Teaching speaking - Unit 9: Fluency

Unit 9 looks at how we can help learners improve their fluency to become effective communicators of English. 

This unit looks specifically at group work, warmers and controlled practice.  In the video you will see students engaged in speaking activities – a role play and a debate – while John Kay talks about the different factors involved in helping learners improve their fluency.

This unit contains the following elements:

  • A short video providing input.  
  • 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 look at ways of helping students speak more fluently – particularly how careful lesson preparation can help.

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 not available for viewing in your location, please click here


Submitted by Ephrem Palathingal on Sat, 02/27/2016 - 09:26


Cycling, swimming, circus jumps, trapeze and speaking a 2nd tongue all require the same skill set i.e. no hesitation/shy/coy barrier. Once this is broken and told that mistakes are nothing to worry about there ends the issue. I did not learn Hindi in school or college but picked it up like the native out in Mumbai streets as good as the native. Delhi Hindi is courteous and Mumbai is not. So that's it give them the cycling learning push to be on their own through their mistakes.

Submitted by jmbratu on Sun, 10/16/2016 - 16:38


I have this tendency, as a teacher, to focus more on accuracy than on fluency, so these examples on how to do it helps me so much. Thank you again!

Submitted by jdmcg on Tue, 01/02/2018 - 04:48

In reply to by jmbratu


hi, interesting comment to which I would ask the following questions: 1. do all native English speakers speak accurately? 2. by whose measurements is "native" English speaking accuracy measured? would be interested to hear what you think

Submitted by cgonzalesc on Mon, 11/26/2018 - 21:57

In reply to by jmbratu


Dear jmbratu: I agree with you. It also happens to me because it´s very hard for me to forget about grammar;however, the activities suggested on the video have helped me a lot. For example, the one on personalization. If we devote 10 minutes every class for ss to transfer and personlize information after new language has been presented, we would be giving students the opportunity to speak about familiar topics and would be much more concentrated on the information about themselves that want to share with their peers instead of on the specific language they have to use. When they personalize information, they want to get their message across without worrying about their mistakes. Consequently, they become more fluent. To get good results, we have to assign some minutes at the beginning of the class for warmers, and every time we present new language , we have to assignn some minutes for them to personalize the new language.

Submitted by vardayinee on Mon, 01/02/2017 - 06:20


This material certainly makes the concept of teaching English very clear. This helps a teacher like me to provide organised ideas about teaching speaking.

Submitted by jdmcg on Tue, 01/02/2018 - 04:56


this video mentioned certain "justifications" for reading out loud and then went on to say that for fluency however, one needs to look at the person... in what situational contexts can one look at the person who's speaking? not in the following: telephone radio broadcast public speaking event, etc. etc. this is not a determiner of "fluency" and is therefore, is not entirely accurate as an experienced teacher who's developed "fluency" practices with my 7 - 9 graders, I would recommend that this information be reviewed in line with modern communication practices - such as what I am doing now for example... thank you

Submitted by cgonzalesc on Mon, 11/26/2018 - 21:34


Hi: What I understood is that in a communicative activity in class, we should encourage students to look at each other because this is what we do in real- life situations when we speak with another person. By doing so, we encourage students to "dramatize" what happens in real-life situations. Ss need to speak as naturally as possible in order to gain in fluency since the definition of fluency is to speak naturally. To encourage students to make eye contact, I always use the "look-up-and say" technique every time they practice a dialogue. They are reluctant to do it at first, but once they get the hang of it, they love it; and little by little, they start speaking more naturally; in other words, more fluently.

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