Teaching English speaking at the beginning stage

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Иностранные языки и языкознание


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Teaching English speaking at the beginning stage


Every year in many parts of the world a considerable number of persons find themselves called upon to teach English to those whose mother tongue is not English. Their pupils may be children or adults; and range from those who already have some knowledge of English either in its spoken or written form to those who know not a single word of the language.

The mother tongue of those who are about to engage in such teaching is usually English, but to some of them English is a foreign language in which they may or may not be proficient. But in either case they find themselves taking on a job which is unfamiliar to them. They have rarely been specially trained to teach English as a living language and as a means of immediate communication.

If their pupils already have some knowledge of English, the teacher more often than not has recourse to a reading book, and causes his pupils to read — with or without the process of translation. Or, if a command of the spoken language is the objective, they content themselves with carrying on «conversation» with their pupils. In the latter case such teachers find themselves at a loss. The various techniques of teaching through conversation are usually unknown to them and, like the veterans who came into this field before them, they pick up the devices of oral teaching by dint of the process of trial and error.

Our researching work is written to show that there are a lot of different ways of teaching speaking to children and adults on the beginning stage. There are The Oral Direct Method, Communicative Approach, Penny Ur’s Methods, Topic Approach and others.

Also we consider our task to show how these methods work, so there are examples, which are in the practical part of the work.

Our work consists of different tips, which can help teachers to work with children and adults. Psychological peculiarities of children and adults are describing in this work.

The object of the work is teaching English speaking.

The subject of the work is researching the theme at the beginning stage.

The purpose of the researching is to study different methods of teaching English speaking at the beginning stage.

The tasks are:

— to study what is the speaking itself;

— to study psychological peculiarities of children and adults;

— to examine different techniques of teaching speaking;

— to reveal how to deal with mistakes in oral speech.

It is a well-known fact that when two persons, ignorant of each other’s language, find themselves in daily contact, with the necessity of communication by speech, either will soon become able to use the language of the other with sufficient proficiency for the purpose in view. We consider that the theme of the project is the one of the main themes of teaching English speaking because it is very important to teach oral English at the very beginning of the lessons to continue studying without difficult problems.

1. Teaching speaking

1. 1 What should a teacher know about children

1.1. 1 Principles of learning and language learning

1. The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget (13) and his colleagues have demonstrated that children in primary or elementary school are usually in the concrete operational stage of cognitive development. This means that they learn through hands-on experiences and through manipulation of objects in the environment. Children in primary or elementary-school settings generally learn by doing. If this principle were extended to the English teaching setting, it would mean that children in language classes need to be active than passive; they need to be engaged in activities of which language is a part; they need to be working on meaningful tasks and use language o accomplish those tasks. So when the teacher wants to teach children how to speak he should not only show them how to do it but give them tasks and practical exercises.

2. This principle, which comes from the work of the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky (15), suggests that children need not only hands-on or direct experiences, but also experiences where they are interacting with and learning from others, both adults and other children. In terms of language classes, an implication would be that children need to use the new language with each other and with the teacher. Another implication would be that the teacher, as the one who knows more English that the children, needs to interact with the children in English, using the language that is related directly to activities in which children are engaged. So when teacher wants his children to speak he should use not only method of asking questions, but such methods of group work or work in pairs to teach them how to speak to each other in informal situations.

3. Language acquisition occurs through learners figuring out how the language works, through learners making and testing out hypotheses about the language. Language acquisition involves the cognitive work of creative construction of the rules of the language (7). So teacher should not be afraid of children’s mistakes, when they speak and experiment with the new language, it is a natural and inevitable part of language learning.

4. Language acquisition occurs through social interaction, through having to use the language with others in authentic communication settings. Language develops as speakers try out the language they are figuring out in situations with others, and as others respond to their efforts. Interlocutors work together both to be understood and to understand each other. So one of the methods of teaching speaking is to give children tasks to speak to each other more then to speak to teacher.

These principles suggest a communicative approach to language teaching, which focuses on involving pairs and small groups of learners in authentic communicative situations and in problem-solving and information-gap activities. They suggest an approach in which the teacher uses English both to introduce and oversee the activities and to talk with children as they work together. So these principles help teacher, who wants his children to speak English, to be focused on the communicative approach in teaching. (1)



Pic. 1. Principles of learning and language learning

1.1. 2 How a teacher can develop the Communicative Competence

Primary class teachers are only too aware of their responsibility in this area of foreign language acquisition and are anxious at all times that their pronunciation, intonation and rhythm are accurate, if only to ensure that the results of their teaching programs are validated and approved of by their secondary modern language specialist colleagues. Speaking is demanding of teacher and pupil alike. For the child it means discriminating between different speech sounds and being able to produce them correctly, building up new pronunciation habits and overcoming the bias of the first language, feeling the different stress patterns in the new language, having the confidence to hear themselves express their personality in a «foreign» medium, being content to inhabit a new persona. In their own language they can express emotions, communicate intentions and reactions, explore the language and have fun with it. If teachers succeed in creating the right ethos and atmosphere, this is what the child will reasonably expect to be able to do in the foreign language as well. However, these expectations can be fulfilled (or thwarted) by the teacher. Constancy of practice, a non-judge mental response to «errors», and an acceptance of the child’s use of the mother tongue will contribute to a more creative, less circumscribed use of the foreign language.

In the foreign language, as in the mother tongue, the child will speak spontaneously only when they perceive the need, what Margaret Donaldson calls the «intention to-say-so-and-so». Teachers can teach formulaic expressions and these will make up a substantial portion of the child’s repertoire contributing to their growing sense of achievement. Indeed, their skilful use seems to contribute greatly to communicative success. After all, nothing succeeds like success! These are the child’s «data» which they use to analyze how language works. But how can we help the child go beyond these formulaic, short utterances? How can we scaffold the child’s attempts to communicate verbally in the foreign language?

Implications for the teacher

Paradoxically children often assume that there is something unique, other, unconnected to anything else, about learning a foreign language. Teachers remind them of the basic and essential functions of language and that not all communication need be verbal. Non-verbal cues include:

— intonation,

— facial expressions,

— gesture,

— reaction to other’s speech.

The sensitive teacher will alert the children to a common feature in speech: we identify a setting, we pause, and then we focus. The need to communicate is occasioned by children’s excitement, by their determination to transmit a piece of information to someone for whom they feel affection. The major problem confronting teachers is that of identifying «needful» situations for their pupils.

There is a natural tension, of course, between the authentic one-word answer in response to questions such as what’s your name? How are you? Do you like??? And the fuller utterances which teachers might wish to encourage. But these fuller utterances, often involving the use of finite sentences, can develop and simultaneously demonstrate the child’s growing communicative competence. Teachers all know that to use a language creatively they must be able to operate a system of underlying rules; otherwise they would remain at the level of the phrase book. In order to make a foreign language really work for learners, teachers have to go beyond lists of vocabulary (nouns, adjectives, etc.) or lists of structures of functions. Teachers have to teach the language as dynamic system, one that enables the learner to create language rather than reproduce it and provide a learning context which is congenial to risk-taking, uncertainly, problematic situations and a real sense of purpose.

To produce appropriate language effectively, it is necessary to have a certain level of competence in a number of aspects of language use. The Canadian researcher Canale identified four components of communicative competence (pic. 2):

1. Grammatical competence: knowledge of vocabulary, of sound and of grammar;

2. Sociolinguistic competence: knowledge of how to use the language appropriately in different types of context, for example, deciding whether the situation dictates a formal/casual response, complaining politely, refusing, etc. ;

3. Discourse competence: knowing how to begin, develop and close a conversation, how to change the subject, how to take turns, how to intervene, etc. ;

4. Strategic/pragmatic competence: knowing how to cope when communication breaks down, asking for clarification, making up words in the foreign language, avoidance tactics, etc.



Pic. 2. Four components of communicative competence

Competence in these «higher» levels of language will be attained only if the child has opportunity to hear and use language in situations where these competences (pic. 4) are authentically required.

Just as with the mother tongue, a foreign language is acquired through a developmental process that focuses first on language use through meaningful communicative activities, combined with steps along the way that sometimes involve focus on language form with conscious self-editing and refinement of the rules of the language.

What is needed is a consciousness-raising of the rules, a focus on the components of the utterance so that the child can more control of their speech. This is not to advocate a return to dry grammar/parsing lessons. It is, rather, helping the child monitor the correctness and/or appropriateness of their utterances, helping them focus on accuracy as well as fluency, on social, discourse and pragmatic features of language use. But this seems far away perhaps from the initial stages of developing speaking in the foreign language. How do we start? By considering the functions of communication through a range of stress-free and fun activities and by moving on to structured opportunities for the child to explore and enjoy this new language.

There is infinite range of activities — the context, which the teacher, or the teacher and pupils jointly set up, will determine the activity — which will encourage learners to engage emotionally and physically in the language learning process and which will develop techniques to build up a powerful visual and auditory memory and will make them fell able to risk making mistakes. Language is associated with sound, music, movement, colour, drama and thereby impregnated with meaning. There are memory games, songs, rhymes, poems, stories which they will hear and want to adapt, make their own. There will be opportunities for dramatization which will exploit the child’s sense of theatre and appreciation of audience, their awareness of register.

In the context of foreign language learning the class teacher can do mach to promote the above, in simple ways which are consonant with the ways the child will be learning in other areas of the primary curriculum. For example, if we consider length of utterance, the introduction of connectors (and, but, which) and modifiers (rather, enough) can be introduced at an early stage in the process during the daily routine slot where the children are talking about the weather. For example:

The weather is fine today.

The weather is fine, but it is rather cold.

Not only does the child have the satisfaction of hearing themselves say «more», but they can also be encouraged to reflect on the change in the intonation pattern occasioned by the introduction of the connectors and modifiers. A pattern can then be established in the child’s mind. Equally, there is an expectation set up in their mind that they should be willing to expand on utterances, giving opinions, agreeing, disagreeing — all features of natural conversation in the mother tongue. (3)

Teachers need also to engage the child’s activity in the foreign language within the parameters of their current competence but always with an eye to expecting more and celebrating more. Where breakdowns in communication occur, as they will inevitably, then the sensitive teacher allows the child to revert to the mother tongue and will translate for the child, thereby setting up a paradigm of foreign language learning which is again consonant with the ways in which the primary class teacher operates in other areas of the curriculum — namely, providing «knowledge» on a need-to know basis, personalizing the input according to the interests, needs and learning styles of each child. There is an example that is given in practical part, showing how an activity can (a) be connected to an area of the primary curriculum (Math's); (b) allow the children to move gradually from stress-free listening structured speaking to more open-ended speaking; and © encourage the children to develop learning strategies. It’s named Shapes.

1.1. 3 What a teacher should use in his work

At first a teacher should know what a child learn by. There are some points. Children learn by:

· Having more opportunities to be exposed to the second language

· Making associations between words, languages, or sentence patterns and putting things into clear, relatable contexts

· Using all their senses and getting fully involved; by observing and copying, doing things, watching and listening

· Exploring, experimenting, making mistakes and checking their understanding

· Repetition and feeling a sense of confidence when they have established routines

· Being motivated, particularly when their peers are also speaking/learning other languages

Children have three main and important sources of interest in the classroom. They are pictures, stories and games: the first being obviously mainly a visual stimulates the second both visual and aural; and the third using both visual and aural channels as well as activating language production and sometimes physical movement (pic. 3).



Pic. 3. Three very important sources of interest for children

There is an importance of these sources:


Lack of aural stimulus is relatively easy to tolerate: even young learners will work for a while in silence without searching for something to listen to. This, however, is not true of the visual, which is a very dominant channel of input: so much so, that if young learners are not supplied with something to look at that is relevant to the learning task in hand they will find and probably be distracted by something that is not.

The most obvious type of visual material for children is the picture: and the more clearly visible, striking and colourful the better. On the whole, professionally drawn pictures or photographs are used: those in the textbook, or coloured posters, or pictures cut from magazines. But there is also a place for the teacher’s own quick sketches on the board (however unprofessional and untidy!); and of course for the children’s own drawing.


Young children love having stories told to them (even adults continue to enjoy it!); and older ones begin to read for themselves. Moreover stories — in contrast to pictures or even games — are pure language: telling a story in the foreign language is one of the simplest and richest sources of foreign language input for younger learners.

The most effective combination in teaching is pictures and stories together: and the success of use of picture-books with young learners has been attested by many.


Games are essentially recreational 'time out* activities whose main purpose is enjoyment; language study is serious goal-oriented work, whose main purpose is personal learning. Once you call a language-learning activity a 'game' you convey the message that it is just fun, not to be taken too seriously: a message I consider anti-educational and potentially demoralizing. Very occasionally we do play real games in the classroom, (at the end of a course, for example, or as a break from concentrated work); but to call something a game when our goal is in fact serious learning may harm the learning — and/or, indeed, spoil the 'game'! — as well as being dishonest.

There are some more sources of interest for children: physical movement (dancing, gymnastics, aerobics); drama (mime, role play, putting on plays); projects (exploring a topic and making booklets or displays on it); doing decorative writing or other graphic design.

Two further dangers are: first, the tendency of some teachers to call activities 'games' for the sake of raising initial motivation, when they are not in fact games at all ('Let's play a game: I’ll give you a word, you tell me how it is spelt!'); second, the danger that the obvious activity and enjoyment caused by a game may obscure the fact that its contribution to learning is minimal.

However, another definition of 'games' ignores the implication of non-serious recreation and concentrates rather on their quality as organized action that is rule-governed, involves striving towards a clear goal through performance of a challenging task, and provides participants and/or onlookers with a feeling of pleasurable tension. Children in general learn well when they are active; and when action is channeled into an enjoyable game they are often willing to invest considerable time and effort in playing it. If we design our games in such a way that they are productive of language learning they become an excellent, even essential, part of a programme of children’s learning activities.

So as you can see the most important thing in teaching children is to include game-like activities, especially while teaching speaking. There are some games in the practical part of the work (20).

1.1. 4 What a teacher should account in his work


Instead of talking about a fictional picture in a course book, children are creating their own meanings. We all like to talk about ourselves and our lives. This makes the lesson transcend the level of 'practice phase' and move into the realms of 'real communication. '

The children will relate to the teenage problem, as it’s likely to be one that they or their friends have had. It allows them to deal with personal issues in a safe context, as they’re talking about someone else.

Creating the need to communicate

The activities should involve an element of information gap and demand that the children interact in order to complete the tasks. In the first lesson, which is describing in the practical part, children have to communicate because they can’t see each other’s drawing, the only way to get the information is to speak. The ordering exercise in the second lesson also helps them to focus. If the children are engaged, they are striving or 'pushing' to communicate. Any potential frustration when they find the 'gaps' in their language skills is offset by the intrinsically interesting and engaging nature of the tasks.

Quality of teacher feedback

As always, it’s essential to give feedback on content as well as language. Otherwise, the message we’re giving to our children is that only the language element is important.

What will you do about correction of the 'form'? It’s unlikely that the children will get everything right first time. The teacher tries to select one element to correct immediately, for example pronunciation of 'schwa', and then decide to review at another time.

It’s important for elementary children to go beyond simple repetition and manipulation of form. They sometimes need to get away from mere 'language practice' and to strive to communicate meaningfully about topics which really concern them. This will inevitably mean mistakes, and sometimes frustration. Both these are part of language learning and shouldn’t be avoided. If as teachers we give good quality feedback on content as well as language, we will encourage the children to strive to create their own meanings through English (5).

1.1. 5 What the practical activities are

· Create an 'English Corner' by providing materials in English at class such as comics and books, cable TV and Internet (with parental guidance!)

· Play language-based games in English such as Scrabble and bingo, I-spy, 20 questions, Memory, Simon says etc.

· Use sticky labels or 'post-it' notes to label objects at class in English. For example, using a picture or a poster you can label table, chairs, refrigerator, etc.

· Collect music in English, get the lyrics from the Internet and sing along!

· Do craft activities in English. Make puppets and invent a little show in English. Make posters (about their favourite star, sport, etc.); make picture dictionaries with drawings and cut-outs.

· Take an 'English adventure outing'. Take children to a park vertually. Using English only they have to say what they see such as, «The children are riding their bikes», «The man is selling fruit», «There are some boats on the lake» and so on. Other locations where you can do this are: the supermarket, an office, a shopping centre.

· Make reading a habit

· Read to children in English. A short story or a few pages of a book daily creates a life-long habit.

· You do not have to buy the books, you can join a library or download text from the Internet.

· If you are concerned with your own pronunciation, there are plenty of materials on the Internet that have the text read to the viewer. Also, there are books that come with cassettes or CDs, so that children can read and listen at the same time. You could do this together.

learning language child adult

1.1. 6 How to motivate a child to learn a language

Young children are often eager, almost too eager. The problem arises when they are eager to do things other than what you’re trying to teach them. Here are six tips to keep them interested in class and motivated to do what you want them to do (pic. 4):

Tip 1: Keep yourself motivated.

Think back to when you were a child. If your teacher was not enthusiastic about what he or she had scheduled for class that day, how did you feel about it? It’s the same with young children today. If you, the teacher and often a role model for younger children, think this is a neat activity, then they will too!

Tip 2: Encourage.

Young kids thrive on praise and positive attention from the adults in their lives. If you want them to like you and be motivated in your class, you often just need to give them a lot of positive attention.

Tip 3: Play games

Children learn through play. Oftentimes they don’t even realize they are learning if they are enjoying the game. Just think children could sit there and fill out worksheet after worksheet or they could play an English game and learn the same concepts.

When you play games, you can use points and competition as a motivator, but not for kids under six who may find the competition too stressful. For them, just playing the game is motivating enough. You can also sometimes award extra credit, but use it sparingly so that it remains «extra» and a special reward. Also if you use it too much, children can have so much extra credit that it sways the actual grades too much.

Tip 4: Get their hands dirty

Literally and figuratively children like to work with their hands and whatever you can do to get the items they are learning about in their hands is useful and fun for them. This can be anything from having a sensory table filled with sand and beach items when you want to teach them summer words to having them each bring in a piece of fruit when you are teaching fruit words. Anytime you can get young children up and doing instead of listening (often passively) you are getting their hands dirty in the learning process.

Tip 5: Get them moving.

Movement is a vital component to motivating children. The best way to prevent children from zoning out is to get them up out of their seats at least once each class period. Even if you just require them to come up to you instead of you going to them for help, the movement can help get them out of the trance that they sometimes get from sitting in one spot too long. Grouping the children for study projects and activities helps as well. If you can, let them move the desks around or sit on the floor to change things up as well. Many games involve movement without the children needing to leave their seats, such as miming, moving certain body parts and passing things around as part of a game or race. Therefore even teachers with large classes and no space to move can use this technique, albeit to a more limited degree.

Tip 6: Vary the pace

Alternate calm games with lively ones to keep the children alert and motivated, but without letting the class get out of hand. Good discipline is essential to effective learning (18).



Pic. 4. Six tips to keep children interested in class and motivated to do the tasks

There are some more advices how not to get disheartened when you have to teach beginners

1. Simplify your language

Don’t be too fast. Be very slow so that they feel good about listening to you. Sometimes, you will to `act' to make them understand. Don’t feel shy to act. Use simple words.

2. Observe successful teachers

Some teachers are astounding in their approach and presentation. There is nothing wrong if you sit in their classes and observe how they handle the session. Let not your ego prevent you from learning good methodologies which can mould you as a teacher. Don’t let the ego tell you that you know `everything'.

All the teachers must realize that the rapport that you build with your students is the first step towards successful teaching. If there is an emotional gap between you and your pupils, the learning process will lack depth. Plan for your `first day' class creatively. As you know, the first impression is always the best impression.

3. Use of dictionary

If a language teaching session is to be effective, the learners must be encouraged to use dictionaries. As children search for words, they learn a lot of words. Language sessions must be full of activities. They must be student centered. Many a time the teacher plays passive role. If your session is dominated by your voice, then reconsider the strategy. English classes must be boisterous but under the control of the teacher.

4. Say `no' to traditional question papers

Don’t be a victim of traditional question papers that are full of `fill in' exercises. Question papers must be appealing to the students. Don’t just focus on grammar. Add passages that will require the use of dictionary (19).

Beginners' question papers must have crosswords, scrambled words, pictures (family tree, emotions), and dictionary pages for exploration. Add anything that will arouse curiosity in the learners (Pic. 5).



Pic. 5. Working with children

1. 2 Teaching children versus teaching adults

The first key thing that all children’s teachers should remember is that the teaching of children and the teaching of adults, both in technique and attitude, are entirely different propositions.

First of all, since all teachers are adults themselves, it is in the world of the adult they tend to teach while it is in the world of the child that the youngsters are learning. Moreover, the last time the teachers were in classrooms as children themselves was in college. And this is important to remember, because it is the feature of teachers to teach as they have been taught. Since young children are so different from teenagers and adults in developmental terms, to take the same approach to the teaching of such dissimilar learning groups would be and is a huge mistake.

Even teachers who are experienced and have strong theoretical background can forget or be blinded to some of the most basic tenets of the classroom when teaching children, because the ideal learning environment for the child is not what it is for the adult. Veteran teachers might have a tendency to elevate a method or lesson plan to primacy, but in doing so have a hard time actually communicating with young chargers.

So as we can see, that when we want to teach children to speak English we should think at first about their interests, their inner world, which is too different from inner world of adults. Also as we know that children love everything new, colourful, bright, they are fond of different games, toys and etc. we should use such things in our teaching methods to motivate children, make the lessons for them more real. If it is interesting for a child he will take part in a lesson and will speak.

1.2. 1 Differences between children and adults in language learning

1. Young children learn languages better

This is a commonly held view, based on many people’s experience seeing (or being) children transplanted to a foreign environment and picking up the local language with apparent ease. The obvious conclusion from this experience would seem to be that children are intrinsically better learners; but this has not been confirmed by research. On the contrary: given the same amount of exposure to a foreign language, there is some evidence that the older the child the more effectively he or she learns; probably teenagers are overall the best learners. (The only apparent exception to this is pronunciation, which is learned more easily by younger children.) The reason for children’s apparently speedy learning when immersed in the foreign environment may be the sheer amount of time they are usually exposed to the language, the number of 'teachers' surrounding them, and the dependence on (foreign-language-speaking) people around to supply their needs ('survival' motive).

The truth of the assumption that young children learn better is even more dubious if applied to formal classroom learning: here there is only one teacher to a number of children, exposure time is very limited, and the 'survival' motive does not usually apply. Moreover, young children have not as yet developed the cognitive skills and self-discipline that enable them to make the most of limited teacher-mediated information; they rely more on intuitive acquisition, which in its turn relies on a larger volume of comprehensible input than there is time for in lessons.

2. Foreign language learning in school should start early

Some people have argued for the existence of a 'critical period' in language learning: if you get too old and pass this period you will have significantly more difficulty learning; thus early learning in schools would seem essential. But this theory is not conclusively supported by research evidence: there may not be a critical period at all; or there may be several. The research-supported hypothesis discussed above — that children may actually become more effective language learners as they get older, particularly in formal teacher-mediated learning situations — means that the investment of lesson time at an early age may not be cost-effective. In other words, if you have a limited number of hours to give to foreign language teaching in school, it will probably be more rewarding in terms of sheer amount of learning to invest these in the older classes.

It is also true that an early start to language learning is likely to lead to better long-term results if early learning is maintained and reinforced as the child gets older.

3. Children and adults learn languages the same way

In an immersion situation, where people are acquiring language intuitively for daily survival, this may to some extent be true. In the context of formal courses, however, differences become apparent. Adults' capacity for understanding and logical thought is greater, and they are likely to have developed a number of learning skills and strategies which children do not yet have. Moreover, adult classes tend on the whole to be more disciplined and cooperative — as anyone who has moved from teaching children to teaching adults, or vice versa, will have found. This may be partly because people learn as they get older to be patient and put up with temporary frustrations in the hope of long-term rewards, to cooperate with others for joint profit, and various other benefits of self-restraint and disciplined cooperation. Another reason is that most adults are learning voluntarily, have chosen the course themselves, often have a clear purpose in learning (work, travel, etc.) and are therefore likely to feel more committed and motivated; whereas most children have little choice in where: how or even whether they are taught.

4. Adults have a longer concentration span

Teachers commonly notice that they cannot get children to concentrate on certain learning activities as long as they can get adults to do so. However, the problem is not the concentration span itself — children will spend hours absorbed in activities that really interest them — but rather the ability of the individual to persevere with something of no immediate intrinsic interest to them. Here older learners do exhibit noticeable superiority, because they tend to be more self-disciplined. One implication for teaching is the need to devote a… of thought to the (intrinsic) interest value of learning activities for younger learners.

5. It is easier to motivate children

In a sense, this is true: you can raise children’s motivation and enthusiasm (by selecting interesting activities, for example) more easily than that of older, self-reliant and sometimes cynical learners. On the other hand, you can ask it more easily: monotonous, apparently pointless activities quickly bore and demotivate young learners; older ones are more tolerant of them. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that younger learners' motivation is more likely to vary and is more susceptible to immediate surrounding influences, including the teacher; that of older learners tends to be more stable.

Authority — subjects to authority

Even in an adult class, the teacher’s status as an authority is usually maintained This, however, is based more on the teacher’s being 'an authority on…' (the language and how to learn it) than on their being a legally appointed superior: a distinction expressed in the French terms enseignant and professeur respectively. In any case, there is a certain deference on the part of the learners: the teacher is expected to give instructions, the learners are expected to respect and obey them. However, there is also the important factor of accountability: in return for conceding authority to the teacher in the classroom, adult learners demand ultimate returns in terms of their own benefit in learning outcomes.

Assessor — assessed

The moment one person is placed in the position of having the right to criticize the performance of another, the relationship becomes asymmetrical, dominance being attributed to the assessor. Even if someone else actually checks a final exam and passes or fails course participants, the teacher will be seen as assessor in the daily classroom process; and this contributes to their role as authority, already discussed above. In this aspect, there is little difference between young and adult classes.

Transmitter — receivers

This relationship can occur in adult classrooms just as it can in others; it is a function of the methodology the teacher has chosen to employ rather than of the age of the learner. Because of the less formal authority of the teacher with most adult classes (as described in the paragraph 'Authority — subjects to authority' above), adults are perhaps in a better position to assert their right to question, criticize and generally participate actively; on the other hand, they do tend to be more disciplined and conform more to teacher demands than younger learners. The two factors probably offset one another, and it is difficult to draw any firm conclusions about the 'typical' adult class in this respect.

Motivator — motivated

As a generalization, adults take responsibility in society: for their own actions and for their consequences. In the classroom also, adults take more responsibility for the learning process, and rely less on the teacher’s initiative in making activities attractive or providing incentives. They are also usually more motivated in the first place (partly because most of them are learning voluntarily, while most children are given no choice!), and this motivation tends to be relatively stable: it does not, for example, rise fall so much in immediate response to more interesting or more boring teaching.

Thus although the raising and maintaining of learner motivation is an essential and basic component of teaching activity with all age groups, it usually demands perhaps less investment of effort and time on the part of teachers working with adults.

Activator — activated

As with 'transmitter — receivers' this is a relationship that depends more on the teacher’s chosen methodology than on the age of the learners, and can be true for any class.


This relationship entails a view of the teacher as an accepting, supportive professional, whose function is to supply the expressed needs of the learner rather than to impose a predetermined programme. It involves a perceptible shift of responsibility and initiative in the classroom process from the teacher and the learners themselves. It is a typically adult relationship, and is unlikely to occur in classes of children; even in adult classes it is rare to find it consistently used: perhaps only where the methodology known as Community Language Learning is used. But occasional exchanges and some general 'fee' of the counsellor-client relationship may enrich the interaction in many otherwise conventional adult classes.


This is an essentially business relationship: the teacher has a commodity — knowledge of the language — which the learner is willing to pay money to acquire. The implication is a relative lowering of the prestige of the teacher, and greater rights of the learner to demand appropriate results (value for money), and even to dismiss the teacher if the results are not forthcoming. This relationship may underlie quite a high proportion of adult learning situations, and the juxtaposition of the traditional authoritative role of the teacher with their role as employee or seller may be an uneasy one.

Resource — users

Here the implication is that the teacher is a mere source of knowledge to be tapped by learners, and is virtually passive in classroom interaction: it is the learner who tells the teacher what to do. Total and consistent implementation such a teaching-learning relationship is difficult to envisage, but many adult J classes may implement it partially, particularly where the students are experienced learners who know what they want and how to get it, and/or where the teacher knows the language but has no knowledge or experience of how to teach it.

1. 3 What to do with the mistakes

For children and adults, who learn English from the very beginning, making mistakes is part of the natural process of learning.

The first step towards deciding how to respond to mistakes is identifying them. Even for the most attentive listener, this is not always as easy as it sounds, sometimes because of the lack of a clear criterion of correctness, but sometimes also because a correct form may be incorrect in context.

Options for responding to mistakes include (21; 7):

* do nothing;

* store it away for later;

* correct it now.

Repeating, encouraging, praising and building confidence are what is needed to help a child to overcome mistakes. Avoid overtly correcting your child or you might discourage them. Tim and Marks offer to do these steps:

· Not interrupting but waiting for the end of what the speaker is saying if it’s something short, or a suitable pause if it’s longer.

· Interpreting the intention and the nature of the incorrectness. Asking for clarification may be the only way of finding out in some cases; in other cases the intention will become clear from the broader context.

· Indicating that there’s a mistake. Teachers often have non-verbal signals for this. Sometimes it’s important to acknowledge the general correctness, or factual validity, of what the learner has said before focusing on the mistake, so as to avoid giving the message that everything the speaker said was wrong.

· Indicating where the mistake is, if it can be localized. Some teachers count off the words of an utterance on their fingers, and stop at the one where the mistake is. Others repeat the utterance up to the mistake, perhaps including the mistake in a questioning tone of voice.

· Giving a model of the correct version.

· Telling the learner what to do, e.g. Change the tense, Make it less formal.

· Asking questions to check understanding of a structure or lead the speaker to use the correct one.

· Appealing to another learner, or to the whole class, for a correction. Sometimes it happens anyway.

· Giving an explanation of what’s wrong and why.

Other techniques that you can use are:

· Don’t correct, 'model' the correct form of the language. So if your child says «The boy wented home,» you can say, «Yes. The boy went home. What did he do then?»

· Encourage children to correct themselves, this will build confidence and deepen the learning process. Say «Almost right, try again…» or show the child where the mistake is but do not give them the answer.

· Some correction is okay but be careful not to over-correct. A page full of crossing out and corrections can be very demotivating, as is always being told, «Wrong! Do it again!»

· Particularly in speech it is much better to let the child develop their ideas and fluency than to keep interrupting with corrections. The ideas are more important than the grammar.

· Keep their age and level of English in mind. Give lots of praise and encouragement for every effort — they can’t know everything.

It is very important in speaking language. If a teacher interrupts a child regularly, because he makes mistakes, the child can stop speaking and can be afraid to speak at all. And an adult will feel ill at ease and humiliating, when a teacher always correct his mistakes, and interrupt him.

The aim of this chapter was to show the different attitudes to learning English from a child’s and an adult’s sides. In the next chapter there will be describing some methods of teaching English speaking to beginners.

2. Methods of teaching speaking

2. 1 The Direct Method

One of the important methods of teaching speaking is the Direct Method. To use this method, teacher should think of what the stages of learning are.

There are three stages of learning:

Receiving knowledge.

Fixing it in the memory by repetition.

Using the knowledge by real practice.

Thus, when the teacher says «This is a red book,» «This is my table,» the pupil is receiving knowledge. When the pupil on many occasions answers the questions: «What's this?» «What colour is it?' «Whose table is this?» he is fixing the knowledge in his memory. But when in the ordinary course of duty he is told to «Bring me the red book on my table,» and brings it, he is using the knowledge.

Now the giving and fixing of knowledge is the work of the teacher in the ordinary course of the lessons. The using of the knowledge as a rule takes place not in the course of the lessons but in the ordinary course of the day’s work.

So the teacher’s first and chief business is to give knowledge and fix it in the pupil’s memory. He therefore

Makes statements (e.g. gives knowledge).

Asks questions (e.g. fixes knowledge by practice).

A learner obviously cannot give what he has not previously received. If you point to an object and say «What's that?» the learner who has not previously been told what the object is will be unable to answer.

These may be questions beginning with what, who, where, which, how many, or questions beginning with is this, are you, do you, have you, etc.

Sooner or later however you must come to use the equally natural indirect questioning. For instance instead of saying to someone, «What is that?» we often say, «Tell me what that is?» or I want to know what that is." Or instead of saying «Is this the right way?» we often say, «Tell me whether this is the right way» or «Can you tell me whether this is the right way?» or «I want to know whether this is the right way»

Again we rarely use such forms as «Say to him, 'What is that?'» or Say this to him, 'Where are you going?'" We prefer the shorter and more natural forms: «Ask him what that is» or «Ask him where he is going. «

So quite early in the course of lessons the teacher should sometimes replace direct by indirect questions. The following are samples of direct questions and some of the indirect questions corresponding to them.

Direct Questions Indirect Questions

What’s this? Tell me

Who’s that? Please (Just, Now) tell me

Which one’s that? I want to know

What’s it like? I want you to tell me

What are you doing? Can you tell me

Where’s he going? Do you think you can tell me

How many are there? where he’s going.

Is this a stone? how many there are.

Are they ready? what this is

Is he here?

Can you do it?

Does he often come here?

Did you see him?

Another very good way to use indirect questions is for the teacher to tell one of the pupils to ask questions of other pupils. This makes a useful and lively form of drill-work. For instance:

Teacher (to X). X, ask Y what this is.

X (to Y). Y, what is this?

(to X). It’s a stone (button, etc.).

Teacher (to X). X, ask Y where his belt is.

X (to Y). Y, where’s your belt?

(to X). It’s here.

Teacher (to X). X, ask Y how many trees he can see?

X (to Y). Y, how many trees can you see?

Y (to X). I can see three.

I can’t see any.

The above answers may be repeated to the teacher by X;

X (to Teacher). Y says «This is a stone» (etc.), or Y says that this is a stone (etc.).

Similar to this teaching device is the one in which the teacher tells one of his pupils to tell another of the pupils something:

Teacher (to X). X, tell Y what this is.

X (to Y). Y, this is a piece of wood.

Teacher (to X). X, tell Y where I am.

X (to Y). Y, the teacher is there (pointing).

Teacher (to X). X, tell Y what Z is doing.

X (to Y). Y, Z is sitting down.

Or the device can be used for commands at secondhand:

Teacher (to X). X, tell Y to come to me.

X (to Y). Y, go to the teacher.

Teacher (to X) X, ask Y to give you a match.

X (to Y). Y, give me a match please. Thank you.

Teacher (to X). X, ask Y what he is doing.

X (to Y). Y, what are you doing?

Y (to X). I’m standing up.

While the devices explained above may be used at a very early stage, the teacher should of course use only words and forms that are familiar to his pupils. He should obviously not say to X «Ask Y to give you a match» before the lesson on giving things has been learnt. If the teacher says to X «Ask Y how many trees he can see» before the lessons that introduce how many or can or see, Y will not understand what the teacher is saying to him, far less be able to carry out the command. In other terms, each use of indirect questioning, telling or commanding must correspond to the actual lesson that is being given.

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