Product or process?

Teaching productive skills
Product or process?
When we teach productive skills, we can use a product or a process approach (or a combination of these), but is there a tendency to use one of these for speaking and another for writing and if so, why?

Video transcript - Product vs process?

Someone asked me recently about teaching productive skills – that’s writing and speaking- and an interesting question occurred to me, so I’d like your thoughts- are you ready?

I’m Jo Gakonga from, I’m a teacher educator, a CELTA trainer and Assessor, a campervan owner and I run a website at with helpful material for English teachers at all stages of their careers.

Teaching productive skills is often divided into a product or a process approach. Without going into too much detail here, the product approach focuses on the end result, the final product of the language learner's output, such as a piece of writing or a speech. So the emphasis is on accuracy, grammatical correctness, and the clarity of the language. The teacher gives the class a model to follow, and they practice producing something similar in a controlled way.

On the other hand, the process approach emphasizes the process of producing language, rather than just the final product so there’s more focus on developing the learner's ability to communicate their ideas effectively, using appropriate language and style. The idea is that it encourages learners to experiment with language, take risks, and reflect on their language. The learners do the task without too much input and then the teacher gives them feedback on the content and the language and they can redraft, maybe more than once, to help them improve.

Now, of course, these aren’t mutually exclusive and you could definitely use elements of both of these approaches when you’re teaching productive skills.

But what it occurred to me was that when we teach writing in class, the way that most coursebooks arrange it is to start with some kind of model (and personally, I think that’s pretty helpful) – a product approach- but when we teach speaking, it’s much more likely that the book takes more of a process approach and (with some notably exceptions) you don’t often get models of discussion or speaking tasks.

So here’s my question – do YOU usually follow this pattern? Does your coursebook usually follow this pattern? Product for writing and Process for speaking- and if so is this the best way to do things? Just asking….looking forward to seeing what you think.

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