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English Language and Students

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1: Introduction At present, speaking a foreign language represents one of the essential requirements of today? s society. Besides other skills and knowledge, it is considered as one of the most influencing factors while applying for a job or sustaining in a particular work position under the condition of advancing the language level. Based on my work experience, I can confirm that knowing a foreign language is a necessity for everyone in general, mainly for my students – soldiers. These people are required to reach a sufficient level in a foreign language in order to accomplish military assignments in missions abroad.

Teaching foreign languages, mainly English, for these military purposes is provided by the Defence Language Institute in Vyskov where I have been working as an English teacher for almost three years. My principal goal is to provide the soldiers with as efficient English lessons as possible because it will be them who will have to deal with international relationships and take measures for solving various situations. The main reason for choosing this topic for my bachelor thesis was realizing how important speaking is in everyday situations.

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No matter where we are, either in the Philippine Republic or in a foreign country, English conversation plays a crucial role in understanding each other and dealing with different kinds of uncovered problems. It means school teachers need English to communicate with their colleagues – native speakers.. Even if they come from America, England or Australia and their accents differ, it is just a question of time for teachers and also students to adjust to their speech and distinguish differences in pronunciation.

Being able to keep a fluent conversation with a native speaker is viewed as the main goal of students, which underlines the importance of speaking skills in a student? s point of view. Therefore, in my thesis I decided to concentrate on communicative activities which might be helpful for English teachers and enhance their students? communicative skills. 1. 1: Statement of the problem This research would “What is the effectiveness of implementing speaking zone at the University campus? ” 1. 2: Objective of the study

The objectives of my studies are: 1. To review the concept and importance of speaking skill. 2. To analyze the factors that are effective in speaking skill. 3. To explore the new ways of speaking skill. 4. To recommend how they improve speaking skill in English at University campus. * * 2: Discussion 2. 1. SPEAKING * 2. 1. 1 Speaking as a skill For most people, the ability to speak a foreign language is synonymous with knowing that language because speech is for them the basic means of human communication.

English learners no longer expect the traditional approach of their teachers based on developing mainly the grammatical competence and using methodology popular in the past. Today, teachers are expected to provide their students with useful active knowledge of the foreign language, not just theory about the language. Communicative approach focuses on a balance between fluency and accuracy and is the most suitable for those students whose aim is to gain confidence in speaking and conversational abilities.

Nevertheless, speaking in a foreign language has often been viewed as the most demanding of the four skills. “While listening and reading involve the ability to correctly receive messages and are therefore referred to as receptive skills, speaking and writing, on the other hand, involve language production and are referred to as productive skills. ” (Harmer 1995, 16) Producing spoken language has often meant a difficulty and an obstacle for English learners. There might arise a question why.

The answer is obvious. In the natural spoken language students are required to be aware of characteristics of fluent speech, such as reduced forms, use of slang or idioms, fixed phrases, collocations and most importantly the pace of speech. All of these have to be taken into consideration while practising conversation in class. Without these, our spoken language would sound bookish and unnatural. To avoid this, it is essential to introduce and practise “real” communication with our students ithin the learning process. If it is neglected, it may be a reason why students are often shocked and disappointed when using a foreign language for the first time whilst interacting in foreign environment. They have not been prepared for spontaneous communication and could not cope with all of its simultaneous demands. The embarrassment is usually caused by students’ inability to adjust to native speakers’ speech. This is natural and adjures patience while learning to speak or communicate in a foreign language.

As I already mentioned, native speakers are a great support and the opportunity to communicate with them means even greater encouragement for our students. Although it is quite demanding for students to keep up in conversation with them, they take it as an advantage in their studies. Most English learners are actually familiar with the fact that the best way to advance their speaking skills is adjusting to it in an English speaking environment. 2. 1. 2 Difference between speaking and conversation Although the terms “speaking” and “conversation” may seem clear, they often get misunderstood.

Speaking as a skill taught at schools presents the student’s ability to express his or her opinions, thoughts and ideas to a particular matter. Speaking practice, which is usually based on storytelling, giving speech or presentation, is the necessity for later successful conversation. Nevertheless, the focus on speaking activities has diminished in recent years. This has been caused by many factors, especially by realizing the need of everyday communication. As I mentioned above, giving speeches or presentations is not what we concentrate on in our lessons.

Even though these are crucial prerequisites for later conversational practice, the teachers tend to focus on communicative activities as the main goal of speaking lessons. I have no objection to this, but it is essential to mention the importance of presentations for military English learners working for the Ministry of Defence and the consequences of the lack of speaking skill while giving military presentations abroad. For this reason, it is very important for teachers to think through the purpose of speaking and communicative activities being prepared for lessons and also the target group of learners.

Nolasco (1987, 3) mentions that being able to speak reasonably correct and even fluent English is one thing, but being able to engage in on-going, interactive, mentally satisfying conversation is another. Conversation is such a natural part of our lives that many people are not conscious of what happens within it. However, conversation follows certain rules which should be obeyed in order for participants to feel relaxed and be satisfied with it. Arthur (1987, 5) adds that the main purpose of conversation is the exchange of information among people.

While communicating, our students may find themselves in different social situations playing various social roles and the main task for language teachers is to prepare them for these real situations they might participate in. This also includes leading students to develop the ability to initiate and sustain conversation whenever it occurs. 2. 1. 3 Students’ motivation to participate in a speaking lesson When students learn a foreign language, they very often accumulate a lot of knowledge (grammatical rules, lists of vocabulary items), but then they find out that they cannot actually use this language to communicate when they want to.

Scrivener (2005, 147) claims that there seems to be some difficulty in moving language from passive knowledge into active usage. Without experience in using the language, learners may tend to be nervous about trying to say things. Partly they may fear seeming foolish in front of others, they may worry about getting things wrong they may want to avoid teacher’s comments or correction and so on. It takes quite a long time for some students to express themselves, which leads to long embarrassing pauses while learners are trying to find out how to say what they really want to say.

One of the best ways of helping learners to activate their knowledge is to put them in “safe” situations in class where they are inspired and encouraged to try to speak a foreign language. Teachers should try to create such activities in which learners feel less worried about speaking and less under pressure. Nevertheless, the teacher is not the only one whom the students’ success in speaking is based on. There are also motivational factors, differing from student to student, which influence his progress in the spoken language. Harmer (1991, 4-6) distinguishes extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

He claims that students? attitude to speaking the language may be affected by different factors from the outside, such as people in close surroundings, previous speaking experience in a foreign language or the job opportunities offered after mastering foreign language communication. All of these represent extrinsic motivation. Although extrinsic motivation is nowadays a driving force for most students, without intrinsic motivation no goal in improving the speaking skill could be achieved. Success is also based on students? willingness to learn to speak a foreign language, which may be influenced by the teacher? methods used in teaching communication and, above all, his or her personality. Considering these, teachers should realize how important role they play in encouraging the students to learn to speak a foreign language. Students’ personalities also play an important role in determining how quickly and correctly they will manage a speaking task. Those students who are risk-takers, unafraid of making mistakes, are generally more talkative but usually make many errors. Those who are shy may take a long time to speak confidently, but when they finally manage it, their English contains fewer errors.

The aim of both types of students is the same, indeed – to use the language correctly and fluently. To achieve this goal the teachers should try as much as they can to break the silence in the classroom and get the students speak no matter how many mistakes they make or how long it takes them to produce sentences. In order to decrease shyness while speaking in front of the whole class, students may be offered the opportunity to work in groups or pairs, which is a suitable approach for enhancing the active language use. Harmer (1991, 7-9) points out different motivational factors depending on the age and level of the students.

Children’s and adolescents’ motivation to speak a foreign language is irrelevant for the purpose of my thesis because, as mentioned above, I deal with adult English learners and their motivational needs for a foreign language communication are substantially different from the others. I concentrate on intermediate students who represent the majority in my classes. Their English is good at this stage but they are motivated by a primary goal of achieving a more advanced level of the language. They already know a lot and are able to have a conversation about every day matters but sometimes there might occur some problems.

One of them is often the feeling that they are flooded with the new complexity of the language and cannot cope with it. Teachers, when having found this out, should focus on building up the knowledge students already have and assure them they can speak the language well enough to understand and be understood. Ur (1991, 274-280) declares that “motivation is very strongly related to achievement in language learning. ” This statement results from teaching practice showing that eager learners willing to invest effort in speaking activities are likely to make greater progress.

On the contrary, those sitting silently at the desk without desire to be involved in any kind of speaking activity, may find themselves stuck to be able to improve their speaking skill. Having noticed this, teachers should encourage low-motivated students to develop the interest in communicative activities. Ur (1991, 281) describes some strategies to enhance students’ motivation to speak in a lesson. The principal one is selecting the topic carefully to make it as interesting for students as possible. If the teacher’s choice fails in the class, there should be no panic or embarrassment.

The possible solution to this situation may be asking the students to vote for a topic they would be interested in talking about. Varied tasks are also suggested for a successful and efficient speaking lesson as well as using visuals to enhance students’ motivation to speak. Average pictures copied from different sorts of textbooks and workbooks do not encourage adult learners to speak anymore. Based on my teaching experience, adult learners prefer to be set into real situations, dealing with real and current news items concerning today’s world and society.

To satisfy students’ expectations, teachers should be supplied with sufficient amount of authentic materials, such as newspapers and magazines. The speaking tasks could be based on describing the photos to each other and guessing the place in the world where the action has happened. Connection between the picture and reality makes it even more tempting for students to express their points of view to a particular event and, at the same time, the teacher’s goal is achieved as well – getting students to speak and communicate with each other. 2. 1. 4 Accuracy versus fluency

Accuracy and fluency are terms characteristic for a successful and fecund conversation. Scrivener (2005, 160-162) declares that accuracy is the ability to speak correctly without making serious mistakes and therefore a greater use of instant teacher’s correction within a speaking activity is appropriate. On the contrary, fluency is the ability to speak confidently without irrelevant pauses or hesitation, however, often with making major mistakes. In this case, instant correction may be inappropriate and could interfere with the aims of the speaking activity. Teachers should be aware f whether their main goal in a speaking activity is accuracy or fluency and adapt their role in class eligibly. If the main aim is to get students to speak, then one way to achieve that would be reducing teacher? s contribution. It is supposed that the less he or she speaks, the more time and space it will allow the students to. If the main aim is accuracy, the teacher should concentrate on students? mistakes and devote time to their correction. However important speaking without mistakes is, a promoted trend at present seems to be to lead students to a fluent conversation in every day situations.

Taking this into consideration, this approach best fits the needs of today? s society which is based on fast exchanges of information. Nevertheless, it would be injudicious to qualify accuracy as less important in communication and underestimate its importance. It is also essential for the ability to speak a foreign language well. 2. 1. 5 Correcting students’ mistakes Fluency Activities In a fluency activity the teacher is expected to monitor the class and encourage the students to speak with minimum interfering and correction. This technique is called scaffolding.

Scrivener (2005, 162) states that “it is a way a competent language speaker helps a less competent one to communicate by encouraging and providing possible elements of conversation. ” In practice it means to encourage the weaker one by nodding, eye contact, repeating the last word in order to encourage the speaker to continue, asking tag questions, etc. The aim of this encouragement is to make a student speak as much as he or she is able to. Considering a fluent activity, correcting the mistakes should be done after finishing this activity. Suggested techniques are the following: ) writing the sentences used during the activity on the board and discussing them with the whole class b) writing incorrect sentences used during the activity on the board and encouraging the students to make correction c) inventing and writing down the story that includes some errors the teacher overheard during the activity and students try to find them and correct them d) writing out two lists A and B – each list contains ten sentences from the activity but some of them are correct, some of them incorrect. Students work in two groups and their task is to decide if the sentences are either correct or incorrect and why Accuracy Activities

In an accuracy based activity the teacher is required to correct students? mistakes whenever possible. While practising accuracy, students become aware of their own mistakes in speaking straight away because the teacher does not wait until finishing the task. This approach is suitable while focusing on grammar mainly and enables the students to realize and correct their mistakes and also prevent their recurrence. 1. 2 COMMUNICATIVE ACTIVITIES Every speaking lesson should be based on communicative activities which fulfil two important language learning needs.

They encourage the learners to acquire language knowledge and prepare them for real-life language use. Achieving the outcome requires the participants to interact, which means not only speak with a person but also listen to what he or she is saying and react to it. 2. 1. 6 Importance of pair work and group work Pair work and group work present ways of organizing the class while teaching speaking. The teacher? s responsibility is to choose a suitable communicative activity depending on what is going to be practised – either fluency or accuracy – and organize the students into pairs or groups.

In some activities such as role plays and guessing games, pair work is essential. On the other hand, discussions and debates require group work and enable the students to express their opinions on a given topic within the group. After that, the spokesman of each group notifies the rest of the class about the conclusion they have reached. This may lead to a following discussion among groups and if the topic is amusing, the speaking lesson seems to be enjoyable for both students and the teacher, too. Advantages of pair and group work

There are many reasons for pair and group work to be used in the lessons. First of all, they provide the students with a lot more practice than working as a whole class. Students also feel more comfortable to speak to one or two people rather than the whole class and the teacher. Moreover, speaking to just a few people is closer to real-life situations. Pair and group work allows each student to work at the pace of his or her small group or pair. The teacher is no more considered the only source of information but the students learn from each other.

This creates opportunities for learners? knowledge to be shared. In order to be successful, learners need to become accustomed to using English without the teacher? s permanent support. Therefore, working in pairs or groups helps them to build up their independence and confidence for further conversations. The advantages of pair and group work can be noticeable not only from the learner? s but also the teacher’s point of view. It provides the teacher with more time to work with weaker students and encourage them, by participating in a role play or discussion, to communicate.

Teachers can also benefit from a great availableness of different communicative activities being offered in bookshops and on the internet nowadays. The variety of materials for pair or group work speaking practice is praised by most of them and their use has proved to be very efficient for speaking skill improvement. Slight disadvantages of pair and group work However efficient and useful pair and group work is, it may sometimes cause little problems while practising speaking. According to Doff (1989, 141) the noise belongs to these obstacles the teachers have to overcome during lessons.

Usually the students themselves are not disturbed by the noise, it is more noticeable to the teacher observing pairs or groups. However, the noise created by pair and group work demonstrates learners? engagement in a speaking task and gives the teacher visual evidence of students? involvement. Considering this, the success in working in pairs or groups depends mainly on the students? and the teacher’s approach. Another fact Doff (1989, 141) mentions is the difficulty to control the whole class during a communicative activity.

To stop activity getting out of control, it is important to give the students clear instructions, define the speaking task clearly and set up a routine, so that students accept the idea of working in pairs or groups and know exactly what to do. 2. 1. 7 The role of a teacher in communicative activities The teacher is a facilitator of students? learning and as such he has many roles to fulfill. Freeman (1986, 131) describes him as a manager of classroom activities. In this role, one of his major responsibilities is to set up activities that promote communication.

During the communicative activities he acts as a consultant answering students? questions, offers advice and provides necessary language items. One of the most important roles is to make sure that students know what they are supposed to practise and check if they do it effectively. These roles are called a conductor and a monitor. Although there is a great number of various activities which may be used in speaking lessons, their use would be confusing and pointless if they would not be logically organised. Being a good organiser should be an ability possessed by every skillful teacher.

Considering the facts mentioned above we can conclude that the teacher? s personality in a learning process is very important not only while participating in the activity but also while monitoring the students. The teacher? s less dominant role in communicative activities offers the students the opportunity to be involved in conversation and improve their speaking skills to be able to cope with the real-life situations. * 3: CONCLUSION In my thesis I tried to deal with speaking as one of four basic skills and highlight its importance in everyday situations.

My aim was to distinguish speaking and conversation since these terms are commonly used but often get mixed up. I pointed out that conversation plays a crucial role in our lives and without it we would not be able to exchange the information and share our knowledge. I also dealt with motivation as an essential factor for language learners and classified its types – extrinsic and intrinsic, with the emphasis on the teacher? s personality which influences the students? willingness to participate actively in the learning process.

I mentioned native speakers as a great source for our teaching practice and described the ways they may encourage the students to carry on studying a foreign language. To feel confident while learning to speak a foreign language, the students are supposed to be put in a „safe environment“. This prevents them from embarrassement or anxiety when they are asked to express themselves. I tried to explain this term and suggested possible ways to decrease students? concern about speaking. Due to students? different personalities and also abilities to speak a foreign language, I dealt with pair work and group work as the ways of organizing the class.

I mentioned the advantages of this kind of work, especially reducing tension in class, creating a pleasant atmosphere and building up students? independence and confidence. Pair work was evaluated as more useful since it is closer to real-life situations and dealing with them is the main aim that the students are heading for. Another area I focused on, were communicative activities and their categorization : information gap activities, discussions, role plays, simulations and guessing games. I characterized them and evaluated the interaction they offer to prepare students for real-life language use.

In connection with them, I dealt with terms accuracy and fluency and explained the importance of distinguishing them due to teacher? s objective within the lesson. I introduced different techniques for correcting mistakes in either accuracy or fluency communicative activities and also described the roles of a teacher and requirements which he or she has to fulfil to manage the roles successfully. By means of this thesis I realized how important it is for the teacher to have a great amount of information concerning teaching speaking to be able to provide the students with efficient conversational lessons.

The methodology literature I was reading through enabled me to have a look at a speaking skill from a different point of view and think about this issue more deeply. All the theoretical information I gained from this literature was used in the practical part of my thesis. Based on that, I reached several findings. One of them was realizing how important role motivation plays in the learning process. It was proved that students? progress in speaking a foreign language depends on motivation and encouragement from their teachers.

I found out that if there are no stimulating factors and the students are not motivated, it leads to boredom in class. To prevent this, entertaining communicative activities and interesting topics proved to be very useful and effective. Another fact which I found reasonable while evaluating presented activities, was distinguishing them according to the teacher? s objective. The fluency activities proved to be essential while practising fluent conversation to prepare students for the real world. On the other hand, the accuracy ctivities focused on grammar and due to them the students were given the opportunity to practise the correct use of foreign language. Since using various types of communicative activities proved very beneficial in my classes, I would like to recommend them to all teachers whose aim is to improve their students? communicative skills. 4: Recommendation 1. Living through a situation and finding to use the language as a compelling force always helps in acquiring a sound language habit. Can be teacher of English devise such situations when it is the second or the third language to learn?.

It is not uncommon to find that the child even when he is at play he uses the new sounds as he hears them being used by other children in his play groups, without even knowing what each sound or word means. In a very short time he has learnt the meanings of the words by using them in the right place at the right moment. 2. Meaning of words must be allowed to be explored and they are learnt and remembered better. Equivalents, if used, often weaken the impression of the new word and thus tend to damage pupils interest in learning a language. Certain though around a great deal of difficulty stimulators learning.

It must be guaranteed that the living personality of the teacher makes use of new word in all kinds of contexts and situations. 3. The proper plan is to adopt new sounds, words and structure patterns into well designed course which ensures gradual yet through repetition so that correct forms, construction are established in the mental habits of the pupils. Pupils should not have a free choice of grammatical form and structure. * * * * * * * * * * 5: References 1. Harmer, J. (1991). The practice of english language teaching. Essex:Longman, 296p. , ISBN:0-582- 046564 1. Scrivener, J. (2005).

Learning teaching. Oxford:Macmillan Publishers Lim, 431p. , ISBN:1- 4050- 1399- 0 2. Ur, P. (1991). A course in language teaching. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 375p. , ISBN:0-521-44994-4 3. Thornbury, S. (2005). How to teach speaking. Essex:Pearson Education Limited, 156p. , ISBN:0-582-85359-1 4. Littlewood, W. (1994). Communicative language teaching. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 108p. , ISBN:0-521-28154-7 5. Celce, M. M. (2001). Teaching english as a second or foreign language. Boston:Heinle;Heinle, 584p. , ISBN:0-8384-1992-5 6. Ladousse, G. (1987). Role play.

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 182p. , ISBN: 0-1943-7095 7. Doff, A. (1989). Teaching english. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 286p. , ISBN: 0-521-348641 8. Freeman, D. (1986). Techniques and principles in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 142p. , ISBN: 0-1943-4133 9. Nolasco, R ; Arthur, L. (1987). Conversation. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 150p. , ISBN: 0-19-437096-8 10. Hadfield, J. (1990). Intermediate communication games. Essex: Jill Hadfield, 105p. , ISBN: 0-17-555872-8

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