Quick Tip: Set the Task First!

It is common practice to use reading or listening texts to introduce new vocabulary or grammar.  This is a great way to introduce language because it not only helps integrate skills, but it also provides a (hopefully) natural context for the new language.  Context is so important because it is gives the new language meaning and helps convey its proper usage.

Something that I have seen teachers do (guilty as charged), however, is give the students a text and have them immediately examine the text for the new vocabulary or the grammar.  This is not the end of the world, but it can be helpful to fully integrate reading and listening strategies and skills by warming them up to the text content prior to the language analysis stage. Therefore, something you can do is set a reading or listening comprehension task first.  The students then have a purpose for reading/ listening and most importantly are focused on the meaning of the text first.  This is important for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, students want to make meaning of something they need to read or listen to.  So even though the teacher might have the learners answering questions focusing on new target language, the students will naturally want to focus on what the text means, anyway.  Secondly, by having the students answer a comprehension question (or questions), the teacher can assess (and ensure, through checking the answer) that the students have understood the text.  This is essential, because the text is the context – and the context gives the vocabulary or grammar meaning.  If the students haven’t understood the context, then they can’t fully understand the meaning and usage of the new vocabulary or grammar.

So, keep this quick tip in mind! Once you are sure that your students have understood the meaning of the text, then they can start to analyze it to discover new words and grammar structures.

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