Social Speaking Areas
Let's now take a look at some of the key areas that you can focus on when developing your students' speaking skills.
1. Small group work
As you develop your learners' social speaking skills, you'll want to focus on a few key areas. First of all, social speaking begins with understanding what the other party is saying and then responding in an appropriate manner. If a student doesn't understand what's being asked of him or her, it's nearly impossible to reply appropriately. One effective way of encouraging social speaking skills is to organize students into small groups and provide them with some social topics to discuss, such as current events, new music or movies, hobbies, and favorite celebrities.
When speaking socially, ELLs don't necessarily need to defend their viewpoints or opinions the way they may need to when speaking about an academic subject. Practice with social speaking in small groups gives students a safe place in which to make mistakes, and because of the lack of formality, they may feel more comfortable trying out new vocabulary words, grammatical patterns, and pronunciations. It can be helpful to have students correct each other rather than always looking to you for guidance. If students are able to work together to fix errors, they become better able to self-regulate. This approach may seem a bit daunting at first, but students will quickly learn that helping each other is an effective way to grow and learn.
2. Casual Conversation Time
It's important to allow social speaking skills to develop naturally. Give students time to just sit and chat, or better yet, set aside some time each week or month to have a casual conversation with each student about topics that interest him or her. Once students graduate from high school, the majority of their speaking opportunities will be social. The more practice you can give them in a relaxed, judgment-free environment, the better prepared they will be to engage in casual, social conversations with others.
Academic Speaking Areas
When ELLs speak in order to satisfy an academic purpose, they're demonstrating their abilities to use English to convey information, ideas, and opinions. Giving a formal presentation or speaking authoritatively on an academic subject not only gives students an opportunity to show off, but also provides them with a platform for increased scrutiny and constructive criticism from both teacher and peers alike.
Like before, let's take a look at some examples of academic speaking areas.
1. Feedback vs. a grade
Sometimes it can be more helpful to provide students with specific feedback than to simply assign them a score or letter grade. While students do appreciate grades, they're more likely to learn if they understand the specifics of how to improve.
When students are speaking to communicate academic information, it can be helpful for them to view the information the way they might view an essay or other type of written discourse. Academic speaking may require more attention to detail and the use of supporting facts and information. Suggest that students think of their words in terms of building an argument or a viewpoint. This can make it easier for them to organize their thoughts and how they plan to deliver them.
2. Practice and vocabulary choices
As with social speaking, you'll want to provide your ELLs with ample academic speaking opportunities. Allowing students to workshop ideas in small group settings can help them to better prepare for more formal assessments. When students are speaking for an academic purpose, they'll also need to keep in mind their choice of vocabulary. While slang may be acceptable when speaking socially, it's typically unacceptable when delivering academic information.
3. Avoidance of filler words
Likewise, students speaking for academic purposes should avoid filler words such as ''uh'', ''um'', and ''like''. One way to discourage the use of filler words is to mark down every time a student uses a filler word and then inform him or her of the total number used once he or she is finished speaking. When students are aware of how frequently they're using fillers, they become more conscious of avoiding them.
The development of English speaking skills for both social and academic purposes is an essential part of an ELL education. Key to students' success is their understanding of how social and academic speaking differ in content.
Social speaking is more about delivering a message than bolstering a point of view. It begins with understanding what others are saying. Practice sessions can serve as a safe place to explore new grammatical patterns, pronunciations, and vocabulary words. Instructional strategies can include small group conversations about familiar topics and the use of peer feedback.
Opportunities for practice are also important when helping ELLs develop academic speaking skills. By providing your learners with plenty of practice and feedback about the use of filler words, you'll be helping them develop the ability to accurately convey information, ideas, and opinions in academic speaking scenarios, which involve speaking about and reading aloud academic concepts.