It has been observed in many institutions of learning English as second language that the most difficult skill students fail to master is fluency in speaking. Some educators have even criticized the dependence on school text books as insufficient in so far as the speaking skill is concern. It is based on this scenario that I am discussing the above topic to find ways of minimizing the time teachers spent in speaking in class and maximizing that of the students. It is hoped that if students are given the opportunity to practice speaking in various activities during class time it will tremendously assist them in developing this skill. Below I will mention some of the methods which I think may aid students in their journey to become fluent speakers of English language.
It is well known that if the number of students in a class is too large the teacher will find it difficult to handle them
and will not be able to reach most of them. It is because of this, that it is necessary for the students to be divided into groups. This gives the teacher the chance to easily check student’s performance and if there is any lacking
it can be corrected at the first stage.
Assigning Specific Task
Dividing students into groups is meaningless if they are not given exact goal to accomplish. Therefore, after dividing them into groups, each group should be given specific tasks that may involve activities like listening exercises and worksheets. With regards to listening,short stories may be effective. They may need to listen to it several times to get well acquainted with the story. After this, they should be allowed to read the text while at the same time been given worksheet to do specific task based on what they have listened to. Students in each group will be required to have discussion about specifics of these activities to prepare themselves for the general discussion.
After the completion of tasks by each group, time should be allotted for discussion of answers arrived at by each
group. Individual students will contribution by participating in oral discussion. Activities such as these should be organized often to afford the chance to students to improve their speaking skills. Listening to short stories
several times and also reading the text have proven to be very effective in enhancing the speaking skill; because it make students get accustomed to the right usage of words and phases which they can easily used in daily conversation. In other words, they are been exposed to a situation where they can practice and live the language.
In conclusion, students who are practicing their speaking skills in class will be more confident and motivated to speak in situations outside the classroom. Should in case anyone has something to share in relation to this issue, the contribution will be most appreciated.
Teaching students who in the future will be expert in their particular fields is not an easy task. Therefore, teachers should be keen to identify methods and strategies that will facilitate this process and make it a success.
Since I started teaching English some ten years ago, it was my dream for my students to achieve proficiency in all four language learning skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. However, my long experience in this field made me realized that this is very difficult to achieve. The reason for this difficulty is that students vary in their abilities, aptitudes and capacities to understand. One usually finds students who are fast to understand, while others are in the middle and yet others are very slow to cope in class.
In a situation like this, if a teacher deals with these students on the same level there will definitely be a vast disparity or inequality in students’ achievement. If we do not want to see an undesirable result like this, something needs to be done.
In this regard, I think students for each grade should be divided according to their proficiency level into three groups: beginners, intermediate and advanced levels. Then ,For each group we should design a special classroom having the same course book and work book designed according to the level of students’ group and giving each one of theses groups a specific test designed especially for it.
The aim of this is to allow students to learn and progress at their own pace based on their aptitudes, abilities and special needs. In the final analysis, we will see generalprogress and achievement rather than a success of just a cross-section of students. In case anyone has a strategy that will take in consideration the differences in abilities that may exist among students, I will be happy to receive his or her view point.
Any comments will be recieved gratefully .
Last year I taught a course book which includes lessons called (Word Study). This provides phonetic help, grammatical function, part of speech and definition of the word. It also involves exercises at the end of the lesson which requires students to filling the gaps from a list of suggested answers. This year I used activities such as using visuals related to the selected words. I then asked my students to use these words in simple sentences. Some of them found it difficult at the initial stage but after interaction with other students, I noticed that they improved rapidly. I wish to discuss using vocabulary exercises and vocabulary activities so as to identify which one is more effective.
According Oxford University Press in an essay entitled “How activate vocabulary” the following differences between vocabulary exercises and vocabulary activities have been note:
“Vocabulary exercises tend to be controlled, testing the meaning and/ or form of items. They usually have a specific answer which is ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’, and they often perform the function of reinforcement.
Let’s compare this with vocabulary activities. This can be controlled or less controlled but the difference is that activities have a communicative goal as well as linguistic goal, and for this reason they require learners to interact with each other, giving opinions and sharing experiences”.
In conclusion, based on my experience with my students, I discovered that vocabulary activities proved to be more effective than exercises. Your opinion relating to this topic will be greatly appreciated.
For those preparing course materials for students learning English as a second language, careful deliberation should be taken to understand the special circumstance of the students. There are many obstacles in learning a foreign language; especially to those who start it late. In my country Saudi Arabia for instance, students start learning English at intermediate school, so mostly it is not easy for them to cope; except with special effort. In addition to this, in secondary school, students are divided into two areas of studies: Arts and Science. I am going to look at suitability of the English Course being taught to these students and suggest how it could be redesign to make it fulfill it real purpose.
Problems of the Course Book
The division of students to Arts and Science is done based on their academic performance, consequently students with higher grades find themselves in science and those with lower grades go to arts. For the arts students their difficulty is apparent; as the course is not easy for them considering their low standard and also it is not meeting their special needs.
Moreover, science students have much serious problem as they will have to pursue medical or engineering course and the medium of teaching is English language. Since this English Course is not design to cater for their area of science, most of them often face problem of understanding in medical school.
Having studied the problem carefully, I am wondering if students are going to overcome it and make tremendous progress; there should be a redesigning of the English Course book to make it suitable to the needs of both the Arts and Science students. The reason for this is that at secondary level all other subjects are taught in Arabic and English language is taught only as a foreign language. So a newly designed course book might help students reach their learning goal. Do you have any other method to share with us that can assist student of EFL overcome their learning difficulties? Your ideas will be warmly welcome.