English: Productive And Receptive Skills

English Language Mastery -- Speaking and Writing

English mastery (English as a foreign language) is divided into two skills: receptive and productive. Understanding written and spoken English is categorized as receptive skill; while writing and speaking are referred to as productive skill.

In my opinion, most students of English find it easier to master receptive skills (understanding grammar, reading English text, and listening to spoken English) than productive skills (speaking and writing). This does not mean that speaking and writing are more difficult. It is simply because students have been exposed to target language items through grammar drills, reading comprehension, and listening to tapes without students being drilled in how to express their ideas both in writing and speaking.

I have read all English books to be used in schools. Few chapters are seriously intended for improving students’ productive skills. Most chapters center on reading and listening comprehensions and grammatical exercises. With such a methodology, I would say that students of English will not have mastered productive skills by the time they finish their study.

Among students of English, I am sure there are a few who can master both receptive and productive skills.

I have talked to a few people who, according to me, can speak fluently but based on the result of the English grammar and reading test, their receptive skills are still weak.

According to me, the best methodology in teaching a foreign language is to a natural approach if the learning objective is to train students in order that they will be able to speak and write. With the natural approach, students are forced to express their ideas in the target language, and teachers are not allowed to use his or her first language. Teaching materials that will help are drawings, pictures, video tapes, and others. Teachers are expected to be more active in using the target language to make students exposed to the sound and language items to be taught.

Depending on the level, students are gradually introduced to grammatical points and some reading comprehensions. Usually, when students of English have already mastered in speaking and writing, they find it easy to grammar easily.


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