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Tips for Designing Opportunities for Skill Development

Here are two more important tips for designing activities that can help students develop reading and writing.


  1. Students must be taught learning strategies. This idea is mentioned in other chapters, but here it pertains specifically to skill learning. Strategies such as discerning patterns, using context clues, word analysis, guessing, and deducing are effective at helping learners reach reading and writing goals (Anderson, 2002; Cohen, 2014; Oxford, 1994; Phillabaum, 2007; for guidelines and sample lessons, see Harvey & Goudvis, 2007). The use of concordancers (Flowerdew, 2015) or software that reads through texts and lists incidences of chosen words in their context, not only helps English language learners to better understand how to use grammar but can also help them to practice formulating rules from examples (deduction). Figure 2.1 presents an example of concordance data from Corpus Concordance English (version 8) (https://www.lextutor.ca/conc/eng/).

2. Students should be exposed to extensive reading and writing. The age-old adage that students learn to read by reading still holds; students can improve their skills through contextualized practice. The Internet can help with this task, for example, by exposing learners to other learners at their levels with whom they can exchange messages and discuss readings, and multimedia/multimodal stories provide both audio and video exposure to text. Teachers can adapt computer-based materials and texts by adding external documents (Egbert, 2001) that help students notice conventions or by following suggestions to adapt such activities as WebQuests (see, e.g., Schwarz, & Leibold, 2015). Online fanfiction communities, mentioned above, can also provide students with various practices (e.g., fansubbing, that is, amateur subtitling of movies) which could support reading and writing development (Sauro, 2017).

Figure 2.1. Example of concordance data from Corpus Concordance English (version 8)


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Tips for Designing Opportunities for Skill Development by Joy Egbert and Seyed Abdollah Shahrokni is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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