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Language Skills: Speaking

Presentation for MA in TESOL "Methods and Materials: Skills". Professor: Scott Thornbury

Laura Adele Soracco

on 19 May 2016

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Transcript of Language Skills: Speaking

unplanned speech
Unplanned speech
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

Linguistic complexity
The Toughest Skill?
A sufficient repertoire of lexis and grammar


Pragmatic competence

Coping strategies
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)
Twenty Questions
Just a Minute
Problems for the L2 Speaker
Prepared Talks
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
Competing Theories
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
Developing Approaches
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
Basic modals
Basic conjunctions
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
Classroom Experience
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 nouns
Basic adjectives
Basic adverbs
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
Segmental clarity:
Vowels in peak syllable
End consonants
Real Talk is Spontaneous! How do we prepare students?!
Teaching functional language
Adequate Preparation time
Teaching Strategies
Spontaneous Talk
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)
Oral presentations
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.
Current Practice
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
Planned Talk
Instant comment: "mini-activities into lessons"
Unplanned discussion
Reaching a consensus
Formal debates
Feedback Provider
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)
Appropriation activities
Three-tier Staging of Speaking Production
(Thornbury, 2011:8)
Awareness–raising Stage
Controlled Practice
Free Practice
(cc) photo by medhead on Flickr
Weather theme
Shy students
Business Calls
Customer service activity
shy students
planned speech
Personal questions
Balanced: focused instruction combined with plentiful opportunities for naturalistic use
Integrated: speaking develops listening skills (and vice versa)
Bottom-up processes
Top-down processes
Current Practice
Classroom Experience
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
Survival-repair strategies
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
Real Talk
Conversational Strategies
Discourse Markers
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?
Adjacency Pairs
Set pattern, paired response
Q: Can we meet at my house at 5?
A. Yes, that sounds great!
Peak Vowel
Stressed Syllable
Focus word
Thought Group
Fixed Phrases/Lexical Chunks
Catch ya later
Back in a sec
Can I call you back in a couple of minutes?
Semi-Fixed Phrases
Would you like a...
Shall I get you...
Planning Time
Practice Time
Imaginative role-plays
Information-gap games
Television and Radio Games
Source: Harmer, 2007, p349
"twenty questions"
"yes, no"
"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
Materials Design
Full transcript