Teaching Speaking Skills: Strategies & Methods

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  • 0:01 Why Teach Speaking Skills?
  • 0:45 Which Skills Matter?
  • 2:19 Collaboration and Conversation
  • 3:04 Presentation and Performance
  • 3:40 Metacognition
  • 4:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

In the push to teach students reading and writing, it's easy to forget about speaking! This lesson gives you ideas for teaching speaking skills, including explaining how spoken language works and what you can do to support it.

Why Teach Speaking Skills?

In today's teaching climate, it's easy to forget the importance of oral language, or speaking and listening skills. With all the focus on reading and writing, sometimes teachers neglect this more basic aspect of language! Yet students need to learn speaking skills and have opportunities to practice making their voices heard in a safe and constructive environment. Speaking skills are important because:

  • Skilled speakers can effectively present their own points of view.
  • Skilled speakers are often better readers and writers.
  • Skilled speakers are more confident participants in a variety of contexts - both in and out of school.
  • Skilled speakers are able to advocate for themselves and get their academic and emotional needs met.

Which Skills Matter?

One of the reasons teachers might feel hesitant about teaching speaking skills is that it can feel overwhelming. Oral language is complex, and in order to teach it properly, we need to deconstruct it into separate skills. The following skills are important to consider when working on speech with students:

Mechanical Skills

Students need to learn how to project, or speak at the right volume for their audience to hear them. They need to learn how to use intonation to express mood and how to pronounce words properly. They must also learn how to pace their spoken language so that they are neither too fast nor too slow to be understood.

Organizational Skills

Just as students must learn to organize their writing, they must learn how to organize, or structure in a meaningful way, their oral language. This means talking in logical sequence, stating thoughts in an order that makes sense, and making sure the spoken word is relevant to the topic of conversation.

Expressive Skills

One of the most important aspects of speaking is expression, or the ability to effectively communicate ideas and feelings. Students must learn how to say what is on their mind or make oral arguments that get their points across.

Pragmatic Skills

Finally, students who are learning speaking skills must gain experience with pragmatics, or the aspect of language that has to do with social norms and the rules of conversations. Students need practice taking turns in conversation, making eye contact while speaking, and responding appropriately during dialogues.

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