Strategies and Techniques for Teaching Speaking
Педагогика и дидактика
In the communicative model of language teaching, instructors help their students develop this body of knowledge by providing authentic practice that prepares students for real-life communication situations.
Language learners need to recognize that speaking involves three areas of knowledge:
In the communicative model of language teaching, instructors help their students develop this body of knowledge by providing authentic practice that prepares students for real-life communication situations. They help their students develop the ability to produce grammatically correct, logically connected sentences that are appropriate to specific contexts, and to do so using acceptable (that is, comprehensible) pronunciation.
The goal of teaching speaking skills is communicative efficiency. Learners should be able to make themselves understood, using their current proficiency to the fullest. They should try to avoid confusion in the message due to faulty pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary, and to observe the social and cultural rules that apply in each communication situation. To help students develop communicative efficiency in speaking, instructors can use a balanced activities approach that combines language input, structured output, and communicative output.
Language input comes in the form of teacher talk, listening activities, reading passages, and the language heard and read outside of class. It gives learners the material they need to begin producing language themselves.
Language input may be content oriented or form oriented.
In the presentation part of a lesson, an instructor combines content-oriented and form-oriented input. The amount of input that is actually provided in the target language depends on students listening proficiency and also on the situation. For students at lower levels, or in situations where a quick explanation on a grammar topic is needed, an explanation in English may be more appropriate than one in the target language.
Structured output focuses on correct form. In structured output, students may have options for responses, but all of the options require them to use the specific form or structure that the teacher has just introduced. Structured output is designed to make learners comfortable producing specific language items recently introduced, sometimes in combination with previously learned items. Instructors often use structured output exercises as a transition between the presentation stage and the practice stage of a lesson plan. Textbook exercises also often make good structured output practice activities.
In communicative output, the learners main purpose is to complete a task, such as obtaining information, developing a travel plan, or creating a video. To complete the task, they may use the language that the instructor has just presented, but they also may draw on any other vocabulary, grammar, and communication strategies that they know. In communicative output activities, the criterion of success is whether the learner gets the message across. Accuracy is not a consideration unless the lack of it interferes with the message.
In everyday communication, spoken exchanges take place because there is some sort of information gap between the participants. Communicative output activities involve a similar real information gap. In order to complete the task, students must reduce or eliminate the information gap. In these activities, language is a tool, not an end in itself.
In a balanced activities approach, the teacher uses a variety of activities from these different categories of input and output. Learners at all proficiency levels, including beginners, benefit from this variety; it is more motivating, and it is also more likely to result in effective language learning.
Students often think that the ability to speak a language is the product of language learning, but speaking is also a crucial part of the language learning process. Effective instructors teach students speaking strategies using minimal responses, recognizing scripts, and using language to talk about language which they can use to help themselves expand their knowledge of the language and their confidence in using it. These instructors help students learn to speak so that the students can use speaking to learn.
Language learners who lack confidence in their ability to participate successfully in oral interaction often listen in silence while others do the talking. One way to encourage such learners to begin to participate is to help them build up a stock of minimal responses that they can use in different types of exchanges. Such responses can be especially useful for beginners. Minimal responses are predictable, often idiomatic phrases that conversation participants use to indicate understanding, agreement, doubt, and other responses to what another speaker is saying. Having a stock of such responses enables a learner to focus on what the other participant is saying, without having to simultaneously plan a response.
Some communication situations are associated with a predictable set of spoken exchanges a script. Greetings, apologies, compliments, invitations, and other functions that are influenced by social and cultural norms often follow patterns or scripts. So do the transactional exchanges involved in activities such as obtaining information and making a purchase. In these scripts, the relationship between a speakers turn and the one that follows it can often be anticipated. Instructors can help students develop speaking ability by making them aware of the scripts for different situations so that they can predict what they will hear and what they will need to say in response. Through interactive activities, instructors can give students practice in managing and varying the language that different scripts contain.
Using language to talk about language
Language learners are often too embarrassed or shy to say anything when they do not understand another speaker or when they realize that a conversation partner has not understood them. Instructors can help students overcome this reticence by assuring them that misunderstanding and the need for clarification can occur in any type of interaction, whatever the participants language skill levels. Instructors can also give students strategies and phrases to use for clarification and comprehension check.
By encouraging students to use clarification phrases in class when misunderstanding occurs and by responding positively when they do, instructors can create an authentic practice environment within the classroom itself. As they develop control of various clarification strategies, students will gain confidence in their ability to manage the various communication situations that they may encounter outside the classroom.
Traditional classroom speaking practice often takes the form of drills in which one person asks a question and another gives an answer. The question and the answer are structured and predictable, and often there is only one correct, predetermined answer. The purpose of asking and answering the question is to demonstrate the ability to ask and answer the question.
In contrast, the purpose of real communication is to accomplish a task, such as conveying a telephone message, obtaining information, or expressing an opinion. In real communication, participants must manage uncertainty about what the other person will say. Authentic communication involves an information gap; each participant has information that the other does not have. In addition, to achieve their purpose, participants may have to clarify their meaning or ask for confirmation of their own understanding.
To create classroom speaking activities that will develop communicative competence, instructors need to incorporate a purpose and an information gap and allow for multiple forms of expression. However, quantity alone will not necessarily produce competent speakers. Instructors need to combine structured output activities, which allow for error correction and increased accuracy, with communicative output activities that give students opportunities to practice language use more freely.
Structured Output Activities
Two common kinds of structured output activities are information gap and jigsaw activities. In both these types of activities, students complete a task by obtaining missing information, a feature the activities have in common with real communication. However, information gap and jigsaw activities also set up practice on specific items of language. In this respect they are more like drills than like communication.
Information Gap Activities
These activities may be set up so that the partners must practice more than just grammatical and lexical features. For example, the timetable activity gains a social dimension when one partner assumes the role of a student trying to make an appointment with a partner who takes the role of a professor. Each partner has pages from an appointment book in which certain dates and times are already filled in and other times are still available for an appointment. Of course, the open times dont match exactly, so there must be some polite negotiation to arrive at a mutually convenient time for a meeting or a conference.
Jigsaw activities are more elaborate information gap activities that can be done with several partners. In a jigsaw activity, each partner has one or a few pieces of the “puzzle,” and the partners must cooperate to fit all the pieces into a whole picture. The puzzle piece may take one of several forms. It may be one panel from a comic strip or one photo from a set that tells a story. It may be one sentence from a written narrative. It may be a tape recording of a conversation, in which case no two partners hear exactly the same conversation.
With information gap and jigsaw activities, instructors need to be conscious of the language demands they place on their students. If an activity calls for language your students have not already practiced, you can brainstorm with them when setting up the activity to preview the language they will need, eliciting what they already know and supplementing what they are able to produce themselves.
Structured output activities can form an effective bridge between instructor modeling and communicative output because they are partly authentic and partly artificial. Like authentic communication, they feature information gaps that must be bridged for successful completion of the task. However, where authentic communication allows speakers to use all of the language they know, structured output activities lead students to practice specific features of language and to practice only in brief sentences, not in extended discourse. Also, structured output situations are contrived and more like games than real communication, and the participants social roles are irrelevant to the performance of the activity. This structure controls the number of variables that students must deal with when they are first exposed to new material. As they become comfortable, they can move on to true communicative output activities.
Communicative Output Activities
Communicative output activities allow students to practice using all of the language they know in situations that resemble real settings. In these activities, students must work together to develop a plan, resolve a problem, or complete a task. The most common types of communicative output activity are role plays and discussions.
Students are assigned roles and put into situations that they may eventually encounter outside the classroom. Because role plays imitate life, the range of language functions that may be used expands considerably. Also, the role relationships among the students as they play their parts call for them to practice and develop their sociolinguistic competence. They have to use language that is appropriate to the situation and to the characters.
Students usually find role playing enjoyable, but students who lack self-confidence or have lower proficiency levels may find them intimidating at first. To succeed with role plays:
These succeed when the instructor prepares students first, and then gets out of the way. To succeed with discussions:
Through well-prepared communicative output activities such as role plays and discussions, you can encourage students to experiment and innovate with the language, and create a supportive atmosphere that allows them to make mistakes without fear of embarrassment. This will contribute to their self-confidence as speakers and to their motivation to learn more.
Material for this section was drawn from “Spoken language: What it is and how to teach it” by Grace Stovall Burkart, in Modules for the professional preparation of teaching assistants in foreign languages (Grace Stovall Burkart, ed.; Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics, 1998)
for better ORAL COMMUNICATION!
Having good oral skills means that you can show competence in the following abilities:
You are expected to communicate effectively in a wide range of speech situations. These can be fairly formal or informal discussions; they could be stimulated by written texts, visual material, television or tape, or a prepared talk given by one of your group. You may be asked to take part in a one-to-one situation (e.g. in a conversation with one other person or in an interview situation), in a role-playing exercise (e.g. taking on the role of an interviewee at a job interview) or to improvise in drama.
A Store of Speaking Activities
Booked package holiday Las Palmas; with parents; fortnight in the sun; my account of the “ups and downs”.
First time flying: first time abroad; nervous but controlled nerves after take off.
First few days: sunburnt too much sunbathing; tried local foods enjoyed; beach, trips to interesting sights; disco in evening. Made new friends.
Leaving: very sad; exchanged addresses; flight home; presents, duty free; pouring on arrival.
Would go back; learnt from experience strange customs, different ways. Hope to go abroad every year from now on.
Why do you ask?
Ive lost my contact lens.
The acting was OK.
Dont worry theyll turn up somewhere.
Oh, listen to you talk!
As far as I know.
Oh, I think its just come in.
Im used to it.
A: I remember 2003. It was the year I had my accident. Do you remember?
B: Yes, it was the year I … / No, not really.
Look at this list of subjects we study in school:
English Mathematics Art
Geography Physics Physical Education
Chemistry Biology Literature
Students work individually for five minutes. They choose one of the subjects they particularly like, and list three reasons for liking this subject. They choose one of the subjects they particularly disliked, and list three reasons for disliking this subject. Now the teacher goes round the class and finds out if anyone liked or disliked the same subjects as the teacher. The teacher finds out the reasons people gave for liking or disliking a subject and makes a list under the headings below:
Reasons for liking a subject Reasons for disliking a subject
The first national Bank Littleton, Massachusetts, has received a loan application from Bob Smith. He wants to borrow $20,000 to start a shoe store in his hometown. From the application itself and from conversations with people in Bobs hometown, the loan officer has the following information to consider.
What can mice/humans do?
Can mice/humans …?
Can mice/humans … very well?
Mice/humans can …? Etc.
By Lindsay Wilbanks
After receiving some feedback on the newsletter, I have decided to change the organization of this section. Instead of telling you where you can go to get the information, I have provided the information right here in the newsletter.
From Daves ESL Café (www.eslcafe.com):
Goals: Listening-Speaking; reducing stutters
First, the teacher prepares some discussion topics. The class is then divided into groups of 3-4 students. Each group will get a number and a topic that all members have to talk about in three minutes. The first group starts with their topic; lets say its favourite foods, while the other groups listen. The group members should talk about their favorite foods without stutters. If they happen to talk out of the topic or produce any stutters, the other groups may say "just a minute!" and the group who caught them continues talking about favourite foods. Once the three minutes is up, whichever group is speaking gets some points. Continue with the second group and keep going until all of the groups have had the chance to start their topics. Whoever has the most points wins.
Happy You are my best friend.
Angry I really love apple pie.
Sad Angela is the best teacher.
Surprised No one is going on the trip.
Distressed I studied all night long.
Lovingly You hurt my feelings.
Ashamed My dog is named Pepper.
Tired I hate going to the doctor.
Excited My sister is in Jamaica.
Bored Do you like your classes?
Mysterious You shouldnt say that!
Cowardly Who told you that?
Unsympathetic Is that true?
Agitated I cant believe it!
Hopeful Why are you bothering me?
Enraged Why is the sky blue?
Time: 20-25 minutes
This is a lesson on describing appearances. It even works well in large classes! First teach/ revise vocabulary: parts of the body, hair color, eye color, clothes etc. Add distinguishing features for fun: scars, tattoos, earrings, etc. Next, explain the job of a Police Artist - this person creates a drawing from a witness's description. Then, ask the class to form pairs. Student A is the Police Artist, Student B is the witness. Tell all the witnesses they have just seen a thief rob the bank! They must describe the person to the artist, who draws the picture. Finally, ask the artists to hold up their pictures and describe the thief to the class.
*Another idea is to call an artist to the blackboard. Different students can add to the description as the artist draws.
Time: 5-15 minutes
First, review question words: who, what, why, when, where, how etc. The teacher asks a student a question. Student answers, then calls to another student and asks them a question. Rules: The students cant ask the same question twice and they can't begin with the same question word twice in a row.
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