The Technology of Teaching Speaking

September 5th, 20119:55 am


The Technology of Teaching Speaking

The Technology of Teaching Speaking

Speaking is the most complex of linguistic skills, since it involves thinking of what is to be said while saying what has been thought. In order to be able to do this words must be put at a rapid rate with a spacing about 5 – 10 words ahead of the utterance. In addition, patterns of words must be chosen to fit the right situation or attitude intended. All this presupposes a certain reservoir of structure and vocabulary. It also requires a great deal of practice, since it includes: (1) pronunciation, in which the entire phonetic system comes into play, and (2) expression, in which grammatical, lexical, and semantic systems are used simultaneously and in a regular rhythm.

We can examine the efficiency of speech-drill techniques from the points of view of:

1) amount of learner’s speaking time;

2) accuracy of his speech; what percentage of errors is made? How much incorrect speaking does the learner hear?

3) types of response; in chorus or individually

4) contexts of speech; actions, pictures, texts; What proportion?

5) techniques of questioning; Are the techniques clear and to the point?

6) variety of speech drills;

7) techniques of correcting.

When the number of errors to be corrected is very high either the rate of presentation is too fast or the plan has been badly graded.

Realistic Situations

Many fundamental structural meanings can be presented by means of real or realistic situations. These may be either classroom situations, isolated for the purpose, or selected everyday situations like giving or getting books and pencils, going to the board or to the door, opening and closing the window which may be acted out and used to demonstrate structures. Everyday situations such as shopping and posting letters may also be acted out in class with the suitable properties.

Techniques of Teaching Speaking

Here are some suggestions:

1. The conventional question-answer method remains probably the simplest method in teaching conversation. Although the method has minor disadvantages in that the teacher does a disproportionate amount of work and talking, the method has been used successfully for many years.

The teacher’s question, if properly worded, provides the student with a kind of formula that he follows in constructing his answer.

e.g. – How long does it take you to prepare your English lesson?

– It takes me two hours.

– Who is the tallest student in our class? etc. Question-answer teaching is effective only when the teacher phrases all questions simply and clearly and when the student can easily answer them in a precise, clear-cut way. Some teachers ask complicated questions, they often use vocabulary that is unknown to the students. This is an obvious abuse and distortion of the question-answer method.

2. Many teachers use the question-answer method in teaching

so-called action-chains. The teacher, for example, gets up from his/her desk, walks to the door, opens the door, closes the door, picks up an eraser, etc. As she performs each of these acts, she asks an appropriate question.

As she gets up from her desk, she may ask “What am I doing?”

A student answers, “You’re getting up”. As she walks to the door she asks, “What am I doing?”

The question-answer method used in association with various action chains is a very old teaching technique. It was first introduced by the Frenchman Gouin during the late 19th century. Gouin believed that all sentences in FL should be “recited and acted out at the same time”. He argued, with considerable logic, that any action tends to drive home the meaning of the spoken word and to make it a reality. Under the Gouin system, students as well as the teacher were required to act out literally hundreds of related action chains.

The novelty of the method wears off after a short time and the students then lose interest. This technique works particularly well in teaching young children. Some teachers who have flair for dramatized teaching enjoy going through action chains and therefore learn to use them well and easily. The teachers are able to apply them in interesting forms and various activities in and around the classroom.

3. The teacher can extend the technique to involve a great number of loosely related questions that she asks in a rapid-fire manner. When the general theme has been exhausted, the teacher returns to the text. She asks the next question appearing in the text. Then using this one simply as a point of departure she again branches out into long series of loosely related questions. During the time allotted, the teacher may ask the class as many as 50 or 60 questions in this way. The teacher should naturally prepare the points for discussion beforehand, adjusting them accurately to the needs as well as to the comprehension level of the students.

4. We’ve mentioned above that the only negative feature of this question-answer technique in FLT is that the teacher sometimes does a disproportional amount of work and talking. One means of circumventing this difficulty is to have several pupils in succession answer each of the teacher’s questions. Each time the teacher asks the question, she/he simply requires that some of the students answer the same question in turn. She/he may also direct that all answers after the first one should be especially sharp, “clear, and fairly automatic”. The teacher next directs all the students to pair off, either by shifting their seats or simply by facing each other. One student of each group now assumes the role of teacher. With his book open and following the text, he asks the same questions just asked by the teacher. The first student of the group becomes the pupil and answers the questions. Later, the roles are reversed. The teacher can also assign the material as homework and advise the students to practise answering the questions at home.

5. Wall charts provide a very convenient means of teaching classroom conversation. Such charts are enlarged pictures of common everyday scenes, such as a busy street corner, a restaurant, a home, a farm, etc. The teacher points to various objects on the chart and asks appropriate questions. The questions can be designed to provide practice with some grammatical principle, new vocabulary, or whatever conversational forms the teacher may wish to exercise.

After the students have had sufficient practice in answering these questions, the teacher can also point to various objects on the chart and ask the students to create 4 or 5 sentences about these objects. For example: …a busy street corner. The student says, “That’s a policeman. He is wearing a blue uniform. He has a whistle in his hand. He’s directing traffic”. The teacher next points to a woman crossing the street. Another student says, “She is a young woman. She is wearing a large white hat. She is crossing the street against the green light”. The drill continues in this way with all the important objects appearing on the chart.

The classroom map falls into the category of a wall chart and can always be used to provide some classroom conversation. The teacher points to a foreign country on the map and asks simple questions about the country, e.g.:

“What is the name of this country?”

“What is the capital of this country?”

“Does this country have large or small population?” The student says, “That country is France. A man who lives in France is a Frenchman. The language that he speaks is French. The teacher then points to Spain. A second student says, “That country is Spain. It borders on…”. This drill can be continued for short periods during several class sessions.

6. The Choral Method is used today by many teachers to practise conversational forms. The teacher makes a statement to the class and the whole class repeats it in chorus. Teachers generally employ materials such as dialogues or selections from plays where actual everyday conversation is presented. The teacher reads one line of a text, places emphasis on the conversational pattern, the rhythm of each phrase, and the intonation. The students repeat in chorus, trying to follow exactly the manner in which the teacher has read the sentence. The advantage of all choral work is that it keeps the entire class active.

7. The teacher may introduce some variety into the language lesson by using reading selections that are unfamiliar to the students. The teacher selects some appropriate reading material from an outside source, reads it to the class, and quizzes the students on the content. It can be something that the teacher reads from a magazine, an anecdote, or any simple narrative selection.

8. Some teachers, while emphasizing at all times in every lesson on the oral use of language, still like to set aside a certain portion of each class period exclusively for conversational purposes. In this brief 10 or 15 minute conversation period, the teacher may use anyone of the following techniques:

1) He may ask a series of general questions based directly on the materials in the text (a general review of material the class has previously studied). A 10 or 15 minute review of this kind once – or even twice – a week can be useful to any class.

2) The teacher can ask the class a series of somewhat personal questions covering school or social activities.

3) The teacher may read the sentence in the affirmative; then the students restate the sentence in the negative and reversely.

4) The teacher may put on the blackboard lists of animals, for example. The first list may be a list of domestic pet animals, etc. The teacher proceeds to ask simple questions about the various animals. After the class has practised answering the questions, the teacher may also ask students to volunteer three or four “free” sentences about each animal. The teacher points at a cow. The student responds, “That is a cow. A cow is a domestic animal. In spring, summer and autumn cows eat grass. In winter they eat hay and silage. We get milk from cows”. Another day the teacher puts on the board a list of wild animals. The teacher points to a bear. “That’s a bear. A bear is a wild animal. Bears live in the forest. A bear is a very strong animal”.

5) Similarly, on another day, the teacher may put on the board a wall chart or the list of common flowers, mushrooms, etc.

6) In subsequent classes, the teacher can put on the blackboard wall charts or lists of: common vegetables, common fruits, and articles of clothing, dinnerware and silverware, common foods, articles of furniture.

7) The teacher uses the classroom wall map to ask simple geographical questions about various foreign countries.

8) The teacher can also stimulate classroom conversation through the use of a cardboard clock with movable hands. She/he “sets” the clock and asks questions about telling time. She/he can later include related matters, such as setting a clock, winding it, regulating a clock if it runs fast or slow, etc.

During extended (long) conversation period, students give oral reports. These reports may cover books that they have read, trips they have taken, or movies they have seen. Or the students may engage in simple debates that the teacher assigns beforehand.

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