Sara Davila is a Learning and Language Acquisition Expert. She has experience in a variety of educational fields; as a teacher, researcher, teacher trainer and materials writer. In this series of articles, Sara will be detailing her top ten uses of the Global Scale of English Teacher Toolkit.
In number 4 in the countdown, Sara takes us through how the toolkit can help you when teaching integrated skills.
What do we mean by teaching integrated skills? Well, it’s when a single lesson develops multiple language skills, and it’s both practical and important for developing students’ language abilities. Teachers tend to integrate multiple skills into lessons as a rule. For example, can you imagine trying to teach a reading lesson without discussing the topic? How would you encourage your students to engage with a writing task without a think-aloud brainstorming session? And speaking activities would be very challenging for students if they couldn’t refer to notes.
This type of integrated skills teaching is crucial for helping learners successfully transfer their language skills outside the classroom.
And, while it is almost impossible to teach English without some integration of skills, planning skill integration thoughtfully allows for robust language development. When you have a clear idea of how the skills work together, it’s easier to plan an integrated skills lesson.
Identifying communication skills with the GSE Teacher Toolkit
The GSE Teacher Toolkit makes integrating skills easy. You can search for multiple skills related to specific communication areas at the most appropriate level. This will develop progress for your learners.
To begin, take a look at your upcoming curriculum plan, review your coursebook, or check with your teaching planner. This helps you get a good idea of what communication skills you want to develop, which is the first step to planning skill integration. Here are some examples of communication skills:
|answer (a question)||negotiate|
|ask (a question)||give advice|
|ask for (something)||identify|
|compare/make a comparison||summarize|
Imagine that you’re planning a class for young learners, and you want to work on the communication skill of “describe”. Input this information into the GSE Teacher Toolkit filter:
Here are your results. As you can see, the two language skills associated with this communication skill are Speaking and Writing – so those are the skills you want to integrate in your lesson. A quick scan down the list will help you to find objectives at just the right level that can be easily integrated into a lesson to develop both productive skills effectively.
Planning an integrated skills lesson
Using the search filters, you can quickly see a speaking and writing skill both related to describing – specifically describing animals – at a very close GSE Range.
From there, planning an integrated lesson is simple, especially if you use backwards design. That is, start with your objective and plan backwards. Here’s an example.
Objective: Students will be able to describe an animal’s appearance in a basic way using the target language (from the book) to complete an information gap.
An information gap is the perfect integrated skill activity for speaking and writing, which also utilizes reading and listening skills. From here, it’s simply a matter of planning the steps of your class to get to the information gap at the end. Again, using backwards design makes this very easy to do.
Download the lesson plan template
After just a few minutes of thinking and planning, you have a quick and easy integrated skills lesson plan that combines speaking and writing in a meaningful way for your young learners, while being challenging enough to help them make progress in learning. That’s why using the GSE Teacher Toolkit to plan integrated lessons is number four in the top ten countdown!
Try it yourself with the GSE Teacher Toolkit, and download a copy of this simple lesson plan template to help you with objective-based planning and backwards design. Now you’ve got everything you need to build great, integrated skills lessons for your students.Download template now!
The other blogs in the GSE Teacher Toolkit countdown have lots of practical advice on using the toolkit to teach grammar and vocabulary. You can read about targeting the right learning zone, and getting inspiration for your lesson plans. And there are also blogs on using the toolkit to address curriculum standards, and helping your learners set SMART goals.
How do you use the GSE Teacher Toolkit? Let us know in the comments!