Teaching speaking - Unit 5: Techniques

This unit looks at a number of different techniques we can use to help our students with their speaking skills, specifically group work, warmers and controlled practice. In the video you will see teachers in Thailand organising activities, giving instructions and leading controlled practice. John Kay gives advice to focus teachers on these classroom techniques. This unit contains a short video, interactive reflection activities and PDFs with additional activities, answer key and further opportunities for reflection. If you are a teacher trainer and are planning to use the material in a face-to-face context, there is a set of trainer notes for each topic.

In the video you will see teachers in Thailand organising activities, giving instructions and leading controlled practice. John Kay gives advice to focus teachers on these classroom techniques. This unit contains the following elements:

  • a short video
  • A downloadable series of reflection tasks and activities.
  • If you are a teacher trainer and are planning to use the material in a face-to-face context, there is a set of trainer notes for each topic.

The downloadable material asks you or your trainees to think through the decisions that go towards making a speaking activity successful – groupings, instructions, language input etc. No ‘right’ answers are given but rather teachers are encouraged to think ‘it depends’ - the ‘right’ way to set up an activity depends on the nature of the activity.

The videos in this series express the view that “English language teaching has the same challenges the world over”, but that the solutions to these problems depend very much on the local context, and for this reason the approach taken focuses on tasks that enable the participants to relate the video to their own specific practice and experience.

If this video is unavailable for viewing in your location, please click here

Comments

Submitted by marno on Sat, 09/19/2015 - 15:06

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Having your own classroom, I mean, an exclusive classroom for teaching English as a foreign language which you don´t have to share with teachers of other subjects, for instance: maths, geography, history, etc. facilitates your job. In my country, Argentina, teachers in state schools move from classroom to classroom with their teaching material: CD player and CDs, posters, flashcards, books, dictionaries instead of students going to the language classroom. So, displaying visual material on the walls and leave it there for students to refer to, is nearly impossible because break time is only five minutes long, not enough time to prepare the classroom before hand. Besides there are about 9 teachers more apart from you, that teach other subjects, who also need the walls to hang their stuff. I hope it weren´t like that.

Submitted by thinh13la on Mon, 03/19/2018 - 04:07

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Thank you for all of the useful resources! I totally agree with Kay at the point that we unconsciously cool our students down after a warm-up activity. So are there any effective ways to lead in to the main point of the lesson after the warm-up section without cooling our learners with boring phrases? Thank you

Yeah! this is hard. What I do is , whenever possible, use some reinforcement phrases towards the end of the activity such as " you did a good job" " you tried hard" and / or show a 2-minute video clip related to the topic of the next lesson and ask them questions related to it. I always try to connect activities in a fun way, looking for appealing phrases in order to avoid saying: " open your books on page.."

Submitted by cgonzalesc on Mon, 11/19/2018 - 22:47

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Warmers or ice-breakers are always useful to create a nice atmosphere and to add some fun to our classes. It's in this moment when students start using the language spontaneously because their objective is, in this case, to find their right group and in their doing so they are using English. Furthermore, students learn better when they are at ease and that is one of the main reasons why ice-breakers are used: to lower the affective filter. The one we watched on the video helped the teacher form mixed- ability groups by distributing the cards wisely.

Submitted by cgonzalesc on Mon, 11/19/2018 - 23:03

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Instructions must be given one at a time. I agree with this idea because understanding instructions is complicated even in your native language, so Instructions must be short, concise and right to the point. To make sure students understood instructions, let's ask students to paraphrase them.

Submitted by cgonzalesc on Mon, 11/19/2018 - 23:06

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Let me disagree with one of the thai teachers who prefers to translate instructions for students to understand. I guess using students' native language should be our last recourse. We should use other techniques to get the meaning across.

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