Speaking a new language involves many things. Have you ever thought of the hardest skill, which of the four skill- listening, speaking, reading, or writing-did you find to be the hardest? Many people feel that speaking in a new language is harder than reading, writing,or listening. There are two reason involved in it: First, unlike reading or writing, speaking happens in real time: usually the person you are talking to is waiting for you to speak right then. Second, when you speak, you cannot edit and revise what you wish to say, as you can if you are writing. In language teaching, the four skills are described in terms of their direction. Language generated by the learner (in speech or writing) is referred to as productive. Language directed at the learner (in reading or listening) is called receptive.
Practice with both Fluency and Accuracy
Accuracy is the extent to which students’ speech matches what people actually say when they use the target language. Fluency is the extent to which speakers use the language quickly and confidently, with few hesitations or unnatural pauses, false starts, word searches, etc.
In language lessons—especially at the beginning and intermediate levels— learners must be given opportunities to develop both their fluency and their accuracy. They cannot develop fluency if the teacher is constantly interrupting them to correct their oral errors. Teachers must provide students with fluency- building practice and realize that making mistakes is a natural part of learning a new language.
Limiting Teacher Talk-provide Opportunities for Students to Talk by Using Group Work or Pair Work
Research has repeatedly demonstrated that teachers do approximately 50 to 80 percent o f the talking in classrooms. It is important for us as language teachers to be aware of how much we are talking in class so we don’t take up all the time the students could be talking. Pair work and group work activities can be used to increase the amount of time that learners get to speak in the target language during lessons. One further interesting point is that when the teacher is removed from the conversation, the learners take on diverse speaking roles that are normally filled by the teacher (such as posing questions or offering clarification).
Negotiation for Meaning
Research suggests that learners make progress by communicating in the target language because interaction necessarily involves trying to understand and make yourself understood. This process is called negotiating for meaning. It involves checking to see if you’ve understood what someone has said, clarifying your understanding, and confirming that someone has understood your meaning. By asking for clarification, repetition, or explanations during conversations, learners get the people they are speaking with to address them with language at a level they can learn from and understand.
In conversations among equals, people are normally free to take turns, ask questions, and change topics. If you are teaching speaking, it is important to plan activities for small groups or pairs in language classrooms so the learners have a chance to practice these conversational skills without the teacher dominating the discussion.