¡Preparémonos para…el Speaking!

¡Preparémonos para…el Speaking!

Hola, y bienvenidos al primer artículo de nuestra nueva serie de posts sobre Pearson English International Certificate, ¡Vamos a prepararnos! 

Estos artículos están diseñados para ayudar a preparar a tus alumnos para los próximos exámenes, y espero que ayuden a construir una comunidad en la que podamos compartir nuestras experiencias, aprender y mejorar.   

En esta primera entrega nos centraremos en la expresión oral: Speaking 

Con esto en mente, aquí tienes 3 consejos que te ayudarán a preparar a tus alumnos para el gran día: 

  

1. Tómate tu tiempo, empieza fuerte. 

Todos nos ponemos nerviosos en los exámenes, pero esos nervios son obviamente más fáciles de controlar cuando se hace un examen escrito. Con el Speaking o la expresión oral, todo el mundo puede ver si tartamudeas o se te hace un nudo en la garganta.   

Por eso mi primer consejo es que enseñes a tus alumnos a tomarse su tiempo.   

Preparar a tus alumnos para que respiren hondo y aprovechen su tiempo de reflexión antes de responder es esencial. Estrategias sencillas como contar hasta diez son eficaces o tener una lista de comprobación de funciones como: respira, lee, contesta, puede ayudar a mantener a los estudiantes tranquilos y concentrados.   

Los candidatos deben escuchar las preguntas de la sección 10. ¿Qué palabras se enfatizan?

Los ejercicios de pronunciación son una buena forma de ayudar a los alumnos a identificar el acento (así como el registro y otros aspectos). 


 En la sección 12 de la prueba 2, el juego de rol, los candidatos deberán leer atentamente la tarjeta. En esta sección se evalúa cómo turnarse, pero también si el alumno sabe qué tipo de lenguaje utilizar. ¿Es formal o informal? ¿Cuál es la relación entre los papeles? La tarjeta contiene todas las pistas que necesitan.   

 

2. Haz un mapa mental para reforzar el vocabulario.   

Si los alumnos consiguen ceñirse al tema y respetar los límites de tiempo, más probabilidades tendrán de obtener una buena puntuación. Un vocabulario más amplio puede ayudar en este sentido.  

Más descripción significa pasajes orales más largos y esto puede ayudar a demostrar el conocimiento de ‘collocations’ y modismos también.   

Speakout 3rd Edition – B2  

 

Speakout 3rd Edition – B2

Esta práctica del vocabulario también ayudará a los alumnos a prepararse para las demás destrezas del examen. 

  

3. Practicar, practicar y practicar   

Cuanto más practiquen los alumnos la expresión oral o Speaking, más seguros se sentirán en el examen.     

La mayoría de los libros de texto ofrecen numerosas actividades para practicar la expresión oral o el Speaking: juegos, temas de debate y comparación de fotos aparecen en libros como Speakout 3rd. Edition 

Speakout 3rd Edition – B2

 

Reservar un tiempo al final de la clase para sesiones de preguntas y respuestas también es una buena forma de hacer que los alumnos hablen y practiquen. Pueden estar relacionadas con los temas o la gramática que se han visto en una clase concreta, con acontecimientos culturales o con simples tareas cotidianas. 

 

Las nuevas tecnologías también pueden ayudar a los estudiantes a ganar confianza. 

Las apps de aprendizaje de idiomas son una forma estupenda para que los estudiantes practiquen. Además, permiten dedicar más tiempo en clase a perfeccionar el lenguaje. Si te interesa explorar más a fondo este tipo de nuevas tecnologías, puedes echar un vistazo a las nuevas herramientas que tenemos en nuestro catálogo de Pearson, como Mondly by Pearson. También tiene IA incorporada en algunos de nuestros productos, lo que permite un entorno seguro y de confianza, totalmente integrado en el curso.   

Speakout 3rd Edition – B1, Speak Anywhere  

  

Otras fuentes relevantes para practicar son otras apps como Khan Academy (también disponible para niños), que proporciona prácticas a medida y de forma gratuita; YouTube, con prácticas específicas para cada fase de los exámenes; e incluso chatbots como Gemini y ChatGPT. 

   

En Pearson, aparte de este blog, también contamos con otra amplia biblioteca de artículos con consejos muy útiles para profesores y alumnos. Échales un vistazo aquí.    

En resumen, lo más importante es que, con la práctica, los alumnos adquieran confianza. Esa confianza es clave para empezar con fuerza, así como tomarse su tiempo y utilizar el vocabulario que han aprendido para obtener los mejores resultados. 

Envíame tus trucos y consejos a claire.dorman@pearson.com, emails y vídeos son bienvenidos. ¡Preparémonos para el Speaking ayudándonos unos a otros!

Ideas to encourage a love of reading over the summer

In Spain, as previous educational laws have, the LOMLOE seeks to encourage schools to foster a love of books and to promote the habit of reading amongst students. Why? Because reading has a direct impact on crucial aspects of education:

  • Improvement of reading comprehension.
  • Development of communication skills.
  • Correct management of information.
  • Development of critical thinking.
  • Acquisition of  knowledge.
  • Development of empathy for different realities.

Therefore, by encouraging a love of reading during the school year, students will want to continue reading during their summer holidays. Here are some ideas for learners and parents to continue to have a love of reading over the summer.

Visit a library

Summer months are hot! Cool off with weekly trips to the library to read, browse and borrow new books. Libraries not only have traditional books, but also digital copies for your digital device, magazines, newspapers and audio books. Very often they put on activities for children, so check out their schedule in advance.

Read different things

Set a challenge where students have to read many different kinds of texts over the summer and take a selfie when they do so – for example, a books, a comic, a leaflet, a cereal box. They can present the information to you on the first day back from holidays.

Audio books when travelling

Ask parents to listen to audio books in the car when travelling this summer, or have it downloaded to listen to on the plane or train. If the paper version is also available, their son or daughter can read along with the audio.

Time challenges

Ask parent to set daily or weekly time challenges, where time is reserved for the whole family to read together. It can start off small, e.g. 20 minutes a day, and with each week that passes, the length of reading time increases. Also, having a routine where reading is always done at the same hour, e.g. after lunch, is a great way not to skip or forget.

Book to movie

Ask students to choose a book that has been made into a movie. They must read the book first and then watch the movie and say how each was the same or different to the other.

Reading play dates

Set up a social reading group among friends in class. Children can first of all play together, and then after lunch spend some time reading together. They can either read their own books or read the same book together and practice reading aloud or acting out parts of the book.

Stamps and rewards

Ask your students to read 6 books over the summer. Give each student a reading card where they can write the titles of the books and a space for a stamp or parent signature. Each time they read a book, their parents stamp or sign their reading card. If they manage to read all six books, the children get a reward (either from the school or from their parents)

Pearson Readers

We have a great catalogue of Pearson English Readers available which has over 480 books to choose from, both fiction and non-fiction, including Disney and Marvel stories. Books are graded by level and organised by age, containing a wide variety of activities to accompany the stories. Take a look, get started, and happy reading!

 

Building a Classroom Community: How to Encourage Diversity and Inclusion in the English Classroom

Diversity and inclusion

Creating a teaching environment that is as welcoming a possible to all members of the group is hard work, but wonderful when it all comes together. Addressing all our students’ needs as much as we can should not mean a lot of extra work for the teacher, but adapting our normal lesson plans to embrace neurodiversity will go a long way to creating that inclusive teaching environment. Here are some ideas you can incorporate into your teaching:

Entering the classroom

Consider where your students are coming from and their energy levels. Will they have just come from playing outside with their friends and need calming? Have they been sat down previously and will likely be full of energy when they come in? This will help you to decide what the first welcome idea will be. Have the instructions on the board, e.g.

Play the word domino game from yesterday with your partner. You have 7 minutes.

Lucas hand out the laptops.
Abigail and Frank come and see me.

Some students may need extra tasks to use up their energy in order to concentrate later. Can you provide a task, such as delivering a message to another classroom?

Getting ready to listen and learn

Do students know exactly where to sit every lesson and who they work with? This kind of routine helps children to settle quickly and feel at ease. If you like changing seats every month then you can provide a seating plan on the wall for students to consult if they have trouble remembering. Can all the students see the board and you easily? Are they in the best place for learning for their particular learning goals? For example, if someone is easily distracted by movement outside the window, consider positioning the chairs and table away from the distraction. Finally, are the walls of the classroom too ‘busy’? Having too much information up on the wall can be a distraction for some students who find it hard to focus.

Another tip to consider is having a visual schedule of the lesson to help students understand what is coming next. If you follow a class routine, this is helpful for students to understand the flow of the class and what should come next. A schedule looks like this:

It can be placed on the wall next to the board in large letters or printed off and put on a student’s desk to follow. If this is too much for some students to process, consider using ‘Now and Next’ cards so students are focused on the present moment and not too overwhelmed with what is to come. These cards look like this:

 

Furthermore, some students may require a step-by-step visual approach to an activity, such as this:

Finally, do some of your students need to fiddle with an object to keep listening to you? If so, have something like blue-tac on hand.

Giving Instructions

Clear instructions are vital for students, especially those learning a foreign language, yet it is one of the hardest tasks for a teacher to carry out. We are nervous that our students do not understand us, so we say an instruction again and add more words; we try to joke with our students, but they do not quite get it: or a student asks us a question during a difficult moment in class and we respond unclearly. Take for example the last scenario. A student asks for help while you are trying to help another student. You may respond like this:

“Hold on, I’ll be with you soon”.

Students can interpret this in a variety of ways, e.g.

  1. I need to wait patiently until my teacher can help me (correct interpretation of that the teacher wants!)
  2. I do not consider your request as important as my current task.
  3. I need to hold something? A pen? The table? For how long?

A lack of understanding by a student when giving instructions for how to complete an activity can be shown in a variety of disruptive ways, for example acting out, procrastination (because they really do not understand the task), not participating, playing with a friend, and so on. Consider these tips when giving instructions:

  • Use imperative sentences and avoid extra detail. Write down the instructions in advance if you need to until you get very good at saying instructions clearly. Compare:

“Listen to the people talking then write your answers in the space”.

“Listen and write.”

The second command is much clearer.

  • Try not to deviate from the course book instructions, especially if the students are trying to follow what is written.
  • Use non-verbal communication strategies to help students to process the instruction.
  • Use visuals and flashcards of items to support students with their comprehension of items, for example, show a picture of a pair of scissors.
  • Avoid saying the instruction again in a different way and with more detail if at first students do not understand. Follow this pattern of Say the instructions, Stop, Observe if students understand (checking questions can help here), Repeat.

Assessing Understanding

You can implement different routines to help you to know if students understand the task or not. For example, students show you with the thumbs up / thumbs in the middle/ thumbs down visual to show who does not understand well. If this causes embarrassment to some students, you can implement a ‘buddy’ system where students check with each other what they have to do and ask each other for clarification. Finally, asking students to repeat back instructions or give answers to a task in front of others is sometimes very hard. Provide sentence starters to help them tell you. Finally, some students feel overwhelmed at the idea that they may get suddenly called on to answer a question. There is nothing wrong in telling that student that “No, for this next feedback I won’t call on you”, or “I will ask for your help for question three”

Task Differentiation

Asking, or expecting, each student in your class to undertake activities in the course book all together and all at the same time is unrealistic. Think about how to slightly change an activity in a course book to make it more challenging, or indeed, less overwhelming for some students. This is not meant to imply designing extra worksheets for students, but instead slightly changing a task already provided. For example:

 

Image taken from Rise and Shine Book 4

Activity 2: To make it harder, ask students to complete the activity, then write the sentences again from memory. How many words can they get right? To make it easier, ask students to only complete answers 2 and 3. Or, you provide clues, such as starting letters, on a mini whiteboard in front of them to help students complete the missing words.

Working in pairs or groups

When looking at tasks in a course book where students work with a friend or small group to complete the task, first analyse the task to see whether it has more social or academic demands, or if it has a balance of both. From there, you can plan some support strategies. For example:

 

Image taken from Rise and Shine Book 4

This task has a high social demand. Some elements to consider are listening, waiting, turn taking, participating, sounding interested, eye contact, sensory issues. The academic challenge is fairly low as the grammar used is predominantly ‘can’ sentences, possessives and adjectives to talk about upcycling. Therefore, as the teacher, you need to think about providing strategies for supporting the social challenge of the task for students.

Image taken from Rise and Shine Book 3

This task has a high academic challenge. The students focus more on writing sentences, using the correct grammar and vocabulary, check spelling and then putting all the information attractively together in a. project. The teacher needs to focus more on the academic support to help the student achieve the task.

Further considerations for the teacher when students work in pairs or small groups are:

  • Who is in the group?
  • How big is the group?
  • Should you have a ‘buddy’ system or will you provide the support needed?
  • Helping students to understand how to take turns.
  • How does every student contribute – what’s their role within a certain project?

One useful approach to help all students keep on track during a project and to focus on the stages of a project is the Bell Wallace TASC Wheel (TASC means Thinking Actively in a Social Context).

 

 

Students start with the orange ‘Gather/Organise’ or red ‘Identify’ stage and work their way around the wheel, completing each stage.

Leaving the Classroom

An exit routine is just as important as a welcome routine. It helps students to leave the classroom calmly, proud of what they have achieved and knowing what they have to do for homework. Some aspects to consider are making sure you give enough time for students to tidy up in order to avoid stress and chaos. How can you calmly communicate what students have to do for homework? Do you need to provide more detailed, printed instructions for some to students to glue into their workbooks? Do you need to make a quick video and post it to the school web for students to watch calmly at home and understand? Do you have a system for leaving in a calm and ordered way?

Seeing your students as individuals who each have their own strengths and challenges is vital. It is hard for one person to provide support to all, but small changes in class can go a long way to help all students achieve their goals. Do not try to take on everything all at once without support. You need your directors and fellow teachers to help you with ideas and extra care. Also, some changes take time. If something does not work the first time in class, such as implementing a new welcome routine, keep trying as changes need time to be understood and adapted to by students. I will leave you with the final thought by author Alexander Den Heijer: “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”

 

 

 

How Can Mediation Skills be Taught in the Classroom?

Mediation skills are a vital tool of communication both in your own language and also in the language you are learning. To communicate, we all have to take information, understand it, and then explain it to others. This sounds simple and easy, and you may ask, why do we need to teach this in our lessons? It takes a unique set of skills to be able to do this well and not to be either too dominant or unforthcoming when speaking with others, thus we need to focus on helping our students to develop this skill in class. Furthermore, it is a key assessment component in many exams, and the CEFR upon which many exams are based, breaks down the meaning of using mediation in groups and the English level to which they correspond:

Mediation scales

(Image taken from Completing the CEFR Descriptive Scheme: The CEFR Companion Volume, 2022)

 

What is mediation?

In simple terms, mediation means the ability to read or hear a message, understand it and then communicate it appropriately. This is more than just simple interaction, as mediation implies skills like leading a discussion, managing conflict within a group, proposing solutions, simplifying a message and so on. It requires the speaker to be aware of who they are speaking to and the context they are in to communicate successfully. The Council of Europe has broken down this concept into the image below:

Mediation

(Image taken from The Council of Europe, 2020)

As you can see, these skills are not only useful for students to use at school but are the types of skills most in demand by universities and employers. They are often referred to as future skills or employability skills in teaching course books. These refer to skills that cannot be carried out successfully by technology and still rely on humans to act. It is therefore well worth working on these in class to prepare our students for the future.

 

Teaching mediation skills in class

Your World, the Pearson course book for teenagers, is a great example of a book that consistently incorporates teaching future skills in class, especially mediation skills. Let’s look at an example of how to teach a mediation skills lesson in class. The lesson example comes from Your World 2.

Activity 1 & 2:

Mediation activities

 

The aim of the activity is for the students to participate in a group discussion and make a decision.

The mediation skill in practice is to collaborate in a group, work towards a common goal and give the opportunity for everyone to contribute their opinion. If we refer back to the Council of Europe mediation levels above, this activity is aimed at students wishing to achieve a B1 level.

Mediation

 

The activity begins with a warm-up for students to recall vocabulary regarding holidays and practice speaking interaction skills. The prepare stage helps students to understand and respond to the reading task about different styles of holidays. They are practicing their comprehension skills and learning new vocabulary. These four holiday suggestions will be used later in the mediation task.

Activity 3:

Mediation activity

The next stage is the scenario. It gives a realistic reason for students to talk together and presents some problems that they must consider when discussing. For example, it talks about what Sophie and Alex like and do not like which will also have to factor into what the students themselves like and dislike. This type of activity is by far the best kind of collaboration activity as it asks students to solve a problem together, as they would in real life. The question asks students to summarise in their own words what they have to do (which is another mediation activity: understand and summarise a text). An example answer could be: We need to agree on the best summer holiday activity for our group of friends.

Activity 4:

Mediation Activity 4 - Your World

The activity now clearly shows the students the aim of the activity. The aim is not a linguistic one – it is not ‘I will practice the present perfect’ (the course book has other grammar pages where this type of aim can be found) – but instead it is ‘ask others for their opinions, listen to their opinions and express your own opinions clearly, but respectfully.’ We obviously want students to practice their English language skills, but the focus in on how they interact in a group in order to achieve a desired outcome.

As the activity is clearly labelled as ‘mediation’ and the aims are written down in an easy-to-understand way for the students, they are very clear on how you will be assessing them as the criteria for success is clear for all. Furthermore, to help students achieve the task in English, there are some useful language expressions which students have already seen in an earlier unit in a different context, so it is an opportunity for students to practice and reinforce what they have seen before. As teachers, we can always extend the list of phrases if we feel our students need an extra challenge, and we can add in a pronunciation stage here to make sure that our students will be saying these phrases correctly.

Activity 5 and 6:

Mediation activities - Your World

Now students attempt the task. An example of a successful group task would look like this:

An example of a task that has areas to improve for next time would look like this:

Ma

Monitor students carefully as they do the task. Write down any errors they make, both mediation errors (e.g. if they laughed at a student’s idea and it was not very respectful) and also linguistic errors, such as pronunciation or grammar, but also make a note of things they did well. You will use these notes later.

Ask students to self-reflect in stage 6, which can help them to understand the feedback from you better. Students being able to recognize their own strengths and areas to improve on helps them to become more autonomous learners. Also, invite thew whole class to comment on what the group finally chose, as each group is likely to have chosen something different. Finally, you can put the positive feedback and areas to improve that you wrote down while students were completing the task on the board for whole class feedback. You can then let each group know what score they received for the task (this can be done privately or whole class depending on how you would like to give the feedback) and future recommendations.

Reflection

These types of tasks may seem very familiar to you already – setting a context for speaking, then monitoring and giving feedback. However, most teachers are still focusing on language errors during these activities. When practicing future skills such as mediation, please bear in mind that you need to be helping the students to develop other skills, and looking at the CEFR descriptors will help you when designing activities, modifying activities in your course book and then assessing them correctly. This will help students at school, during exams where they have a collaboration section that is assessed, and also in the future at university or at work.

Future skills: The best ways to implement them in the classroom  

Future skills: The best ways to implement them in the classroom  

Jobs of the future and our way of life is changing thanks to a variety of interconnected factors, such as globalisation, the growth of cities, artificial intelligence, technology and the environment. Therefore, preparing our students while they are at school to become comfortable with these changes and be leaders of the future is at the forefront of education plans across the globe.  

In Spain, the LOMLOE education law makes specific reference to this by focusing on digital competence, sustainable development and being a global citizen. Within that, there are 8 cross-curricular competences that children are developing throughout their school years to help them adapt to the world of the future. They are: 

  1. Linguistic  
  2. Plurilingual  
  3. STEM  
  4. Digital  
  5. Personal/Social/Learning to learn  
  6. Citizenship  
  7. Entrepreneurial  
  8. Cultural and artistic 

The Pearson and Oxford Martin School research project makes nuanced predictions about the future of work and skills in 2030 and beyond. According to their research, the most in-demand skills mirror what has been changed in the education system and what curriculums are focusing on. 

Top Future Skills for 2023

 These Future Skills can be placed into four main categories, making it easier for teachers to plan their lessons. They are: 

  • Communication 
  • Critical thinking 
  • Collaboration 
  • Creativity 

Traditionally, teachers have been paid for their skill in imparting knowledge and teaching memorisation techniques. This is now becoming obsolete. The widespread use of artificial intelligence means that the technology itself can reproduce facts at the touch of a button, thus reducing the importance of memorised details by our students. What artificial intelligence cannot do yet, or cannot do well, is to understand and use complex social, emotional, and creative skills. The teacher’s role is now about teaching how to work effectively. Students need to learn how to communicate a message clearly, work together, be creative and think critically. We, as teachers, need to place emphasis on teaching these skills, as they are very much taught and practiced, not developed naturally by students.  

How can we make a start in this? 

First of all, try to choose newer course books and materials that specifically address the needs and competencies outlined above. The Pearson course book Team Up Now! Is specifically focused on addressing the cross-curricular competencies outlined in the LOMLOE law, and each lesson plan is designed with those in mind, as well as the four Future Skills categories, the language goals and methods for evaluation. 

Future Skills activities - Team Up Now!

If you are not able to access materials of course books where these skills are added for you, then here are some ideas to incorporate them into your classes yourself. 

Communication 

This is what teachers have been planning and practising for decades – practising speaking, listening, reading and writing skills in class. But it is always good to remember some advice to help our students get the most out of a lesson.  

  • Try to limit your teacher talk time so that students can talk more together during the class. For example, instead of asking questions one by one to a class and students raise their hands to answer (you will always get a teacher-one student ratio), place the questions on the board and ask students to discuss in pairs. In that way, all your students are talking at the same time.  
  • Make sure students have a reason to listen to each other. Placing them in pairs for a discussion sometimes doesn’t work as they don’t see the need to listen to each other and wait their turn. If they can fill in information on a worksheet as they speak, or that they know you will ask them after the activity to give you a summary of what they discussed, students are more likely to pay attention to their partner! 
  • Once your class has learnt the rules of a fun activity with you, e.g. a speaking game, try handing over the role of the teacher to a student or students, thus minimising your speaking time. 
  • Make sure that sentence starters are visible on the board so that the discussion can go as smoothly as possible, phrases such as ‘I reckon…’ ‘I see what you mean, but…’ 
  • Every page of a course book has the opportunity for you to ask a question that personalises the learning. For example, if the Unit has been about travel, it is easy to add questions for students to discuss, such as how do you travel to school? What was your favourite ever journey? What do you think is the most comfortable/exciting/boring way to travel? 

Critical thinking 

Critical thinking practices and develops organizing, categorizing, predicting, interpreting, analysing and evaluating, summarizing, and decision-making skills.  

 We often use these skills in our course books with vocabulary, e.g. organising and categorising groups of words, 

Team Up Now! - 2nd Activity

and the rest of the skills we use them with listening and reading texts, such as here in activities 1, 3 and 4. 

Reading Activities on Team Up Now!

To help practice critical thinking skills, try: 

  • Think, pair and share: Before a story of listening, ask some questions to the students. Before they respond, they think about the answers themselves, quietly. Then, they talk to their partner and discuss their ideas. Finally, they share what they and their partner discussed with the class. 
  • With any vocabulary, you can invent some categorising criteria for students to sort, such as the sports example above. It is fine of some words overlap into multiple categories, as this will provoke discussion in pairs as to which category is the best fit.  
  • Use brainstorming charts to document students’ thoughts regarding “What I Know” and “What I Want to Know” before starting a unit and after learning has occurred, “What I Learned.” If any of the ‘What I Want to Know’ questions have not been addressed, add an extra stage before moving on to the next unit to either find out or discuss.  

Collaboration 

The ability to work with others is crucial. Making sure that students work in pairs, small groups, large groups is vital, a balance of gender grouping them with students of a similar level, or a mixed level are ways in which teachers can vary these interactions. This kind of collaboration also practices conflict resolution. Conflict will happen, as it is a part of life, but students get to practice how they resolve it in a safe environment and under your care.  

Here is a great lesson plan about conflict resolution from Education Foundation of Sarasota County and a conflict resolution wheel that can be used in class.  

Future Skills - wheel

Creativity 

This section is often the most fun in our lessons, and often it is the final project where most creativity takes place, but that doesn’t have to be the case. You can tweak and change your course book so that students can demonstrate that they have understood something, such as a grammar rule, by being more creative with how they show you.  

Ways to show what you know

This picture from www.fortheteachers.org shows that students can get creative in all stages of the lesson. For example,  

Team Up Now! Activity

In this lesson, students communicate by asking and answering their partner what they are good at. Instead, students may choose to practice the grammar by pretending they are interviewing each other on a talk show, inventing a questionnaire about what the class is good add and displaying the information in a chart format. It’s a great way for students to be themselves and get creative with what interests them.  

This article has barely scratched the surface of how you can incorporate Future Skills into your classroom, but it is important to note that it doesn’t need to be time consuming or take your time away from teaching a language. When planning a lesson or series of lessons, try to identify tasks in the course book that could or do practice these future skills. Is there a balance of tasks, or are you mostly covering communication skills and not enough critical thinking skills? From there, you can identify where would be a good point to add in a mini-stage or activity to address the balance.