jueves, 2 de diciembre de 2010

Speak Up

Hello Everyone!
On this entry I´ll analyze a video on techniques to teach speaking. I’m pretty aware that we all have chosen this tool to work on Speaking, but I believe there is a reason for this: what can be better to explore the teaching of speaking than watching students speak and teachers guide them? Although the lesson sometimes deals with primary school children, the techniques used can be transferred to a class for adolescents and adults.
John Kay claims that one of the most important things to get sts talking is to generate a friendly atmosphere, which will allow sts to feel relaxed and therefore, be willing to participate actively in the speaking tasks. To this end, he proposed is a warmer, for example, he gives an example of a grouping technique with different animals for each child, which they had to keep secret. Not surprisingly, they immediately start asking which animal they got (in English) so the English atmosphere is created before the actual activity starts. This activity can be used with adolescents as well for instance by giving them pictures of different pop stars, actors, or models. Another advantage the speaker points out is that the teacher can manipulate the grouping arrangements in a clever way for example by pairing a shy student with a more extroverted one so that they can help each other.
As regards instruction-giving, John Kay highlights the importance of getting sts to know when the instruction is given and to make sure they are all paying attention. The teacher in the video says that after giving the instructions she asks the sts to repeat what she has already said. This is her technique to check understanding. In addition, a way of avoiding the use of the sts’ mother tongue when giving instructions may be trying to simplify them as much as possible and planning them beforehand. Moreover, John says it is necessary to give one instruction at a time so as not to complicate the understanding of the activity.
When it comes to practicing some particular structures or lexical items, it is sometimes necessary to do some controlled oral practice of the target language with the class as a whole before plunging into the pair or group work. To begin with, the teacher provides a model (in the video the teacher gives examples that the sts could perceive as real) and then, he encourages them to repeat it. After that, the teacher can provide a prompt so as to make it a bit more creative for the sts. This is important because he is preparing them to perform the activity successfully by providing the language they are going to need during the task. For example in the video, the teacher shows the sts a variety of ways to express agreement or disagreement for them to use in the following activity.
To conclude, I really liked this video because it complemented the reading we had done on Speaking from Tricia Hedge, especially the part of giving-instructions, which is not only useful for the speaking tasks though.

Hope you like it too!

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