speaking

 

After my last post on reading comprehension tips, I have decided to write about tips to teach speaking. The tips have three different sources, which are between parentheses. The ones which were written by me are based on my teaching experience. Following are twelve tips meant to help students get the most out of speaking activities, not necessarily in the order presented.

 

Tip 1: In order to promote as much student participation as possible and increase student talking time, especially in large classes, it can be useful to have students work in small groups (three or four students), rather than with the whole class. (World English Series)

Tip 2: Being given an opportunity to confirm and discuss answers with a peer can help students’ understanding of a theme or language and therefore increase their confidence in answering in front of the whole class. (World English Series)

Tip 3: Having students think about what they want to say before they do a speaking activity and write down key words (not whole sentences), helps them participate more effectively and, therefore, be more successful. If students are more successful with in-class speaking activities, this will help them become more confident and fluent when speaking in English both in and out of class. (World English Series)

Tip 4: Make sure students use the level of formality that suits a situation/context. This is called appropriacy. (The TKT Course)

Tip 5: Students should know the appropriate language they have to use to function in a speaking activity so that they can perform the task more successfully. (The TKT Course)

Tip 6: Setting a time limit helps students know when they should stop talking. This may be helpful as students can see the activity as doable. (myself)

Tip 7: Having students role play the same conversation again with a different pair can give them the chance to correct the mistakes they made in the first role-play making them more confident and giving them the chance to increase student talking time. (myself)

Tip 8: Before having students role play a conversation, divide the class in two groups (A and B). Have A students brainstorm arguments/ideas for the task before they actually perform it. B students should do the same. If you have a large class, you can have two A groups and two B groups, or more. This helps them have more ideas prior to the role-play and make them feel more confident. (myself)

Tip 9: Asking students to report the content of their pair work activity to another student or to the whole class helps them focus more on the activity as they know they need to remember the main idea of their conversation, helping them to work on a very important skill which is summarizing. Furthermore, they will practice talking about other people not only about themselves. While a student is reporting to the whole class, the other ones can be encouraged to ask questions. This will definitely be a much more meaningful and interesting activity. (myself)

Tip 10: From time to time, ask students to record themselves delivering a 30-second speech on a given topic. Also, give them a check-list so that they can assess themselves on their performance. By working on this kind of activity, you help student become independent and give them a reason to speak English out of class. (myself)

Tip 11: Establish a policy in which students speak in English in class, not only when they are working on a speaking activity, but also when they want to ask/say something which is meaningful to them. When students use the target language in this situation, it is much more likely that they will learn faster and retain the information due to the relevance of the utterance. (myself)

Tip 12: So that students are encouraged to use new vocabulary and grammar structures, it is paramount that you use them in class. By doing so, students will see that they are not only used in books. (myself)

 

References:

World English Series, Second Edition. National Geographic Learning and Cengage Learning, 2015.

 

Spratt, Pulverness &Williams. The TKT Course. Cambridge University Press, 2005.

 

Paulo Torres
Paulo Torres holds a B.A. in English & English Literature from UFES and a post graduate diploma in New Educational Technology Tools from FIJ. He has been in ELT for 20 years. He is a teacher and teacher trainer based in Vitória/ES. He also worked as a pedagogical coordinator for 10 years. He has been a board member of Associação dos Professores de Inglês do Espírito Santo (APIES) since 2010 and the president of Cooperativa dos Professores de Línguas do Espírito Santo (COOPERLING) since 2014. He has also been working as a freelance academic consultant at Cengage Learning for 3 years and as an English teacher at Prefeitura Municipal de Vitória for 4 years.