Concepts for Teaching Speaking in the English Language Classroom

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Anne Burns

Abstract

Systematically and explicitly addressing the teaching of speaking is an aspect of English language teaching that is often underestimated. While teachers may be presenting various speaking activities in the classroom, such activities may amount to ‘doing speaking’ rather than ‘teaching speaking’. In this article, I argue that being a competent teacher of speaking involves understanding the ‘combinatorial’ nature of speaking, which includes the linguistic and discoursal features of speech, the core speaking skills that enable speakers to process and produce speech, and the communication strategies for managing and maintaining spoken interactions.  The article concludes by presenting a ‘teaching-speaking cycle’ (Goh and Burns, 2012) that teachers can use to plan tasks and activities that explicitly address these aspects of speaking and that scaffold student learning.

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