Studiu de specialitate – Developing Speaking Skills in the Classroom

Autor: prof. Andrei Elena
Colegiul Economic Buzău

The nature of speaking makes certain demands on the teacher and student. Here is a summary of these ‘demands’ and some ideas for how they might be dealt with in the classroom.
Research results
1: Focus on Knowledge
Speaking in a second/foreign language requires knowledge of that language in its spoken form.
Knowing how to speak requires systematic and comprehensive oral language development.
Speaking is also a skill. Students need plenty of practice opportunities.
2: Focus on Skills
Issue: Research suggests that for many people one of their greatest fears is public speaking. When we ask students to speak to the whole class and in a foreign language, the potential for stress is greater. Such stress or fear can create a block to the concentration necessary for speaking in a foreign language.
Possible solution: A relaxed and friendly atmosphere seems to be the best for practicing speaking a foreign language. Students need to be able to concentrate and also to feel relaxed enough to experiment with the language. Fun activities and language games, especially at the beginning of a new teaching sequence, will help set the right atmosphere.
Issue: Similarly, some students are particularly shy about speaking a foreign language.
Possible solution: Getting students to do speaking activities in small groups and pairs will provide a safer environment for practice and for taking risks. Also, encouraging them to practice with friends/classmates in their own time should increase confidence, even if they only do this for one minute a day.
Issue: If the whole class is expected to listen while one student speaks, not much practice is achieved.
Possible solution: Again, speaking in pairs or small groups will maximise the opportunities for practice. Pairs and small groups also reflect the format for real-life tasks.
Issue: Correcting every mistake will only increase shyness and fear of speaking.
Possible solution: Be selective about what and when you correct will help.
Issue: Outside the classroom we usually speak because we have something to say. In the classroom students often speak because the teacher tells them to.
Possible solution: When organising speaking practice, providing the means and opportunity to get some ideas before having to speak will help ensure that students have something to say. (fragment)