All Of The Following Are Examples Of Body Language Except: Speaking Well – Four Steps To Improve Your ESL EFL Students Speaking Ability

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Speaking Well – Four Steps To Improve Your ESL EFL Students Speaking Ability

Acquiring English as a second or foreign language (ESL or EFL) depends on how well the student speaks. He can write well, get high marks on tests, for example, or even have almost the same accent as a native speaker; but if he cannot express his thoughts, ideas, or instructions clearly in conversation, few would call him competent. Language is for communication, and that primarily means talking.

As teachers, we are constantly evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of our classrooms. We then take this information and design effective lessons, always working towards a higher level of communicative competence that balances fluency (getting the words out) and accuracy (correct use of grammar and vocabulary). The following are four steps that serve as examples for planning lessons that give students ample practice time with the language. These steps also serve to improve language fluency. Before the four steps, speaking ability must be determined.

Conversation involves: using language, listening to language, processing information and then responding to it. The purpose of the conversation affects the process, the place and the people involved. Compare the English spoken to open a business meeting with the English used to order in a restaurant. This language differs from what you may need during a business meeting, or to complain about the quality of food.

From these examples, we can conclude that a good speaker uses grammar and vocabulary effectively and accurately. We also need to consider the context of grammar and vocabulary and how it can add nuance. For example, when, why, and to whom would a speaker describe business meetings in the following way?

Example A: “Although our weekly meeting with those R&D people is boring, I know how important it is. Let’s face it: it’s a necessary evil.”

Example B: “Ugh! Our weekly meeting with those R&D people drives me up the wall!”

A good speaker will likewise understand when to use different grammar points. Native speakers “just know” the language, even though we can’t always give the reasons and which pros of grammar or vocabulary. Lessons involving speaking activities should always seek to develop and reinforce these skills. Over time, language use decisions like the ones above become more regular, even subconscious.

Preparation: Allow students to prepare for the tasks ahead with an effective warm-up. This gives everyone in the class ample opportunity to spin English wheels. Sufficient time in introducing and learning the target language translates into fewer errors, thus increasing understanding and use of the new language.

Current: Then introduce the topic for discussion, the target grammar or any vocabulary chosen for the lesson. The warm-up can serve as a springboard to the topic. For example, write synonyms of today’s key words used by students on the board and then introduce the target vocabulary. Or, if you’re paying attention to grammar, write a few sentences that will highlight the target structure without warming up. In both cases, the information obtained from the warm-up is recycled, thus providing a more efficient use of class time. Grammar or vocabulary is also more memorable because of the connection with the original conversations.

Experience: After the presentation, ESL/EFL students should practice the new material. It is unfair to expect them to use a new language without adequate experience. Drills work for automatic achievement even at higher ability levels. Closely supervised exercises with new grammar points or vocabulary lay the groundwork and provide examples. The activities should then progress to a more free and fluent use of the language, which will allow each student to connect the lesson material with the pre-existing language.

Free Usage: You should always work towards the actual use of the language. While the first part of the lesson focuses on accurate language production, this is done to allow for better fluency practice (producing words). End-of-lesson activities allow students to pick up vocabulary and grammar structures and connect the day’s material to previously learned language. These activities also allow advanced learners to apply strategies, use gestures and body language, and adapt their language to the intended audience or listener.

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