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English teaching needs to focus on interaction

Update: September, 01/2014 - 08:19
The 5th annual International Conference on Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, which ended on Friday in HCM City, attracted nearly 300 domestic and foreign reseachers, lecturers, and scholars. — VNS Photo
HCM CITY (VNS) — Skills for communication and critical thinking should be the focus of English teaching and learning, a Vinh University lecturer said at the 5th annual International Conference on Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, which ended on Friday in HCM City.

"It's very important that English teachers help learners communicate," Hoang Tang Duc said.

One of many activities that can be used is an information gap activity, in which different learners are given different information. They then must speak with other students to complete a task related to their information.

Such activities were often designed to be done in pairs or groups, he said, adding that interactions in the target language created a more authentic and meaningful experience for students.

On the other hand, Duc said that in many classes for young learners, the teacher often asked "display" questions whose answers the children already know.

Children were often asked to do repetition drills, word-cue drills and picture-cue drills in chorus and individually.

In some ways, such activities were an important tool to help children "get their tongue round" a new word or new structure, but they had little value for authentic communication.

To help genuine communication occur in English classrooms for young learners, teachers should shift from controlled practice to communicative practice where information gap activities are introduced and referential questions are asked, he said.

The two-day conference was organised by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation's Regional Training Centre in Viet Nam in co-operation with Australia's Curtin University. — VNS

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