Advice on teaching speaking

We must always be wary of adopting any one, single approach that claims to be ‘the answer’ in the teaching and development of speaking, just as in any other aspect of pedagogy. Our role as professionals is to have our aspirations clearly defined, to approach teaching with an open mind, to try new things out and to evaluate their success on a continual basis, refining what we do and assessing it’s fitness for purpose.

In this spirit, this section highlights a few key points for consideration:

  • Maximise quality target language interaction in the classroom
  • Teach students how to ask questions and give frequent opportunities to do so
  • Consider ways to help students to extend the length of utterance and length of turn
  • Repeat speaking activities immediately with less / no support
  • Plan in favour of language use rather than language practice activities
  • Increase the opportunities for unscripted interaction in every lesson
  • Focus on working from memory as often as possible – have explicit memory / retention strategies

Look at the ALL Connect KS2 Speaking Module for further ideas about how to develop speaking in the primary phase, and the ALL Connect KS3 Speaking Module for ideas and resources in French, German and Spanish to develop spontaneous talk.

We rarely teach one skill in isolation in languages, and therefore there are many resources on the different wikis that overlap. For example, in the ALL Literature Wiki there are references to planned and spontaneous speaking activities. If teachers put the words 'speaking', 'talk' or 'aloud' etc. into the search box on the top right they will find activities linked to that skill - some spontaneous and some planned.

Teachers may also be keen to explore opportunities for speaking beyond the classroom, such as the speaking competitions ‘Have your Say’ run by ALL Essex and East Anglia or Strictly Speaking, a joint ALL and Routes into Languages project. For more information on these and other initiatives, check your weekly ALLNet email bulletin.

And finally…
We must remember that, whenever there are changes to a curriculum or educational policy, there is a tendency to assume that we need to change or abandon previous practice. Let us make sure that we retain any current practice that is already very effective!

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