Do you have English language learners, ELLs, who struggle with speaking skills? For English language learners, having appropriate speaking or communication skills means that they will be able to properly express themselves in their new language. Helping them build and share meaning through speaking should be a goal for the teacher.
So what does it mean to “Teach Speaking”? This means that the English language learner should be taught to produce English speech sounds. They should be able to use sound patterns, intonation and rhythm of English appropriately. They should also be able to select appropriate words for the specific audience and organize thoughts in a meaningful and logical sequence. Finally, ELLs should be able to use English confidently.
In class, discussions are essential. After a lesson has been completed, plan on having a class discussion about the lesson. The discussion may be held for a variety of reasons such as drawing conclusions, problem solving, sharing of ideas and feelings or predicting what might occur next. To form discussion groups, put students into groups of 4 to 5 and give a specific goal or objective to strive for.
Have you ever used simulations? They are another effective way to promote speaking. A simulation is similar to a role-play but is more elaborate. Instead of just pretending they are in a certain surrounding, the class will build a realistic environment in which to carry out their play. For example, if the simulation is that of a grocery store keeper, the class can build a realistic store by bringing in canned goods, coins, wallets, produce, etc. This activity could be used in several content areas and for many age groups. A high school economics class could use this simulation to learn about running a business or supply and demand. An elementary class could use this simulation to learn how to identify the price of an item and count the correct amount of money to pay for it. Through that activity or something similar, economics and math standards are addressed. This idea could also be used in a vocabulary lesson to teach the terms of different grocery items.
Another great speaking activity for English language learners is “Story Completion”. Have the class sit in a circle. You will start to tell a story but after a few sentences stop. The next person will add his or her own part to the story then stop and continue on to the next person. This allows students to add their own ideas in a creative, free flowing way. There doesn’t have to be a required number of sentences added per student. This allows a student to add as much or as little as they feel comfortable with. An Advance speaker may be able to participate in the entire activity whereas a Beginning or Intermediate speaker might not feel so comfortable. These students could be assigned a partner to work with and participate to a lesser extent.
There are many more wonderful activities and suggestions given by Hayriye Kayi of the University of Nevada. Have you used any of these activities in your classrooms? Did they go smoothly or did you need to adapt them in any way? What types of simulations have you tried? Share your ideas.