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Teaching English vote

Speaking is a complex skill! What do you think is the most important element of speaking?

  1. Fluency
    (28.7%)
  2. Grammatical accuracy
    (8.1%)
  3. A wide range of vocabulary
    (12.2%)
  4. Understanding of style, register and formality
    (7.8%)
  5. Clear pronunciation
    (14.2%)
  6. Confidence
    (29.1%)

Total votes: 2302

Figures do not represent public opinion as a whole

Teaching materials

Discuss

What kind of speaking activities work well in your lessons? - Role plays? Drills? Discussions? Mingling activities? Something else? How do you help your students get the most out of speaking activities?

This topic has now closed. Thank you for all your contributions.

Manuel Cazorla, Argentina
Speaking activities that my primary school children love the most are those ones related to "simulation". Actually it´d be something close to role playin: members os a group assigning roles, then planning the activity and finally performance for class as a whole. An example of this I have just brought to my mind is a recent task in which studets had to "create a family" and then introduce each of the members to the rest. All in all, any productive activity carried out in class goes through the inevitable filter of teacher attitude: the more enthusiastic you show yourself, the more students´ possitive feedback and results will be. Regards!

Julian, Korea
Well, It is more important that people can follow what the speaker says. The Audience will be able to work it out. So speak with confidence and hold the audience first. everything else will come.

Suhail Zaki, Afghanistan
Speaking is a productive skill which needs more and more practice and acquisition to obtain a sense of competence & mastery in the language. I think all the mentioned activities together are essential in enhancing the speaking skill; however, exposing learners to free discussions ( expressing themselves freely ) and authentic use of the language could be of great value. Also, adopting new strategies in the T/L situation like cooperative & active learning may help a lot. Regards Zaki from poor Afghanistan

Mohsen, Iran
It was of valuable assistance to read these opinions from highly experienced teachers. Still I would like to place emphasis on creating a friendly and lively atmosphere, in which none of your students feel intimidated. The first we, as teachers, should do is to make the students feel confident and relaxed. Making a mistake in such a class is an important question that is put to us by our students and can be answered by our correction. This sensation among the students is of paramount importance and ought to be enhanced in order to proceed any further tactics. Be an intimate friend, who knows English because of some opportunities in the past, for the students, who have this opportunity now, rather than a superior (even too knowledgeable) teacher.

Endar Harry Yoko, Indonesia
teaching speaking in a non english speaking country like Indonesia is much challanging since english has completely different patterns from indonesian language. difficulties they encounter most are different pronunciation-they way indonesians pronounce english words different from the native ones- and some patterns which are difficult to be translated word per word.

Prabha Muthukrishnan, India
My students speaking activities begin as soon as they enter the classroom. Role plays, drills, discussions and lots of fun loaded activities help them to speak.The atmosphere is quite informal and cheerful and I encourage them to talk on any topic and problems. My students hail from various countries and hence have lots to share and also inquire.

Cristina, Colombia
It depends on the students´ages or interest, but something that most of the times works very well is discussions, but you have to be careful to select the topic. It is the key to get a wonderful speaking from students and don´t forget don´t correct them while speak.

George Steed, Poland
The spoken language has to be understood. This requires the student to use correct pronunciation and elucidate his/her ideas. My students read texts and I correct errors...they repeat the text. Later I query them about the text. English TV is a great example of how not to speak! CNN has speakers who can't be understood. Guests often do nothing but, "You know, you know". Some do the "And a, and a and and a ". Americans like, "Yah and aha".

Zeynep, Turkey
generally before students make a sentence they think in their own languages and they can not find the suitable words for making sentences,for speaking they must learn a lot of words I choose to teach simple and short sentences they can use them in real life.debate is very useful technique for intermediate and upper intermediate levels students defend their ideas and they speak without thinking how to make sentences and they do not try to find the suitable words they ease talk because their only aim is to win the debate

Jamal M Shareef, Baghdad, Iraq
In 1980, I traveled to London for the first time in my life. At that time I was a third year student-college of Arts- Department of English. Before the air-plane landed I was so worried about my English and eager to know whether I can manage myself in the new society I was going to visit or not. Would what I had learnt of English help me or not? But at the first moment I reached the counter of the inspector, all my fear vanished and I felt relief because I found myself speaking with the inspector in good English . More than that, he asked me to stay beside him for some minutes to interpret for him what the other passengers saying so I discovered that my English was so good and that what encouraged me in speaking about any subject regarding living topics. "No more feeling of shy from now" I considered so I went on speaking with high self confidence.

As long as I spent time in London I was so happy because I can discuss anything I need anywhere I was even in the barrooms where I held difficult discussion because people there were speaking with me as if I had been there for long time especially after two bottle of beer.

In fact the main thing that supporting me to have that successful discussions was the dialogues that I had learnt by heart in that year which were really useful and practical dialogues that flourished the way for me to discuss what ever I want. Those dialogues were arranged in four suggestions that cover each situation expected to face in any field of life; in a restaurant, café, hospital, cloth shop, supermarkets, how to start a conversation, how to talk a bout life, hiring a Taxi and other area even in a shoe shop…etc. Learning four short dialogue that includes all expected discussion make me feel free to speak. Then these dialogues was the golden key which helped me to go on discussing other topics that they do not deal with.

So when I became a teacher of English Language I decided to concentrate on teaching my students these dialogues to improve their living English language.

I believe Dialogues are ther secret to the language mystery. It is very important to teach student how to ask for pepper or salt while they are in a restaurant better than teaching them words like "nationalization" or any other words which can learn later on. Jamal M Shareef

Maria Grazia, Italy
It's always hard to get students speak English as they are continuously worrying about their grammar mistakes; they don't like to be interrupted and whenever I do so, they look really disappointed and embarassed. I have students of all ages - teenagers, 14 to 19, and adult learners, 20 to 70 - but all of them are afraid of saying anything incorrect. Maybe it's the way of teaching English in Italian schools, where interaction is still an unknown word. I must say that sometimes I am compelled to speak Italian because I can see a desperate expression in my students' eyes and, of course, I want them to understand all that I say, especially when I teach English literature. So my lessons are in English but I often become an interpreter and I translate into Italian the most difficult phrases and sentences. I've been trying different ways, but my main goal is to make myself understood. The only solution could be exchanging students, and teachers, between Italian and British schools. Bye and good work to all teachers.

Maria, Italy
Teaching kids to speak English or another language is really a hard job. I usually ask my students to role play different situations: I previously teach them an amount of words that will be useful for their role play. They are asked to work in small groups and each group has to work on a different topic. They get a feedback of course: their mates of the other groups have to give them points; this becomes a challenge and it is a good way to motivate them.

Fran, China
I believe that students must first have adequate vocabulary to discuss a topic or do a role-play. So for lower levels, half-scripted role-plays, drama, games and information gaps especially work very well. With information gaps, the language is controlled and the students get satisfaction from communicating well enough to complete the task. For higher levels role-plays and discussions, list-ranking activities, problem solving acitivites (i.e. planning) and word games(designed for native speakers), and some infomation gaps work well. They should be free enough for the students to use their language creatively.Confidence is also key, which is why the activity needs to be the right level, and why pairs and small groups work best. I always stress to my students that their main goal is not native-speaker fluency, but to be able to communicate what they need to and be able to explain their ideas, even with imperfect words. I think when they realise that they can do this, they become more confident.

Kevin, India
I've been teaching in The PRC for the last 9 years.Teaching primary to middle school, Conversation to Business English for young ones to Adults.The exercise which involes a bit of homework works great according to me.Say you have a topic called Occupations.Homework involves a two mins speech of a dream job,5 positive(liked) and 5 negative(disliked) jobs and the reasons they can think of.To end the class a group presentation of 2-4 jobs they think will be of the future.i start the class by doing a warmer of jobs i've done and they have to guess the job.this will not be more than 3mins.After which we have the 2mins speech and the students are instructed to clap to indicate that the time is up. Step two i divide the class intdo pairs and they talk about the negative and positive job. Every 2-3mins i get them to change partners.after they have had spoken to all or most of the class i put them into bigger groups and they do the last exercise.This works with a class size of 10- 20 in a period of 2 hrs. This helps the students to explore the past the present and the future. In this way the teacher talking time is cut down alot and the students get much of the class time to use their English Skill of speaking.

Alaa, Egypt
English requires much practice. It also needs the nerve that a speaker of ESL mustn't be afraid.

Sara van Beers, France
My students unfailingly tell me they undersatand written texts OK but are scared to speak. I agree with all the comments made so far. My tip is: from the start work hard on creating a good supportive atmosphere in the group. I try to encourage the more confident students to lead discussions but not to dominate. As a former drama teacher i use lots of 'get to know you' games and I always join in, even if I'm no 'good' at some of them, so the students feel relaxed. Role plays are excellent, as has been said, because the character and/or opinions are already defined so students can speak their 'lines' while finding their own ways of expressing themselves. Competition also adds motivation, not only with the younger students either - I was amazed at the tenacity with which an elderly nun outbid all her classmates during an auction of correctly and misspelt words!And of course any topic needs to be of interest to the students - something that's not always easy to predict.Pre-teaching vocab is essential though I often make the mistake of giving too much - 4 or 5 useful expressions will be used and absorbed far better during a task than lots of unusual or very specific vocabulary. My students really appreciate doing telephone role plays sitting back to back. They find them very difficult and ask for them regularly! At the beginning of the year I got my students to brainstorm all the subjects that were of interst to them and to rank them, which gave me a list of topics for future lessons.

Ehsan Rapaya, Palestine
I think the problem is not in the language itself,but in the way you introduce it.I totally agree with what you all said,for me discussion is my activity. You know something? the problem is in the vocabulary,why don't our students talk in the class?simply,they don't have a wide range of vocabulary ,they couldn't discuss any matter without having words,which are the soul of any language.If the students learn the vocabulary of the English language,they will be able to speak and discuss different matters and topics.Our sudents have to learn sth that the language,any language,is a matter of practicing;"if you don't use you will lost it".Grammatical rules and pronunciation are easy to learn and teach I am sure that the students will be eager to learn them if they know the meaning of the words.

Hanh, Viet Nam
Well, Speaking is very important skill. if you want to speak well, you need to make discussions so that you can listen and practise pronouncing as well. You may make mistakes when discussing. It's not important. The most important thing is that you understand and you can speak out.

Roberta, Italy
In my opinion, students feels at ease when they know well the subject. On the other hand, they prefer not to be interrupted continuously. They like to be encouraged to use their vocabulary and expressions. They usually stop if I correct them while speaking. I prefer to do this at the end of each period or sentence. They usually want to express their ideas using Italian expressions but if they don't know the English equivalent, they stop to look for an adequate word asking it to the teacher.They are not always worried about grammar even if I give them the correct form they don't worry about this kind of mistake and probably they will do it again.

Rocio, Colombia
I consider the speaking skill is an important aspect of the English learning,so I try to involve my students in some interesting stories that I know they like so much and after that I ask them many questions about them .At the beginnig the studens use the language in a simple way ,but with practicing they get experience with the vocabulary they need tin order to express their ideas and of course they are going to have more confidence that they know about English.This is a hard process ,but finally the results get better day by day .

Rogerio, Brazil
I think sometimes it is very difficult to bring the students´ attention for any kind of topic. A good warm up is very important and a good class will depend on how much you are engaged. Some games, musics and movies are a pretty good help. Being enthusiastic certainly is the key for a good atmosphere. I always try to tell them some jokes. It really works.

Rita, Italy
Speaking activities work well when the students are invited to talk about themselves, feelings, perceptions.. mood.. preferences.

David, Mexico
Before doing any speaking activity I always try to find out up to date topics which will arise students' interest in the speaking activity. As I work with secondary students ( 14 - 15 years old )they love disscussions in which their opinions can be heard and taken into accoun. They also love to feel as important people in their role plays, these kind of activities give them confidence in their speaking ( of course correction is done until the end of each groups' presentation, interrupting is not helpful )by feeling confident they won't be afraid of the mistakes they could make. They also like to listen to different information in a cd and then they comment about what was heard. This has worked greatly in my groups and please let them talk without any interrumptions and they'll gain confidence. ( We may interfere if it is asked by them in order to help them with vocabulary, tenses, pronunciation, etc. )

Ya ho, Korea
First of all, this web site is so amazing to me, no, maybe people who study Engligh.I agree that The confidence is the most important factor to speak English well.Because lots of people already know how to make sentences, how to use words. and they understand how the situation is. Although I'm not a perfect guy about grammar and words, I just 'Say' English.

Anita, Poland
In my opinion the main problem is the topic. When students are not interested in it or know nothing about it, they do not want to talk. The kind of exercise does not matter here. Therefore, I always try to adjust the topic to their private lives. I ask my students to think about their own examples and experience or refer to their friends and relations. Then, my students have always sth to say. They immediately get excited and are eager to talk. Vocabulary can be the next obstacle. Students very often cannot pick up the right word. For this reason, I teach them how to discribe things by providing simple examples, giving definitions, etc. Visual aids also help here. When students can see sth, their imagination starts to work and they produce ideas.Finally, grammar! I think that students in Poland are very afraid of making mistakes which inhibits the process of speaking. Should we blame our educational system which requires so much? I don't know, but let's encourage our students to express themselves by letting them speak freely :)

Vanessa, Brazil
I like using games to warm up the class. Short answers, but that they get a feedback. I like using points, because if it is turned into a competition they are more interested, if i have more than one student in class. If not, I use points too, but as a goal. And they are motivated as well. Then, I usually ask them about their week and try to develop on something about their routine or something unexpected that happened to them that week. The main part of the class is usually role playing, discussing something interesting or even reading a text out loud. Some of them feel like they are really improving when they start reading the text with the right fluency and they are like "ohh that's what that means!". Of course, that works best with intermediate or advance students. But role playing is what they enjoy the most. At the end of the class, what I do is give them a song, to fill in the blanks then, I ask them to sing along. Sometimes, I give them short dialogues for them to understand then, I give them the script and ask them to take turns on speaking both of the characters, along with the audio part (in small classes) that way they can try to keep up with the audio and see where they're missing the right pronounciation. They tend to be mad at me at first, but then when they realize they're getting better on their fluency and still talking correctly, they love it!

Yolanda Dancuart, Peru
Firstly, I try to create a relaxed atmosphere, by telling my students that we are all learning and errors are likely to happen. Secondly, they are given some vocabulary related to the topic of discussion, so they can link their ideas, also a video is shown to get them familiarized with body language, gestures, voice stress, etc.Lastly, they are told that peer discussion is important to rehearse to be successful.

Salam, Lebanon
Well, speaking activity is one of the hardest tasks becuase it is the productive part, and to be honest I feel depressed when my students don't try to speak in English especially that some students consider it a burden and others are not willing to speak though they are good. I usually depend on discussions and drills because they are adults, so they like to discuss big issues and to give their opinions.

Kirsteen, France
I find role-plays work extremely well with beginner students who lack confidence in their capabilities ; beforehand they need adequate vocabulary related to the chosen themes.

Ameya Vaidya, India
During my lectures, I encourage a good debate. The idea is that the students have enough knowledge to battle it out, but the catch is that they must express their views in English- strictly. Thus there intense zeal to participate makes them construct sentences, and use immaculate words. Believe me, many after the debate have told me they couldn't believe that they spoke what they did!!

Marcela, Argentina
All the activities that appeal to my students' own experience. It is very difficult for them to talk about issues that are not of their interest.

Gustavo Boechat, Brazil
Personaly, I think the most important point about speaking is to have confidence. I know that a wide range of vocabulary is important as well. When I'm in class I have to be confident and reach the students' respect. In some lessons, with really works and I can leave the class with the certain everything was okay is when I give them texts and they read them and do a good job. But, sometimes, I have to instigate their curiosities and allow them talk about their lives experience.

Ahmed Al-Ajmi, Oman
My pupils enjoy the speaking tasks and find them interesting, especially in talking to each other. Therefore, I spend a lot of time in preparing the suitable speaking tasks which will keep them motivated and enjoying their learning.

Narayan Ji Choubey, India
Role plays and pair work work well in removing inhibition of learners. Drils also play important role especially when the foucus is on teaching structed items and correct pronunciation.At later stage when the learners feel confident, discussion can be taken to improve fluency.

Phil, China
I think vocabulary is the biggest problem as far as speaking is concerned. By vocabulary I don't mean that the students don't have enough words and expressions in store, but that they are not quick enough to pick up the right words and expressions in speaking. With a sentence broken many times by words they can recall immediately, students may become very disheartened and disconfident. This further contributes to their unwillingness to open their mouths. As they are reluctant to speak much, they are not able to get fluent with words and expressions they have learned. Hence a vicious circle.

Cristina, Santander, Spain
In my case for very young children drills although sometimes are a bit robotic help them to pronounce clearly and correctly (songs and dialogues, learnt by heart)is a doble situation of listening and speaking and with this also role playing; this, will give the students more confident to speak naturally in the future. For older people discussions in the class I think is a great idea because it encourages them to take part in the speaking activity without worrying so much about making mistakes and they are not so shy when they want to state their opinion.

Loiraci, Brazil
For me the most important is the fluency but the clear pronunciation and vocabulary are important too, because there are some students that love speaking but others are shy, specialy the teens. My students think that learning vocabulary is very boring but they like role play and I think that is the easiet way to learn a foreign language.

Oswaldo, Perú
I usually have the students go through a process: First they read about a given topic, let's say "smoking" they read the text one paragraph each, then complete a questionaire about the subject and finally have a role play, To sum up all this: Input, then output.

G.K.Das,A.P.-State,INDIA
I think the most adoptable task to help learn speaking skill for the students is good exposure of language in the classroom. That certainly helped my students. I developed it only by the regular following of the suggestions made by the BBC Learning English Radio and the Websites through various programmes ever since 1988. And the older programmes like 'Can I Help You?' 'Conversation Pieces' and 'Prof.Grammer' to the latest ones made the students learn the language easily.

Dina, Brazil
Begginers Students are used to answer questions, and they do that with short answers. They understand what we are saying, but they don't have the confidence to speak, express themselves. I always try to make my students speak asking them to tell me about something, and I always say that I'm interesting in what they are telling me in English not how they use the grammar. After they speak everything they want I give them some tips to improve their English. I think we can't interrupt student's speech so they can develop better the speaking skill. The most important thing is to make them communicate in English, then we make some correction step by step until they get familiar with that.

Manibal, India
I feel that fluency matters most for excellent communication.Confidence is equally important but that is more a personal trait rather than a language skill.Fluent speaking is a demonstration of confidence and it does not require a lot of vocabulary or grammatical perfection.Those who learn English as a second language has qualms in midway which stumble smooth flow of words.A determination 'I will speak in English,however difficult it may',can help to some extend.Reading more English,watching English films and TV programs also can help.

Mauro, Italy
I agree with both Oliver and Lucia Florence. I use a lot of role playing stuff and also I start by listenings to let a discussion take off "spontaneously". I then develop grammatical issues and explain still difficult new words

Farha, Pakistan
In fact all these activities are good for speaking. The mainh thing is how the teacher invloves all students specially the shy ones. I personally like mingling activities as these informal ways of communication are very helpful in decreasing fear and shyness and boosting confidence.

Lucia, Italy
I think speaking is one of the most difficult skills for my students.I agrre that it's much easier to get them to speak about topics previuosly introduced through warm-up activities .Most of my students lack self-confidence and are afraid to make mistakes.You won't believe me, but sometimes also making them learn by heart and repeat help them improve this skill!

Lucia, Florence
In my classes I usually plan role plays or discussions, it depends on the class level. Anyway speaking is for my students the most difficult skill and this is also because they are very shy and don't feel self-confident speaking a foreign language.

Shatha Alsaadi, Iraq
Hi. From my experience, role plays among students are very important as they work in two ways; receiving and producing. A student may listen to his classmate and at the same time she tries to formulate new ideas and generate sentences that are different from others. Setting a role to each student, as she may know that she has to participate willy nilly even if she will agree by saying I do agree with x or I do not agree.

Krishna Prasad Subedi, Kathmandu, Nepal
Nothing is as simple as learning a language.Here I mean the Language that we inherit as part of our culture.The simple strategy that works in acquiring one's native tongue can suffice how simple a language can be learned with very little effort given. My experience in teaching non-native English speakers feel otherwise but when I fill in them that confidence building strategy it has worked many times.fear that ERRORS,MISTAKES can rob their earlier status must be diagnosed first.Then I just make themfeel comfortable both physically and mentally.This makes them feel homely with ENGLISH the so called language tiger.Let them speak and speak and speak, dont give them topic, let them decide it for themselves. Intertain them every minute to digress them so that their mind gets no time to feel that learning english is like learning to sew a hole in their socks.I mainly use free speaking time(we call it so)by giving them JUST one minute to clear their throats.Speak as much as you can.About any thing that comes into mind, or doesn't come to mind.Bu you feel somewhere it is.Just make domestic issues their topic and let them role play as husband and wife,husband coming late night, often drunk or tired or with lots of office works.try if it works alike.

Oliver, France
It depends on the type of students you have. Some of my students from a "grande école" are passionate about debating and giving their opinion. Almost all students enjoy giving their opinion, but there are two things to consider: how can I help them acquire the vocabulary (not always possible beforehand, but definitely preferable) and what subjects will they WANT to talk about?These particular students love having a specific role, even if it's a little bit silly, and I take a back seat. I try to tie the activity together at the end by putting the whole group together and getting them to summarise what was said in their small groups. The discussions are always based on themes we have studied in class.I think the big problem is finding ways to feed them the vocabulary they need without it being long or boring!

Murali Nair, India
Reading maketh a man, conferencing a ready man and writing an exact man. I strongly believe in this theory and normally in my class rooms I am giveng very much importancy to reading. I am using BBC's podcasts in the class rooms to give the children an idea. They are very happy to imitate what they are listening from the podcasts.

Ana Lucia Fernandes
I encourage my students by giving them topics for dicussion. This way, I can check on their fluency, pronunciation, grammar and if they can express themselves in a language other than their native one.

Tariq, Pakistan
I'm a new teacher. I teach English because teaching is learning. Role play is the best way to teach students a language. Because the more students play a role the more they learn. In this way students forget that they are learning a language and in fun they learn many things, such as vocabulary, fluency, and some other techniques.

Al Muzzamil Fareen.J , India
Group discussions help the students to gain more self-confidence and hence they try to employ more reasonable vocabulary to initiate their discussions. Teachers should help the students to exchange more information on the relevant topic. When students are capable enough to reflect their ideas and information at ease they march towards acquiring fluency in their speaking venture.

Lorena, FESA Mexico
I really think teaching someone to actually speak another language is a hard job. I usually ask students to role play different situations using small realia (sometimes I borrow some toys from my cousin) I ask students to choose an object from a black bag and think of a situation in which they have to use these objects: students usually come up with great role plays (e.g some fake bills, a doctor's coat, a doll, etc)

Janice Russo
I am currently teaaching English in Slovakia at a language school. I have been among these intelligent adults for a year, and I believe conversation is essential to learning English. I begin my classes with one-to-one conversation with all of the students. Granted, it is small talk, i.e., "How was your evening/day/weekend", etc., but I have noticed this little "ice-breaker" has the students eager to talk.In the event they are ahead in the lessons, I reward them with word games. I wish I had verb tense word games. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you.

Cecilia Martinez, Mexico
To get involve the Sts in speaking activities is a challenge. Definitively Sts are not going to speak if the English teachers have not worked with the enviroment, culture, age, interests and customs that have influence or have an effect on the students' style of lives. The speaking activity could be planned carefully but the final result could be a disaster. The textbooks sometimes offer good activities but authors can't know who is going to use the book. Please teachers don't follow speaking activities as a rule given by foreign editors. Teachers must create an enviroment of sudents who know their own abilities. Self-confident students will improve the speaking time in class.

Akilan, India
Hi,I always feel that suitable topics for discussion open up the learners a lot, especially adult learners of English. The topics could be on a variety of subjects - say from food habits to euthenasia. Any topic that seems to be current and contemporary and seems to interest the students. Even passive onlookers tend to participate after some time, say when the discussion gets heated and turns into a debate. Role plays seem to be highly artificial with adult learners. Drills are a bit monotonous. Akilan

Anwar, Oman
I think using an eclectic approach would be very helpful.Teachers can build condidnce through being themslveself good native-like, if possible, speakers so as to expose learners with wide vocab. and to show them that language can be aquired or learned by non-natives. Using different topics ( preferably chosen bt students) that cater for students needs would really help engage them in the the lesson events.Also, asking students to read before the class or pre-teaching of some words or strucutures would facilitate their learning.Dealing tactfully with their mistakes is very important, e.g. when the they are asked to give opinions on hot issues listen to the content and comment on it-not to the language. Moreover, expose learners to some listening input (e.g. an extract of a dialogue of native speakers, something said fast and work out with them the intonation, the stress, what they said the accent etc...).

Mala, Malaysia
Class and group discussions put most learners of the language at a loss and fill them with fear; but provide them with a list of interesting topics which they themselves pick, pair them up, and one can see their immediate confidence come through. Teacher-learner rapport also lends to a comfortable classroom atmosphere. A good way of doing this is for the teacher to go around the class, and to take turns being the partner for pair work, where correction is on a one-to-one basis.This gentle and private correction of errors will ultimately lend itself to some confidence during speaking activities.

Oksana Vyskub, Ukraine
All my students, I'd say, are quite different, concerning age, social status and interests. Speaking skills, though, are of priority for everybody. Firstly, I try to make them confident enough to destroy the language barrier. I use drills and abundant listening with beginners. I also try to give them as much vocabulary as possible. Then, role plays, situational grammar and afterwards - discussion. And of course, I try to identify their interests and style of life to encourage expressing ideas on what they like.

Ana, Ecuador
I work in a High school. My students are afraid of talking. Is difficult for me to encourage them to do this activity, but when we have to try topics such as romance or sports , they become very interested and they start to discuss without any problem.

Ambika, India
Discussions on interesting topics which are much in news and upon which heated debates take place in the media are the kind of subjects I choose while teaching my class of senior secondary students. The reasons why I choose them are: a)Students have enough knowledge b) While voicing their opinions they are fluent as their focus is on the topic. There are no inhibitions. Language becomes a medium for communication.

May, Malta
My students are 11-12 year olds. They enjoy discussions that involve their personal life, likes and dislikes, hobbies etc.I have tried to give them presentations about various topics which they choose themselves. Then they present the topic to the class and class mates ask them questions about the topic. This peer response has worked very well and I'll definitely try it again with my next group of students

Neeraj Kumar Mehra,India
Confidence plays an important role in speaking because if a person is well aware about English language but unable to express his /her views than there is no mean of learning any language.

Simuzar, Azerbaijan
I've been teaching English for a long time now, and I've decided that the best way to improve speaking is listening to the lecture on a certain topic and a follow up discussion. Throughout these activities SS discuss and practice the new words and phrases as well. Also SS debate their opinions on the topic and speak about their own experience by giving examples. It's very interesting to listen to them.

Jabbar Chaudhary, Saudi Arabia
Role plays work well in my class. My students love assuming the roles and performing them.

Raju, India
Games.The best thing a teacher can do in a speaking class is to set the activity and leave it to the students to speak. Avoid correcting students while the activity is in progress.

Iriana, Peru
It is important to bear in mind the Ss level. I reckon drills may work quite well at beginner levels. Personally I've been using discussions with intermediate, upper intermediate and advanced levels. I've been making use of the material from this site-mainly Words In The News - for some years now and it has worked wonderfully. What I basically do is a warm-up activity then the tasks with the material itself and finally I have Ss in groups discuss or extend the issue seen on the article. At the end of it we have a spokesperson from each group report the highlights of the "talk".What has also worked fine and, I'd say, in an amusing way is role plays. We've had "soap operas" in which Ss and I myself had great fun.

Ratana, Cambodia
I think to teach students to speak first we need to build up their confidence and after that expand their vocabulary.

Stephen, UK
I mainly use role plays tagged in with some listening related to the topic to help them with some vocab. I feel that this helps with their confidence as well as fluency. If their fluency is good enough, they'll have the confidence to speak to others.

Saba, Iran
First of all, I must express my concurrence with all answers. Besides each of which, the most fundamental factor that concerns the process of cognition can be a teacher's wording. A teacher has to be reassured whether his/her students have gotten the gist of lessons or not. When students are black, it's not worthwhile to keep going. Second of all, recapitulating the conclusion at the vary ending of every sessions can guarantee teachers that the sessions to come his/her students won't forget anything. A timely reminder of grammatical issues or what ever. Last of all, we've been labeled as teachers in order not to be judged as distinct from human beings, accordingly we have to understand our students situation. sometimes they're allowed not to feel like speaking. by respecting our students we 're being respected as well. Best wishes.

Paulo, Macao
As long as the speaker has the confidence to speak, they are willing to speak and express themselves in English, no matter what mistakes they make. In my opinion, dramas or role plays in authentic situation are the best activities in an oral lesson. Most students enjoy acting and performing.

Ragi, Azerbaijan
I think that first of all Children should be allowed to talk on some topic which is of interest to them like news,sports,films ond so on.Second my advise They have to participate in some trainings,In result everything will be ok.

Vo Hung Cuong, Vietnam
I usually give my students some topics in advance, then divide the students into groups and ask them to get to know about the topics at home before going to classroom.Time in the class is just for them to freely talk about the topics as a group discussion among students and teacher. I am always by their side to help them with terms and structures that they don't know.They must speak in English as much as possible.

Moudafi, Morocco
I personally opt for an eclectic approachto make the most of a speaking activity I involve more my students and I play a facilitator's role. Even more I try to choose generative topics, those pertinent to stuents' today's interest such as music, the net, fashion, etc.

Trajanovska Vaska, Macedonija
I teach English in a primary school. After the text and grammar presentation and acquaintaince, at the end of every unit we have guided discussion, which helps to praactise them speaking. At the beginning I use already prepared questions,and then students give their opinion. They also like role play.

Mr.Khanzada, Pakistan
I believe that in Pakistani context there are a bundle of variables that must be taken into account.Being a resident of the most drangous part of the world i.e FATA Pakistan, today the teachers of this area are prone to many obstacles following the conflict in Afghanistan. I make my students talk about current events that are taking place around us. And most of the time I keep my students busy in discussion but I think newspaper based discussion can make a big diffence.

Maher
In my opinion clear pronunciation is the most important skill and the other skills would be as complement. So every student must keep listening as much as he/she can to understand native speakers.

Seham, Egypt
I think discussions of real life events and personal afairs make speaking easier.

Hashem Sharaf, Yemen
I tried many activities including: debates, role play, discusions, problem solving and presentations. I asked my students in different groups about in which activity they feel they practice their language more. They said discusions in gorups or in pairs is nubmer one and debate comes second.

Kim, Barcelona, Spain
I find word stress to be the major problem when it comes to understanding for those who aren't native english speakers... once the vocabulary phase is overcome.

Mohammed, Libya
The activity which i follow is group discussion becaues it helps them to talk freely and makes them feel that they have some privacy and without any teachers monitoring thier mistakes

Viviana Galvan, Argentina
In my class, speaking is a very important part of our class. I show students pictures and then the discussion is open. Sometimes we speak about the news or some of our everyday problems.

Mulyono, Indonesia
So far, the speaking activities that work well in my lessons are talking about what the students experienced at the past, what the students do every day, what the students are doing right now, what the students plan to do in the future. In short, if they talk about their real activities. I usually just facilitate them. I tell them that whenever they do not know what to say in English, they can ask and I will be always ready to help. But after they have known, they have to use it in their daily conversation.

Mickael, France
I must assign many debates on subjects like environnement, drugs, alcoolism, violence, politic, school, obesity, ...

Laurici, Brazil
As a one-to-one beginning teacher, I start with asking questions using the interrogative pronouns and taking notes of their mistakes while answering my questions.Then, I write their words on the whiteboard and we both correct the mistakes.After that, we restart the same conversation trying to use the proper words in the correct order.The mistakes are corrected right away.The third step is to develop the talking speed saying the same words again.It really works in a one-to-one teaching. I am almost sure it also works with a group of students.

Benachour Hakim, Algeria
Personally, many students want to enhance their speaking skill. They think that communication has something to do with speaking; they believe that a good speaker is a good conversationalist.Thus, teachers of English should do their best to enhance the speaking skill of learners by bringing air of reality through some up_to_date techniques like using films and videoptape in the classroom to teach the speaking skill.

Alami Najat ,Morocco
I guess to make good speakers of a language,and especially a foreign one, speakers should be involved and motivated. Role plays and mingling activities could be a good deviceif done in a communicative, constructive way!

Edwin, Edwardes College, Peshawar, Pakistan
Efforts to change thinking language (switching to English) definitely brings positive change in speaking and fluency. Psycho-linguist recommend this attitude as it does play a vital role in bringing confidence and fluency, besides, new words and phrases receive a mental 'go-over'. All my students (learners of English) who switch over to English in their thinking (it might be frustarting at initial stages but perseverance is required) have shown marked progress and confidence in speaking.

Ulka, Azerbaijan
I think the most useful activity is discussions because they make the students speak freely and activate their vocabulary.

Nigeria
Discussion undoubtedly plays a significant role in improving students communication skill- the level of confidence can be improved upon as well as the degree of fluency.

R.s.Suresh Pillai, India.
As far as I am concerned, confidence is the basic for a speaker. He may be a Man of letter, but if he does not have the confidence, he is not able to speak a single word. it plays a vital role in a human being's life. It will also help them in their lives in the world as long as they live. So confidence , then vocabulary, grammar then fluency.....continue.

Muhammad Asim Munir, Pakistan
Discussion! For the clear reason that when students have some ideas to speak on, they try their best to express them by putting pressure on their brains. They try their best to encounter speaking barriers.

Marco, Chile
Being able to create a meaningful context in which stundents may develop a real sense of achievement is the key. If they feel they are learning you will have highly motivated students in the classroom. A motivated teacher is certainly important as well.

Natércia Almeida
I'm teaching English in primary schools, so the skills I give more emphasis are speaking and listening. My pupils love role plays, games, brainstormings, songs, chants...

Khader Ahmad, Palestine
Speaking is a productive skill which needs more and more practice and acquisition to obtain a sense of competence & mastery in the language. I think all the mentioned activities together are essential in enhancing the speaking skill; however, exposing learners to free discussions ( expressing themselves freely ) and authentic use of the language could be of great value. Also, adopting new strategies in the T/L situation like cooperative & active learning may help a lot.

Michela, Italy
Role-plays and mingling activities work well with students..one important thing for a teacher to do first is to arouse curiosity and a little provocation doesn't hurt either!

Maria Teresa, Italy
I think it is important first to provide students with some vocabulary and ideas about a topic, otherwise they will not have any material to work on. You just cannot start a discussion asking "What do you think of this?". They never say anything, in my experience, except the most confident ones, who have either travelled or have a good vocabulary range. One of the problems I find difficult to overcome is the fact that students, at least adolescents, are very self-conscious and they seem to think they either have something really interesting to say or it's not worth speaking anyway. This is a pity because in fact they never really practise the simple structures that are such a big part of conversational English anyway.... Maybe drilling, and just getting them to change one part of a sentence at a time would help?

Ruari, Belgium
Communication is the key factor. It doesn't matter if you make mistakes as long as you get your message across.What does matter is that you obey the rules of conversation etiquette - don't interrupt someone mid-sentence, show that you're listening, etc. In Belgium the Flemish are usually fluent, grammatically accurate, pronounce clearly and have broad vocabulary but unfortunately they can come across as cold and unfriendly because they don't make the same noises a native speaker would. In Holland mistakes are rife but they seem a lot friendlier.

Marinela, Romania
I think the activities that work well in my lessons are role plays. Students enjoy performing, assuming different identities, they feel secure in a way ...

Ruth Hashel Medina, Philippines
Without listening there is no speaking. Communication is a give take process so I conceptualized a class in which the students can enhance both skills. Listening to news reports in English is an effective tool for them to learn new words and expressions, as well as familiarizing themselves with the different accents of the speakers. In this class, students listen to news reports, study vocabulary words and colloquial expressions, share their opinions about the topic and have accent trainings.

Carlos Orozco Castillo, Colombia
Students need to have a proper knowledge of the language but I think they have to manage how to communicate their ideas. It is important that they keep the dialog going. It does not have to be perfect. Maybe they do not have all the words but they can explain things with other words or while talking they make mistakes about grammar nevertheless if he/she is transmiting the message (what he/she wants to say)the main object is done.

Nziha, Morocco
As far as I am concerned, role plays and drilling are two good activities that work well in my classrooms. Students feel confident when I let them speak freely; they struggle to talk in English and have fun when they do a role play about " food and drink", sport, celebration, clothes..... Drilling is a good activity too; even shy students can talk and repeat a word.

Benjamin, Jamaica
I believe that grammar is of utmost importance when one speaks a particular language. Confidence is important too but it makes no sense being confident if you are speaking poorly. Your audience will laugh at you.

Mustafa Abdel-Hay, Egypt
It's rather difficult for ss to talk about a topic about which they don't have enough information. Therefore ss should get acquainted with the topic they are about to talk through discussion before they start talking.ss should be motivated by allowing them to answer graded general questions about the topic. Urging them to comment on each other.

Bouchta El Hajjaji, Morocco
For beginners drilling seems to work well and repetition is the main factor in the teaching process for it gives the learners the opportunity to make their first contact with the target language. All the learners, no matter how crowded the class-room is, should be given the opportunity to participate. Accuracy is highly emphasized. When learners are to some extent acquainted with the language, role play would probably be the next step. When learners have acquired self-confidece and enough tools, discussions, picture interpretation or problem solving would be the following step. It should be noted, however, that speaking and listening or reading are interrelated: For a learner to speak the language (s)he should first read or listen to instructions to which (s)he is supposed to respond. However the biggest challenge teaching speaking faces is the fact that the class-room is the only place where learners have the opportunity to practice and then assess their speaking ability.

Geoffrey, India
I prefer mingling activities. Children should be allowed to talk on smome topic which is of interest to them like sports, cinema under the full control of the teacher. Teacher should not correct the mistake then and there but he should make note of the mistakes committed by children. He should allow them to be totally free to talk. A the end of the class, the teacher can point out the mistakes and corect them and and make the children repeat the corrected sentence.

India
For Developing proficiency in speaking especially in L2/L3 it becomes incumbant for the teachers first to provide students necessary exposure,then activities like classroom discussions on varying issues elicit different kind of response from the students.It can be structured/short discussions or open discuusions with each student receiving ample time to make his/her point.

Ra'ed Attal, Syria
Each activity has its own positive and negative sides. All of these activities must be done in each lesson. So, the student can use his favourite way to confise or express his ideas to the others. Role plays, drills...etc. can wark well when a student use them well. Teachers can help their students by using many methods in teaching I mean in speaking... .

Dileep, India
Role play helps them to shake off their shyness, come out of their shells and come out with flying colours in their speaking.

Alexander Kapshuk, Ukraine
I've been teaching conversational English for a while now. I've tried all sorts of activities in class. Role plays, discussions, telling jokes, etc. Lately, I've been doing a lot of discussions. I always try to select a practical topic for discussion. Something students can easily relate to. E.g. if doing a class with adults I might ask the students a question like, Why did you choose this particular career path? I then get each person to respond to the question. Where appropriate, I make a point of being involved in the activities myself by responding to the topic being discussed. When dealing with problem vocabulary, I invite students to help explain a word or a phrase to another student in English usually by way of an example situation.

From time to time I get students to tell clean jokes in English in class. A good activity to get away from the routine class format. The bottom line is, I try to organise my classes in such a way as to make them as close to real-life conversation as possible.

Raymond Ko, Hong Kong
I am probably the youngest 'teacher' on this page. I am 17 years old and I am tutoring an 18 year-old student. One of the most difficult aspect of teaching oral English in a non-English speaking country is that the students don't get the chance to use their speaking skills beyond the classroom. This makes them very reliant on the lessons. Have you encountered this situation before? How do you deal with it?

Amarildo, Brazil
First, I give to my students some texts about a particular subject, for example, unusual jobs. Then, I give them some exercises about vocabulary, highlighting the structures of the text. So, after that, I give them lots of listenings of the same subject. Once these tasks have been done, it is time for speaking activities. They feel confidence about what they are talking about and consequently develop their fluency. Grammar is minimum.

Ebtehl, Libya
I think the most useful activity is discussions because they make the students speak freely and activate their vocabulary.