Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cat got your tongue?

I have received several e-mails from students who asked me ways they can improve their verbal proficiency. Honestly, I believe the secret is practice, practice and you know it, practice. As much as I encourage students to read books with utmost fervour, I think when it comes to speaking eloquently, you just need to open your mouth and start yakking away, people!

Believe it or not, I used to stutter when I was a kid. It wasn't that obvious but I tend to struggle with conversation whenever I'm plagued with stress and insecurity. Some kids made fun of my speech impediment..kids can be nasty sometimes and the impact may mar a child's self-esteem. It used to make me feel alienated and sad. However, I count myself lucky as my mom motivated me to speak up and listen to a lot of English songs. I discovered that miraculously, I did not stutter when I was singing. I guess fun has its way to chase away the misery. Alhamdulillah, I am thankful that by practising and conversing in English frequently, it kinda help me to be a fairly good orator :) I guess that's why I have soft spot for using songs for English Language teaching..I feel it's the greatest medium to encourage students to explore various skills and enrich their vocabulary.

I'd like to share some ways we can encourage our students to speak up  and engage in conversation confidently. I honestly believe we can improve the standard of English Language among students if we revamp the current assessment method for ULBS and PLBS. Instead of asking them to have prepared speech, I believe doing impromptu speech is the better way of preparing our students for the real world. 

If you ask my students, they will tell you I conduct 2-3 minutes impromptu speech as weekly speaking practices in classes. The topic may vary according to their verbal proficiency. If they are in elementary stage, you can start by asking them to string 3-5 sentences together on a topic of interest. The topic can be anything under the sun, but I reckon the best way is to scaffold more challenging topics as they advance to the next proficiency level. If your student is a wee bit reluctant to speak, using realia or prompting would help. Honestly, we need to train our students to think critically and to express their views and not merely regurgitating chunks of info from textbooks.
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1 comments:

Jik Kam Yong said...

I agree that practice helps a lot with speaking. I do something similar.

I let my students (low proficiency) do 'Show & Tell' in groups with the condition that everybody must speak.
I sell it at the beginning & tell them what I expect. And, what they have come up with makes me a very happy teacher. hahaha~~