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ING303 Teaching Language Skills. Lecture 3: The text. Things to cover in this chapter. What is a text ?: A definition of what we mean by text in ELT Teaching the text : What we want learners to get from text study Comprehension of content : Procedures that help comprehension

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Ing303 teaching language skills


Asst. Prof. Dr. Emrah Görgülü

Lecture 3: Thetext

Things to cover in this chapter
Thingstocover in thischapter

  • What is a text?: A definition of whatwemeanbytext in ELT

  • Teachingthetext: Whatwewantlearnerstogetfromtextstudy

  • Comprehension of content: Proceduresthathelpcomprehension

  • Languagelearning: Ways of selectingandteachinggrammaticalandvocabularyitemsfrom a text

  • Discourseanalysis: Aspects of discourse: genres, stylesandstructure

What is a text
What is a text?

  • A text in thecontext of EnglishLanguageTeaching is a piece of writingorspeechthat is usedforlanguagelearning.

  • A text can be studied as a completeandautonomousunit: thereaderorlistener can understand it withoutknowingthecontext.

  • A text is coherent in the sense that it has a beginning, a middleand an endwhichmake a clearsequence of thoughtsorevents.

  • Thus a text is differentfrom a list of wordsto be learnedorsentencesthatgiveexamples.

What is a text1
What is a text?

  • A coursebooktextrangesfrom a paragrapghto a pageormore in length.

  • Thetext is normallyusedforintensivelanguagelearning in variousways: forcomprehensionwork, forlearninglanguageitemsthatappear in it, foranalysis of content.

  • Wemake a distinctionbetweenintensiveandextensivetextstudy. Intensivemeansthatthetext is not onlyunderstood, but alsostudied in detail. It is alsoused as a springboardforfurtherlanguagestudy.

  • Extensivemeansthatthetext is readorheardforpleasureand/orinformation. The main aim is toprovidereadingandlisteningfluencyandlanguagelearning is incidental.

    Q: Whichone do wefocus on?

Teaching the text

  • Thereare a number of reasonsstudentsread a text in class:

    • Studentsread a giventexttounderstanditscontent (i.e. Whatthe text is about)

    • Students then answer thequestionsaboutthetextto check comprehension

    • Studentslearnnewwords, phrases and grammatical structures, andusethem in andoutsidetheclassroom.

Teaching the text the goals
Teachingthetext: thegoals

  • The main goals of teachingthetextarecomprehension of content, languagelearninganddiscourseanalysis.

  • Comprehension of content

  • General gist: Theteacherneedstomake sure thatstudentsunderstandthe general content of thetext.

  • Detailedunderstanding: Thenextstage is moredetailedcomprehension of thedifferentparts of thetext. Thismeanssentence-bysentencestudy, providingexplanations of newwords.

  • Reading betweenthelines: Youcould ask studentstoinfermeaningsthatare not statedexplicitly. In a literarytext, thespeech of differentcharactersshowstheirpersonalityandmotives.

Teaching the text the goals cont d
Teachingthetext: thegoals (cont’d)

  • Critical analysis: Thetextmay be studiedcritically: studentsareinvitedtojudge how truthful, consistentorlogicalthetext is.

  • Language learning

  • Vocabulary: Onebenefit of intensivestudy of a text is vocabularyexpansionorreview. Allthewordsneedto be understoodbySs. Do vocabulary-focusedactivitiesandhelpthemlearnnewwords!

  • Grammar: Anotherbenefit is thelearning of wordorsentencegrammar. Sshave an opportunitytolearndifferentgramamticalfeatures. It is usefulto pay attentiontoonesthatareharder.

Teaching the text the goals cont d1
Teachingthetext: thegoals (cont’d)

  • Discourseanalysis: Itis thediscussion of thetext as a whole, ratherthanparticularlinguisticfeaturessuch as grammarandvocabulary. It can onlytakeplaceafterstudentshaveunderstoodthecontent.

  • Follow-uptasks: Afteryouhavefinishedcomprehension, youmayfindthatmanytextsproviderichstimuliforfurtherlanguage-learningtaskswhichinvolvestudentproduction (speechorwriting).

    (do actiontask on page 30)

Comprehension of content
Comprehension of content

  • Thepriority in dealingwith a text is togetstudentstounderstand it: firstthegist, then in moredetail.

  • Preparation:Preparatorywork can be extremelyhelpfulforcomprehension. It can includediscussingthetopic, pre-teachingvocabularyandaskingpreliminaryquestions.

  • Presentingthetopic: Previousknowledge of thetopic is probablythefactorwhichmosthelpstextcomprehension. It is a good idea togivestudentsinformationaboutthecontent of thetext in advance.

  • Pre-teachingvocabulary: A lot of booksandteachers do thisbut teachingtoomanywords in advanceoverloadsstudents’ short-termmemory. They do not rememberthemeanings in thetext.

Comprehension of content cont d
Comprehension of content (cont’d)

  • Raisingexpectationsandcuriosity: It is importanttomotivatestudentstoreadthetext. A usefulstrategy is toarousetheircuriositybygivingthemquestionstodiscuss, towhichthetextwillprovidetheanswers.

  • Alternatively, letthemglance at thetitle, headingsandanyillustrations, andmakeguessesor ask questionsaboutthecontent of thetext. (do thetask on p. 31)

  • Reading forunderstanding: Therearethreeways a newtext is actuallyread in class: (i) theteacherreadsaloudwhilestudentsreadalong; (ii) studentsread it silently; (iii) studentsreadsectionsaloud, in turn. (do thetask on p. 32)

Comprehension of content cont d1
Comprehension of content (cont’d)


  • Comprehensionquesions: Themostcommontype of text is comprehensionquestionsfollowingthereading. But be careful! (do thefirsttask on page 33)

  • Doingcomprehensiontasksdoes not necessarilymeanyourstudentshaveunderstoodthetext/passage.

    • Thereason is thequestions ‘echo’ thetext, andyou can answerthemwithoutthinking. Somequestions do not requirecomprehension!

    • Whatto do then? Ifthequestionsarewordeddifferentlyfromthetextitself, orrequireinterpretation, thentheyarelikelyto be moreeffective

      (do thesecondtask on page 33)

Comprehension of content cont d2
Comprehension of content (cont’d)

  • Othercomprehensiontasks:

    • Inpairsorsmallgroups, studentscomposetheirowncomprehensionquestions, thenexchangeanswer.

    • Theclassdiscussesthequestionsorissuesthatwerebroughtupbeforereading (raisingexpectationsandcuriosity).

    • Studentssummarizethecontentorallyor in writing.

    • Studentssuggestalternativetitlesandjustifythem.

    • Studentswrite a continuationtothetext.

    • Students re-presentthecontent: as a picture, a list of pointor a table.

    • Studenttranslatesomeor al of thetextto L1.

Comprehension of content cont d3
Comprehension of content (cont’d)


  • Whendoingpreparatorywork, tellstudentstoclosetheirbooks, and not tolook at thetextitself. Otherwisetheymight be distracted.

  • Feelfreetopausebrieflyto slip in quicktranslationor of difficultbitsifyouarereadingaloud a text at firstencounter.

  • Provideglossesforunknownwords in thetextmorethanonce.

  • Ask studentsto do comprehensionquestions on theirownor in pairsbeforegoingthroughthemwiththewholeclass.

  • Adoptthe ‘sandwich’ principlefortextcomprehension.

Language learning

  • Thetextcontains a lot of languageitemsthatwewantourstudentstolearn in orderto be abletousethemlater in theirowncommunic.

  • Afterwehaveensuredcomprehension, thenextstage is tospendsome time focussing on lexicalandotheritems.

  • Selection of vocabulary: It is importanttofocus on themostusefulandcommonvocabularyespeciallywhenyouaretachingbeginnersorintermediateclasses.

  • Grammar, spellingandpunctuation: Youshouldprioritizefeatures tat aremoreimportantandfrequent. Theitemsyoufocus on should be onesyouhaverecentlytaught.

Language learning cont d
Languagelearning (cont’d)

  • Teachingselecteditems: Onceyouhaveselectedwhichitemsfromthetextyouwillteach, youneedtothinkabouthowto do it.

  • Q: Whether it is bettertolearnlanguageimplicitlyorexplicitly.

    • Implicitlanguagelearning: absorbing it intuitively, throughreadingorhearing in a communicativecontext.

    • Explicitlanguagelearning: receivingexplanationsaboutthenewlanguageanddeliberatelypractising it.

  • A: Youprobablyneedboth.

  • Whenreading a text, studentsseethelanguagefirstwithin a meaningfulcontextandneedtounderstand it in ordertocomprehendthetext. Thenfocus on specificlanguagepoints!

Practical tips

  • Use online sitestocheckvocab. frequency: Whichwordsaremorefrequentandthereforewrothteacing

    • Youtypeorcopy-pasteyourtextinto a windowandclick on ‘submit’ andreceiveinformationaboutthefrequency of differentwords.

  • Ask studentstounderlinewordstheyknowratherthanonesthey do not: It is moreencouragingand morale-boosting.

  • Notewhatyouhavetaught: Make sure younotedownforyourselfwhichlanguageitemsyouhavetaughtfrom a textsoyou can comebackandreviewlater.

  • Includewholeexpressions, not justsinglewords: in thevocabularyitemsyouselecttoteachmorethoroughly.

Follow up tasks

  • Onceyourclass has finishedstudying a text, thenyou can do follow-uptasks. Theseusetext as a triggerforfurtherlanguagework.

  • Shortenthetext: Delete as manywordsandsentences in thetext as you can, but theresult has to be a grammaticalandcoherenttext!

  • Extendthetext: Addadjectivesandadverbswhereveryou can.

    • Add at leastthreeextrasentenceswithineachparagraph, withoutdestoyingitscoherence.

  • Changethetext: Insertsynonyms of words in thetextwhereveryou can. Changethe tense throughout. Changeactivetopassive.

  • Createyourowntext: Writeyourowntextbased on thestructure of thetextyouhavejuststudied, but on a topic of yourownchoosing.