BRAZ-TESOL: a talk on listening/reading skills

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“Activating the receptive skills: beliefs and practices versus current research” (Isabella Villas Boas and Marta Diniz de Rezende) Isabella and Marta gave us 12 statements about reading and listening skills for us to mark true or false. Things like “reading aloud in class enhances student’s understanding and pronunciation”, “the communicative approach emphasizes bottom up processing at the expense of top down processing, “Reading and listening are passive skills which involve top-down and bottom-up processing” and “Before students read a text, it is a good idea to pre-teach them all the most difficult words”. This was the same questionnaire that they asked their trainee teachers to complete before and after doing a mini-course on teaching receptive skills. In this talk, the speakers showed the difference between the teachers’ responses before the course and after, and it was fascinating to see which beliefs were most radically changed during the course. The most significant insights which the teachers appear to have taken on board are that, 1. Receptive skills are not passive, 2. Texts have a certain structure and integrity as a whole, so that it is not a good idea to break them down into small parts to be shared around the class and then jigsawed; 3. Too much pre-teaching is spoonfeeding and creates dependency; 4. Listening and reading are skills worth developing in their own right, and texts should not merely be used as starting points for grammar and vocab work. The talk was cleverly dual levelled: on the surface it was a report on the development of the teachers on their mini-course, but on a deeper level, it was an indirect way of challenging our (the participants) beliefs about receptive skills.


Thank you for summarizing our talk so nicely, Mark! Your website is great and I'll be sure to follow it. Nowadays my greatest source of professional development has been blogging and reading other professionals' blogs. Thank you for your interest in our session. Best wishes, Isabela

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