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Concept of Speaking


1.      Developing Classroom Speaking Activities Theory to Practice
The mastery of speaking skills in English is a priority for many second or foreign language learners. Learners consequently often evaluate their success in language learning as well as the effectiveness of their English course in the basis of how well they feel they have improved in their spoken language proficiency. Oral skills have hardly been neglected in EFL/ESL courses (witness the huge number of conversation and other speaking course books in the market) though how best to approach the teaching of oral skills has long been the focus of methodological debate. Teachers and textbooks make use of a variety of approaches, ranging from direct approaches focusing on specific features of oral interaction (e.g. turn taking, topic management, questioning strategies) to indirect approaches which create conditions for oral interaction through group work, task work and other strategies (Richards, 1990:67).
In designing speaking activities or instructional materials for second or foreign language teaching, it is also necessary to recognize the very different purposes for which our students need speaking skills.  
2.      Functions of Speaking
Numerous attempts have been made to classify the functions of speaking in human interaction. Brown and Yule (1983) made a useful distinction between the interactional functions of speaking (in which it serves to establish and maintain social relations), and the transactional functions (which focus on the exchange of information). In workshops with teachers and in designing my own materials I use an expanded three- part version of Brown an Yule’s framework (after Jones 1996 and Burns 1998): talk as interaction: talk as transaction: talk as performance. Each of these speech activities are quite distinct in terms of form and function and require different teaching approaches.
a.      Talk as Interaction
This refers to what we normally mean by “conversation” and describes interaction which serves a primarily social function. When people meet, they exchange greetings, engage in small talk and chit chat, recount recent experiences and so on because they wish to be friendly and to establish a comfortable zone of interaction with others. The focus is more on the speakers and how they wish to present themselves to each than on the message.
Some of the skills involved in using talk as interaction are:
1)     Opening and closing conversations
2)      Choosing topics
3)      Making small talk
4)      Recounting personal incidents and experiences
5)      Turn-Taking
6)      Using adjacency-pairs
7)      Interrupting
8)      Reacting to others
b.      Talk as Transaction
This type of talk refers to situations where the focus is on what is said or done. The message is the central focus here and making oneself understood clearly and accurately, rather than the participants and how they interact socially with each other.
In interactions talk is associated with other activities. For example, students may be engaged in hand-on activities (e.g. in a science lesson) to explore concepts associated with floating and sinking. In this type of spoken language students and teachers usually focus on meaning or on talking their way to understanding. Jones (1996:14).
Some of the skills involved in using for transactions are:
1)     Explaining a need or intention
2)     Describing something
3)     Asking questioning
4)     Confirming in information
5)     Justifying an opinion
6)     Making suggestions
7)     Clarifying understanding
8)     Making comparisons
9)     Agreeing and disagreeing
c.      Talk as Performance
The third type of talk which can usefully be distinguished has been called talk as performance. This refers to public talk, that is talk which transmits information before an audience such as morning talks, public announcements, and speeches.
 Some of the skills involved in using for performance are:
1)     Using an appropriate format
2)     Presenting information an appropriate sequence
3)     Maintaining audience engagement
4)     Using correct pronunciation and grammar
5)     Creating an effect on the audience
6)     Using appropriate vocabulary
7)     Using appropriate opening and closing

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