• Maria Zaheer

How to Integrate Skills and Engage Students in Communication.

Updated: Oct 3


As teachers, we always seek what brings both vibrancies to our classrooms and benefits to our students. A new twist or a revised technique could add freshness and facilitate learning in our classes. That is why we are in constant search of innovative techniques to apply or how an outdated technique could be revisited. In this blog (Part II), I would like to share with you some of the learning materials that proved to be somehow successful in my advanced communication classes. However, I will begin with the approach I adopt in my communication classes (Part I).


Teaching Philosophy Each one of us believes in teaching philosophy and of course, I do. My teaching philosophy is based on the following pillars which are in fact intertwined


1. The integrated skills and senses approach

2. The Why?

3. The Four Stages of Learning


The Integrated Skills and Senses Approach


We always say those good writers are good readers. By the same token, good speakers should be good listeners. Listening and speaking could be considered the hardest skills to acquire for foreign language (FL) learners as listening and speaking are moment-by-moment processes where listeners need to listen efficiently and reply at the same time. Therefore, they should be taught in an integrated fashion where the same activity requires both skills to co-occur to prepare our students to be highly skilled L2 communicators. In my communication classes, there is also some reading such as reading speech outlines, and some writing such as taking notes and summarizing to scaffold listening and speaking activities. Hence, in these classes, students listen, watch, move, present, and have hands-on experience, which gives room to all learning styles to thrive. The Integrated skills and senses approach also involves integrating the twelve 21st-century skills that students need to efficiently operate after they leave the classroom. These skills are grouped into three major categories: (1) Learning skills that involve the four C’s, literacy skills that focus on students’ understanding of facts and their effective use of technology information outlets, and (3) life skills that are about the soft skills that students need in their everyday life (Stauffer, 2022).


The Power of Why


However, it is not enough to just integrate skills and prepare useful materials accordingly. It is better to explain to students the rationale behind such choices, such as integration. Both business and sports coaching stresses that understanding the why is the key to success. Clearly communicating the reasons to students helps them understand the learning challenges and what they need to excel.

The Four Stages of Learning (Rezaee & Farahian, 2015). This paves the way to the third pillar which is the stages of learning which are (1) ‘unconscious incompetence, (2) ‘conscious incompetence, (3) ‘conscious competence, (4) ‘unconscious competence’ If we think of learning as behavior modification and acquisition of skills, we should help our students automate what they learn as follows: (1) we should reveal the information/skill they lack by putting them in challenging situations to (2) admit they lack that knowledge, (3) and empower them with the techniques of learning and/or help them acquire the information through research, trial and error. Ultimately, the fourth step will occur (Mekni Toujani, 2021)


These three pillars represent my rationale for the suggested activities that will be shared in the second part of this blog.


References

Mekni Toujani, M. (2021). Learning from Consciousness to the Unconsciousness. Learning from Consciousness to the Unconsciousness – PsycheLanguageGeek (wordpress.com)


Rezaee, M. &Farahian, M. (2015) . Subconscious Vs. Unconscious Learning: A Short Review of the Terms. American Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences. Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 98-100.


Stauffer (2022). What Are 21st Century Skills?. Applied Educational Systems, Inc. What Are 21st Century Skills? (aeseducation.com)

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