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Has anyone tried the Skills in English series?

 
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Maram



Joined: 10 Sep 2006
Posts: 1
Location: Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:27 pm    Post subject: Has anyone tried the Skills in English series? Reply with quote

I teach for a university preparatory year program and my school is trying out the Garnet publishing series called Skills in English. The problem is that I've noticed our students respond better to communicative language teaching and these books are really task based. I'm obligated to cover every exercise in the book but I'd like to add activities/handouts to spice it up a little. Any suggestions?
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harmony



Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 34
Location: Oman

PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Maram:

It seems like Terri Phillips is getting around in the Middle East!

Our program is also recently adapting the Skills in English books and many teachers are struggling with them. In our case it consists of the issue you just mentioned as well as the fact that we are stretching the books over a longer time period and some people are finished with all three themes and we are only supposed to be starting theme 2!

For my own part, I like the books because they provide useful skills and the way they are being stretched allows for more time to focus and bring in other relevant activities. I have many of these of my own that I have developed over the years and am happy to have a chance to use them.

In terms of communicative conversation, I have been doing a great deal of group work with the students that allows a lot of free conversation for fluency, and having them create dialogues that they memorize and perform for accuracy. I also have them coming up in front of the class to share personal stories or experiences -sometimes related to the theme, but sometimes not- that they have had time to prepare and think about before coming forward (this was actually the idea of one of the students).

The free conversations are a challenge because they are using book two and have limited skills. What I do is give them some questions related to the theme and go over some basic language they will need to discuss their answers. Today, for example, we began theme 2 and the book starts with saying "sorry". I had them all think of a time that they had to say sorry, think about what happened, what they did, how they think the other person felt, how they felt, and what the outcome was. Next I went over some possible language they might use to say these things by getting students to offer up ideas and go over them on the board. I then gave them some time to make some notes about their own stories before gathering into groups. Then, in small groups 3-5, they took turns sharing their stories. I have been working with them for two weeks now and they are new to university and so effort has been expended to help them to function with some productivity in small groups. Although they often slip into Arabic, they are on task for the most part and ask me lots of questions on how to say what they are trying to say in English. There is plenty of English use too and they are getting better at using the English they have and learning to make sure thet they are understanding each other -especially the girls need to speak up because the boys are so much louder! This activity went very well. Sometimes I write down their errors and then go over them with the class. Whenever I enter a group, furthermore, I get them to share their stories with me and ask their other group members about another person's stories. This worked quite nicely today.

Another thing I do to add communicativeness is even when they are doing skills type exercises I have them in groups and stress using English to help each other and then go about from group to group and chat with them in English about what they are doing or about anything at all. They are gradually getting used to speaking to me in English as well as each other.

My students, I ought to say, are quite charming and relatively motivated, which I know is not necessarily the case in the Gulf, and so I am sure this makes things much easier. I am teaching in Oman.

I hope this may be helpful and wish you luck. Very Happy
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