask students to make inferences about the text, and to connect the text to the student's life (138).
    In terms of writing, it is best to point out only a few errors in students' writing at a time. Another important aspect of writing is providing mentor texts, or "models of quality written work" (145).

        I hope to use many of these strategies in my classroom. One aspect I found interesting was the section on vocabulary development. In order for vocabulary to be learned the learner needs to know the word's form, meaning, and how it is used. Learners also need to be exposed to a vocabulary word multiple times and over a period of time before they can use it (133). One way the author encourages vocabulary development is through students' creation of word banks. I tried creating my own personal dictionary in Spanish when I was learning the language, but it only helped me marginally. I had to be exposed to the words before I really understood them.

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