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    • #4369
      Nicholas Northall
      Moderator
          @nick-northall
          • Has the content of this unit so far made you rethink any of your current practices when it comes to focusing on speaking in the classroom? Why/Why not?
          • Do you now think the speaking activities you’ve used in class recently can be considered ‘good’ speaking activities? Why/Why not?
        • #50928
          Robert Dailey
          Participant
              @robertd

              Has the content of this unit so far made you rethink any of your current practices when it comes to focusing on speaking in the classroom? Why/Why not?

              So far, this course has generally led me to ask why I´m planning to use task x in the classroom and the same applies to the teaching of speaking. I have also started to ask how is task x actually teaching speaking?

              The unit has also made me aware of automaticity: a concept which is relevant to my students, and also to consider how best to approach working with connected speech and pronunciation.

              The chapter in Harmer contains loads of great ideas. It is very useful and interesting and yesterday I did the quickspeak activity in a class (with such fluency activities is it better not to make corrections afterwards?)

              The unit has led me to think again about the teaching of body language, back channeling devices, and different ways to say, for example, “I don´t understand”: all of which will be useful for my students.

              Do you now think the speaking activities you’ve used in class recently can be considered ‘good’ speaking activities? Why/Why not?

              Using the guidelines from this unit about what makes a speaking activity good (e.g. that it´s relevant to the learners´ needs etc.) I would say that the role plays that we have done fairly recently in class were ´good´. They were relatable to real life, were meaningful and engaging etc. and the students enjoyed them.

              I also believe that a lot of the language that emerges ´naturally ´in the classroom, in unscripted conversations, in ´dogme´ type situations, offers enormous learning opportunities for my students. Sometimes I just go with this in class when a student says something, others latch onto it and a sort of natural dynamic emerges, but we can´t use this all the time and the ´dogme moment´ may not actually last for very long.

              When speaking activities don´t work so well I think it´s often because I could have set it up better by having thought more about the instructions before the class and making sure that they´re clear.

              I know that we are going to look at error correction in a future unit and that´s going to be interesting.

              • #51203
                Gajinder Kaur
                Participant
                    @gk

                    In Unit 4, I have the following doubt, if you could please clarify and elaborate:
                    When asked to give lexical and grammatical cohesion examples from sample texts, exactly which and how many features do we mention respectively? Is there a list we can refer to for clarity?

                  • #51318
                    Nicholas Northall
                    Moderator
                        @nick-northall

                        Hi Gajinder,

                        You will find the answers (Thornbury ‘About Language’) to all the tasks at the back of the book.

                        Thanks,

                        Nick

                      • #51319
                        Nicholas Northall
                        Moderator
                            @nick-northall

                            Hi Robert,

                            Thanks for your thoughtful response.

                            I’m really pleased that the course has starting you thinking about the why and how of what we (you?) do. This is really important not only in our teaching, but also in the exam when you are asked throughout to consider why (mainly P2, T2) and how (P1, T3) tasks have been chosen.

                            I’m not sure which Harmer task you are referring to? In terms of error correction on speaking fluency tasks, I think both immediate and delayed error correction could be used. However, I think immediate error correction when the focus is on fluency needs to be very unobtrusive  (such as pointing to -s when a learner says ‘he go every day’) ,  more encouraging (e.g. when a student says something and looks to you for support – so perhaps echoing the correct language would work here), or necessary if a break down in communication happens. Personally, I agree, and tend to correct afterward.

                            I think it’s worth trying Dogme more in our lessons so we are not materials dependant. However, I do think Dogme has many limitations (e.g how can we teach reading without any texts??). As experienced teachers, there are times when we need to be able to draw on our experience to deal with learners’ emerging needs, so an ability to address these needs without sticking rigidly to a plan is useful. Plus, we may have to cover with very little time given to plan a lesson. I would recommend incorporating short aspects of ‘dogme’ into your lessons (as you mention). Many teachers tend to do a dogme lesson for their experimental in Module Two.

                            Glad you’re looking forward to the unit on errors.

                            Best,

                            Nick

                        • #50978
                          Peter Wilson
                          Participant
                              @peterw

                              Hello,

                              I agree with Robert that course so far has been really good for examiing what we are doing in our daiuly practice and why. For me, I really like to docus on speaking activities but I’m guilty of not using the full range of possibilities available so it was good to read the Harmer chapter to re-jog my brain and get loads of really good ideas. I think I need to make sure I focus more on giving feedback and error correction without impeding the fluency of the communication. I like the idea of asking the learners to come to a concensus on something so I’m going to think of ways to do this at a beginner level, maybe what;’s the best place to visit and why or something liek that. I sue a lot of interpersonal, interactive activities, so based on real chit chat and conversation which is good I think but I probbaly need to do more transactional activities using rele plays or simulations as well. One problem I’ve often had with using a roleplay script is that they want to read it out loud lkooking at every word and find it hard to come away and reproduce the target language independently so if anyone has any tips for this that would be groovy :yes:

                              • #51026
                                Erica
                                Participant
                                    @erica

                                    Hi Peter,

                                    sometimes I have the same problem with my ESOL beginners – they just read the script.

                                    Reading from a script isn’t necessarily a bad thing to do. You may work on the way they perform it to make it sound less robotic, for example. However, the issue I had in the past was that some students regarded this “speaking” activity as a reading one, in other words they read the whole script aloud as it was a text. To help them understand the “dynamic” of speaking I cut the dialogue, I assigned a role to each student (customer, assistant) and then I asked them to re-organise the dialogue and then keep their own strips. In this way I forced them to listen to the other person while performing the role play.

                                    Another problem was the lack of enthusiasm after repeating the script million times in order to learn it. I prepared the script with gaps (items and prices) I gave each pair a copy of the scrip and a price list. The students need to supply the verb to be that goes with the selected item (How much is/are the trousers?) but can decide what to buy at the shop – also change prices and have a new price list.

                                    If you want your students to memorise a simple script and perform it without reading, you could try to “make the sentence disappear”- see Harmer. I would do as it follows:

                                    – students read aloud the script in pairs to get familiar with it.

                                    – take the script back. Project the script on the board. Students practise it.

                                    – remove some words from the script. students will need to supply the missing words.

                                    – keep removing words till there are none.

                                     

                                    Let me know your thoughts.

                                  • #51320
                                    Nicholas Northall
                                    Moderator
                                        @nick-northall

                                        Hi Peter,

                                        Thanks for sharing your response.

                                        I think all of us need to be engaged with TD (in whatever form this takes) to develop our own practice, but also to remind ourselves of tasks we have done but have forgotten – or to get ideas for new versions of old favourites!

                                        Real life tasks such as roleplays are a really useful way of developing our learners speaking skills and giving them confidence to use the language in a real, similar situation. Obviously role plays may not always copy real life (buying tickets at the train station does; selling them might not!) but they are definitely useful.

                                        In terms of your problem, Erica has given some sound advice. You could also ask them to make notes only (i.e. not script what they want to say) . This might make the conversation a little more authentic.

                                        Cheers,

                                        Nick

                                         

                                    • #50997
                                      Aytaj Suleymanova
                                      Participant
                                          @aytajs93

                                          Hi everyone! Here are my responses:

                                          Has the content of this unit so far made you rethink any of your current practices when it comes to focusing on speaking in the classroom? Why/Why not?

                                          It definitely changed my perspective on how I view teaching speaking now. And it added a lot of different activities that I want to try in the classroom. Additionally, it made me realize that when I teach speaking I usually focus on oral fluency and accuracy and very little on other sub-skills.

                                          Do you now think the speaking activities you’ve used in class recently can be considered ‘good’ speaking activities? Why/Why not?
                                          I believe the way I do speaking is effective because I choose topics that are engaging for the learners and I also give them time to prepare what they want to say. I have a group of learners getting ready for the IELTS exam and we practice the speaking part every lesson. The activity models the real exam with its time limits and other requirements. The students are at the beginning of their journey in regards to this specific examination but the practice that we do provides them with an opportunity to get used to the environment of the exam. I try to give appropriate feedback with both language that was great and things that need improvement.

                                          • #51321
                                            Nicholas Northall
                                            Moderator
                                                @nick-northall

                                                Hi Aytaj,

                                                Thanks for sharing your ideas.

                                                I’m glad that this unit has made you rethink how you teach speaking and got you to consider using different activities. As you teach IELTS, do you also incorporate the speaking marking criteria into your lessons? Often IELTS candidates think they can do really well with having ‘correct’ language, but they forget the other criteria, such as discourse management, actually answering the question, turn-taking, range of language and use of fluency devices. I used to have a lesson in which we analysed the speaking criteria and suggested ways of doing well in each of the areas.

                                                Giving learners thinking time before a speaking task always results in fuller output. As does repeating the task several times: e.g. IELTS speaking part 2: they repeat their short talk with several students and don’t just do it once.

                                                You make a good point about getting used to the environment of the exam – knowing about the exam (I give an example above) will certainly help them feel more confident and ‘could’ improve their grade slightly (e.g. I have known ‘native’ English speakers who have done poorly in the exam as they didn’t know what to do).

                                                Cheers,

                                                Nick

                                              • #51371
                                                Aytaj Suleymanova
                                                Participant
                                                    @aytajs93

                                                    Hi Nick,

                                                    A lesson dedicated to criteria of the exam is something I will implement in the future, thanks :)

                                                • #51009
                                                  Erica
                                                  Participant
                                                      @erica

                                                      Has the content of this unit so far made you rethink any of your current practices when it comes to focusing on speaking in the classroom? Why/Why not?

                                                      I think this unit has helped me think about what I should take into consideration when talking about speaking (subskills, etc.). Reading about factors that contribute to a lack of fluency was particularly helpful as it helped me to think about “strategies” and try to link them to speaking activities, e.g., what is the purpose of this activity? What am I aiming to teach by doing that? and so on.

                                                      Do you now think the speaking activities you’ve used in class recently can be considered ‘good’ speaking activities? Why/Why not?

                                                      Some of them were fairly good, for example the role play “at the market” as it was: pitched at the right level, relatable to real life, engaging and there was some input of useful language before the task.

                                                      As a result of studying this part of the unit I now consider teaching “repairing” and “reacting” (Oh dear! Good luck! ….) as part of teaching speaking skills. My beginner students know how to ask for clarification when they don’t understand something I say / teach them, but they rarely use that skill when it comes to speaking activities. I thus decided to help them “transfer” that skill when they do pair work (even during peer correction). Also, I now try to teach how to keep the conversation going or to react. For example, some students were sharing some news like “I have my driving test soon.” or “My sister is pregnant.” and I taught them how to react by saying something like “Congratulations!” and “Good luck.”(formulaic language? back channelling?). Then other students wanted to share some other news and we decided how to react.

                                                      Perhaps some other speaking activities were less successful because the aim wasn’t clear. Also, I sometimes find it difficult to keep all 25 students engaged during the feedback stage, for example when each pair/ small group needs to report their findings to the class. Some students stop being “active listeners” during the feedback as they may have done the task well and/or don’t find interesting what other people may report to the class. However, when the feedback is delayed error correction, I find all of them more engaged probably because they perceive it as more relevant/ useful.

                                                      • #51324
                                                        Nicholas Northall
                                                        Moderator
                                                            @nick-northall

                                                            Hi Erica,

                                                            Thanks for your contribution here.  I like your comments in your first paragraph about strategies to help your learners become more fluent. I think you also address this in your second response. I would say the point about teaching students how to react could come under adjacency pairs – this article gives some solid idea about how to build fluency through drilling.

                                                            You also make an important point about feedback being more engaging (read learners are more likely to pay attention) when it is relevant to their own learning. Perhaps consider different ways of getting feedback? For example, as they listen to each group, they complete some form of task (either assessing language or content).

                                                            Cheers,

                                                            Nick

                                                             

                                                        • #51021
                                                          Erica
                                                          Participant
                                                              @erica

                                                              Hi Robert,

                                                              you wrote: “[…] yesterday I did the quickspeak activity in a class (with such fluency activities is it better not to make corrections afterwards?)”

                                                              My opinion:

                                                              If the aim of the task is to practise fluency, I won’t correct the students while they are doing it – also because I assume they have a very limited time to complete it. I’d do a delayed correction – afterwards – but “what” you correct and the time you assign to this stage should also take into consideration the lesson as a whole. What is the role of that activity within the lesson? Is it connected somehow (e.g. brainstorming before a reading) or it is just done randomly as an energizer for example just in order to practise fluency per se?

                                                              In the first instance, the correction may be done during the lesson as the activity are somehow connected (topic, grammatical items, etc.). However, you may still want to correct something related to speaking in general like pronunciation after the quick speaking activity.

                                                              In the second case, you may need to give the students more complete feedback on the task as you will move on to something else afterwards.

                                                              Let me know your thoughts.

                                                              • #51190
                                                                Gajinder Kaur
                                                                Participant
                                                                    @gk

                                                                    Hello Erica! I agree that pairing and grouping can be very rewarding, although I scarcely get to use it in my online classes where I am so bootstrapped for time to finish the lesson plan. So I do think your using them is a success in its own right because of the language potential there.

                                                                    I also feel that your teaching them chunks/ formulaic language is more successful than you might admit.

                                                                  • #51325
                                                                    Nicholas Northall
                                                                    Moderator
                                                                        @nick-northall

                                                                        These are great ideas for error correction :yes:

                                                                      • #51332
                                                                        Robert Dailey
                                                                        Participant
                                                                            @robertd

                                                                            Hi Erica,

                                                                            Thank for replying.

                                                                            I like the way of correcting errors that you mention and I guess that´s the type of thing I tend to do.

                                                                            I think I was asking the question because I have a recollection of reading somewhere that when we our students are working on developing their fluency one approach is to not make any corrections at all: just let the students speak. In other words the task is to speak in a sort of narrative flow and without too much hesitation etc.

                                                                            I do find it very difficult not to make corrections at some point after students speak and I wonder, I guess, what the theoretical basis is behind the idea of not correcting.

                                                                            If you have any thoughts, please let me know!

                                                                        • #51182
                                                                          Gajinder Kaur
                                                                          Participant
                                                                              @gk

                                                                              Has the content of this unit so far made you rethink any of your current practices when it comes to focusing on speaking in the classroom? Why/Why not?

                                                                              Well, certainly it made me reflect on my own teaching practices. I was compelled to revisit why I was doing what I was doing. It can be challenging to elicit speaking responses from hesitant learners in class, and I found including the frequent fluency activities as quite resourceful. The short bursts of quickspeaks over time can exponentially raise their confidence and fluency over a period if done repeatedly over time. Pre-preparing them is also a useful strategy that could minimise natural tension and nervousness.

                                                                              The term “affective Filters” is quite new for me and although I had a nebulous idea of the concept, I could not articulate it earlier. So that definitely is valuable learning and insight and has equipped me better today.

                                                                              Do you now think the speaking activities you’ve used in class recently can be considered ‘good’ speaking activities? Why/Why not?

                                                                              I’ve used 2 – minute speaking tasks in class with a 1-minute preparatory (as in the IELTS speaking tests) variably. But I see the need to get more focussed on varying speaking activities and scaling up their integration in the units.

                                                                              • #51327
                                                                                Nicholas Northall
                                                                                Moderator
                                                                                    @nick-northall

                                                                                    Hi Gajinder,

                                                                                    Thanks for your response to the task. Giving your learners thinking time is, I believe, key to not only getting richer and more diverse output from them, but also in encouraging more hesitant learners to speak. You also mention this in the IELTS tasks you do. Also consider giving learners strategies to help them develop their fluency and to keep conversations going. Once your learners have become more confident, consider giving them less preparation time and see how they respond to tasks.

                                                                                    Cheers,

                                                                                    Nick

                                                                                • #51328
                                                                                  Nicholas Northall
                                                                                  Moderator
                                                                                      @nick-northall

                                                                                      Hi everyone,

                                                                                      Thank you very much for your contributions to this forum task and for sharing your reflections on the unit. I am heartened to read that the content has encouraged you to reflect on your practice and made you want to experiment with different procedures and techniques in order to further expand your repertoire.

                                                                                      In relation to teaching speaking then, it seems that you are keen to:

                                                                                      • try out some new activities you have read about (e.g. tasks from Harmer).
                                                                                      • make sure you remember to provide some preparation/rehearsal time.
                                                                                      • focus on more than just accuracy and fluency
                                                                                      • include work on error correction and feedback
                                                                                      • perhaps include more dogme type tasks
                                                                                      • consider different speaking strategies to help learners develop fluency

                                                                                      Here are some other things you might want to consider:

                                                                                      • focusing more explicitly on some of the subskills of speaking (e.g. features of connected speech, register, interactive strategies).
                                                                                      • using speaking activities to provide practice of specific language (but don’t forget the importance of developing speaking as skill).
                                                                                      • providing an example/demonstration (or model) of what you want students to produce.
                                                                                      • making the most of tech opportunities now at our disposal and recording students’ spoken output (e.g. using mobile devices or, if teaching online, via Zoom or Teams).
                                                                                      • using students’ production for tutor, peer- and/or self-correction/feedback. I would suggest making use of some sort of criteria/checklist for this and co-constructing this with your learners may work well. For example, if students are recording themselves giving a mini-presentation, you could brainstorm what they would expect to see/hear in an effective presentation and then use this as a checklist for giving feedback on/self-) evaluating a recording.
                                                                                      • explaining the rationale behind speaking tasks and ensuring they are set up clearly.

                                                                                      It is great that you have also been able to identify aspects of good practice you already employ when teaching speaking. This includes:

                                                                                      • considering the why and how of what we (and the learners!) do.
                                                                                      • including some form of feedback and error correction – and when to do this (such as delayed feedback on fluency based tasks).
                                                                                      • trying varied activities (including many you have suggested and many you have read about).
                                                                                      • using real life (authentic) tasks such as role plays.
                                                                                      • thinking about the focus of the task.
                                                                                      • understand what aspects of speaking our learners want (need?) to develop.
                                                                                      • including some (incidental) speaking practice in every lesson.

                                                                                      Other things to think about include:

                                                                                      • creating a relaxed, welcoming, supportive classroom environment in which students feel comfortable, confident and motivated to participate.
                                                                                      • selecting purposeful tasks.
                                                                                      • providing content-based, as well as language-focused feedback – something we often forget as language teachers!
                                                                                      • taking into account students’ needs and interests when choosing topics.

                                                                                      Please continue to comment on each other’s posts and, if you have not yet contributed, please feel free to do so.

                                                                                      Cheers,

                                                                                      Nick

                                                                                    • #53445
                                                                                      Andrew Burke
                                                                                      Participant
                                                                                          @andrew

                                                                                          As with all skills, you often fined yourself doing speaking tasks in the classroom without understanding their benefits, so it was nice to read the Harmer chapter to, as Peter suggests, jog the memory. However I do find productive skills more logical. That said, the tasks in coursebooks are often awful and I find myself skipping them. It’s hard to find a free-flowing conversation practice that focuses on the grammar or phrases previously learnt. I think I’ve come to realise that even if they only use the newly learnt phrase once in a conversation, then that’s a success.

                                                                                          I like teaching presentation skills as this allows students to practise to the standard they’d like to reach. It’s also a really good opportunity to focus on aspects of connected speech such as linking and stress patterns, as well as pronunciation and pace.

                                                                                          Speaking fluency activities also have their place. Although they might not be using the specific language you want them to, they are practicing forming coherent sentences that the people in their group or in the whole class can comprehend.

                                                                                          • #53521
                                                                                            Nicholas Northall
                                                                                            Moderator
                                                                                                @nick-northall

                                                                                                Hi Andrew,

                                                                                                I often think speaking can be taught incidentally as part of another ‘type’ of lesson and doesn’t have to be a specific lesson – although obviously, as in your case of presentation skills, it can be.

                                                                                                You make an interesting point about productive skills being more logical, as – from my experience – inexperienced teachers (i.e. CELTA level) often find receptive skills’ lessons easier to plan in terms of the procedure. What does everyone else think?

                                                                                                Cheers,

                                                                                                Nick

                                                                                            • #61095
                                                                                              Amira Madkour
                                                                                              Participant
                                                                                                  @amy-madkr

                                                                                                  Has the content of this unit so far made you rethink any of your current practices when it comes to focusing on speaking in the classroom? Why/Why not?

                                                                                                  I found the unit very interesting and the active reading chapter quite stimulating. As Nick said, reading the chapter has reminded me of some forgotten tasks,

                                                                                                  Do you now think the speaking activities you’ve used in class recently can be considered ‘good’ speaking activities? Why/Why not?

                                                                                                  One of my favourite activities is the Look-up-and-say technique. I read it once and swear by it, it is originally used in theatre, to help actors memorise their lines. I usually do it as a post listening activity. Instead of reading the dialogue, students take seconds to look at the script, then look up and say it. There is a fun element here, because halfway most of the students tend to forget their lines and have to revisit the script, which I allow with beginner levels or shy students. To make it more challenging especially with more fluent learners, I ask them to improvise and not to look at the script. Of course, this is more challenging, it boosts problem solving skills, and helps them to find alternative discourse to express the same idea.

                                                                                                  Nick’s question: CELTA level often finds receptive skills’ lessons easier to plan in terms of the procedure. What does everyone else think?

                                                                                                  I would agree. The procedures of receptive skills’ lessons are more structured, and teacher feels in control; that’s why it might seem easier. Yet, more experienced teachers might find productive skills’ lessons, specially speaking easier, because they are not afraid to have less control over the flow of the lesson.

                                                                                                  • #61612
                                                                                                    Nicholas Northall
                                                                                                    Moderator
                                                                                                        @nick-northall

                                                                                                        Hi Amira,

                                                                                                        Thanks for sharing your ideas here. I must admit I have not heard about the look-up-and-say technique but reckon I might have to steal that one!

                                                                                                        Cheers,

                                                                                                        Nick

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