Speaking is “the process of building and sharing meaning through the use of verbal and non-verbal symbols, in a variety of contexts”. It is a crucial part of foreign language learning and teaching. Despite its importance, for many years, teaching speaking has been undervalued and English language teachers have continued to teach speaking just as a repetition of drills or memorization of dialogues. As a result, most students find difficulty to speak English in EFL classes and some of them are reluctant to participate in speaking activities. There are many reasons for this. Here are the most common reasons.
Reasons Why Students Don’t Speak in EFL Classes
Each reluctant student may think like that:
- It’s easier to speak my own language.
- The teacher always corrects me when I say something.
- I don’t want to make a mistake in front of the whole class.
- It’s not ‘cool’ to speak English.
- The teacher doesn’t motivate me to speak in English.
- I can’t say what I want to say in English, so I need to use my own language.
- The teacher can’t hear me anyway. Why should I bother?
- It’s stupid to try and communicate in English. It’s much easier to communicate in the language we all understand.
- I have no reason for learning English so trying to speak it is a waste of time.
- I don’t want to practice speaking English with people who speak my language.
However, nowadays achieving success in oral fluency becomes one of the most important goals of English language learning. So, teachers pay more attention to teaching speaking to their students.
The Main Objectives of Teaching Speaking
Ultimately, teachers aim at the following from teaching speaking in EFL classes:
- Making sure that students pronounce the words correctly and make correct sentences.
- Motivating them to introduce themselves and talk about their family and the surrounding environment.
- Encouraging students to utilize structures in real-life situations.
- Encouraging them to speak in complete sentences or use correct structures, not individual words.
- Improving students’ communicative skills.
- Helping them express themselves well.
- Teaching the social and cultural rules appropriate in each communicative situation.
How to Teach Speaking Ideally?!
Because the ability to communicate in a foreign language clearly and efficiently results from the learner’s participation in meaningful speaking activities in the classroom, it is essential that language teachers pay great attention to teach speaking providing a rich environment where meaningful communication takes place. With this aim, various speaking activities should be done to develop the basic interactive skills necessary for life. These activities make students more active in the learning process and at the same time make their learning more meaningful and fun for them.
It is agreed that students learn to speak in a foreign language by “interacting”. Communicative language teaching and collaborative learning serve best for this aim. Communicative language teaching is based on real-life situations that require communication. By using this method in EFL classes, students will have the opportunity to communicate with each other in the target language.
So, EFL teachers should create a classroom environment where students have real-life communications, authentic activities, and meaningful tasks that promote the oral language. This can occur when students collaborate in groups to achieve a goal or to complete a task.
How to Change the Bad Thoughts About Speaking?!!
Regarding the previous thoughts, the teachers can do a lot to change them and make their students speak English with ease and comfort in the classroom. Here are some tips to do so:
- Talking confidently about things that students know about in their lives.
- Communicating ideas and explaining opinions clearly using simple English.
- Helping students understand the difference between standard and nonstandard, formal and informal, spoken and written English.
- Making regular useful comments in class discussions and asking searching questions.
- Using gestures, tone, expressions and words for effect, so that the talk becomes interesting.
- Using vocabulary precisely.
- Assessing and evaluating students’ ideas and giving them feedback in English.
- Choosing the language items and the tone that are suitable for the purpose and the students’ learning level.
- Teaching students the difference between different types of speech.
- Listening carefully to students’ ideas and showing respect for their views.
- Demonstrating interest when listening by asking questions.
- Being a confident, articulate & perceptive speaker and listener.
- Using English when giving instructions.
- Parsing and supporting students who speak in English in the classroom.
- Avoiding overcorrection especially when oral fluency is the aim.
- Talking frequently about the importance of the English language and speaking of it fluently in particular.
- Using authentic and meaningful speaking activities in the classroom.
- Providing students with the necessary input (words and structures) to use when speaking.
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