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Facilitating Adult Learner Interactions to Build Listening and Speaking Skills

McKay, Sharon
Schaetzel, Kirsten
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation: 
Center for Applied Linguistics
Resource Type: 
Number of Pages: 
Required Training: 

This product requires no training to read or use, however further training would elaborate on the suggestions made for practice.


This practical resource stresses the importance of building oral (speaking and listening) communicative skills necessary for the workplace and community. It provides a review of the research that undergirds learner interaction. Then it addresses how to prepare to teach communication skills (e.g., selecting topics, communication styles, and specific skills learners need). The last five pages introduce appropriate activities to increase the amount of classroom communication, as well as, student ability. A small section specifically addresses beginning and literacy-level students.

What the Experts Say: 

Reviewer 1:

This paper provides a strong research-based rationale for promoting interaction in the classroom. It gives teachers language to articulate the positive effects of practice. There are many classroom strategies described. The information would be very helpful in leading teachers to reflect more deeply on the subject of interaction, which they may take for granted as an obvious part of the day's routine. This article is both practical and thought-provoking. It makes a reader think of further questions to pursue and would motivate teachers to be more intentional in this area.

Useful Features:

  • There are a number of smart ideas for practitioners to try and a good amount of food for thought ( e.g., Explain the rationale for activities to learners)
  • Table I is a tidy overview of where and how interaction can be included in a language lesson. A more detailed description of the steps follows and offers specific techniques for each of the language stages.
  • It addresses evaluation and feedback activities in a concrete way. This step is often overlooked. The suggestions for criteria would be helpful in teaching learners how to assess their own learning.
  • A few additional ideas are offered for Beginning/Literacy level students.

Reviewer 2:

This resource provides a brief overview of the research on learner interaction and its role in ESL learning, and ideas for using interaction in the classroom. It is useful in providing theoretical background of why interaction is useful in an ESL classroom, particularly as a professional development piece. It could be included in a packet for teachers accompanying training on conducting interactive activities in the ESL classroom. Those that do not have a strong background in Second Language Acquisition theory may need additional supporting or further information. However, the reference list provides a good place to start exploring this aspect of second language acquisition in more depth.

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