Speaking lessons with your students: what to do and where to find resources?
Knowing a foreign language is not just about a good command of its grammar, but more about speaking that language. If we focus only on grammar activities, different listening and reading tasks suggested in the textbooks and neglect free speaking classes, our students will soon lose motivation and consider the lessons too monotonous. Therefore, I would strongly recommend you to conduct speaking lessons from time to time depending on the schedule and frequency of the classes with your students. But what do we mean by saying speaking lessons? How are these classes conducted and where can we find appropriate resources? If you have been asking these questions to yourselves, then you are in the right place. Go on reading the article to find the keys to these questions.
Speaking lessons allow English language learners to practice speaking in an informal, relaxed environment. Here the learners improve mainly two skills — listening and speaking. Of course, grammar shouldn’t be thoroughly neglected, but the focus must not be on it. Remember, that correcting students’ mistakes while they are speaking, will hinder fluency and will demotivate them. Here are some points to be taken into account while conducting speaking lessons:
— Schedule a special day for speaking lessons depending on the frequency of the lessons you have with your students, on their interests and goals. I personally dedicate at least one lesson per month to speaking lessons, if the student has English classes only once a week. If the student has 3 English classes per week, we usually use one of the lessons for free discussion and speaking.
— Mind the number of the participants. If your aim is to make your students speak, do not have more than 5-6 learners in the group. You should give everyone an opportunity to speak regularly and you can’t do that if the group is too big. You can hold speaking lessons with individual students as well.
— Pick topics based on the level and interest of the student. It shouldn’t be too complicated, as it may confuse your students. But it shouldn’t be too easy, either. Find out students’ preferences before conducting a spoken lesson with them. Introduce several topics, such as “Silicon Valley”, “Oscar 2020”, “The future of technology”, “Natural wonders”, “Plastic kills animal world”, etc, and ask them to choose one they are interested in.
— Get your students to speak only English, even with mistakes. Don’t concentrate on grammar, let them speak and share their opinion on the topic. You can make some notes and discuss their basic mistakes at the end of the lesson.
How to conduct speaking lessons?
First of all, you should somehow follow the structure of the lesson and start your speaking lesson with warm-up and lead-in activities. Here you can use prompt pictures, some questions to discuss, a short video or some music (not more than 1 minute). Prepare a list of questions to discuss with your students before introducing the main topic (I personally use videos at my speaking lessons, but you can use some short texts as well). Then go deeper into the topic and present them the material you have prepared. If necessary, do some vocabulary work to make sure they got the idea. Finally, make them debate, discuss questions, share their own ideas and solutions to the topic. In the end, you can do delayed error correction.
Where to find resources?
Taking into consideration the significant role of speaking classes in students’ life, we have already prepared some presentations on different topics that you can use with your students of different ages and levels. Here are some of them, that we strongly recommend you to use in your classes.
Venice Carnival 2020 — intermediate level, teens and adults
Why the sun and the moon live in the sky — elementary level, kids
Film discussion: The Grinch — intermediate level, teens
Film discussion: The Princess Switch — intermediate level, teens and adults
Book club: Winnie the Witch — elementary level, kids
Fall 2019 Movies — intermediate level, teens and adults
Air travel — intermediate level, teens and adults
Need some company? — upper-intermediate level, adults
Sightseeing holiday — beginner level, teens and adults
National stereotypes — intermediate level, teens and adults
Book discussion: «The sun also rises» by Ernest Hemingway, part 1 — intermediate and upper-intermediate level, teens and adults
Book discussion: «The sun also rises» by Ernest Hemingway, part 2 — intermediate and upper-intermediate level, teens and adults
Book discussion: «The sun also rises» by Ernest Hemingway, part 3 — intermediate and upper-intermediate level, teens and adults
Book discussion: «The last leaf» by O. Henry — pre-intermediate, teens and adults
Keep following our publications to find new presentations for your speaking lessons.