DEVELOPING SPEAKING SKILLSDuring my experience as an English teacher I’ve seen that many studentshave had difficulties developing speaking. I’ve tried many different activitiesin class, change the methodology in order to get to the students moreaccurately and take them to a higher level of competence, unfortunately theresults haven’t been the best, so I wondered what else could I do or whatwas I doing wrong, so I realized that in this context surrounded by Spanishspeakers and having students only few hours per day in class as the onlychance to practice speaking and make them repeat in class what they hearwas not enough to develop speaking skills.During some conferences and tutoring classes in Colombo Americano Cali, Inoticed that methodologies based on developing speaking skill it is necessaryto apply the speaking to real situations where the students feel comfortabletrying to speak and not feel being put under pressure like being graded everytime he or she speaks in class, it’s not only give the student knowledge to berepeated as a parrot and not having even idea of what to do with theinformation received, the teacher should make sure that the studentsunderstand all the topics, commands and the vocabulary seen in a normalclass.According to these kinds of methodologies I found some authors as Bygate(1987) who “claims that in order to achieve a communicative goal throughspeaking, there are two aspects to be considered – knowledge of thelanguage, and skill in using this knowledge. It is not enough to possess acertain amount of knowledge, but a speaker of the language should be ableto use this knowledge in different situations”.We do not merely know how to assemble sentences in the abstract: we haveto produce them and adapt to the circumstances. This means makingdecisions rapidly, implementing them smoothly, and adjusting ourconversation as unexpected problems appear in our path.(Bygate 1987, 3)
Regarding Bygate’s words, it is clearly shown that students need to confrontsituations where the time for answering a questions or interacting withothers is important to make decisions quickly in order to be understood byexpressing a message not matter the mistakes they could make during theprocess. Another aspect that a teacher should take on account is theaffective one, because no all the students are open to communicate, theymight feel shy, afraid or pressured by his/her classmates and even by theteacher himself, so in order to avoid these kinds of situations the studentshave to work in groups or in pairs, so they feel more confident by beingsupported by his/her friends and not feeling like being lost in a big ocean fullof fears. When the students work in groups, they can share information,confirm the directions given by the teacher. If a student feels that making amistake doesn’t affect his grades and feels supported will learn easily fromhis/her mistakes and will encourage him/herself to participate in class andtalk several times, all this is possible if the teacher keeps the “affective filter”low, which is like a curtain that the students move up or down depending onhow they feel in class.The more panic he feels, the curtain will be up, by the other hand the morerelaxed the student is, the curtain will be down and the student opened toreceive information and apply it to real situations.Bygate also says that it is completely necessary for the student to correcthimself this includes tools such as substitution, rephrasing, reformulating,self-correction, false starts, and repetition and hesitation. Bygate concludesthat incorporation of these features, facilitation and compensation, in theteaching-learning process is of a considerate importance, in order to helpstudents’ oral production and compensate for the problems they may face. “All these features [facilitation, compensation] may in fact help learners to speak, and hence help them to learn to speak . . . In addition to helping learners to learn to speak, these features may also help learners to sound normal in their use of the foreign language. (Bygate 1987, 20-21)”
The Facilitation and compensation help the students make the oralproduction possible or easier, or help them to change, avoid or replace thedifficult expressions, besides these functions also help students to soundmore naturally as speakers of a foreign language.Another aspect that a teacher should take on account is the psychomotorone, because interaction also involves coordination of movements where thebrain has to be active in order to function well and let the speakercoordinates what he’s saying with the movement he’s performing.Psychomotor aspect is so important that it has been taken by Chris Biffle asthe column of his “whole brain teaching” method that describes some stepsand rules to be followed by the student in the classroom in order to be activeall the time and letting the brain be activated to, in contrast with the regularmethodologies where the students should remain in silence without movingkeeping the order, this will get lazy students afraid to talk and accomplish theprogram goals or develop an appropriate speaking skill.In a “whole brain teaching” class the students should move, answer andfollow directions quickly having fun, but always keeping the order. Anexample of this is, whenever the teacher says “class” the students should say“yes” and however the teacher says “class” the students should say “yes”.This will let the student feel comfortable, active and he will participate in anyspeaking activity without feeling pressured.This also helps to keep the “affective filter” low, the teacher will innovate inthe classroom with activities that might result interesting for the students,will encourage them to participate and according to Chris Biffle method theywill surely learn and develop any skill.I had applied this method in many classes getting excellent results; thestudents have asked me for more activities like that where they feelencouraged to accomplish a mission in the class having fun and not feelinglike having a boring homework to do.
All these methods and methodologies are similar to “Benjamin S Bloom’staxonomy learning domains” which focuses on three main domains. 1. Cognitive domain (intellectual capability, ie., knowledge, or think) 2. Affective domain (feelings, emotions and behaviour, ie., attitude, or feel) 3. Psychomotor domain (manual and physical skills, ie., skills, or do)Bloom describes taxonomy as a set of classification principles, or structure,and Domain simply means category.I agree with Bloom’s work because he claims that for developing an excellentteaching and learning process, the teacher should be conscious about thesecategories which let the students learn easier.Bloom’s work is similar to what I have said above, about developing speakingskills, but providing an excellent structure for planning, designing, assessingand evaluating training and learning effectiveness. This model also serves asa sort of checklist, which you can ensure that training is planned to deliverall the necessary development for students, trainees or learners, and atemplate by which you can assess the validity and coverage of any existingtraining.Here there is a more detailed explanation of Bloom’s taxonomy:Cognitive Affective Psychomotorknowledge attitude skills 1. Receive1. Recall data 1. Imitation (copy) (awareness) 2. Manipulation 2. Respond2. Understand (follow (react) instructions)3. Apply (use) 3. Value 3. Develop
(understand Precision and act) 4. Organise 4. Articulation4. Analyse personal value (combine, integrate(structure/elements) system related skills) 5. Internalize 5. Naturalization5. Synthesize value system (automate, become(create/build) (adopt expert) behaviour)6. Evaluate (assess,judge in relationalterms)According to Bloom’s method it is important to have an organization of theprocess to know the student development and performance along the periodor school year; he also says that all the four skills (listening, speaking, readingand writing) should be complementary of each other, the student shouldunderstand and react, follow directions and apply the topics learned in class.It is also important for Bloom to work with the affective aspect of thestudents in order to have a better attitude facing the class, and not feelingshy.Bloom also talks about the importance of coordinate the psychomotor aspectof every student with the brain which will let them learn easier.I might conclude that for developing speaking skills there is more than givingknowledge to the students without any relevance, but make them move,participate, encourage them to feel confident about themselves and notpanic. Take the student to new things, participate in real situations will bemore useful to develop speaking skills
TEACHING ENGLISH SPECIALIZATION PROGRAM SANTIAGO DE CALI UNIVERSITY HECTOR FABIAN TORRES TEACHER: LIZETH RAMOS SANTIAGO DE CALI, OCTUBRE 9 DE 2010