Category Archives: *Integrated and Discrete Skills Courses

• Four-Part Series: Why, How And When to Teach ESL Integrated- and Discrete-Skills Courses. 

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(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)

This posting expands on the discussion in the most visited posting on Common Sense Teaching ESL:   Integrated vs Discrete Skills ESL Courses: Advantages of Discrete Skills

In that posting, I explained the many advantages there are for both students and teachers when Conversation, Reading, Writing and Listening are taught in separate classes.

However, it may not be possible to teach them separately due to the structure of the ESL program. And on top of that, there is a situation in which integrating the skills around one subject or topic in one course has several important advantages for students.

YouTube To explore this more, I put together a four-part YouTube video series.

In PART 1, I discuss the best way to teach students in a LOW- or INTERMEDIATE-LEVEL class in which all four skills need to be taught in one class due to the program’s design. Here is the link to the videoTeach All ESL Skills in a Class But NOT Integrating Around a Topic-PART 1 Integrated/Discrete Skills

In PARTS 2, 3 & 4, I focus on ADVANCED-LEVEL classes. At this level, especially in Academic ESL programs, an integrated-skills course that revolves around a topic or subject area can best mirror the types of mainstream (non-ESL) college classes which student will be taking.

About PARTS 2, 3 and 4. (Including a link to two academic, integrated-ESL skills units for advanced levels which you can download for free to use with your students.)

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• Best Subject for an ESL Integrated-Skills Class (Parts 3 and 4: Discussion and Writing aspects)

(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)

For an extended discussion of this topic with links to some YouTube YouTube videos and downloadable exercises, see Four Part Series: Why, How And When to Teach ESL Integrated- and Discrete-Skills Courses. 

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It may surprise some how closely discussions and writing assignments are intertwined in an academic integrated-skills course.  The writing assignments are often related to the readings in the course, and the students are required to summarize and paraphrase from the passages.  One of the best ways to helps students do this is if they’ve had a chance to talk about the ideas in the passages.  In other words, they “orally paraphrased” the readings before they are asked to paraphrase from them in writing tasks.

To illustrate how reading, discussion and writing can be integrated to help students develop each skill, we’ll follow up to the reading passage about why Asians often seem so shy in social situations compared to westerners from Part 1. Shyness in Cultural Differences Kehe

Best Subject for an ESL Integrated-Skills Class (Part 1 Overview) I’ll include some specific activities:

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• Best Subject for an ESL Integrated-Skills Class (Part 2 of 4: Reading aspect)

Cover Part 2 Reading Shot

(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)

For an extended discussion of this topic with links to some YouTube videos and downloadable exercises, see Four Part Series: Why, How And When to Teach ESL Integrated- and Discrete-Skills Courses. 

Why do Asians often seem so shy in social situations compared to westerners?

To illustrate how the subject of cultural differences is the best subject, I’ll include a reading passage about this followed by discussion and writing activities related to this.

This “shyness” topic is an effective one for demonstrating the important aspects of this “best” subject:

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• Best Subject for an ESL Integrated-Skills Class (Part 1 Overview)

Cover Part 1 overview shot

For an extended discussion of this topic with links to some YouTube videos and downloadable exercises, see Four Part Series: Why, How And When to Teach ESL Integrated- and Discrete-Skills Courses. 

This post may sound like I am contradicting a previous post of March 13th, “Integrated vs Discrete Skills ESL Courses: Advantages of Discrete Skills”   Despite my support for segregated skills in general, an integrated skills course with higher-level students who are more homogeneous in ability can be effective and practical.

For an integrated skills 1 course to be effective and engaging to the students, the subject should be something which is inherently appealing to the majority of the students.  After all, the students will be spending the course time reading, writing, and talking about the subject.

One subject which has been enthusiastically received by both students and instructors is culture, and more specifically, differences in cultures and the reason for these differences.

Some examples of these differences are:

-Why are people in western cultures more likely than people from eastern cultures to smile at a stranger standing at a bus stop than?

-Why do people in some cultures tend to be less direct in saying their opinions than in other cultures?

-In a study of 4-year-olds, why did the Asian children spontaneously share their candy with another child but the American children only reluctantly share when asked?

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