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Strategies to Encourage Students to Speak in Class

Strategies to Encourage Students to Speak in Class | ITTT | TEFL Blog

In the four skills, speaking is usually the poorest for the students learning English as L2. This results from lack of speaking practice, thus, students tend to be reluctantly speaking English in class as well as after class. It is important for teachers to encourage and motivate them to speak English, especially in class. Based on some knowledge gained through this course and my experience as a teacher, I have tried to build a language speaking environment, adopt many ways and encourage students to open their mouths to speak and they made a lot of progress in speaking English. The ideas below are mostly for pre-intermediate students and as for young learners, one can adopt different methods to make them speak.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Bobyeg Patricia N. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Environment is essential

Generally speaking, there are two factors to affect students' speaking English in class. One is they fail to find suitable words to express themselves and the other is they are afraid of making mistakes. Sometimes they make mistakes when they are speaking because they are shy and nervous. So a good environment helps the students to speak actively and correctly. On the one hand, I try to ease my students and remove their nervousness, fear, and anxiety with encouraging words and on the other I have tried these ways to build a free and lighted- hearted environment.

  • Try to arrange the seats of my classroom in a circle or groups with the students facing each other not in rows and lines.
  • Let the students speak English sitting in their seats not standing. They will not feel uneasy this way.
  • At the first stage, I allow the students to play their tape recording they have prepared for a certain topic beforehand.
  • I ask students to wear a mask they make for themselves to protect them from embarrassment and this works well for shy students when mistakes are being made.
  • Let students talk in the sound lab or on the telephone without seeing each other. This works well when we have a conversation or dialogue. Students role-play.
  • Try to divide the students into pairs and groups according to the different topics, if you can and also you can let them prepare their "opinion", and then have a group spokesman deliver the opinion.
  • Set a day for no native language spoken. Students prepare a certain number of cards and they can write down those words or expressions, which they can not convey in English if they have. Later on, we discuss those words and expressions in class.
  • Let the class have 5-10 minutes of a free talk at the beginning of every class. Students can talk about any interesting events, news or stories they have read, listened and watched recently.
  • Let students have an English class out of the classroom with such activities as a class barbecue, picnic, and party.
  • Build an English corner at the school and let students talk freely with those who are interested in learning English.

It is essential to try to build an atmosphere where the students no longer feel shy, where they will voluntarily raise their hands to ask a question and where they will freely voice their own opinions.

Also Read: It's Not Rocket Science: Teaching Slang and Figurative Speech in English Classrooms

Encouragement is necessary

After students finish their speaking in class, teachers should encourage them and let the students feel they have made some progress with a sense of their fulfillment. I try to do these:

  • Be firm in a gentle way and give them praise whenever they are doing anything close to a good job.
  • Be sincere and look for opportunities to find them doing something right. Never get frustrated, angry and impatient.
  • Be a nice, sensitive, and approachable person at all times. Never single students out or put them on the spot.
  • Treat them with kindness and respect. Smile a lot and value their opinions. Never embarrass anyone for a laugh.
  • Allow the students to be themselves rather than expecting them to conform to your preconceived ideas about how they should behave. Build their trust, take your time, and wait for them to come to you.

Of course, you should point out some apparent mistakes in their speaking, for example, the incorrect words in pronunciation or some serious mistakes in grammar after they finish their speech.

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To conclude, the ideas above are from personal experience and can be helpful to motivate students to speak English in class. My ideas might differ from others but it has been of great help to me as some of my students have improved drastically.

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