<b>Forum for teachers teaching adult education </b>
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I would like to share an article I wrote with you all:
The Medium is the Message
Common Sense Approaches to Teaching ESP
By Miriam Lavi
Language teaching and language learning focus on four skills: Reading Comprehension, Aural Comprehension, Writing and Speaking. Most course books authors organize their materials so as to teach these skills in an integrated way.
This seems eminently reasonable, but is it?
Have you ever had a class wanting/needing to improve conversational skills on the post-intermediate level and chosen an integrated skills course book for them – only to find yourself getting bogged down in long texts for pre-discussion work? Have you ever had a class wanting/needing to improve writing skills on the pre-intermediate level and chosen an integrated skills course book for them – only to find yourself tied up with audio materials to present the topics? The reason for this is that the underlying assumption of the integrated skills approach to language learning: That all four of the learners' skills are equal to each other at the beginning of a course and they progress at the same pace during a course.
In English for Special Purposes, the medium should be the message. This approach can and must determine the amount of time and energy both the teacher and the student should devote to the major skill (maximum) and the three others (minimum). Think about this for a moment: In one's native language, an educated adult's skills in reading & aural comprehension are far more developed than his skills in reading and writing and his teachers may tell him: If you want to improve your writing, read a lot – or if you want to improve your speaking, listen a lot. This pre-supposes a level from which the student can progress by following selected 'models'. However, this reasoning must be taken a step further with ESP students: To improve your writing skills, have your students read (for vocabulary, usage) – but spend most of your/their time and energy on writing; listen (for pronunciation, expressions) – but spend most of your/their time and energy on speaking.
Submitted by the author of 'How to Become a Personal ESL Trainer'