Speaking is an essential skill when learning a language. Students enjoy speaking classes especially if they are given the opportunity to express themselves. Getting students to speak during the class is a big challenge though. They are so enthusiastic to speak up, but the moment you ask them to do so, they end up being hesitant. Of course, the usual textbook and lecture method don’t work in a fun speaking class. The students must be given as much opportunity as possible to speak and interact with one another. As the class facilitator, it is your responsibility to encourage them to speak by providing them with activities that will make them more engaged in the class.
Why Do They Hesitate Speaking?
There are a lot of reasons why students are afraid to speak up. If you are handling a beginner class, it is most likely because they are not yet that confident to say anything using the desired language. Other students might also have hesitations especially if you ask them to share their personal feelings or experiences. If it is just the beginning of the class, you can’t expect them to be comfortable talking about anything. Most of all, these students are afraid to commit mistakes. There are a lot of components in speaking including correct grammar usage, proper pronunciation and good choice of words. If they are not sure yet about what they are to say, they will prefer to just keep quiet.
What Should be Done to Let Students Speak?
During the first day of the class, present yourself as a fun and cool teacher. You are handling a fun speaking class, so they have to feel the vibe starting from you. It is easier for them to open up when they are comfortable with the teacher. In giving instructions, try not to speak too fast. Some students might not understand what you are saying. If possible, repeat the instructions once and ask if they have fully understood what you said. It is also important to remind them right from the start that it is fine to commit mistakes as long as they are willing to learn. They also have to be reminded that there is no right or wrong answers. As long as they give it a shot, it is good enough. Most of all, when you are start to let them speak, try to be encouraging. Praise students who have done a great job and provide assistance to those who are having a hard time.
Suggested Fun Speaking Activities
• Round table discussion. This strategy requires the students to be in one circular table. If there is no table, just ask them to form a huge circle using their chairs. Present a situation or a social issue that you picked from papers placed in a bowl. Ask each student to give their opinion or comment on the given issue. They can also raise questions if they want. The next issue will only be given once everyone in the round table has spoken.
• Draw and tell. Ask the students to draw anything related to the topic given and write a few words describing their drawing on the lines provided on the paper. The topic can be about their dream house, favorite vacation place, happiest moment or anything in which they can say something about. After the given time, each student should show their drawing and say something about it.
• Describe the photo. This is very simple. Prepare a pile of photos (controversial people, animals, beautiful places, etc). Show the photo to each student and they have to say the first sentence that comes into their mind upon seeing the photo. Each student is presented a different photo and this can be repeated until all photos are done.
It is indeed a huge challenge to make the speaking class fun and exciting. However, with the right strategies, it can be done.