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Teaching speaking.




      Speaking is "the process of building and sharing meaning through the use of verbal and non-verbal symbols, in a variety of contexts" (Chaney, 1998, p. 13). Speaking is a crucial part of second language learning and teaching. Despite its importance, for many years, teaching speaking has been undervalued and English language teachers have continued to teach speaking just as a repetition of drills or memorization of dialogues. However, today's world requires that the goal of teaching speaking should improve students' communicative skills, because, only in that way, students can express themselves and learn how to follow the social and cultural rules appropriate in each communicative circumstance. In order to teach second language learners how to speak in the best way possible, some speaking activities are provided below, that can be applied to ESL and EFL classroom settings, together with suggestions for teachers who teach oral language.

What is meant by "teaching speaking" is to teach ESL learners to:

·        Produce the English speech sounds and sound patterns

·        Use word and sentence stress, intonation patterns and the rhythm of the second language.

·        Select appropriate words and sentences according to the proper social setting, audience, situation and subject matter.

·        Organize their thoughts in a meaningful and logical sequence.

·        Use language as a means of expressing values and judgments.

·        Use the language quickly and confidently with few unnatural pauses, which is called as fluency. (Nunan, 2003)

   Now many linguistics and ESL teachers agree on that students learn to speak in the second language by "interacting". Communicative language teaching and collaborative learning serve best for this aim.  Communicative language teaching is based on real-life situations that require communication. By using this method in ESL classes, students will have the opportunity of communicating with each other in the target language.  In brief, ESL teachers should create a classroom environment where students have real-life communication, authentic activities, and meaningful tasks that promote oral language. This can occur when students collaborate in groups to achieve a goal or to complete a task.

So, as far as speaking means conveying the message through the words this skill is also called ‘Oral Skill’ or ‘Communicative Skill’. To develop this skill, the students need intensive practice. Speaking practice is usually done in pair & group work. Language experts have organized oral skills into four distinctive types.

I.Drills or Linguistically Structured Activities

II.Performance Activities

III.Participation Activities

IV.Observation Activities



  Main part



7-th form. Textbook by O.Karpiuk,2007


Activity 1. (Drill or linguistically structured activity)

     Teacher provides a particular structure and the students practice it by repeating it.

   For example: (Teacher can divide class into groups if there are many students or can do this task with a whole class if there are not very many students):

Students should ask each other а question about their favourite holiday or special day (according to the given text on the topic). But before answering every other student should repeat the favourite holiday or special day of previous student or as many previous students as he/she can remember. Teacher can start the first.

T: My favourite holiday is Christmas, what is your favourite holiday or special day?

P1: My favourite holiday is New Year. ( Then he/she addresses to the next student: )Alla Volodymyrivna’s favourite holiday is Christmas. My favourite holiday is New Year. What is your favourite holiday or special day?

P2: Alla Volodymyrivna’s favourite holiday is Christmas. Yana’s favourite holiday is New Year. My favourite holiday is Easter. What is your favourite holiday?

So on….

Activity 2. Observation Activity. Picture describing.

It is a  way to make use of pictures in a speaking activity .Give students just one picture and have them describe what it is in the picture. For this activity students can form groups and each group is given a different picture. Students discuss the picture with their groups, then a spokesperson (or each of the members of the group in turn ) for each group describes the picture to the whole class. This activity fosters the creativity and imagination of the learners as well as their public speaking skills.

Students are given some pictures of different holidays and special days and should describe them.

E.g.: Look at the picture and say:

- what holiday/special day is it?

-what can you see in the picture?

-what are people in the picture are doing?


Activity 3. Performance Activity. Short Speech.

Students think of the reasons why a  holiday or a day is   his/her favourite  ( e.g. 2 or more sentences but not less than 2) and deliver a message to a group. Before giving this task teacher lets students choose the holiday or special day giving them separate pieces of paper with the names of the holidays/days or the pictures of things or objects which are natural for those holidays or days.


 Student’s Speech.


E.G.  Think of some reasons why this holiday/day is your favourite and add some  information ( from the text or additional if you know some) about your favourite holiday/special day ( 2 or more sentences). Deliver it to the class .  E.g.:Christmas is my favourite holiday because….

Activity 4.Participation Activity. Discussion.
Students participate in some communicative activity in a “natural setting”.
Discussion ( in groups or the whole class, depending on how many students are there).
Prepare your arguments and try to convince your partners
that your holiday/special day is the best or the most important.
 ( You can use the information given in  the text ). You have 2 minutes.


Activity 5. Role-playing.

One other way of getting students to speak is role-playing. Students pretend they are in various social contexts and have a variety of social roles. In role-play activities, the teacher gives information to the learners such as who they are and what they think or feel. Thus, the teacher can tell the student that "You are David, you go to the doctor and tell him what happened last night, and…" (Harmer, 1984)
This is also can be a form of a dialogue.

E.G. :

Role-play the situations.

1)    You don’t understand why people should keep the Lent. Your partner always keeps the Lent. Ask him/her what should you do during it and what does it give to you. You both can use the words from the picture.

2)    You are in GB during Christmas living in a rented apartment. A man knocks early into the house you live and gives you some coal, drink and bread. You don’t know why he gives those things to you. Role-play the conversation with that man. Ask him what are they for?


3)    You forgot what day it is today (1st of April). In the morning you come to school and one of your classmates tells you that your class mistress asked you to come and see her because you failed your test in Math. You go and…your class mistress tells you that you did the test successfully and that your classmates evidently tricked you, because it is the 1st of April.. Role-play the conversation between you and your class mistress.

Activity 6. Games in speaking activities.Playing cards.

In this game, students should form groups of four. Each suit will represent a topic. For instance:

·        Diamonds: Christmas

·        Hearts: Valentine’s Day

·        Spades: New Year

·         Clubs: Easter


Each student in a group will choose a card. Then, each student will write a question about that topic to ask the other people in the group. For example:

-When is Christmas (Easter, New Year, Valentine’s Day, etc.) celebrated in Britain?

-What are the main attributes of this holiday/day?


However, the teacher should state at the very beginning of the activity that students are not allowed to prepare yes-no questions, because by saying yes or no students get little practice in spoken language production.  Rather, students ask open-ended questions to each other so that they reply in complete sentences.

Task for students:

♦ - Make up 4 questions about Christmas. You shouldn’t make Yes/No questions.

♥-Make up 4 questions about Valentine’s Day. You shouldn’t make Yes/No questions.

♣-Make up 4 questions about Easter. You shouldn’t make Yes/No questions.

♠-Make up 4 questions about New Year. You shouldn’t make Yes/No questions.

Activity 7.Picture narrating

This activity is based on several sequential pictures. Students are asked to tell the story taking place in the sequential pictures by paying attention to the criteria provided by the teacher as a rubric. Rubrics can include the vocabulary or structures they need to use while narrating.




Teaching speaking is a very important part of second language learning. The ability to communicate in a second language clearly and efficiently contributes to the success of the learner in school and success later in every phase of life. Therefore, it is essential that language teachers pay great attention to teaching speaking. Rather than leading students to pure memorization, providing a rich environment where meaningful communication takes place is desired. With this aim, various speaking activities such as those listed above can contribute a great deal to students in developing basic interactive skills necessary for life. These activities make students more active in the learning process and at the same time make their learning more meaningful and fun for them.
Here are some suggestions for English language teachers while teaching oral language:

·        Provide maximum opportunity to students to speak the target language by providing a rich environment that contains collaborative work, authentic materials and tasks, and shared knowledge.

·        Try to involve each student in every speaking activity; for this aim, practice different ways of student participation.

·        Reduce teacher speaking time in class while increasing student speaking time. Step back and observe students.

·        Indicate positive signs when commenting on a student's response.

·        Ask eliciting questions such as "What do you mean? How did you reach that conclusion?" in order to prompt students to speak more.

·        Provide written feedback like "Your presentation was really great. It was a good job. I really appreciated your efforts in preparing the materials and efficient use of your voice…"

·        Do not correct students' pronunciation mistakes very often while they are speaking. Correction should not distract student from his or her speech.

·        Involve speaking activities not only in class but also out of class; contact parents and other people who can help.

·        Circulate around classroom to ensure that students are on the right track and see whether they need your help while they work in groups or pairs.

·        Provide the vocabulary beforehand that students need in speaking activities.

·        Diagnose problems faced by students who have difficulty in expressing themselves in the target language and provide more opportunities to practice the spoken language.




·        Chaney, A.L., and T.L. Burk. 1998. Teaching Oral Communication in Grades K-8. Boston: Allyn&Bacon.

·        Harmer, J. 1984. The Practice of English Language Teaching. London: Longman.

·        Nunan, D., 2003. Practical English Language Teaching. NY:McGraw-Hill.





Speaking PDF