The question of how to develop your speaking skills efficiently is of particular interest for students as well as teachers. You may think that just speaking doesn’t help you improve your command of the language, or that there is no point in speaking “bad English” at all. But is it really so?
Jim Scrivener, the author of many books on English teaching methodology, claims that speaking experience is necessary for efficient communication in a foreign language environment. English classes are a perfect opportunity to gain this experience, as well as confidence, in a safe and familiar situation. This is the first reason why communicative activities are essential in learning a language.
The second reason is that correct language is not always necessary to achieve a communicative goal. For example, you can build a grammatically correct sentence but forget one important word, and your interlocutor won’t understand what you mean. Or you can train yourself so that words will come to your mind in a flash, and then even if you make a grammatical mistake, you will be understood and your goal will be achieved.
And thirdly, a student may know lexis, grammar and phonology well, but it is only practice that makes it possible to build skills of using them. Often students know their mistakes and can “wean themselves off” this. If you are learning to dance, to play basketball, or if you want to master a musical instrument, you need to practise by yourself to become confident, and the teacher’s control is not mandatory. The same principle goes for learning a language.
Nowadays the communicative approach is one of the most popular and effective ways to learn a language since it gives you an opportunity to model real-life communicative situations in class. Of course, just speaking is not enough to master a language, but it is quite possible that speaking practice contains the key to breaking the language barrier.
1. Harmer, J. The Practice of English Language Teaching. Essex, England: Longman, 2001.
2. Scrivener, J. Learning teaching: the essential guide to English language teaching. 3rd edition. Oxford: Macmillan Education, 2011.
Prepared by Anastasiia Kramar,
teacher of the English language department