Six Tips to Encourage Students to Speak Out in English

1. Give Clear Goals and Instructions.

Inform your students with the main goal of speaking and the importance of developing speaking skills. Model speaking with one of your best students so everyone can see what to say. Students also need to know how to say something. Without understanding why, what and how, many students think it is not important to do anything.

2. Reinforce Any Attempt of Speaking.

Reward ANY attempt to speak in English. If students speak out loudly and clearly, but make a mistake, praise them just for speaking out. As students improve, you can focus on the most outstanding successes. The more you encourage, the more students will try to speak. On the other hand, if you do not encourage them, they will likely become passive in class.

3. Use the Element of Surprise.

Students usually know exactly what will happen in class and answer questions mechanically. By adding surprises to your lessons, students will be forced to think about the meaning and will pay more careful attention. You might ask students about their families, and then ask if they are married, or if they can drive a car. Students who are answering without thinking will say “yes” automatically. In such cases, their classmates will usually laugh at their mistakes, and they will realize the importance of paying attention.

Saying anything strange will improve the class atmosphere. So, whenever you prepare a list of questions, add something funny or strange at the end. Add some intentional mistakes to see who will find them and react to them by speaking out.

4. Do “Information Gap” Activities.

You can do what is called the “information gap” activity with students to encourage speaking. Give only SOME students certain information, a text or picture, for example, the other students must use English to find out what information they are missing. Successful pair practice and language games include “information gaps” can encourage students to talk and ask questions to discover what information they do not have.

5. Use the Types of Speaking Activities in the Right Sequence.

Start with a simple, mechanical activity, then continue with something more meaningful, and finish with a communicative activity. When students do a variety of speaking activities, they will practice speaking in the right way. This way will encourage both high and low achiever students to speak with ease and comfort.

6. Use Competition .

Competition automatically grabs students’ attention. The easiest way is to divide the class into two teams and play some kind of game. You could have the left side of the room against the right side, boys against girls, or each row against all the others. Competition can be used on an individual level as well, by giving points to students for their work. You can give points for any attempt of self-expression. Students enjoy seeing their progress over time. This will keep them motivated, attentive and ready to talk to win the competition.

Following these six tips in your teaching of speaking will make your students change over time. Positive reinforcement, having clear goals and instructions can be used right from the beginning, in every class. using surprise, variety of activities and competition can be added to your lessons slowly, so as not to overwhelm your students. Make one or two small changes in every lesson, and pretty soon your students will untighten their tongue and speak out in English freely to express themselves effectively.


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