Teaching Speaking: Strategies

Speaking: sending information across a gap

In speaking tasks, the learner is put in the position of serving as the "input source" for another learner's listening; for this reason, the tasks described below could be termed "listening/speaking tasks."

The exchange of information between learners usually centers around some kind of artifact -- for instance, a drawing, a chart, or a price list -- which is then modified or selected by the listener in accordance with the information received.

Design and training

As in listening tasks, the teacher's strategy is based on designing a "receptacle" for the flow of information, but in listening/speaking, there is an added requirement: learners need to be trained beforehand in how to carry out the speaking task. Approaches to training may include "brainstorming" (collectively thinking about the language needed to do the task), teacher modeling of the task, or playing a language game using language related to the task.

ITV adaptation

Speaking activities are generally more difficult to adapt for ITV than listening activities are, and in many cases the objectives of an activity must be more limited than in the traditional classroom version. Whereas in the traditional classroom students have unrestricted and equal opportunities to communicate with all of their classmates in the "mingling" format, in the ITV classroom all communication across sites must flow through the single channel, and some receive-site students may be forced to rely on that single source for information, which restricts their opportunities for interaction. Also, given the many different types of activities possible, many different kinds of "shots" and the use of various equipment may be necessary.

1999 Stephen Fleming, NFLRC, University of Hawai‘i.All rights reserved.