Teaching Oral Skills
Presented by : SHOHREH TAVASSOLI
„‟ Speaking in a second or foreign language
has often been viewed as the most
demanding of the four skills‟‟(Bailey and
What specifically makes speaking in a
second or foreign language difficult?
We had not been prepared for spontaneous
communication and could not cope with all of
its simultaneous demands.
Speaking is an :‟‟activity requiring the
integration of many subsystems ,all these
factors combine to make speaking a second or
foreign language a formidable task for language
learners ,yet for many people ,speaking is seen
as the central skill‟‟( Bailey and Savage
In the silent way, student speech is carefully
controlled for structure and content.
In audiolingualism stressed oral skills , speech
production was tightly controlled in order to reinforce
correct habit formation of linguistic rules.
In theory of communicative competence Hymes
1972) and the practice of communicative language
teaching ,the teaching of oral communication skills as
a contextualized sociocultural activity has become the
focal point in many ESL classroom.
Canale & Swains(1980) adaption of Hymes
theory of communicative competence
proposes that the ability to communicative
in a language comprises four dimensions :
Grammatical competence: ( rule of
phonology ,orthography ,vocabulary , word
Sociolinguistic competence: (rules for
the expression and understanding of
appropriate social meaning & grammatical
forms in different context.
Discourse competence: rule of both
cohesion ,how sentence elements are tied
together via references ,repetition ,
synonymy ,…and coherence :how texts are
Strategic competence: a repertoire of
compensatory strategies that help with a
variety of communication difficulties.
What features of this theoretical approach
are relevant to teaching oral skills?
1. It is no longer acceptable to focus only on
developing the grammatical competence of
students with the number of language
teaching methodologies which were popular
in the past.
Today , teachers are expected to balance a focus on
accuracy with a focus on fluency as well.
According to Hedge(1993,PP.275-276) the term
fluency has two meaning:
„‟The ability to link units of speech together with
facility and without strain or inappropriate
slowness or undue hesitation.‟‟
“ Natural language use’’, which is likely to take
place when speaking activities focus on meaning
and its negotiation , when speaking strategies are
used and over correction is minimized.
2. Multiple skills should be taught whenever
possible , Murphy (1991) believes that oral
skills teacher should always connect
speaking , listening and pronunciation
teaching although the focus in any one class
or activity may highlight one or another.
Oral skill classes may use reading and
writing activities as the basis or follow up
for speaking activities.
‘‟Communication strategies”(Dornyei 1995):
language learners must become component
at using strategies, such as circumlocution,
hesitation devices and appeal for help.
Oral skills teacher should at least advocate
and model their use.
3. Students are encouraged to take
responsibility for their own learning .
In the oral skills classroom ,students should
be allowed and encouraged :
•To initiate communication when possible.
• To determine the content of their responses
• To evaluate their own production and
The Oral skills Class
Who are the students?
Why are they there?
What do they expect to learn?
What am I expected to teach?
Level of the students and their perceived
needs: test administration by the institution or by
a diagnostic test given by the teacher.
Information on learner needs : can be obtained
by means of a student information sheet on
which they report the amount of time they spend
speaking English ,their future goals .their goals
for the course and their assessment of their
overall speaking ability , confidence in speaking
English ,their pronunciation ,social conversation
and listening ability.
Oral skills courses for nonacademic adults
focus on survival English and basic
communication functions based on a strong
Academic learners will need practice with
different sorts of activities .
Ferris and Tagg (1996a,1996b) suggest that in
general , what academic ESL students need most
is extensive authentic practice in class
participation: taking part in discussion,
interacting with peers and professors , asking and
Role Plays Information Gap
Audio taped Oral Dialogue Journals
Reporting Picture narrating
Other Accuracy- Based Activities
1. While there is no one‟‟ right way‟‟ to
group students, considerations such as
gender, ethnicity, background,
talkativeness,… may come in to play.
2. Students need to be reminded that each
person should have a specific
responsibility in the discussion, these
decisions should be made by the group
3. Students need to be clear about what they
are to discuss , why they are discussing it ,
and what outcome is expected. they should
be guidance beforehand and follow-up after
Green Christopher and Lam (1997) believe
that students will be more involved with and
motivated to participate in discussion if they
are allowed to select discussion topics and
evaluate their peers performance.
Speeches can be frightening for the speaker and
after a while ,boring for the listener, so it is a
good idea to assign the listeners some
responsibilities during the speeches..
If the speeches are audio taped or videotaped,
some of the language analysis activities can be
used to encourage learners to become aware of
their individual problems with pronunciation,
grammar, vocabulary and fluency.
Categories of performance include:
Interaction/rapport with audience
Content and Organization
•2. Impromptu speech
Olshtain and Cohen (1991) recommend
several steps for teaching speech acts:
oStudents can listen to and practice
prototypical phrases used in the speech act ,
and then perform a role play as a final
oThe teacher gives information to the
learners such as who they are and what they
think or feel.
It is not adequate to have students produce
lots of language ,they must become more
met linguistically aware of the many
features of language in order to become
competent speakers and interlocutors in
Provocative statement are often better than
Problem solving is often an excellent basis
Encourage active listening
Exploit opportunities for short
Encourage contributions without
Conversation does not to be about serious
Audio taped Oral Dialogue Journals
•Emphasized fluency and meaning negotiation
rather than accuracy
•Practice with fluency and attention to accuracy
can be accomplished at the same time.
The activities discussed so far have emphasized
fluency and meaning negotiation rather than
Oral dialogue journals are one format where
practice with fluency and attention to accuracy
can be accomplished at the same time.
Remind them that the purpose of the activity is to
work on unplanned speaking, also give them
some guidance as to the expected length of their
Other Accuracy –Based
Brown((1994) recommends that if drills are
to be used, they should be short, simple and
snappy , used sparingly and they should lead
to more authentic communication activities.
Wong(1994) recommends an activity called
Brown(1994) stresses that teachers should
strive for “optimal feedback” which shows
that learner contributions are valued in their
own right rather than representing imperfect
native speaker speech that needs
• Simulation are very similar to role- plays
,but what make simulations different than
role-play is that they are more elaborate.
• In Simulation students can bring items to
the class to create realistic environment.
• Such activities motivate the students and
increase the self-confidence of hesitant
Students are supposed to be working in
One students will have the information that
other partner does not have and the partner
will share their information.
These activities are effective because
everybody has the opportunity to talk
extensively in the target language.
Information gap activities serve many
purposes, such as solving a problem or
collecting information. And each partner
plays an important role because the task can
not be completed if the partners do not
provide the information the other needs
Students can briefly summarize a tale or
story they heard from somebody
They may create/imagine their own
stories to tell their classmate.
Story telling fosters creative thinking, it
also help the students express ideas in the
format of beginning ,development and
ending, including the characters and setting
a story has to have.
Students can conducts interviews in
selected topics with various peoples .
Conducting interviews with people give
students a chance to practice their speaking
ability not only in class but also outside and
helps them to become socialized, after
interviews each student can present his/her
study in to class.
•This is a very enjoyable whole class free
speaking activity for which student sit in a
•For this activity, the teacher starts to tell a
story, but after a few sentences he/she stops
•Then each student starts to narrate from the
point where the previous one stopped, to add
from two or ten sentences.
•Students can add new characters, events,
descriptions and so on.
Before coming to class, students are asked
to read a newspaper or magazine and in class
they report to their friends , what they found
as the most interesting news.
Students can also talk about whether they
have experienced anything worth telling
their friends in daily lives before class.
This activity is based on several
Students are asked to tell the story taking
place in the sequential pictures by attention
to the criteria provided by the teacher as a
Rubrics can include the vocabulary or
structures(past simple) they need to use
On a given topic, student can produce
ideas in a limited time, depending on the
context, either individual or groups
brainstorming is effective and learners
generate ideas quickly and freely.
The good characteristics of brainstorming
is that the students are not criticized for
their ideas so the students will be open to
sharing new ideas.
There are two kind of oral assessment:
1. Evaluation of classroom performance
2. Preparing students to take interpreting results
from large scale oral examinations.
Brown & Yule (1983)
1. Extended chunks of speech with purpose
and structured and organized should be
2. The input given to students whether it be
visual, aural or interactive ,be consist for
3. The result of oral assessment should be
reported using terms that are clearly
defined for and understandable to
2. Oral skills teacher may be confronted is
preparing students to take interpreting
results from large scale oral examinations,
successful performance as a requirement
for admission to universities , as a
minimum standard for teaching
assistantships ,and as a qualification for
various types of employment.