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Language Skills: Speaking
Transcript of Language Skills: Speaking
Practical Teaching Ideas/Activities
(What activities worked best for our group)
Acting from a script (planned)
Speaking involves juggling competing cognitive demands in real time
The Toughest Skill?
A sufficient repertoire of lexis and grammar
Speaking in an L2
discourse structures that provide cohesion and coherence
knowledge about the topic
cultural knowledge (macro-social context)
micro-social context (e.g., speaker roles and relationships)
Just a Minute
Problems for the L2 Speaker
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Lexis and Grammar
Lack of vocabulary and grammar
Vocabulary and grammar that are not easily accessible
Pressure to be accurate, leading to lack of fluency through over-monitoring
Over-reliance on memorized words and chunks
Intelligibility, or the “music of English"
Lack of pragmatic competence: knowing the forms and conventions of speech acts
Lack of coping strategies
Indirect: speaking develops naturally out of opportunities for use (assuming some prior linguistic knowledge)
Direct: the individual components of speaking need to be analyzed and explicitly taught
PPP: emphasis on accuracy
CLT: emphasis on fluency
Targeted Learning Outcomes
A working knowledge of features of the language system that underlie communicative competence
Features of the Language System
Typical speech acts and how they are encoded (formulaic language)
Discourse markers, or how to organize talk and monitor its progress
Basic spoken grammar:
Simple present and past, with some continuous and perfect aspect
Ability to formulate yes/no and wh- questions
A few quoting expressions (“I said…”)
Running into a friend on the street, asking for directions, someone asking you for directions
A Basic Speaking Vocabulary
Modal items: can, could, look, seem, sound, definitely, maybe
“Delexical” verbs: make, do, get
Interactive words: just, whatever, really, basically
Discourse markers: I mean, right, well, so, good, you know, anyway
General deictics (words relative to time and space): here/there, this/that, now, then, ago, away, back, out
Basic verbs for actions and events
Turn-taking: Well…I’d just like to say….
Buying time: Ummm…well you know…
Interrupting: Sorry to interrupt, but…
Topic shift :Oh, by the way/ that reminds me…
Openers: How are you?/ At last some sunshine!
Closers: It’s been nice talking to you/We must get together soon/I don’t want to keep you…
Reduced planning and processing time through automaticity of formulaic language
The ability to manage pauses
Pauses are usually filled
Pauses occur at meaningful transition points
There are long runs of syllables and words between pauses
Speech is the alternation “between two modes of production, one creative and hesitant, the other rehearsed, formulaic to varying degrees, and fluent.”
Mainly conveyed through suprasegmental features
Vowels in peak syllable
Real Talk is Spontaneous! How do we prepare students?!
Teaching functional language
Adequate Preparation time
The Roles of the Teacher
Strategies for successful speaking activities
Teaching ESOL: Speaking Skills
Simulation and role-plays (specially useful in ESP)
Source: Howarth (2001b, in Harmer 2007:346)
More Problems for the L2 Speaker
Give students time to think.
Have them work in pairs and let them practice dialogues before doing it in front of the class
SS record presentation, transcribe, correct and then hand it to TT to be commented.
Repetition: aids memory, allows students to improve on what they did before.
Textbooks and Speaking
Source: Soars, Liz, & Soars, John. (2001). American Headway 1. Oxford University Press.
Source: Soars, Liz, & Soars, John. (2001). American headway 1. Oxford University Press.
Buzz Groups: quick conversations, reactions to a text
Instant comment: "mini-activities into lessons"
Reaching a consensus
The right amount of challenge!
Let students struggle or help them out?
Co-construct dialogue (scaffold)
Talk as near-equal participants*
“Speaking instruction reflects a theoretically eclectic approach, combining elements, such as drills (…) along with information-gap tasks and informal discussions, conducted in pairs or small groups.” (Thornbury, 2011, 21:7)
Three-tier Staging of Speaking Production
(cc) photo by medhead on Flickr
Customer service activity
Balanced: focused instruction combined with plentiful opportunities for naturalistic use
Integrated: speaking develops listening skills (and vice versa)
Are controlled practice and free practice balanced in textbooks?
Should they be?
The ability to access this knowledge in real time
An array of coping strategies for when the first two fail
Everyday conversations, wedding speeches, lectures, asking for directions, ordering at a restaurant, interviews
Different speaking genres
Maintaining/sustaining good relations between people
Conveying information and facilitating the exchange of goods and services
Lectures, group presentations, giving a speech
Conversational rules and structures
The Prosody Pyramid
Tips for Teaching Speaking
Build in rehearsal time and/or task repetition so learners can balance fluency, accuracy and linguistic complexity
Explicitly teach form-function connections to improve socio-pragmatic skills, e.g "turn the radio down" vs. "could you please turn the radio down."
Stress the high frequency vocabulary of spoken English
Stress the most common grammar of spoken English
Teach distinctions between conversational and more formal speech
teach pause fillers and discourse markers
Be aware that speaking improves listening and vice versa
Teach repair strategies e.g. "Can you repeat that?" and "How do you say...?
Never have shy students present or speak first. Call on the most talkative students to set the tone for the other speakers
Ask for repetition using formulaic expressions: "What?" "Can you say that again?"
Repeating up to the point of conversation breakdown: "so you said earlier..."
Being able to paraphrase: "It's kind of..."
Being able to use an all-purpose phrase: " you know, it's a what-d'you-call it"
Asking for help: "what's the word for something you play a guitar with?"
Questioning reformulation: restating a question in a different way
Multifunctional question forms: Using questions as both a suggestion and criticism
Piling-up of questions one after another:
How much technology? Who does it?
Set pattern, paired response
Q: Can we meet at my house at 5?
A. Yes, that sounds great!
Fixed Phrases/Lexical Chunks
Catch ya later
Back in a sec
Can I call you back in a couple of minutes?
Would you like a...
Shall I get you...
Television and Radio Games
Source: Harmer, 2007, p349
"just a minute"
language functions, such as greeting, apologizing, requesting and complementing
ordering a meal, buying a train ticket
speaking is broken down into subskills and strategies, such as opening and closing conversations, turn taking, repairing…
social purposes of speaking and it’s associating genres, such as narrating, obtaining service, giving a presentation
draws on corpora of spoken language to identify particular syntactic and lexical features.
•The genre approach:
•The corpus informed approach:
•The skills and strategies approach:
•The speech act approach:
•The situational approach:
(Source: Thornbury, 2011, 21:7)
as an introduction or as follow-up
as grammar work instead of fluency