When working on developing language skills, it is important for students to analyze their own language and to work at improving their language through dialogue with an instructor. Through this process students can create linguistic utterances that achieve their desired communicative intentions.
In these examples, an instructor is presenting a political cartoon and asking the student for her interpretation.
As a follow-up activity, the instructor uses strategies to help the student formulate and express ideas.
One strategy is to ask questions that probe the student's understanding of specific concepts and her command of relevant vocabulary.
Another strategy is to provide a verbatim transcript of what was said and ask the student to analyze and revise her message.
Verbatim feedback and discussion can be used to clarify a message.
Verbatim feedback plus modeling can be used to facilitate message revisions.
In the following examples the instructor is helping a student develop a Power Point presentation for one of his courses. The content of his presentation becomes the focus of instruction. This illustrates how students benefit from working on language in meaningful contexts.
Sometimes it is necessary to dialogue with the student to determine the ideas they want to express in English before you can make recommendations for formulating correct English sentences.
Instruction in spoken English can facilitate the development of written English skills. Students benefit from seeing the instructor type what they say and then discussing it. Working from a written representation of what the student has said helps the student clarify his ideas and improve his language structures, for example the use of verb tense.
In formulating ideas students often make semantic errors. Sometimes these are related to morphological variations of particular words. Encouraging students to use an on-line dictionary during the writing process is helpful.
After correcting written English through discussion, questioning and joint construction, the student should read the new English sentences to practice their spoken English. The revised document can be printed for the student's future reference.