Some techniques for developing soft skills in foreign language lessons with university students | Статья в журнале «Образование и воспитание»

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Рубрика: Высшее профессиональное образование

Опубликовано в Образование и воспитание №2 (33) апрель 2021 г.

Дата публикации: 30.03.2021

Статья просмотрена: 1 раз

Библиографическое описание:

Федорова, М. Л. Some techniques for developing soft skills in foreign language lessons with university students / М. Л. Федорова. — Текст : непосредственный // Образование и воспитание. — 2021. — № 2 (33). — С. 74-76. — URL: (дата обращения: 19.04.2021).

In the article some methods of building up students’ soft skills are considered.

Keywords: soft skills, ability, competencies, foreign language, methods of training.

The concept of «soft» skills is not yet familiar to everyone and is considered to be understood poorly. Despite this, experts in the field of sociology and psychology claim that it is soft skills that determine how quickly a person moves up the career ladder, whether they build social connections productively and how satisfied they are with their relationships with other people in general. The most popular is the «4K» model, which presents the main key competencies necessary for training in the modern world. They include: communication, cooperation, creativity, critical thinking. This component of the 21st century skills model was developed by Partnership for 21st Century Learning in 2002, but only in 2012 the importance of these competencies was confirmed by the AMA (American Management Association) study [1]. One of the tasks of the educational system today is to prepare a competent educated person who wants to perform actively analytical, creative work, who is motivated to self-development and self-realization.

Training students only in technical and academic skills is not enough to achieve success in this field. Since any language is, first of all, a way of communication, and a student who simply knows a technical set of rules and vocabulary will not be able to fully realize all the skills of the language and develop them at the proper level. In this regard, the question arises, which skills and abilities are most effective in teaching foreign languages. Scientists have long proved that the development of «flexible» skills in the process of teaching a foreign language complements professional training with «universalism, which allows the individual to quickly adapt and achieve success in the conditions of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of the modern world» [2].

It is important for students to master the tool with which you can earn a profit — get a promotion, present a project, get up-to-date information, etc. And this change in the aims of the learners cannot be ignored by the teacher.

Teachers can update their lessons and make them more practical for students by simultaneously practicing soft skills — general skills and personal qualities that are necessary in the modern world for most working people. Some of these skills are already developed in the classroom — communication, teamwork, presentation, and even job interview are already available in most courses. All that remains for the teacher to do is to focus on them and add the missing skills: leadership, time management and customer service.

A. A. Verbitsky also points out the need for a radical change in the educational paradigm. As a replacement for the existing model, it offers contextual learning [5]. It is understood as teaching, in which the subject and social content of the future professional activity of students is consistently modeled in the language of sciences and with the help of the entire system of forms, methods and means of teaching — traditional and new. Some elements of the proposed technologies could be successfully applied and are being applied in the teaching of individual academic disciplines, and they could contribute to the formation of flexible skills. One of the most effective techniques is the use of mini-group forms of work. The mini-group form of educational activity organization is particularly relevant and important in the context of teaching such a general cycle discipline as a foreign language. The purpose of mastering this discipline in higher education is to form the following general soft skills: ability to communicate orally and in writing in Russian and foreign languages to solve problems of interpersonal and intercultural interaction; ability to work in a team, to perceive social, ethnic, confessional and cultural differences with tolerance. Thus, it is obvious that in addition to the formation of foreign language speech competence, a foreign language teacher should pay attention to working on such flexible skills and abilities of the XXI century. It is mini-group forms of training that contributes to the formation of these skills. Group / pair forms of work allow the teacher to use the classroom time most effectively, while solving the maximum number of methodological tasks. Let's look at them in more detail.

  1. Reproduction of a real communication situation. With the right choice of tasks, situationality and functionality of the selection of language material, group and pair work allows you to create an atmosphere of real communication. You can use such a task as a job interview. To bring the job interview in your lessons closer to reality, try yourself as a picky and selective interviewer. Role-cards and taboo with unfamiliar subjects will help students develop their communication skills (this will especially help students when the right word goes out of their head at an important moment), training conversations on the phone (or with their backs to each other), emotionally set situations — «You are not checked into a hotel for 2 hours, you are tired, etc.». During normal team work, the following happens: constant distribution of roles-and strong students inevitably become leaders. This can be avoided by using role-cards. You can also analyze and discuss teamwork and leadership directly with your students. After that, they pull their role and must match it when completing the task. For interest in positive and neutral roles, you can add the pest role.

The main problem in the development of the presentation skill is the fact that the class is not listening to the speaker. In such a situation, students simply do not want to talk. To correct the situation, the teacher should give students additional incentives — for example, by voting to choose the most promising project, buy the best product, etc. In this case, students learn to listen critically and analyze others-and yes, it's all in English. So in your lessons, you will avoid a situation where one speaks, and the others are just waiting for their turn. You can also organize teamwork. Assign 2–4 captains and give them the task: to recruit a team for your project (define the project topic in advance). Their task is to interview people, form their own team and then present it. To help students learn how to manage their own time, don't be afraid to set strict time limits for completing tasks and teach them Time-management. Set a timer or display the time on the projector. For a change, you can assign a person responsible for the timing in each team.

Customer service & selling is the most interesting to develop. Here, be inspired by absolutely any, even the most ridiculous, situations: ask students to sell you or each other a plot on the Moon or an elephant in Africa; dissuade you from buying or even go to a competitor (and argue all this). The task can be complicated: give students a choice of several subjects and discuss their benefits. Choose the most useful and most useless item. And ask them to sell the most useless!

  1. Creating an emotionally comfortable atmosphere that promotes free exchange of opinions and active participation of all students in the classroom. According to a number of studies, working in pairs or mini-groups is often the most comfortable form for a student to practice speaking skills and develop emotional intelligence as one of the most important components of social competence [2]. Often, due to a low level of foreign language proficiency or due to a number of personal psychological characteristics, students are not ready to express their point of view in front of a large audience, or, for fear of making a mistake and thinking that this will inevitably lead to a loss of points, even in front of a teacher. It is much easier for such students to exchange opinions and conduct a discussion in a couple or a mini-group. 3. Reallocation of the roles of teacher and student. Pair / group work helps to limit the leading role of the teacher. Using foreign methodological terminology, we can talk about reducing the so-called teacher talking time (the time allotted to the teacher's speech in the lesson) and increasing the student talking time (the time of students ' speech). Thus, the student has more opportunities for direct communication using a foreign language. And this, in turn, is a key condition for the effective formation of the speaking skill (acting as a simultaneous hard and soft skill), since it seems impossible to teach a student to communicate in a foreign language without giving him the opportunity to speak a foreign language in the classroom. 4. Use of alternative control methods. Paired and group forms of work allow you to effectively use such alternative forms of assessment as evaluation rubrics, self-assessment and peer-assessment.

These methods contribute to the development of critical thinking and the formation of skills for analyzing one's own achievements, which are extremely important for further professional success. Effective use of the above advantages is possible only with the competent organization of mini-group work. By changing the composition of pairs/groups, the teacher gives students a chance to enrich their language repertoire by communicating with different classmates, and also helps to unite all students within their large study group. When assigning students to groups/ pairs, the teacher should take into account the level of formation of their language competence.

At the present stage of society's development, there is an acute shortage of professionals with well-developed flexible skills. Thus, the task of higher school teachers is to ensure a high level of formation of supra-professional competencies

All these skills are applicable not only at work, they are really necessary in real life. When people develop these skills, also in English — they gain confidence in their command of English, increases motivation to study the subject, meeting the requirements and meeting the expectations of the modern generation of students, contributes to the development of the most important flexible skills that determine the professional success of graduates of higher education.


  1. Association, American Management Critical Skills Survey.p. 1–10. 2012.
  2. Сollins.- HarperCollins Publishers,2008. URL:
  3. Klaus P. The Hard Truth about Soft Skills:Workplace Lessons Smart People Wish They'd Learned Sooner: Harper Collins, 2008. 205 p.
  4. Kozar O. Towards better group work: Seeing the Difference between Cooperation and Collaboration. English Teaching Forum, 2010. — Number 2: Т. 48. p.16–23.
  5. Вербицкий А. А. Становление новой образовательной парадигмы в российском образовании // Образование и наука. 2012. № 60. C. 5–18.

Ключевые слова

foreign language, soft skills, ability, competencies, methods of training
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