tip#17 - What can trainers/teachers do to facilitate trainees/students’ capacity to improve their speaking skills?

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Speaking in general is a productive skill that requires a lot of supporting factors such as knowledge, confidence, and enthusiasm… irrespective of whether one is a native speaker or not. However, speaking a second language brings its own additional prerequisites: exposure, consolidation, and motivation. These determining factors can be made to exist harmoniously in the learning environment of an ESL training course. Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Present and model language that is not only appropriate but understandable to the learners’ level of proficiency. By clearly explaining new grammar and vocabulary through visuals, dialogues, and various materials, you minimize the risk of over-reaching the learner’s level and allows for a more productive practice of speaking skills. A good technique for beginners who lack a lot of essential vocabulary (or for anyone who lacks confidence in his/her speaking abilities), is to help them build up a supply of minimal responses that can be used in different types of exchanges.

  2. Check comprehension frequently. This can be accomplished by asking questions that require verbal responses, eliciting answers from individual students, and allowing students to discuss (agree/disagree with) responses.

  3. Training session (or classroom) discussions are a fantastic way for learners to practice speaking but be aware of the possible pitfalls. Students may not have an interest in the proposed subject, may have a lack of motivation or may have a real fear of speaking in front of the class. All these factors must be considered and sufficiently dealt with in order to have successful outcomes from the discussions.

  4. Establish when you are working for fluency or accuracy. Both are important, but if you are clear on that at the start of each task, you will be better able to navigate your role in the given activity. Obviously if you are working on fluency, accuracy will take a back seat and so should you;-)

  5. Role-plays and simulations can also be a very useful technique for practicing oral production skills. Therefore, establishing a good rapport with students is important. Mutual trust between trainer/teacher and trainees/students must exist for role-playing exercises to work properly.

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