Speaking is “the process of building and sharing meaning through the use of verbal and non-verbal symbols, in a variety of contexts” (Chaney, 1998, p. 13). Speaking is a crucial part of second 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.
However, today’s world requires that the goal of teaching speaking should improve students’ communicative skills, because, only in that way, students can express themselves and learn how to follow the social and cultural rules appropriate in each communicative circumstance. In order to teach second language learners how to speak in the best way possible, some speaking activities are provided below, that can be applied to ESL and EFL classroom settings, together with suggestions for teachers who teach oral language.
A. Defining “Teaching Speaking”?
What is meant by “teaching speaking” is to teach ESL learners to:
- Produce the English speech sounds and sound patterns
- Use word and sentence stress, intonation patterns and the rhythm of the second language.
- Select appropriate words and sentences according to the proper social setting, audience, situation and subject matter.
- Organize their thoughts in a meaningful and logical sequence.
- Use language as a means of expressing values and judgments.
- Use the language quickly and confidently with few unnatural pauses, which are called as fluency. (Nunan, 2003)
Many language learners regard speaking ability as the measure of knowing a language. These learners define fluency as the ability to converse with others, much more than the ability to read, write, or comprehend oral language. They regard speaking as the most important skill they can acquire, and they assess their progress in terms of their accomplishments in spoken communication.
Teaching speaking is a very important part of second language learning. The ability to communicate in a second language clearly and efficiently contributes to the success of the learner in school and success later in every phase of life. Therefore, it is essential that language teachers pay great attention to teaching speaking. Rather than leading students to pure memorization, providing a rich environment where meaningful communication takes place is desired. With this aim, various speaking activities such as those listed above can contribute a great deal to students in developing 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.
Speaking or oral communication is typified as an activity involving two or more people in whom the participants are both and speaker having to react to have what they hear and make their contributions at high speed. Each participant has an intentions or sets of intentions goal that the wants to achieve in the interactions.
According to M.J. Sudrajat and Nano Sukandar in a book how to master in English conversation, they said three tips to master in English conversation skill there are.
The students must possess adequate amount of vocabularies and know how to pronunciation them. For example, busy will be pronounced bi : zi, students must also know about meaning of vocabulary in original student’s language, and understand about spelling, for example busy will be spelled b-u-s-y. in addition, students must understand grammar.
After the students learn the vocabularies, they must memorize them as much as impossible.
The last tip is that the students have to practice English conversation. They have to be brave enough to practice it without afraid of making mistake. The students can practice English conversation with English teacher in the class or out of class with friends or with foreigners and can practice with self by speak loudly (Sudrajat and Iskandar, 1997 : 1)
Speaking or conversation is one of communications skill which it need vocabulary, we can do it well if we speak much sometime students in the class fill the difficult in speak that they afraid to make mistake. That is many ways or many tips for improve our speaking skill are:
- Speaking loudly, imitate the voice of language. Do not burble although must of people fell say to make add voice, you will be more familiar with language.
- When we pleased to speak in class, say something even though it is wrong. You will learn from the mistake, is you need time to think as to repeat question if you don’t know the answer, say in foreign language “I don’t know” or “help”.
- Practice in foreign students or other students who can help to learn English.
B. What type of learning background do the learners have?
English Language Learner Proficiency Levels
Beginners are starting out learning English. They can talk about the present, give their name, have simple conversations and so on.
False Beginners are students who have had perhaps some exposure to English and have a very limited grasp of the basics. They have either learned English many years before (perhaps at school) and are coming back to the classroom later in life, or perhaps they have had some contact with English speakers but no formal training.
False Beginners often learn faster than Total Beginners who may well know nothing at all of English. On the other hand, False Beginners may well have imperfect English embedded in their minds and this can take some work to correct.
However, remember that certain words are almost universal: internet, computer, pizza, taxi and so on will be understood by almost all nationalities so it is sometimes difficult to find a complete and utter beginner.
Students at intermediate level can talk and read about a wide number of subjects using appropriate vocabulary and fairly correct, if basic, grammar. They can confidently use all the main tenses, and are beginning to use phrasal verbs, modal verbs, and suchlike.
Tone and style are not refined yet but there is an awareness of pronunciation and what it entails.
An intermediate level students have generally enough knowledge of the language to branch out to more specific English courses, such as Business English or English for Academic Purposes.
When you speak to an intermediate level student you will hear mistakes and sometimes the verb tenses and forms get a bit confused, but generally you can have an extended conversation with them.
Advanced students can hold extended conversations and write extended texts.They are aware of differences between formal and informal English and whilst they may make occasional mistakes and their pronunciation is obviously not like a native speaker, they have little difficulty in communicating on everyday topics as well as specialized subjects.
C. Principles for Designing Speaking Techniques
- Use techniques that cover the spectrum of learner needs, from language-based focus on
Accuracy to message-based focus on interaction, meaning and fluency.
- Provide intrinsically motivating techniques.
Teacher should try at all times to students‟ ultimate goal and interests, to their need for knowledge, for status, for achieving competence and autonomy, and for “being all that they can be”.
- Encourage the use of authentic language in meaningful contexts.
It is not easy to keep coming up with meaningful interaction. It takes energy and creativity to device authentic contexts and meaningful interaction, but the teachers must not give up. It must be done by teachers to produce competent speakers of English.
- Provide appropriate feedback and correction.
It is important for teachers of English as a foreign language to take advantage of their knowledge of English to inject the kinds of corrective feedback that are appropriate for the moment because the students are totally dependent on the teacher for useful linguistic feedback. It is because “outside” the classroom will not give the students feedback since English is not spoken in the community.
- Capitalize on the natural link between speaking and listening.
Many interactive techniques that involve speaking will also of course include listening. The teachers must be integrated these two skills since they can reinforce each other. Skills in producing language are often initiated through comprehension.
- Give students opportunities to initiate oral communication.
Students must be given opportunities to initiate language since part of oral communication competence is the ability to initiate conversations, to nominate topics, to ask questions, to control conversations, and to change the subject.
- Encourage the development of speaking strategies. The concept of strategic competence. Is one that few beginning language students are aware of, and have a chance to practice, such strategies as: asking for clarification, asking someone to repeat something, using fillers in order to gain time to process, getting someone’s attention, and etc,.
Method Of Teaching Speaking
In teaching speaking, we can use some methods there are:
- Direct Method
Teacher does much of the talking, students engage in many controlled speaking activities centered on specific topics of situations. (Butler, 2003 : 98).
- Audio-Lingual Method
Focus on speech with heavy reliance on repetitions and oral drills. (Butler, 2003 : 98).
- Communicative Language Teaching
Focus on speech for communication, use of variety of authentic speaking activities. (Butler, 2003 : 98).
- Role play/simulations
Role-playing/simulation is an extremely valuable method for L2 learning. (Tompkins [at] pgh.nauticom.net)
It encourages thinking and creativity, lets students develop and practice new language and behavioral skills in a relatively no threatening setting, and can create the motivation and involvement necessary for learning to occur.
Some Activities to Promote Speaking
Traditional classroom speaking practice often takes the form of drills in which one person asks a question and another gives an answer. The question and the answer are structured and predictable, and often there is only one correct, predetermined answer. The purpose of asking and answering the question is to demonstrate the ability to ask and answer the question.
In contrast, the purpose of real communication is to accomplish a task, such as conveying a telephone message, obtaining information, or expressing an opinion. In real communication, students must manage uncertainty about what the other person will say. Authentic communication involves an information gap; each person has information that the other does not have. In addition, to achieve their purpose, students may have to clarify their meaning or ask for confirmation of their own understanding.
To create classroom speaking activities that will develop communicative competence,
Teachers need to incorporate a purpose and an information gap and allow for multiple forms of expression. Here are some activities that can be done in the speaking class to promote
For efficient group discussions, it is always better not to form large groups, because quiet students may avoid contributing in large groups. The group members can be either assigned by the teacher or the students may determine it by themselves, but groups should be rearranged in every discussion activity so that students can work with various people and learn to be open to different ideas. Lastly, in class or group discussions, whatever the aim is, the students should always be encouraged to ask questions, paraphrase ideas, express support, check for clarification, and so on.
- Role Play
One other way of getting students to speak is role-playing. Students pretend they are in various social contexts and have a variety of social roles. In role-play activities, the teacher gives information to the learners such as who they are and what they think or feel. Thus, the teacher can tell the student that “You are David, you go to the doctor and tell him what happened last night, and…”
Simulations are very similar to role-plays but what makes simulations different than role plays is that they are more elaborate. In simulations, students can bring items to the class to create a realistic environment. For instance, if a student is acting as a singer, she brings a microphone to sing and so on. Role plays and simulations have many advantages. First, since they are entertaining, they motivate the students. Second, as Harmer (1984) suggests, they increase the self-confidence of hesitant students, because in role play and simulation activities, they will have a different role and do not have to speak for themselves, which means they do not have to take the same responsibility.
- Information Gap
In this activity, students are supposed to be working in pairs. One student will have the information that other partner does not have and the partners will share their information. Information gap activities serve many purposes such as solving a problem or collecting information. Also, each partner plays an important role because the task cannot be completed if the partners do not provide the information the others need. These activities are effective because everybody has the opportunity to talk extensively in the target language.
On a given topic, students can produce ideas in a limited time. Depending on the context, either individual or group brainstorming is effective and learners generate ideas quickly and freely. The good characteristic of brainstorming is that the students are not criticized for their ideas so students will be open to sharing new ideas.
Students can briefly summarize a tale or story they heard from somebody beforehand, or they may create their own stories to tell their classmates. Story telling fosters creative thinking. It also helps students express ideas in the format of beginning, development, and ending, including the characters and setting a story has to have. Students also can tell riddles or jokes. For instance, at the very beginning of each class session, the teacher may call a few students to tell short riddles or jokes as an opening. In this way, not only will the teacher address students‟ speaking ability, but also get the attention of the class.
Students can conduct interviews on selected topics with various people. It is a good idea that the teacher provides a rubric to students so that they know what type of questions they can ask or what path to follow, but students should prepare their own interview questions. Conducting interviews with people gives students a chance to practice their speaking ability not only in class but also outside and helps them becoming socialized. After interviews, each student can present his or her study to the class. Moreover, students can interview each other and “introduce” his or her partner to the class.
- Story Completion
This is a very enjoyable, whole-class, free-speaking activity for which students sits in a circle. For this activity, a teacher starts to tell a story, but after a few sentences he or she stops narrating. Then, each student starts to narrate from the point where the previous one stopped. Each student is supposed to add from four to ten sentences. Students can add new characters, events, descriptions and so on.
Before coming to class, students are asked to read a newspaper or magazine and, in class, they report to their friends what they find as the most interesting news. Students can also talk about whether they have experienced anything worth telling their friends in their daily lives before class.
- Picture Narrating
This activity is based on several sequential pictures. Students are asked to tell the story taking place in the sequential pictures by paying attention to the criteria provided by the teacher as a rubric. Rubrics can include the vocabulary or structures they need to use while narrating.
- Picture Describing
Another way to make use of pictures in a speaking activity is to give students just one picture and having them describe what it is in the picture. For this activity students can form groups and each group is given a different picture. Students discuss the picture with their groups, and then a spokesperson for each group describes the picture to the whole class. This activity fosters the creativity and imagination of the learners as well as their public speaking skills.
- Find the Difference
For this activity students can work in pairs and each couple is given two different pictures, for example, picture of boys playing football and another picture of girls playing tennis. Students in pairs discuss the similarities and/or differences in the pictures.
Obstacles in speaking English
Students sometimes do not have enough courage to speak English in front of the class or public even in their own language. They always feel nervous and afraid of making mistakes because they are worry if other people will laugh at them. Actually, feeling some nervousness is natural and healthy. It shows people care about doing International. Too much nervousness can be detrimental. According to Wijaya (2007) “deliver a speech in public is not easy but also is not difficult to do”. Students should believe that the ability to speak in front of people is not innate but a skill that can be learned. The last reason was the common situation, which happened in general speaking class. Students usually say ‘I am shy’ and ‘I cannot do that’. On the other hand, even they did what the teacher’s instruction but their voice is softer than usual, so the teacher cannot hear their voice clearly.
Actually, to be able to speak English, students are not expected to have a great ability in grammar, vocabulary, or writing, but how brave they express their idea and use their English in front of others (Handoko, 2009:14).
There are many obstacles in mastering English. Based on Richard and Renandya (2002: 206), there are difficulties for learners in speaking, it refers to students’ personality motivation, anxiety, emoticon and attitude). Moreover, Ghrib ((2002),[online]) states of the students’ problem in speaking; they are vocabulary and meaning, grammar, pronunciation, material and fluency. In addition, Liu (2005) adds students’ problem in speaking is fear of making mistake and being laughed. based on Hughes For people who wants to be competent in communicating with English, they must change and expand identity as she or he learns the culture, social, and even political factors of English, that needed to speak appropriately with a new ‘voice’, it is as Englishman (Hughes, 2002:1).
Besides changing and expanding the identity, they also need courage and confidence to present their English Internationally. Here are some speaking problems:
- Pronunciation problem
- Being shy
The Problems and Solutions in Teaching Speaking
- Problems Found in the Speaking Class
- Students do not want to talk or say anything
One of the problems is students feel really shy about talking in front of other students, they are suffer from a fear of making mistakes and therefore „losing face‟ in front of their teacher and their peers. Speaking in front of other people needs courage, motivation from inside, and outside such as joyful atmosphere in the conversation and interesting topic.
Further is because there are students who dominate and almost intimidate. Another reason for student silence may simply be that the classroom activities are boring or pitched at the wrong level. Many people have a good ability in English language skills but when they should communicate with English; they fail in expressing their ideas. They are afraid and anxious of saying something wrong or incomprehensible.
One way to encourage students to speak in English is simply to speak in English as much as possible in classroom.
- Students keep using their own language.
One problem may teacher face is that students use their native language rather than English to perform classroom tasks. This might happen because they want to communicate something important, and so they use language in the best way they know. They have difficulty to say something and because they do not want losing their face in front of their peers, they think that they better use their native language and so others can understand them.
This problem also connected with students does not want to talk or say anything in the foreign language but they keep using their own language.
In this situation, teacher can create an English environment and keep reminding them always use English.
- It is difficult to handle students in large classroom.
If the classroom is big, for example 30 or 40 students in a classroom, it is clearly that the students hardly got a chance to practice the language, and difficult for them to ask and receive individual attention they need. It is hard for the teacher to make contact with students at the back, to keep good discipline, also to organize dynamic and creative teaching and learning sessions.
But there are advantages of a large classroom: when there are many students in a classroom they can share many different ideas, interesting life experiences, learn to share responsibility and help each other during project work which can bring variety and speeds up the work.
- Students are not discipline in classroom.
Some students do not pay attention to the lesson given; they just talk with each other and make some noises. Some come and go as they like, as the teacher cannot control them. The problems may be because the students bored with the activities or they feel unable to cope with the task given. They show their frustration by disruptive behavior and loud outbursts. The discipline of the students in the classroom is related also to the motivation of the students themselves. If they have low motivation, it means they have low enthusiasm in following the classroom which makes them indiscipline in the classroom.
In this situation, the teacher can create activities that make students feel enjoy themselves in the class.
- The materials do not fulfill the need of students
Language teacher should attempt to associate the language they are teaching with the situation outside the classroom. Smith (1983) in Freeman (1999) has explained that people do
Not learn if they are confused or bored. When school topics do not relate to students‟ lives, they may find themselves confused or bored. Moreover, when students cannot understand the language instruction, they may become frustrated. The problem is also connected with the students’ motivation.
On the other hand, when students receive comprehensible input and when they can link school subjects with their life experiences, they learn (Krashen, 1982). Good teaching-texts for classroom use are not there simply in order to be read, they lead to comment and interpretation by learners, and illustrate typical pragmatic uses of lexis and structure. They have to be fairly short, so that other activities besides comprehension can occur. They have to be „appropriately accessible’. This means ”not too difficult for learners to understand but difficult enough to encourage them to develop further in the language’.
There are four alternatives when the teacher decides the textbook is not appropriate.
The teacher can omit the lesson, teacher can replace the textbook lesson with one of the teacher’s own, teacher can add to what is in the book, and the last is teacher to adapt what is in the book.
- Students have low motivation to learn English
Nunan (1991) wrote in Lawtie (1999), „Success is measured in terms of the ability to carry out a conversation in the (target) language‟. Therefore, if students do not learn how to speak or do not get any opportunity to speak in the language classroom they may soon get de-motivated and lose interest in learning. Nevertheless, if the right activities are taught in the right way, speaking classroom can be a lot of fun, raise learner motivation and make the English language classroom a fun and dynamic place to study English. Their motivation is more likely to increase if the students can see how their process of classroom learning achieves the objective, and helps them to accomplish the success. The development of communicative skills can only take place if learners have motivation and opportunity to express their own identity and to relate with the people around them.
One key to increasing motivation is to use activities matched to the personalities, learning styles and characteristics of the learners as often as practically possible.
- How to encourage Students to Speak
It is very important for teacher to encourage students to speak in the classroom. If they do not encourage them to use the language the student’s speaking ability will never improve. Students usually do not use the target language beyond classroom. That is why they need to speak up in the classroom. If the students make any mistake, the teacher can help to correct their mistakes. According to Philips, the teacher can do the following things to help their students to speak:
- Encourage student’s interactions
Most of the students feel very shy to speak because they do not acquire the target language and they are not used to take part in classroom discussion. Students do not even interact with other students or keep silent when they are asked to speak English all the time.
Therefore, it is important to create a comfortable atmosphere in the classroom where students are not afraid to speak and enjoy communicating with the teacher. Students have to be given such atmosphere where they can speak without any pressure and stress.
- Make speaking activities communicative
Speaking activities need to be very interesting to encourage meaningful interaction between students. If the speaking activities are not interesting enough and do not provide opportunity for students to speak then there is no use of giving speaking activity. According to Philips, “The aim of communication activities is to encourage purposeful and meaningful interaction between students. Communicative tasks are designed so that students have a reason or purpose for speaking.” Therefore, teacher should give such activities so that students can share their thought, express their feeling, find out the real information, discuss and argue.
- Plan speaking activities carefully
According to Philips, “Speaking activities need to be very carefully structured at first at lower levels, thus the students have few demands on them.” At the beginning stage, activities should be easy but good enough for students can use the target language. Students might not be fluent and accurate in speaking but they should not remain quite. When they get used to communicate then the teacher can introduce more difficult activities such as role-plays, discussions, debate and problem-solving tasks.
Teaching speaking is a very important part of foreign language learning. The ability to communicate in a foreign language clearly and efficiently contributes to the success of the learner in school and success later in every phase of life. Therefore, it is essential that foreign Language teachers pay great attention to teaching speaking by providing students with adequate exposure with the language and with adequate motivation to communicate through it. Rather than leading students to pure memorization, providing a rich environment where meaningful communication takes place is desired. With this aim, teacher should be aware of the problems that may face in conducting the English speaking class; starts from the problem faced by the students and the teachers, in addition, the problem from the language itself that is not spoken in the community.
Therefore, this article proposes some things that should become a consideration and guidelines for teacher before they come in to the class, for instance; what kind of speaking class that they want to have, some principles in teaching speaking, some activities to encourage their students to speak, some principles that they must consider in designing speaking techniques, and some suggestions that they should do in teaching speaking. The last but not least, various speaking activities such as those listed above can contribute a great deal to students in developing basic interactive skills necessary for life. Hopefully, these activities make students more active to speak in the target language in the learning process and at the same time make their learning more meaningful and fun for them.