Using communication tasks to enhance speaking performance


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A presentation by George Vassilakis, Language Certification Director at PeopleCert, on how to use communication tasks to improve learners' speaking performance in the English language classroom.

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Using communication tasks to enhance speaking performance

  1. 1. Using Communication Tasks to Enhance Speaking Performance<br />George Vassilakis<br />Director Language Certification<br />
  2. 2. Speaking: Where, When, How<br />
  3. 3. Speaking Skills Development<br />Holistic language practice<br />Focus on the message, not the forms<br />Learners have choice over what language forms to use<br />Learner-centred interaction<br />Success depends on:<br /><ul><li>language
  4. 4. discourse management
  5. 5. fluency
  6. 6. interaction</li></li></ul><li>Speaking skills focus or mere language practice?<br />
  7. 7. Speaking skills focus or mere language practice?<br />The learners work in pairs.<br />Learner A gets a picture, Learner B gets a pencil, paper and an eraser.<br />Learner A has to describe, but is not allowed to show, their picture to Learner B, who has to draw it.<br />Learner A cannot look at what Learner B is drawing.<br />
  8. 8. Genuine Communication<br /><ul><li>Unpredictable language use
  9. 9. Focus on what is said, not how it is said
  10. 10. Communicative purpose: a reason for talking
  11. 11. Outcome</li></li></ul><li>Communication Tasks<br /><ul><li>the emphasis is on the message
  12. 12. there is some communication problem to solve
  13. 13. there is a tangible outcome</li></li></ul><li>A problem solving task<br />A man is lying awake in bed. He makes a phone call, says nothing, hangs up and goes to sleep.<br />The man is alone.<br />He was unable to sleep before he made the phone call.<br />Something was bothering him, which stopped as soon as he made the call.<br />He is in a hotel room.<br />At this hotel, the room phone numbers are based on the room numbers.<br />
  14. 14. Is this a communication task?<br />The students are given the two pictures below and the teacher asks them to make sentences about the differences between the two pictures; different students are then asked to say their sentences.<br />
  15. 15. Is this a communication task?<br />We’re planning an end of term party for our English class. Here are your notes about what kind of party to have. Make some definite decisions about the party<br />
  16. 16. Selecting tasks<br />TOPIC<br />LANGUAGE LEVEL <br />COGNITIVE DEMANDS<br />
  17. 17. Would you use this task?<br />Students work in pairs. They get one picture each, which they can’t show to their partner, and they have to describe their picture to each other to find the differences.<br />COGNITIVE DEMANDS?<br />LANGUAGE LEVEL? <br />
  18. 18. Would you use this task?<br />STUDENT 1<br /> <br />1. You are a shop assistant in a department store. Your partner is a customer. He/She wants to buy a suitcase. Think about: <br />the sizes and colours you have<br />the price of each suitcase<br />2. Work with your partner. Role-play the conversation. You start the conversation:<br />Can I help you?<br />STUDENT 2<br /> <br />1. You are a customer in a department store. Your partner is a shop assistant. You want to buy a suitcase. Think about:<br />the size and colour you want<br />how much money you want to spend<br />how you want to pay.<br />2. Work with your partner. Role-play the conversation. Your partner will start the conversation<br />
  19. 19. Communication task types<br />problem-solving<br />information gap<br />opinion exchange<br />roleplay<br />
  20. 20. Setting up the task<br />Use short simple sentences. Make sure there is one key point in each sentence.<br />Use demonstration rather than explanation whenever possible.<br />Use mime and gesture whenever possible.<br />Check that the learners have understood what you have asked them to do<br />
  21. 21. Setting up the task<br />Do not state the obvious (e.g. I am now giving you a handout).<br />Do not say what they do not need to know (e.g. that you are going to do more communicative practice later!)<br />Do not give them any materials until after you are sure they know what to do with them.<br />Do not assume they’ve all understood because a couple of them nodded.<br />Do not use “tags” like “ok,” “right.”<br />Do not talk to yourself!<br />
  22. 22. Language Preparation<br />In pairs, talk about the different gifts in the picture. Decide which one you should buy your best friend for their birthday.<br />
  23. 23. Language preparation options<br />Listening to people doing a similar task<br />Revising vocabulary and useful phrases<br />Practising useful phrases in a controlled context<br />Planning what to say and how to say it<br />
  24. 24. What do I do during student centred tasks?<br />Listen to a bit of interaction from each pair. Make notes of what they do well AND what they do less well<br />You won’t be able to monitor everyone at all times. Learn to live with this fact!<br />Be discreet! The students shouldn’t be made to feel they are constantly under your thumb! <br />
  25. 25. After the task<br /><ul><li>Ask pairs/groups what conclusion/outcome they have reached.
  26. 26. Put selected errors on the board and ask students to correct them.
  27. 27. Point out ways of saying things which students have not used.
  28. 28. Work on specific structures/functions the students have misused.
  29. 29. Repeat the task</li></li></ul><li>Using Communication Tasks to Enhance Speaking Performance<br />Thank you!<br />