Communication in the Classroom and Potential Problems

Essay, 2017

11 Pages


Table of Contents

1. The importance of speaking skills
1.1 Different views on speaking
1.2 Listening comprehension in speaking
1.3 Comprehension strategies

2. Speaking and its difficulties
2.1 Affective Factors
2.2 Cognitive Factors
2.3 Linguistic factors
2.4 Teaching Strategies

3. Development of speaking skills
3.1 Production and Interaction
3.2 Formulaic language chunks
3.3 Different types of speaking performances
3.4 Role of the teachers
3.5 Accuracy and Fluency
3.6 Methodology
3.7 Practical in-class activities
3.8 Technology in teaching speaking


1. The importance of speaking skills

A significant emphasis is placed on improving speaking skills these days. This is because, being fluent in English has become a must for these who want to become successful, regardless the position; profession or field of study. Fluency in English is considered a feature which can definitely influence on better career prospects in the future. Thus, it seems to be really important so as not to neglect oral production in the classroom setting. In the past, there was little emphasis on oral communication, even in case of giving instructions. It was thought that speaking was on a par with writing, hence the skills from writing could be transferred and verbalised (Hosni, 2014:22).

1.1 Different views on speaking

As Ur (1996:120) claims, speaking skill is the most important among many others in ELT. These who know a language are the speakers of this language. It may be said that speaking embraces other skills and aspects such as active listening and use of the active vocabulary bank. For example, Leong and Ahmadi (2017:35) mention that speaking encompasses the usage of ‘vocabulary, grammar, comprehension and fluency’. Moreover, there is a similar view on the importance of speaking presented by Leong and Ahmadi (2017:34) who claim that the success in language learning is determined by learners on the grounds of how well they are able to speak. The quite opposing view is presented by Derakhshan, et al. (2016:177), who claim that among the all English skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing; speaking, in terms of importance is the second. According to Harmer (2007:123) speaking is an unprecedented rehearsal opportunity both for language chunks, vocabulary and pronunciation. The more linguistic items learners gather in their brains the more active they can become through a variety of speaking activities. What is more, speaking provides a number of opportunities with regard to repetitions which as Leong and Ahmadi (2017:35), claim are essential in internalising the language. If a good, aurally interesting input is provided for learners, they are even more eager to imitate it. Furthermore, most of the learners are primarily interested in having conversation with each other which makes them experience the language in a more realistic setting.

1.2 Listening comprehension in speaking

As Gilakjani and Sabouri (2016:123) put it, listening plays an important role in the communication process. It is defined as the process of understanding speech which encompasses many items and phenomena such as phonemes, words, grammar and familiarity with the content. Listening skills are more passive than speaking skills, however, they are necessary for understanding an input, which consequently is to be transformed for an output in speaking. As Leong and Ahmadi (2017:34) claim ‘human communication is a complex process’. It seems to be difficult because there are two simultaneous processes involved; being able to understand speech and produce it. Listening and speaking skills should be taught, it appears that they do not constitute a crucial part of many books and consequently, these skills become neglected (Gilakjani and Sabouri, 2016:123). The same view is presented by Leong and Ahmadi (2017:34) who stress that there are not many tests which asses speaking skills. What is more, a focus on grammar frequently takes precedence over speaking.

1.3 Comprehension strategies

There is a number of comprehension strategies presented by Gilakjani and Sabouri (2016:124) which may help learners to develop listening comprehension skills. These types of strategies are as follows: cognitive, metacognitive and socio-affective. Cognitive strategies help to approach a spoken text in two ways; bottom-up which is more labour-intensive and top-down. Bottom-up involves; translation, slowing down the pace, repetitions while top-down characterises by forecasting, guessing and visualisation. Metacognitive strategies seem to be even more important as they allow learners to create their own ways to deal with spoken texts, they reflect on their learning processes. Socio-affective strategies allow to check comprehension by cooperation with others, for example by working in pairs (Gilakjani and Sabouri, 2016:124-125). It is also worth mentioning that, it would be a good idea for learners to involve them in a lot of check-in-pairs stages. They would exchange some remarks or comments and also talk about possible answers, which would inevitably improve not only speaking but also cooperation skills.

2. Speaking and its difficulties

As Ur (1996:121) mentions, there are several factors that may make speaking development more difficult. The first is ‘inhibition’ which means that learners are afraid of mistakes, vocalising their utterances in an open forum or are simply shy using a foreign language together with friends. In other words, inhibition is defined as ‘a feeling of worry that stops people from telling or performing what they want’ (Cambridge A. L. Dictionary, 2008). They may also lack vocabulary as well as have simply nothing to say. Moreover, some may not be active because of other dominant learners who are more courageous in nature. The last but not least, is to overuse the mother tongue due to the reason of personal convenience while causing the negligence of the proper spoken practice in English.

2.1 Affective Factors

Problems in speaking may have an affective nature. As Derakhshan, et al. (2016:178) put it, speaking is a ‘high risking activity that creates anxiety and causes learners to worry about losing face’. Different type of problems in speaking may have a certain reference to factors such as motivation, self-confidence or anxiety. Some of these problems or in other words; inhibitions, may be even caused by conditions in the classroom i.e. certain demands imposed by the teacher. One of many may be a time pressure, planning or the amount of support. Poor understanding of spoken messages and being unfamiliar with the topical knowledge may also result in anxiety and lack of motivation. Moreover, too many corrections can be a big discouragement as well. Learners should be praised for their achievements rather than scolded for mistakes. It is for the better of their motivation level (Leong and Ahmadi, 2017:37).

Another important points with regard to motivation and personality of individual learners are made by Leong and Ahmadi (2017:38). It is important to keep a positive attitude to the language being learnt. Without a positive and friendly views on audio-lingual aspects of a language it may be difficult to acquire this language. Moreover, some personality traits such as risk-taking may enhance learning processes in speaking. On the other hand, there may be some learners not brave enough and silent just to protect their ego. Thus, problems which arise during the process of learning how to speak the language may have their roots even deeper than it seems.

2.2 Cognitive Factors

There are also three processes that occur while speaking. Conceptualization, formation and articulation. The first one, determines what particular information is chosen to express meaning. The second one, is the use of the proper words or intended information in appropriate grammatical structures. The last one, demands the speaker to produce an utterance. As Derakhshan, et al. (2016:181) further present, all of these three processes happen at the same time really fast. That may be the reason why speakers hesitate, are at a loss of vocabulary or make many grammatical mistakes. All problems in speaking may come from the lack of cognitive skills which are present while speaking. They should be improved slowly with time. Therefore, it is not possible to focus on everything. If there is too much stress on accuracy then fluency may be impaired and vice versa (Derakhshan, et al. 2016:181).

2.3 Linguistic factors

As Derakhshan, et al. (2016:181) claim, the vocabulary is particularly important. There are two vocabulary storages; receptive and productive. Listening activates receptive vocabulary bank whereas speaking requires the use of productive vocabulary bank. Learners often face the problem to put their receptive vocabulary into the productive use. Therefore, it seems to be useful in order to keep a lot of vocabulary items in a long-term memory. Moreover, being able to evoke and select appropriate words from memory also significantly develops cognitive skills in speaking.

Another point is made by Leong and Ahmadi (2017:34) who mentions the lack of practice related to speaking English, both in class and outside the class. There are no exams from speaking so it does not mobilise learners to focus enough on this particular skill. Moreover, pronunciation is seriously neglected and in order to speak English, it is useful to be aware of certain sounds and phonological rules. Basic but vital phonological elements such as stress and intonation should be integrated into lessons as they help learners to speak English more easily (Leong and Ahmadi, 2017:36). According to Derakhshan, et al. (2016:177), it is more difficult for adult learners because of ‘fossilization’ to speak well with good intonation, stress and rhythm. Thus, speaking of communication; children are considered to be better holistic learners.

2.4 Teaching Strategies

Some aspects presented by Hosni (2014:24) concern teaching strategies applied in the classroom. For example, vocabulary is often taught in isolation or without a proper sequence that is required. Listening materials are rarely used in the classroom and they are not followed by any speaking activities. Some tasks may include only simple true and false answers leaving no space for learners to interact with themselves. Thus, professional teaching styles and strategies may have a certain effect on the successful memorisation by the learners. It can, in turn, influence on more frequent responses and active use of language in class. As Leong and Ahmadi (2017:34) add, learners may not be inhibited but simply unfamiliar with the topic presented to them. It is really difficult for learners to say something in a foreign language having little general knowledge about the topic together with vocabulary and grammar which accompany it. Thus, teachers play a vital role in the development of speaking skills through conducted lessons. It may be also inferred that, the more speaking lessons there are, the more opportunities to become familiar with a variety of topics arise.


Excerpt out of 11 pages


Communication in the Classroom and Potential Problems
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Teaching Speaking, ELT Speaking, Improving speaking skills, Speaking in the classroom, Communication in the classroom, Interaction, Speech Production, Fluency vs Accuracy, English Language Teaching, ELT, ESL, How to Teach Speaking
Quote paper
Adam Kiela (Author), 2017, Communication in the Classroom and Potential Problems, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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