Ways to teach and improve speaking skills

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This book helps to make students more active in the learning process and at the same time make their learning more meaningful and fun for them.
2. speaking
Speaking is "the process of building and sharing meaning through the use of
verbal and non-verbal symbols, in a variety of contexts" (Chaney, 1998, p. 13)
Speaking is an interactive process of constructing meaning that
involves producing and receiving and processing information (Brown,
1994; Burns & Joyce, 1997). Speaking is a crucial part of second language
learning and teaching. Despite its importance, for many years, teaching
speaking has been undervalued and English language teachers have
continued to teach speaking just as a repetition of drills or memorization of
dialogues. However, today's world requires that the goal of teaching speaking
should improve students' communicative skills, because, only in that way,
students can express themselves and learn how to follow the social and
cultural rules appropriate in each communicative circumstance,therfor,recent
pedagogical research on teaching students conversation has provided some
parameters for developing objectives and techniques.
3. Teaching Speaking
Speaking English is the main goal of many adult learners. Their
personalities play a large role in determining how quickly and how
correctly they will accomplish this goal. Those who are risk-takers
unafraid of making mistakes will generally be more talkative, but with
many errors that could become hard to break habits. Conservative, shy
students may take a long time to speak confidently, but when they do, their
English often contains fewer errors and they will be proud of their English
ability. It's a matter of quantity vs. quality, and neither approach is wrong
so how shall we prioritize the two clearly important speaker goals of
accurate(clear, articulate,grammatically and phonologically
correct)language and fluent(flowing,natural)language? However, if the
aim of speaking is communication and that does not require perfect
English, then it makes sense to encourage quantity in your classroom.
Break the silence and get students communicating with whatever English
they can use, correct or not, , and selectively address errors.
4. Speaking lessons often tie in pronunciation and
grammar which are necessary for effective oral
communication. Or a grammar or reading lesson
may incorporate a speaking activity. Either way,
your students will need some preparation before the
speaking task. This includes introducing the topic
and providing a model of the speech they are to
produce. A model may not apply to discussion-type
activities, in which case students will need clear and
specific instructions about the task to be
accomplished. Then the students will practice with
the actual speaking activity.
5. These activities may include imitating (repeating),
answering verbal cues, interactive conversation, or an
oral presentation
Here are some ideas to keep in mind as you plan
your speaking activities.
6. Content
As much as possible, the content should be practical
and usable in real-life situations. Avoid too much new
vocabulary or grammar, and focus on speaking with
the language the students have.
7. Correcting Errors
You need to provide appropriate feedback and
correction, but don't interrupt the flow of
communication. Take notes while pairs or groups are
talking and address problems to the class after the
activity without embarrassing the student who made
the error. You can write the error on the board and
ask who can correct it.
8. Quantity vs. Quality
Address both interactive fluency and accuracy,
striving foremost for communication. Get to know
each learner's personality and encourage the quieter
ones to take more risks
9. Conversation Strategies
Encourage strategies like asking for clarification,
paraphrasing, gestures, and initiating ('hey,' 'so,' 'by
the way').
10. Teacher Intervention
If a speaking activity loses steam, you may need to
jump into a role-play, ask more discussion questions,
clarify your instructions, or stop an activity that is
too difficult or boring.
11. How To Teach Speaking
Now many linguistics and ESL teachers agree on that
students learn to speak in the second language by
"interacting". Communicative language teaching and
collaborative learning serve best for this aim.
Communicative language teaching is based on real-life
situations that require communication. By using this
method in ESL classes, students will have the
opportunity of communicating with each other in the
target language. In brief, ESL teachers should create a
classroom environment where students have real-life
communication, authentic activities, and meaningful
tasks that promote oral language. This can occur when
students collaborate in groups to achieve a goal or to
complete a task.
12. Activities To Promote Speaking
 Discussion
 Role Play
 Simulation
 Information Gap
 Brainstorming
 Storytelling
 Interviews
 Story Completion
 Picture Narrating
 Picture Describing
 Find the Difference
13. Discussions
After a content-based lesson, a discussion can be held for various reasons.
The students may aim to arrive at a conclusion, share ideas about an
event, or find solutions in their discussion groups. Before the discussion,
it is essential that the purpose of the discussion activity is set by the
teacher. In this way, the discussion points are relevant to this purpose, so
that students do not spend their time chatting with each other about
irrelevant things. For example, students can become involved in
agree/disagree discussions. In this type of discussions, the teacher can
form groups of students, preferably 4 or 5 in each group, and provide
controversial sentences like “people learn best when they read vs. people
learn best when they travel”. Then each group works on their topic for a
given time period, and presents their opinions to the class. It is essential
that the speaking should be equally divided among group members. At
the end, the class decides on the winning group who defended the idea in
the best way. This activity fosters critical thinking and quick decision
making, and students learn how to express and justify themselves in
polite ways while disagreeing with the others. For efficient group
discussions, it is always better not to form large groups, because quiet
students may avoid contributing in large groups. The group members can
be either assigned by the teacher or the students may determine it by
themselves, but groups should be rearranged in every discussion activity
so that students can work with various people and learn to be open to
different ideas.
14. Teachers can come out with interesting,
authentic and essential topics that students can
discuss or talk about especially in the target
language. The related topics should be easy and
understandable. As a start ESL teachers can
relate the topics with students' interests before
moving to serious topics like national issues or
the world politics. Lastly , in class or group
discussions, whatever the aim is, the students
should always be encouraged to ask questions,
paraphrase ideas, express support, check for
clarification, and so on.
15. Role Play
One other way of getting students to speak is role-
playing. Students pretend they are in various social
contexts and have a variety of social roles. In role-
play activities, the teacher gives information to the
learners such as who they are and what they think or
feel. Thus, the teacher can tell the student that "You
are Ali, you go to the doctor and tell him what
happened last night, and what they think or feel.
16. Simulations
Simulations are very similar to role-plays but what
makes simulations different than role plays is that they
are more elaborate. In simulations, students can bring
items to the class to create a realistic environment. For
instance, if a student is acting as a singer, she or he
brings a microphone to sing and so on. Role plays and
simulations have many advantages. First, since they are
entertaining, they motivate the students. Second, as
Harmer (1984) suggests, they increase the self-
confidence of hesitant students, because in role play and
simulation activities, they will have a different role and
do not have to speak for themselves, which means they
do not have to take the same responsibility.
17. Information Gap
In this activity, students are supposed to be working in
pairs. One student will have the information that other
partner does not have and the partners will share their
information. Information gap activities serve many
purposes such as solving a problem or collecting
information. Also, each partner plays an important role
because the task cannot be completed if the partners do
not provide the information the others need. These
activities are effective because everybody has the
opportunity to talk extensively in the target language.
18. Information-gap activities
Person’s name From Occupation Weekends Movies
Sarah (female) Doctor Romance
Professor Go fishing
Khaled (male) Amman Action
Aqaba Banker Play cards
Amal (female) Irbed
B’s Information
Person’s name From Occupation Weekends Movies
Jerash Relax at home
Ali (male) Kerak H0rror
Mechanic Play football
Leen (female) Drama
Lawyer Read novels Comedy
19. The objective is for students to ask questions to find out what they can
from the other(s).
 Sample Questions:
What is the first person's name?
How do you spell it?
Where is he/she from?
What is his/her occupation
What does he/she do on weekends?
What kind of movies does he/she like?
 After completing the chart,students discuss with
their partners: Which person would each like as a
friend? Why?
20. Brainstorming
On a given topic, students can produce ideas in a
limited time. Depending on the context, either
individual or group brainstorming is effective and
learners generate ideas quickly and freely. The good
characteristics of brainstorming is that the students
are not criticized for their ideas so students will be
open to sharing new ideas.
21. Storytelling
Students can briefly summarize a tale or story they heard
from somebody beforehand, or they may create their own
stories to tell their classmates. Story telling fosters
creative thinking. It also helps students express ideas in
the format of beginning, development, and ending,
including the characters and setting a story has to have.
Students also can tell riddles or jokes. For instance, at the
very beginning of each class session, the teacher may call
a few students to tell short riddles or jokes as an opening.
22. Interviews
Students can conduct interviews on selected topics
with various people. It is a good idea that the teacher
provides a rubric to students so that they know what
type of questions they can ask or what path to follow,
but students should prepare their own interview
questions. Conducting interviews with people gives
students a chance to practice their speaking ability
not only in class but also outside and helps them
becoming socialized. After interviews, each student
can present his or her study to the class. Moreover,
students can interview each other and "introduce"
his or her partner to the class.
23. Story Completion
Before coming to class, students are asked to read a
newspaper or magazine and, in class, they report to
their friends what they find as the most interesting
news. Students can also talk about whether they have
experienced anything worth telling their friends in
their daily lives before class.
24. Picture Narrating
This activity is based on several sequential pictures.
Students are asked to tell the story taking place in
the sequential pictures by paying attention to the
criteria provided by the teacher as a rubric. Rubrics
can include the vocabulary or structures they need to
use while narrating.
25. Picture Describing
Another way to make use of pictures in a speaking
activity is to give students just one picture and having
them describe what it is in the picture. For this activity
students can form groups and each group is given a
different picture. Students discuss the picture with their
groups, then a spokesperson for each group describes the
picture to the whole class. This activity fosters the
creativity and imagination of the learners as well as their
public speaking skills.
26. Find the Difference
For this activity students can work in pairs and each
couple is given two different pictures, for example,
picture of boys playing football and another picture
of girls playing tennis. Students in pairs discuss the
similarities and/or differences in the pictures.
27. Conclusion
Speaking is the key to communication. By
considering what good speakers do, what speaking
tasks can be used in class, and what specific needs
learners report, teachers can help learners to
improve their speaking and overall oral
28. Teaching speaking is a very important part of second
language learning. The ability to communicate in a
second language clearly and efficiently contributes to
the success of the learner in school and success later in
every phase of life. Therefore, it is essential that
language teachers pay great attention to teaching
speaking. Rather than leading students to pure
memorization, providing a rich environment where
meaningful communication takes place is desired. With
this aim, various speaking activities such as those listed
before can contribute a great deal to students in
developing basic interactive skills necessary for life.
These activities make students more active in the
learning process and at the same time make their
learning more meaningful and fun for them.
29. Thank you!
Dr. Fayzeh Shrouf