The Supplement to the English Language Education Key Learning Area Curriculum Guide (Secondary 1 — 3) (2018) (this Supplement) is prepared by the Curriculum Development Council (CDC) Committee on English Language Education. It is a supplement to the English Language Education Key Learning Area Curriculum Guide (Primary 1 — Secondary 6) (2017) (the ELE KLA Curriculum Guide 2017) (http://www.edb.gov.hk/elecg) aiming at providing teachers with further suggestions on the implementation of the English Language curriculum at Key Stage 3 (Secondary 1 — 3). When planning the junior secondary English Language curriculum, schools should make reference to the ELE KLA Curriculum Guide 2017 for an overall picture of the curriculum framework and curriculum planning, the guiding principles of and approaches to learning, teaching and assessment practices, and the use and management of learning and teaching resources.
In preparing this Supplement, the CDC Committee on English Language Education has taken into consideration the concerns, needs and suggestions of various key stakeholders including schools, principals and teachers. Views on the major updates gathered from the series of school briefing cum feedback collection sessions, the territory-wide school survey conducted in 2015, school visits and focus group interviews with teachers conducted between 2016 and 2018 are also incorporated.
This Supplement revisits curriculum emphases provided in the Syllabus for English Language (Secondary 1 — 5) (1999) for renewal and puts forth new emphases to reflect the changing contexts. It provides details about promoting Language across the Curriculum at the secondary level, the learning and teaching of language arts and the four language skills, namely listening, speaking, reading and writing in regard to the major updates of the English Language Education curriculum, with particular emphasis placed on the use of e- resources to promote effective learning and teaching. The four language skills are interrelated and interdependent, and real-life communication usually involves the use of more than one language skill. Hence, opportunities should be provided for students to learn and exercise the integrated use of the language skills for authentic and purposeful communication through the use of tasks. However, for the sake of clarity and simplicity, the four language skills are presented separately in this Supplement. Teachers can refer to the Examples (http://www.edb.gov.hk/eleklacgexamples) developed to support the ELE
Schools are strongly advised to read this Supplement in conjunction with the ELE KLA Curriculum Guide 2017 and encouraged to adopt the recommendations in this Supplement to promote effective learning, teaching and assessment at the junior secondary level taking into account the school contexts, teachers’ readiness and learning needs of their students.
Views and suggestions on this Supplement may be sent to:
Chief Curriculum Development Officer (English) Curriculum Development Institute
Rm 1206, 12/F, Wu Chung House 213 Queen’s Road East
Wan Chai, Hong Kong Fax: 2834 7810
Chapter 1 The Learning and Teaching of Listening 3
1.1 Importance of Listening 3
1.2 Effective Listening Skills 3
1.3 Role of the Teacher 4
1.4 Choice of Listening Materials 5
1.5 Activities to Develop Listening Skills 6
1.6 Task-based Listening Activities 10
Chapter 2 The Learning and Teaching of Speaking 15
2.1 Importance of Speaking 15
2.2 Effective Speaking Skills 16
2.3 Role of the Teacher 17
2.4 Choice of Speaking Activities 20
2.5 Task-based Speaking Activities 22
2.6 Conducting Speaking Activities 24
Chapter 3 The Learning and Teaching of Reading 29
3.1 Importance of Reading 29
3.2 Effective Reading Skills 30
3.3 Role of the Teacher 31
3.4 Choice of Reading Materials 33
3.5 Task-based Reading Activities 34
3.6 Conducting a Reading Task 34
3.7 Intensive and Extensive Reading 45
3.8 Reading across the Curriculum 46
4.1 Importance of Writing 49
4.2 Effective Writing Skills 50
4.3 Role of the Teacher 51
4.4 Choice of Instructional Materials 52
4.5 Activities for Developing Students’ Writing Skills 52
4.6 Evaluating Student Writing 62
4.7 Time Constraints 63
4.8 Use of Group Activities 64
4.9 Writing across the Curriculum 65
Chapter 5 The Learning and Teaching of Language Arts 69 5.1 The Place of Language Arts in the English Language
69 5.2 Reasons for Using Language Arts Materials in the English
5.3 Choice of Language Arts Materials 71
5.4 Planning and Designing Activities Using Language Arts Materials
73 5.5 Suggested Activities for Using Language Arts Materials 75 Chapter 6 Promoting Language across the Curriculum at Secondary Level 79
6.1 Challenges for Secondary School Students in Learning English and Learning through English
6.2 Language across the Curriculum (LaC) 80
6.2.1 Strategies to Promote LaC 80
6.2.2 Rhetorical Functions, Text Structures and Language Items Typical of Academic Texts
6.3 The Implementation of LaC 85
6.4 Teachers’ Role in Implementing LaC 86
Membership of the Curriculum Development Council Committee on English Language Education
Chapter 1 The Learning and Teaching of Listening
1.1 Importance of Listening
Effective listening skills are essential for successful interpersonal communication, whether in work or study situations or socialising with English-speaking people. Good listening skills are also required for leisure and entertainment (e.g. listening to radio programmes in English, watching videos, TV and films in English). At the secondary level, students need adequate listening ability for academic and intellectual purposes not only in English lessons, but also in lessons of non-language subjects where English is the medium of instruction.
In the process of listening, one has to activate various types of knowledge, for example, knowledge of a topic or the culture, in order to construct one’s own interpretation of what has been said. It also requires the activation of contextual information, which includes the physical setting, the number of listeners/speakers, their roles, and their relationship to each other. In other words, the listener interprets what has been said, constructs meaning, and responds on the basis of that interpretation. Strategic listeners also use metacognitive strategies to identify the listening goals, plan for the listening skills to use, monitor their comprehension and evaluate the effectiveness of the skills used.
1.2 Effective Listening Skills
At the primary level, students have developed basic skills for effective listening. For details, please refer to Appendix 5 of the English Language Education Key Learning Area Curriculum Guide (Primary 1 – Secondary 6) (2017) (http://www.edb.gov.hk/elecg). At the junior secondary level, the listening skills to be developed include skills for listening for intended meanings, feelings and attitudes. In order to do so, students need to learn to:
identify key ideas in a passage, discussion or conversation;
extract information and ideas in spoken texts;
identify the sequence of events, causes and effects;
understand levels of formality and informality;
discriminate between different intonation for various feelings and attitudes; and
make connections between ideas and information with the help of discourse markers.
Teachers can make reference to the Learning Progression Framework (LPF) for English Language (Listening Skills) (http://www.edb.gov.hk/lpfel_listening) when planning and developing listening tasks for the learning-teaching-assessment cycle. The LPF serves as a useful tool for providing clear descriptions of students’ performance and progress along the developmental continuum of learning English from Primary 1 to Secondary 6, and enables teachers to plan holistically in developing students’ listening skills progressively.
1.3 Role of the Teacher
To enhance students’ listening abilities, teachers need to:
select a wide range of spoken texts of appropriate lengths and topics which incorporate a variety of language features (e.g. formal or informal, spoken slowly or quickly), integrating multimedia resources where necessary. They can include authentic texts (e.g. radio programmes, audio books, videos), which can be gradually introduced to familiarise students with the characteristics of spoken English (e.g. overlapping turns, hesitations, redundancy);
build students’ confidence by providing learning experiences and activities in which students can gain a sense of achievement;
encourage students to make use of information technology to gain quick and easy access to a variety of listening materials to maximise their listening input;
help students develop good listening habits, which include:
activating prior knowledge of a topic and the culture or the context of the spoken discourse;
anticipating the possible development of the spoken discourse;
listening to important words instead of every word that is spoken;
being selective while listening (e.g. discriminating between relevant information and irrelevant information, between main ideas and supporting
paying attention to the intonation to understand a person’s feelings and attitudes; and
identifying the implied meaning of a message, which is very often the speaker’s real intent, instead of interpreting the surface meaning.
explain to students what listening entails and how they might approach it. Teachers can make listening meaningful for students by providing tasks which are as realistic as possible;
consider the interplay between tasks and texts when designing tasks for students to demonstrate their understanding of the texts. Task demand increases with text complexity as students progress in listening skills development. To cater for learner diversity, simple tasks can be included for complex texts while more challenging tasks can be designed for simple texts. It is crucial to select or design texts and tasks with care to ensure that they are appropriate to the skills being targeted; and
support the development of metacognitive strategies to facilitate self-directed learning and promote learner independence. Teachers can help deepen students’
understanding of the demands and process of listening by demonstrating the ways they construct their understanding of the listening texts through think-aloud techniques. Teachers can also make it explicit when and how to apply the metacognitive strategies, such as planning for the listening skills to use, verifying guesses, monitoring comprehension and evaluating the effectiveness of the selected skills, to focus students’ attention on the listening process and help them integrate them into the listening activities.
1.4 Choice of Listening Materials
Students should be exposed to as wide a variety of authentic spoken English as possible if they are to understand spoken English as it occurs in the real world, not just classroom English specially developed for teaching. As such, apart from engaging students in listening activities based on classroom spoken discourse, authentic listening materials should be used as much as possible in order to prepare students for listening in real-life situations and to help them become familiar with the characteristics of natural speech like false starts, hesitations, pauses, variations in pitch, increase or decrease in volume, quickening or slackening in pace, different accents, and so on.
With the rapid development of information technology, a wide array of authentic listening materials readily available online provide useful learning and teaching resources. A variety of text types (e.g. speeches, advertisements, announcements) and listening purposes (e.g. listening for academic development, listening for interactive conversational exchanges, listening for enjoyment) should be introduced to help students prepare for real-life applications. These authentic listening materials should be appropriately adapted and tailored to the level of students while maintaining the real- life settings. Online video clips on cross-curricular themes/topics/issues should also be considered for student viewing to help students establish meaningful links among concepts and ideas acquired in different Key Learning Areas.
Besides resources on the Internet, other e-resources such as e-books and apps can help facilitate the development of listening skills and promote self-directed learning through engaging students in an interactive mode of learning and allowing them to work at their own pace both inside and outside the classroom. The multimodal cues of these resources render useful support to students as they can be cross-referenced to enhance the development of listening skills. For instance, the synchronised display of text along with the listening input can assist students in getting the main ideas by locating the key words. The video presentation can provide a visual context of the listening material.
Visual images such as people engaged in interaction and other contextual information provide cues for students to identify various nuances of speech to understand the speakers’ intended meanings, feelings and attitudes. Most e-resources allow students to have some control over the number of repeats and the speed of the audio presentations.
In other words, students can start, pause and review pieces of information to better understand the aural texts according to their individual needs. In addition to facilitating self-directed learning, the resources with interactive features such as online learning platforms could help foster students’ interaction and communication by engaging them in collaborative work.
1.5 Activities to Develop Listening Skills
Teachers are encouraged to consider the following activities to help students at the junior secondary level develop effective listening skills:
Understanding Instructions and Following Directions
Engage students in task-oriented practice like tracing a route on a map according to the directions they hear.
Let half of the class mime according to an instruction orally given and the other half guess what they are doing.
Developing the Skill of Sequencing
Ask students to re-sequence a list of sentences or a set of pictures in jumbled order in accordance with the spoken text.
Conduct jigsaw listening activities with students. For example, students listen to different parts of a story in groups. After that, students are regrouped to construct the story logically based on what they have heard. Such activities can also promote integrative use of generic skills (e.g. collaborative problem solving skills, holistic thinking skills).
Developing the Skill of Anticipation
Ask students to discuss related topics that activate their prior knowledge, which is used as the basis for prediction and comprehension.
Provide students with background information regarding the text they are going to listen to and ask them to guess what the speaker is going to say.
Give students adequate information about the speaker and the situation and ask them to think about what they might hear.
Play a short extract of the text to students and invite them to predict its possible development.
Engage students in focused listening in which they are told what to listen for beforehand. This will train them to select and pay attention to the key points while listening.
Show a freeze frame of an online video and ask students to predict what the speakers are talking about. Check the predictions by watching the video afterwards.
Ask students to organise the materials into meaningful sections as they listen, for example, making notes under different headings as they listen, using a graphic organiser to organise information.
Use listening texts which include paraphrases and repetitions to provide students with practice in identifying redundant materials.
Understanding the Main Idea or Main Theme
Use non-verbal exercises, such as matching the description from a spoken text with a picture from a set.
Use a radio, TV or Internet news bulletin which begins and ends with the news headlines. Students can easily follow and identify the main points being summarised in these headlines.
Ask students to listen to a spoken text and write down the most important words, and then ask them to write down the key phrases or key sentences of the spoken text.
Ask students to view short online video clips and find out the main idea or main theme as an out-of-class activity, and then have a discussion about it in class.
For more advanced students, ask them to supply a title to a spoken text or summarise in their own words the main points of the spoken text either orally or in writing. This will make them pay full attention to the overall theme as well as the central ideas.
Extracting Information and Ideas
Ask students to listen to the weather forecasts of different cities on the Internet and take notes while listening. Students then do a short oral report by using key words such as “temperature”, “humidity” and “outlook” in their presentations.
Understanding Levels of Formality and Informality
Expose students to spoken texts of different levels of formality and informality in different settings, for instance, public speaking in a school assembly, a conversation between a student and his/her principal, and a chat between friends. Discuss with students the differences in the levels of formality and informality in terms of language items and structures, the choice of vocabulary and the stylistic features of formal and informal speeches.
Understanding the Speaker’s Feelings or Attitudes
Help students understand the speaker’s feelings or attitudes as well as the underlying meaning of what the speaker says by examining:
- the language used (e.g. discourse markers, choice of words, stylistic features such as the use of repetition, exaggeration); and
- the manner of speech (e.g. choice of intonation and stress, the volume, pitch and pace).
Start with texts which are straightforward so that students can easily identify the speaker’s feelings and attitudes. Later on, texts in which the speaker’s feelings and attitudes are less explicit can be used. Discussion provides very good training for students to identify the speaker’s feelings and attitudes.
Expose students to different features of speech (e.g. different intonation patterns, special stress, pausing, rephrasing, repetitions, hesitations, self- corrections) presented in appropriate contexts to develop their awareness of the nuances of speech.
Making Connections between Ideas and Information with the Help of Discourse Markers
Ask students to jot down the key ideas and information as they listen to a spoken text for the first time and then ask them to focus on the discourse markers (e.g. “first”, “next”, “nevertheless”, “in other words”, “by the way”) when they listen to it again. Students then organise their notes into meaningful sections using a graphic organiser. More advanced students could be asked to write a summary of the text as an extended task.
1.6 Task-based Listening Activities
Apart from the activities suggested earlier, task-based listening activities, consisting of purposeful contexts in which students can draw upon their framework of knowledge and skills and develop their generic skills in an integrative manner, should be conducted.
There are three stages in conducting a listening task.
This is the tuning-in stage. The purpose is to establish a framework for listening so as to prepare students for approaching the upcoming listening task with some point of reference.
Pre-listening activities may include:
soliciting students’ knowledge and opinions on the topic;
predicting content from the title;
commenting on a picture or photograph relevant to the topic;
revising learnt structures or vocabulary items;
introducing the setting of the listening text;
explaining the type of responses required;
reading a short text or viewing a short video segment on the Internet on a similar topic;
reading through comprehension questions in advance; and
raising students’ awareness of the skills involved in the listening process.
This is when students are involved in listening, and have to respond as required in the task. Activities may include:
putting pictures in a correct sequence;
following directions on a map;
checking off items in a photograph;
completing a grid, timetable, or chart of information; and
jotting down notes.
As students’ proficiency develops, tasks will gradually become more demanding, eventually requiring students to construct a framework of meaning for themselves, understand explicitly stated ideas, make connections between ideas and information, interpret feelings and attitudes and understand levels of formality and informality.
filling gaps with missing words;
picking out particular facts, evidence or cause-and-effect relationships;
constructing a coherent set of notes;
checking True/False statements;
discriminating between different intonation patterns for various feelings and attitudes; and
understanding levels of formality and informality based on the word choice and stylistic features of the spoken discourse such as the use of contractions.
At this stage, it is vital for teachers to support students in the development of metacognitive strategies to plan, monitor and evaluate their own learning progress.
Students can be prompted to use different skills, as appropriate, for regulating their comprehension and application (e.g. listening for details, listening for gist, inferring information) followed by actively monitoring and reflecting on their comprehension and the effectiveness of the skills used. Depending on the proficiency of the class, teachers could pause the recording when appropriate to check understanding, explore
This is an opportunity for many kinds of follow-up work to be done individually or collaboratively – thematic, lexical, grammatical, skills developmental, and so on. Some post-listening activities are suggested as follows:
giving feedback to students on a class basis or individually as to their mastery of listening skills and setting goals and plans for further development. Reference can be made to the LPF for English Language (Listening Skills) (http://www.edb.gov.hk/lpfel_listening) for identifying students’ strengths and areas for improvement, and understanding what students need to achieve as they progress in listening skills development;
reviewing the listening materials at a self-regulated pace for a different purpose;
making use of relevant podcasts and vodcasts available on the Internet for more listening practice;
writing a group summary for a defined purpose or audience with notes made collaboratively while listening;
reading/listening to a related text for comparison purposes and engaging in small group discussions;
exchanging views on the topic or problem identified;
doing a role play; and
writing on the same theme from a different point of view.
Chapter 2 The Learning and Teaching of Speaking
2.1 Importance of Speaking
Speaking plays an important role in everyday life. In real-life communication, the most direct way to communicate is through speech. Oral interactions are often indivisible from the learning and teaching activities of an English task, and as such, speaking activities can be well integrated into any listening, reading or writing tasks to support the development of different language skills. Conducting speaking activities on a regular basis can help students improve their fluency and communication skills and raise their awareness of the particular structural or intonation patterns or lexical items used for different communication purposes.
Speaking activities including presentations and discussions provide relevant contexts for students to develop a range of communication/interaction strategies (e.g.
maintaining eye contact, speaking at a volume appropriate to the situation, responding readily to others’ questions, opinions or comments) to achieve different communication purposes, as well as for the integrative use of generic skills such as collaborative problem solving skills (i.e. the integration of collaboration skills, communication skills and problem solving skills) and holistic thinking skills (i.e. the integration of critical thinking skills, problem solving skills and creativity) as they work collaboratively to achieve the objectives of the activities concerned.
Speaking tasks also provide good opportunities for promoting self-directed learning. In learning contexts where students are required to speak before an audience (e.g.
reporting the outcome of a task to the whole class) or produce recordings (e.g. preparing audio/video clips for a presentation), students can be guided to monitor and evaluate their speaking performance with respect to the learning goals (e.g. articulation, accuracy and fluency in their speech) in the learning process.
2.2 Effective Speaking Skills
At the primary level, students have developed basic skills for effective oral communication. For details, please refer to Appendix 5 of the English Language Education Key Learning Area Curriculum Guide (Primary 1 – Secondary 6) (2017) (http://www.edb.gov.hk/elecg). At the junior secondary level, the speaking skills to be developed include skills for:
presenting information, ideas, and feelings clearly and coherently; and
participating effectively in an oral interaction.
In order that students can use the spoken language effectively to present information, ideas and feelings, they need to learn to:
convey ideas and information in conversations or discussions;
use words and expressions appropriate to the context;
use appropriate discourse markers; and
use correct pronunciation, intonation and register for different purposes.
Effective oral communication entails the following:
Accuracy. This refers to the skill of using pronunciation (which covers speech sounds, stress, rhythm and intonation), grammar and vocabulary correctly to communicate ideas and express feelings.
Fluency. This is the skill of producing speech at normal speed in a natural manner.
Fluent speech is relatively free from an abundance of hesitations and false starts which cause difficulties in communication.
Appropriateness. This is the skill of using formal or informal language to suit particular situations. The choice of formal or informal language varies depending on the communication purposes and the contexts (e.g. participants’ roles, the setting, the topic).
Coherence. This is the skill of producing spoken utterances which “hang together”.
Coherent speech makes use of devices such as pronouns, substitution, ellipsis and conjunctions to enable the listener to establish relationships across utterance boundaries.
In addition to these skills, students need to develop communication/interaction strategies so that they can participate in oral discussions effectively. The communication/interaction strategies to be developed at Key Stage 3 include the following:
seeking and giving clarification, explaining what information one requires and why, rephrasing one’s questions when necessary, summing up points made and redirecting the discussion when the need arises;
making a balanced contribution without either dominating the discussion or being too reticent; and
expressing, eliciting and responding to ideas, opinions and feelings in a group discussion.
Teachers can make reference to the Learning Progression Framework (LPF) for English Language (Speaking Skills) (http://www.edb.gov.hk/lpfel_speaking), which describes students’ performance and progress along the developmental continuum of learning English from Primary 1 to Secondary 6, for the learning outcomes regarding the following:
content, organisation and communication strategies;
pronunciation, stress, rhythm and intonation;
and plan holistically for the school English Language curriculum to meet students’
2.3 Role of the Teacher
The role of the teacher in planning and conducting speaking activities includes the following:
Building Students’ Confidence
Many students are reluctant to speak up in class because they are afraid of making errors/mistakes and being corrected by the teacher publicly. Teachers therefore need to help students build their confidence as well as trust and mutual support
Help students understand that making errors/mistakes is a normal part of the learning process.
Select speaking tasks with no correct answers.
In communicative tasks, focus on what students say (i.e. the message) rather than the language they use.
Before individual presentations, provide opportunities for students to practise with their peers.
Be alert to the emotional and social state of individual students when correcting their errors/mistakes.
Set realistic expectations and acknowledge students’ accomplishment to encourage them to improve further.
Provide positive feedback as far as possible and give practical suggestions to address students’ areas for improvement.
Teaching Enabling Skills
Teachers need to ensure that students are equipped with the necessary enabling skills to communicate ideas effectively. An important enabling skill to teach is pronunciation, which covers elements such as speech sounds, stress, rhythm and intonation. It will also be useful to revise or teach phonics at the junior secondary level and phonetics at a later stage.
When teaching pronunciation, teachers should aim at intelligibility rather than native English pronunciation.
Teachers need to help students perceive sounds and intonation patterns before they produce them.
Teachers should place equal emphasis on the suprasegmental features of stress, rhythm and intonation and the segmental elements of speech sounds.
Using Appropriate Tasks
Teachers need to select, adapt or design speaking tasks which are interesting, purposeful and relevant to the needs of their students. Teachers should also help students relate their learning to their real life. To connect students’ learning experiences in different Key Learning Areas, teachers can adopt cross-curricular themes in the speaking tasks as well as highlight to students the speaking skills
preparation of presentations and discussions for non-language subjects. More information about tasks and activities for practising speaking skills is provided in the next section.
Monitoring Students’ Performance throughout a Speaking Task
Teachers should walk around and listen to groups of students engaged in speaking tasks. While guidance and assistance may be necessary, frequent interruptions demotivate students and should be avoided. Common errors/mistakes should be noted down so that remedial work can be done with students after the tasks.
Keeping Students Speaking in English
Teachers may appoint a group member to remind others in the group to speak in English. Teachers may also incorporate the use of e-learning tools (e.g. e- platforms/apps that support voice/video recording and editing) to record each group’s speaking performance for analysis and discussion. These techniques help raise students’ awareness of their speaking performance as well as enhance their engagement in the speaking activity.
Providing Feedback to Students
At the end of a speaking task, teachers should provide feedback to students about their performance and participation. Based on the learning outcomes of students, teachers can make reference to the LPF for English Language (Speaking Skills) (http://www.edb.gov.hk/lpfel_speaking) to understand students’ speaking performance and provide constructive feedback to acknowledge students’
accomplishment and to improve their performance. Teachers may begin by offering some encouraging remarks before discussing language items or communication strategies which students still need to work on in order to improve their speaking competence. To engage students in providing peer feedback, teachers can make effective use of e-learning tools (e.g. an interactive whiteboard) to project video clips of students’ performance in front of the class and engage students in analysing their performance with reference to the assessment criteria such as content and organisation, language, pronunciation and delivery, and communication/interaction strategies (e.g. eye contact, gestures, facial expressions, turn-taking). e-Platforms or apps that support instant response and messaging can also be used to provide teachers with an overview of students’ learning performance and facilitate the provision of feedback among teachers and students.
Helping Students Become Self-directed Learners
To promote learner independence and develop students’ metacognitive strategies, teachers should provide opportunities for students to develop the ability in planning the content and language for the speaking tasks and in monitoring, reviewing and assessing their own speaking performance. Discussions can be held to raise students’ awareness of the requirements of the speaking task, the language, vocabulary and communication/interaction strategies to use. Checklists can be distributed beforehand to support students in identifying learning goals and assessment criteria so that students are aware of how various aspects of speaking are assessed and exert efforts to do their best. Models of strong and weak speaking performance can be used to help students understand the assessment criteria. e- Platforms or apps that support voice/video recording and editing allow students to revisit their performance and make improvement as they evaluate their own speaking performance.
2.4 Choice of Speaking Activities
A wide range of speaking activities should be conducted to develop students’ speaking skills. Some of these activities should focus on the more micro level of speech production or aspects of pronunciation while others should give students the opportunity to develop the skills and strategies needed for effective speech performance.
The following types of activities, while not exhaustive, are effective in helping students enhance their competence in oral communication:
Information-gap activities. These require students to find out information from their classmates in order to solve a problem.
Ranking activities. These require students to reach a consensus in putting a list of factors or attributes (e.g. characteristics of a good teacher) in order.
Jigsaw activities. These require students to put different pieces of information together to form a coherent whole. For example, students are given different sections of a story. They describe their own section in turn orally, and then the whole group determine the sequence of the story.
Guessing activities. These require students to guess the identity of a person, the location of an object and so on.
Matching activities. These require students to match items that go together. An example is the Bingo game.
Problem-solving activities. These require students to find a solution to a problem, for example, deciding what items are essential for survival on a desert island.
Role play activities. These require students to take on the role of someone other than themselves. They may need to imagine themselves in a real world context and have to use appropriate language to suit the context.
Discussions and debates. These require students to collect information about a certain topic/theme and then have a discussion about it or present arguments for or against a particular motion.
Public address. Activities like a speech, a vote of thanks or a presentation give students opportunities to pay attention to delivery techniques (e.g. diction, appropriate use of discourse markers, voice projection, expression and even posture in addition to content and rhetorical conventions).
Voice/video recording activities. These require students to practise speaking by recording their utterances (e.g. using e-platforms/apps that support voice/video recording and editing), which allows them to listen to and assess their speaking performance and make improvement instantly.
Multimodal texts production. This provides opportunities for students to practise their pronunciation, stress, rhythm and intonation and presentation skills for different communication purposes through creating their own audio/video clips to present their work in multimodal contexts (e.g. an e-book) to convey meaning.
In selecting, adapting or designing any speaking activity, teachers need to check whether the activity embodies such characteristics as the following:
It requires students to speak a lot in English.
It makes use of students’ personal experience.
It allows students to work collaboratively or creatively with peers.
It is cognitively suitable for students.
It is interesting rather than stressful for students.
It requires students to exchange information or express feelings in order to close an information gap/opinion gap/reasoning gap/imagination gap.
It is realistic and simulates real-life situations.
2.5 Task-based Speaking Activities
Task-based speaking activities are process- as well as goal-oriented. They require students to interact orally and, during this process, students use the spoken language as a means to achieve a definite outcome, such as a drawing, a list of priorities, a solution to a puzzle, an oral report or a written summary of a group consensus.
The following are some examples of speaking activities that can be integrated into a speaking task to help students at the junior secondary level achieve the objectives of (a) presenting information, ideas and feelings clearly and coherently; and (b) participating effectively in an oral interaction.
Students use the target sounds to produce a group story. For example, they are given a list of words containing the sound /r/ (e.g. “wrong”, “road”, “rate”). In groups, they use these words to create a story and read it aloud to other groups.
When listening to the story, students write down all the words they can hear which contain the sound /r/. They then summarise the story they have listened to by producing a few sentences that make use of the target sound.
Students write their own tongue-twisters for use in class. They get one point for one sound which is shared by two or more words (e.g. /l/ as in “long” and “lively”).
They get two points for two sounds which are shared by two or more words (e.g.
/br/ as in “break” and “bring”). Groups of students then take turns to read the tongue-twisters aloud in a competition.
Students practise shadow reading to improve their mastery of stress, rhythm and intonation. First, they view or listen to a recording of a speech a few times until they are familiar with it. They then play the recording again and read the text of the recording at the same time, trying to imitate the stress, rhythm and intonation used. Lastly, they produce their own recording by applying the framework of the speech in new situations.
As an awareness-raising activity, students can be given several sentences describing a situation (e.g. “It was Parents’ Day. Teachers had meetings with students’ parents. A teacher said to a parent, ‘How many offspring do you have?’”).
Students decide whether the language used is too formal or too informal and rephrase the sentences as appropriate.
Students view or listen to some recorded materials and decide on aspects such as the degree of formality, relationship between the speakers and setting. Then they improvise for similar situations.
Students study the transcript of an informal conversation between two close friends about school life. They report the same information in a role play to a student playing the role of a principal, using formal language.
Students work in pairs to do a “Spot the difference” picture activity. Students A and B are each given a similar picture with several differences. Without showing their picture to each other, they exchange information to determine the differences.
Students watch a video clip or listen to a song together. Next, in groups of four, they tell each other what the video clip or song makes them think about or feel.
Students with special ideas or stories share their information with the rest of the class.
Students work in groups and imagine themselves as guests in a party. One member of the group takes the role of the host/hostess of the party and introduces the rest of the group to each other. After the introduction, the group carry out a social chat (e.g. asking one another what their hobbies are, telling others how they spend their leisure).
Groups of students are given a topic for discussion. Students need to give suggestions for organising a school function (e.g. the Open Day). They need to respond to the suggestions proposed by their group members and make decision on the activities to be organised for the school function, paying particular attention to different communication/interaction strategies (e.g. maintaining eye contact, turn-taking, seeking clarification).
Students perform a role play in which they use discussion skills to gather information and ideas for a project (e.g. a greening school campaign). Their task is to discuss ways to improve the campus environment so as to save energy and be more environment-friendly.
2.6 Conducting Speaking Activities
There are four main stages in conducting speaking activities:
Awareness raising. The aim of this stage is to raise students’ awareness of what native speakers do in an oral interaction (e.g. using expressions to encourage people to say more). Some examples of awareness-raising activities are:
Students tap on desks or clap hands in order to understand how stress works in English.
Students view or listen to a recording and identify the use of different intonation patterns to convey meaning.
Students view or listen to a recording and identify the use of conversational fillers such as “Really?” and “I see”.
Students view or listen to a discussion to understand how communication/interaction strategies, such as negotiating meaning and asking for clarification, contribute to effective interaction.
Pre-communicative. This stage gives students controlled practice in speaking. The focus is on a particular skill or language item which is needed for effective speech performance later (e.g. an intonation pattern, a language structure, a list of useful expressions). Pre-communicative activities give students repeated practice in individual items rather than practice in all communication skills together. Students are provided with more guidance on the skills or language needed in these activities.
Communicative. This stage gives students free practice in speaking tasks. Students use language appropriate to the context to convey meaning. Communicative activities aim to develop students’ overall competence in speaking. In other words, elements such as fluency, appropriateness and communication/interaction strategies are often practised together.
Feedback. This stage allows students to receive useful feedback from the teacher and/or their peers. In assessing students’ oral performance, teachers and students may want to focus on aspects such as the following:
Did students use language appropriate to the context (e.g. level of formality, relationship between the speakers)?
Did students’ grammatical errors/mistakes hinder communication?
Did students convey their message fluently without undue hesitations?
Was the information conveyed coherently?
Were students confident in interacting with others?
Did students make use of appropriate communication/interaction strategies in interacting with others?
In providing feedback, reference can be made to the LPF for English Language (Speaking Skills) (http://www.edb.gov.hk/lpfel_speaking) for identifying students’
strengths and areas for improvement, and understanding what students need to achieve as they progress in speaking skills development.
Chapter 3 The Learning and Teaching of Reading
3.1 Importance of Reading
Reading is an effective means to seek information, develop thinking skills, enrich knowledge, enhance language proficiency and broaden perspectives. In everyday life, students read for different communication purposes (e.g. locating information, understanding instructions to perform certain tasks, keeping in touch with friends through correspondence and the social media, seeking enjoyment). Students need adequate reading skills and ability for academic and intellectual purposes too. Mastery of reading skills is important for the acquisition of new knowledge in both formal education and lifelong learning.
In the setting of a language classroom, reading is one of the major learning activities.
Reading helps increase knowledge of the target language through exposure to new vocabulary and language items and structures used in context, and helps consolidate learning. Mastery of this language skill helps students develop competence and fluency in the language which may extend to listening, speaking and writing. Strategic readers also use metacognitive strategies to plan, monitor and evaluate their learning progress.
They identify their reading goals, make use of appropriate reading skills, monitor their reading process and evaluate the effectiveness of the skills used.
With the rapid development of information technology and the social media, reading can more efficiently connect the reader to the community. Literacy practices can involve collective intelligence and the use of multimodal texts, in which messages are conveyed through different modes (e.g. linguistic, audio, visual, gestural, spatial). If students can move beyond simple comprehension to analyse, synthesise and evaluate not only printed but also electronic reading materials effectively and efficiently across Key Learning Areas (KLAs), they will be better readers and writers of the electronically connected global society.
3.2 Effective Reading Skills
At the primary level, students have developed basic reading skills. For details, please refer to Appendix 5 of the English Language Education Key Learning Area Curriculum Guide (Primary 1 – Secondary 6) (2017) (http://www.edb.gov.hk/elecg). At the junior secondary level, students have to develop more advanced skills to understand, interpret and analyse different written and multimodal texts. In order to do so, they need to learn to:
make use of knowledge of the world to make sense of the text;
acquire, extract and organise information relevant to specific tasks;
understand how different visual elements create meaning;
relate facts, opinions and information from a variety of print and non-print sources;
understand different feelings, views and attitudes;
differentiate fact from opinion;
identify implied meanings through making inferences;
recognise how writing conventions affect meaning and cohesiveness;
understand how sentences and parts of a sentence relate to each other;
understand the use of discourse markers; and
know what a word or phrase refers to in the previous or subsequent context.
Teachers can make reference to the Learning Progression Framework (LPF) for English Language (Reading Skills) (http://www.edb.gov.hk/lpfel_reading), which describes students’ performance and progress along the developmental continuum of learning English from Primary 1 to Secondary 6 and plan holistically for the school English Language curriculum to meet students’ needs.
3.3 Role of the Teacher
A teacher has a very important role to play in developing students’ reading skills.
increase students’ interest/motivation in reading so that they have pleasurable reading experiences. Suggestions include:
the use of texts that appeal to students. Teachers may select or recommend materials with a variety of content and related to the particular interests of different students;
the use of interesting activities and challenging tasks;
the use of group work and cooperative learning where students interact and assist one another to make meaning with the help of digital communication technology; and
the introduction of a reward system to acknowledge students’ efforts in reading extensively.
create an encouraging, constructive and supportive reading atmosphere both inside and outside the classroom. This will help cultivate in students a positive attitude towards reading so that they become enthusiastic readers. The teacher can:
set up a reading area or an English corner in school;
have English books and magazines displayed prominently;
choose reading materials that suit students’ interests and developmental levels;
hold book fairs;
put up posters about authors and their books; and
organise visits to public libraries.
With the rapid development of information technology, the teacher can promote e- reading through:
modelling screen reading to provide students with multiple ways to engage
collaborating with the teacher-librarian to encourage students to read e- resources available in the school library;
setting up an e-platform for students to engage in reading outside school hours and to share their reading experiences with peers, teachers and parents;
encouraging students to make use of the e-resources in the public libraries.
guide students to plan, monitor and evaluate their reading at a metacognitive level.
As junior secondary students need to deal with texts of increasing text complexity and language demand in English Language as well as in non-language subjects where English is adopted as the medium of instruction, they should learn to set reading goals, monitor their progress, evaluate their performance and plan how to read more efficiently and effectively. The teacher can raise students’ metacognitive awareness in regard to improving their reading comprehension with various strategies such as thinking aloud to model his or her own thought processes in deconstructing complex texts.
facilitate the development of critical literacy skills to enable students not only to understand, appreciate, and evaluate what they read and view at a deeper level, but also to help them become more reflective and independent learners. The teacher can encourage students to look beyond the literal meaning of the texts and critically analyse and evaluate the texts in respect of the implied meaning, the author’s intent and stance on various issues as embedded in the underlying message of the texts, which may range from social justice to racial or gender equality.
guide students to become independent readers by developing their learning to learn capabilities through the use of e-resources such as online dictionaries, and enabling skills such as phonics skills, vocabulary-building skills and reference skills to facilitate self-directed language learning.
set aside a particular time when students can be read to. Reading to students provides the teacher with an opportunity to demonstrate to students the enjoyment and importance of reading, as well as the behaviour exhibited by a proficient reader.
An alternative is for students to listen to audio books or read e-books. Teachers may also set aside time for students to practise reading together or read something they have particularly enjoyed to their classmates.
serve as a role model. Teachers should enjoy and value reading themselves and cultivate in students a desire to read. They should show students that they are also avid readers and encourage them to follow suit.
encourage parental involvement in developing lifelong readers. Often parents want to help their children develop good reading habits, but they may not know what they can do. Teachers can encourage parents to provide the basis for a good attitude towards reading. Parents can set good examples by reading themselves and by making appropriate materials available for their children to read. They can encourage their children to discuss what they have read with them.
3.4 Choice of Reading Materials
In developing reading skills, both print-based and multimodal reading materials can be used. Authentic contexts and texts written to inform, to entertain or to convey a message should be used to explore literacy practices. Any printed or electronic materials and resources that make sense to students can be brought into the classroom as frequently as possible for identifying meaning or information conveyed. These include stories, brochures, journals, reports, speeches, letters (formal and informal), debates, editorials, feature articles in newspapers and blogs covering issues in various cross-curricular domains such as values education (e.g.
life education, moral education, environmental education). Apart from offering variety to cater for individual needs, interests and abilities, different text types provide meaningful contexts to illustrate the purposeful use of specific language items and vocabulary. The use of multimodal texts provides students with an opportunity to explore how images, graphics, photos and videos with sound are combined to convey a message effectively to the intended audience.
Language arts materials, such as short stories and poems, can provide students with enjoyable experiences, and enhance their cultural awareness and creativity, while non-fiction materials, such as newspaper/magazine articles and reports, can raise their awareness of different perspectives from which to consider issues and facilitate the promotion of Reading across the Curriculum (RaC). A suggested book list on RaC for Key Stages 1 – 4 is accessible at the following website:
3.5 Task-based Reading Activities
Task-based reading activities provide students with a meaningful purpose for reading and an appropriate setting for involvement in the reading process. Taking advantage of digital communication technology such as online diaries and blogging activities, teachers can design tasks to engage students in critical reflection, negotiation of meaning and evaluation of the reading content, and promote a collaborative learning environment. During the reading process, students may acquire and practise particular reading skills as well as the integrative use of generic skills such as collaborative problem solving skills (i.e. the integration of collaboration skills, communication skills and problem solving skills) and holistic thinking skills (i.e. the integration of critical thinking skills, problem solving skills and creativity).
3.6 Conducting a Reading Task
A reading task is usually conducted in three stages:
Providing a Purpose for Reading
How and what one reads depends very much on the purpose, whether it is reading for gist, for specific information, for exposition, for deliberation of argument, or just for pleasure. Once the purpose is identified, one can use the appropriate reading skills and vary the speed accordingly.
When assigning a reading task, teachers can help set a clear purpose, for example, by giving students a question, problem or task before they read. Students can then judge which parts of the text to ignore, and decide on what to skim over and what to attend to in detail. At the beginning, teachers may need to make conscious efforts to remind students or to discuss with them what to look for as they read. Through modelling and practice, students can be guided to think about what they know, what connections they can make, what questions they want answered and the way the text is organised. The use of multimodal texts that are electronically linked suggests different pathways for reading and hence allows much reader autonomy. Opportunities should be provided to develop navigational skills and search skills to facilitate the reading process and reading skills development.
Introducing a Text
The introduction of a text means giving students some information on what they are going to read and this includes the topic, the setting, the background, the text type, its organisation and the modes of communication, which may include images, animations and sounds. The rationale behind this is to get students into the right mood for reading a particular text and to make them feel interested in reading it. If students get a global impression of the kind of text they are going to read and have a rough idea of the topic, they will be provided with a general framework that facilitates the more detailed work that follows.
The best introductions are the ones that the teacher draws out from students. Students can be invited to share opinions on a topic as often as possible. For example, before students start reading a text about a melancholic billionaire, teachers can ask students to put down on paper or input via an e-platform the pros and cons of being rich or ask them to engage in a debate. Students can then be asked to read the text and compare what they have thought about the topic and what they have read.
Getting Readers into a Receptive Frame of Mind
In the process of reading, readers have to interpret the message conveyed in the text in light of their previous knowledge and experience. They use schemas to make sense of a text. Schemas are the reader’s concepts, beliefs, expectations – virtually everything from past experiences that is used in making sense of things and actions.
Below are some ideas for teachers to develop and activate students’ schemas:
Brainstorming is a pre-reading activity that can establish a foundation for approaching new and unfamiliar materials. It also helps students make connections with their own life experiences, thus engaging them and giving them a stronger purpose for reading. Teachers can first show students the cover/blurb/contents page of a book or the title of a text and ask them to brainstorm a list of words and phrases, questions, ideas, and examples related to the topic. Students then have a discussion to create further understanding and clarify anything they may not understand. Teachers can help students further explore the topic by asking questions to guide the discussion.
Previewing means taking the time to look over the materials one plans to read.
Previewing of texts by skimming, looking at pictures, examining the title and subheadings, and going through the table of contents, the appendix and the preface helps one’s comprehension of explicit and implicit information. To facilitate navigation of e-texts, previewing requires students to recognise conventions such as the specific tabs, icons and tags that indicate hypertexts or a non-linear network of information.
Prediction is an important reading skill, which activates readers’ schemas. As students make hypotheses about what the writer intends to say, the experiences and associated knowledge they already have about the topic of the text will be called to mind. Having an idea of what the text is to be about helps a reader make sense of it and sets a purpose for his/her continued reading.
Teachers can get students to predict the content of books, articles and so on from non-linear information like titles and headings, subheadings, captions, blurbs and illustrations. In an electronic reading context where there is no preset pathway for readers to follow, anticipating the content of the hyperlinks and forming meaningful associations with the titles and subheadings can also get readers into a receptive frame of mind.
Students can also be asked to read aloud the first paragraph of a text to let other students discuss and predict what is likely to come in the rest of the text.
Use of Semantic Maps
A semantic map is an arrangement of key words which embody concepts about a topic. It can be developed in the following steps:
Step 1: Associations
Begin by asking students to work in pairs/groups and discuss what they think of when they hear the word “money”, for instance. List the responses as students offer their associations.
Step 2: Categorisation
Put the associations on a semantic map, probably an electronic one to facilitate discussion and revision, by helping students assign these associations to different categories (e.g. “uses of money”, “kinds of money”, “ways of earning money”,
“consequences of having money”). Encourage students to pose their own questions about what they want to learn about the topic from the text using different means (e.g. K-W-L charts) to engage them in an active process of activating prior knowledge, sharing ideas with others and monitoring their own learning.
Step 3: Revision
While going through the set of categories and pre-reading questions related to
“money”, students add new ideas acquired from their reading and discussions, correcting and augmenting the original semantic map. The revised map is the result of the students’ pre-existing schemas, their new learning from the text, and the integration of old and new knowledge. (Step 3 is also activated for use at the while- reading and post-reading stages.)
Using Signpost Questions
The purpose is to direct readers’ attention to the important points in the text or to the things that might otherwise be missed, preventing them from going off the track. The best signpost questions relate either to the whole section or to its final part, so that they cannot be answered until the whole section has been read and understood.
Using a Video on the Topic
A short educational video with or without subtitles can stimulate students to think and motivate them to read the text. It is authentic and provides useful information that introduces students to important words and concepts in context and builds background knowledge among students. Teachers can stop, start and rewind the video to ensure that students understand the main idea, and then challenge them to predict the ending of the video, or debate an issue.
Breaking up the Text
A long text is daunting to readers who are not very skilled or speedy. Before engaging students in actual reading, teachers can break up the text into a number of shorter sections. It is easier to go through shorter texts than lengthy ones. In this way, students’
interest can be better sustained.
Tackling Unfamiliar Lexical Items/Structures
The failure to understand a text often results from an inability to decode the meaning of unfamiliar words and structures. Teachers should refrain from teaching all the new words and structures in the text before reading begins. Not only will this be very boring, students will also get used to being given “pre-processed” texts and consequently they will never make the effort to cope with a difficult passage on their own. Instead, if students are to read texts with understanding, they need to be equipped with word attack skills and knowledge of common language items and structures and usage.
Teachers can introduce three categories of words to students – active vocabulary, receptive vocabulary and throwaway vocabulary. Given frequent exposure in context, students can transform receptive vocabulary into active vocabulary, whereas throwaway vocabulary items can be forgotten once they are taken out of context.
Not every unknown word readers come across can be ignored. With words that stand in the way of comprehension, students have to develop word attack skills to tackle them.
These skills include:
Use of Structural Information
By looking at the position of a lexical item in a sentence, students can make a guess at its grammatical category (e.g. whether it is a noun, a verb or an adjective) and deduce its meaning.