Teaching Productive Speaking Skills with Hand Puppets

Term Paper, 2019

29 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of contents

1 Introduction

2 Productive Speaking Competence in Inclusive Settings
2.1 Specific Requirements on an Inclusive EFL Classroom
2.2 Speaking Competence in the Curriculum
2.3 Encouraging Productive Speaking Competence in the Inclusive EFL Classroom
2.3.1 Half-open Tasks
2.3.2 Beneficial Language Models
2.3.3 Meaningful Speaking Context
2.3.4 Preparing Spoken Interaction
2.3.5 A Positive Learning Atmosphere

3 Hand Puppetry in Primary School

4 Hand Puppets to Encourage the Productive Speaking Skills in the Inclusive Primary EFL Classroom
4.1 Providing Authenticity and Meaningfulness
4.2 Establishing an Atmosphere that Encourages Speaking
4.3. Evoking Emotional Involvement

5. Use of Hand Puppets in Primary School Books
5.1 Playwayl
5.2 Sunshine Early Start Edition

6 Conclusion

4 Bibliography


Internet Sources

List of figures

1 Introduction

In the last few years, teachers in German primary schools have put a clear focus on the listening and comprehension competences in English lessons. Whereas, less consideration has been given to the speaking skills (Sambanis 2008: 54). The empirical EVENING study, conducted in 2005 and 2006 in about 250 primary schools in North Rhine-Westphalia (third and fourth grade), even found a listening comprehension dominance of 90,6% in terms of communicative abilities and skills. The competences of spoken interaction and production, in contrast, cover a rate of 37,5% and 33,0% (Engel 2008: 35-37). When it comes to the productive speaking skills, it is noticeable that student lack linguistic means to express their speech intention appropriately. The availability of relevant functional language like verbs and adjectives is very limited (35-37). A further problem is pointed out by Becker (2014: 40) who emphasizes that the productive speaking skills of primary school children are not quarter as good developed as listening comprehension and reading competences. According to the expectations of competency, however, primary school students should be able to speak about themselves, about things from their direct surroundings and about a series of pictures using familiar sentences at the end of the second grade (MSB NRW 2008: 78). At the end of grade four the standards require to be able to express oneself with chunks and, in some extent, with independently formulated sentences (77). Despite these results, the TAPS study found that primary school learners want to speak English being proud to communicate in another language (Diehr & Frisch 2008: 54). As can be seen from these studies, the great potential of acquiring English productive speaking skills frequently remains untapped in English lessons in primary school.

What can teacher do to use the outlined learning potentials in terms of the productive speaking skills? Bottger (2014: 4) states that right from the beginning, young learners should be familiarised with comprehension and speaking in meaningful and authentic contexts. Enhancing exclusively imitative and reproductive speech acts in class does not fulfil this condition entirely. Based on this assumption, I as a future teacher am interested in finding teaching methods that provide this authentic and meaningful speaking context. During various class observations in my practical semester, I noticed that the use of hand puppets has an encouraging effect on primary school children. Most English primary school books include hand puppets in their concepts and introduce teaching suggestions such as hand puppets as dialogue partners, hand puppet based games or role plays (Schmid-Schonbein 2008: 68). This leads to the idea that hand puppets might provide an authentic and meaningful speaking context that promotes productive speaking.

The promotion of the speaking skills of young learners is a highly individualized process that needs to be adjusted to the individual development of every single child (Boettger 2014: 5). Consequently, when providing appropriate occasions for children to talk, teachers need to take the heterogeneity of their student body into consideration, which can be challenging sometimes (Doms 2015: 34).

Given the evidence for the necessity of focussing on the speaking skills in primary school, the claim to take the heterogeneity of the learners into consideration and the idea of hand puppets as an interesting dialogue partner for children, this term paper pays particular attention on whether the usage of hand puppetry may fulfil the aim of encouraging the productive speaking skills in inclusive contexts. The central question of this paper then becomes: how might the use of hand puppets in primary school affect the productive speaking skills of young learners in an inclusive learning environment?

Before turning towards the analysis proper (chapter 4 and 5 of this paper), it will be necessary to take a closer look at the competence of productive speaking in an inclusive setting (chapter 2). For this purpose the foci will be on specific requirements on an inclusive English classroom (chapter 2.1), speaking competence in the curriculum (chapter 2.2) and the encouragement of the productive speaking competence in an inclusive English as a foreign language (EFL) classroom (chapter 2.3). In the latter subchapter teaching requirements like half-open tasks, beneficial language models, meaningful speaking contexts, the preparation of spoken interaction and a positive learning atmosphere are pointed out. The third chapter deals with the topic of hand puppetry in the primary school describing the method per se and pointing out what aspects you should pay attention to as a teacher. On the basis of chapter 2 and 3, an analysis will be carried out (chapter 4): To answer the research question, it will be examined in how far hand puppets can encourage the productive speaking skills in the inclusive primary school lesson. In order to establish a connection to teaching practise, the use of hand puppets in school books will be evaluated in chapter 5: Two popular school books [Playway 1 and Sunshine Early Start Edition) will be analysed with particular regard to the introduction and intended use of the puppet.

2 Productive Speaking Competence in Inclusive Settings

In order to express oneself successfully in a foreign everyday situation, certain language components need to interact with each other. These include intelligible pronunciation, intonation, adequate basic vocabulary, relevant grammatical structures, listening comprehension, syntax, communicative fluency, various speaking strategies (memorising and describing), pragmatics and linguistic self-confidence (Boettger 2014: 5). In contrast to general assumptions, a speech act is a highly complicated procedure in which multiple concurrent sub-processes take place in an incredible speed (Diehr & Frisch 2008: 36). To outline the specific characteristic and to clarify the complex structure of the verbal act of speech, it is necessary to examine all aspects involved in oral communication. For this purpose, scientific literature in the field of EFL in the primary school classroom refers to the well-established speech model "Psycholinguistisches Sprechmodell" of the psycholinguist Levelt (fig. 1): According to Levelt (52), speech acts are usually embedded in a social context addressing either an active participating dialogue partner or a rather passive audience. The actual speech act starts at the moment the speaker plans to say something and becomes aware of the essence of his or her own message. Levelt (1990: 52) locates this process in the so-called conceptualisation system (fig. 1). To create an inner idea of the message the speaker falls back on his or her knowledge. This knowledge scoops from two different storages: The general world knowledge and the linguistic knowledge. While the world knowledge contains cultural, contextual or discourse related knowledge and even information about the dialogue partner, the linguistic knowledge can be seen as a mental dictionary with phonological, semantic and grammatical information. As a result of the process in the conceptualisation system, the speaker has created a preverbal message in his mind, which has to be turned into linguistic structures (formulation system). Here as well, the speaker consults his or her individual world and linguistic knowledge. Then, while sub-processes of the above mentioned systems are still working, the phonetic realisation comes into play (articulation system) (fig. 1). The speaker produces an audible result of the passed processes (articulated speaking). Frequently, speakers notice errors only when hearing them themselves in an articulated expression and are then able to correct it on a contentual and linguistic level. In this process the speaker again uses his or her individual world knowledge and speech memory while the listening comprehension system undertakes the function of a monitor checking the correctness of the statement.

The listening comprehension system is also used to receive the comment of the conversation partner for a proper reaction (Diehr & Frisch 2008: 36.).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Fig. 1. Psycholinguistisches Sprechmodell (Levelt 1990: 52-56)

It becomes clear that the competence of speaking is highly dependent on the general world knowledge, the linguistic knowledge, the capacity of the working memory and the ability to perceive and to respond to relevant stimuli in a conversation. It shall be presumed that in heterogeneous learning groups these factors vary widely depending on every individual. Therefore, in the following subsections it will be outlined how to encourage the English speaking competence of every individual no matter which conditions for communication it has.

2.1 Specific Requirements on an Inclusive EFL Classroom

To promote the productive speech competence, both the potential and the limits of every single child have to be taken into account (Kurtz 2008: 7). This demand is a considerable factor, especially in the inclusive English classroom with a high heterogeneous student body (Doms 2015, 34). From 1996 until 2000, the Kultusministerkonferenz (KMK) defined and approved recommendations for special needs support in learning, hearing, speaking, emotional and social development and mental development. Current statistics from 2007 to 2016 reveal that out of all special needs support diagnoses in inclusive primary schools in Germany (without Lower Saxony), difficulties in learning and emotional and social development occur most frequently (KMK 2018: 12). For this reason, these two fields will be looked at in more detail: In order to support children with emotional and social difficulties in school the KMK (2000: 13) suggests conveying reliability and consistency by integrating fixed orientation points, rituals and routines. In addition, specifically offered support should enhance the physical, communicational, awareness, memory, emotional and social skills. Practical learning should expand the competence to act and allow for practising in a familiar space (for instance the use of the target language). Materials and authentic teaching methods with a high stimulative character should motivate children and develop a positive attitude towards learning (13). Not only in regard to the emotional and social development but also on the subject of learning difficulties, it is crucial to prepare topics that are meaningful to the children. Additionally, children with learning difficulties should be supported in the improvement of their self-efficacy and the acquisition of basic forms of self-organisation like learning techniques and structuring methods (KMK 1999: 8). Both children with emotional or social and children with learning difficulties can benefit from a holistic approach that provides different access channels to learning topics. These include for instance visual, audio, haptic and enactive materials (Krause & Kuhl 2018:181).

2.2 Speaking Competence in the Curriculum

The curriculum for primary school describes certain competences pupils should acquire on the base of their own individual level. It is important to note that the English language competences cannot be seen in an isolated manner but must rather be considered as connected with each other and interrelated to different contexts and learning situations. The wording of the curriculum is aligned to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR): Learning, Teaching and Assessment. In conformity with the CEFR the expectations of competency are listed and divided up into certain topics and focuses of the subject (Bezirksregierung Detmold 2008b: 5). The communicative skill of speaking is divided up into the sections "speaking and taking part in conversations - spoken interaction" and "spoken production". The first field explains that students should be able to make themselves understood in simple conversation situations at the end of the transition phase from pre-primary to school education. They should express themselves with simple linguistic resources like chunks and with the help of facial expressions and gestures. At the end of the fourth grade, students should be able to communicate in familiar conversations and talk about familiar topics with dialogue partners who speak slowly and clearly. Spoken production requires communicating in familiar situations and with familiar sentences and expression at the end of the transition phase from pre-primary to school education. Fourth grade students should, after suitable preparation, be able to express themselves coherently with chunks but also by forming sentences on their own (MSB NRW 2008: 77). Another crucial factor is the availability of proper language resources: In order to fulfil elementary communication needs in familiar situations the students should have acquired pronunciation and intonation competences, proper vocabulary, spoken elements and grammar at the end of the fourth grade (77).

2.3 Encouraging Productive Speaking Competence in the Inclusive EFL Classroom

Through classroom observation and empirical studies, researchers are becoming increasingly aware that the reasons for the detected lack of oral language production in the primary school setting may not lie in learner's preferred forms of participation, but rather in prevailing teaching approaches (Legutke et al. 2014: 54): The empirical study of Kurtz (2008: 7) reveals a strong focus on reproduction and imitation and too little interactive learner support for young students taking their first steps in spontaneous communication. According to the "Bezirksregierung Detmold" (2008b: 8), an exclusive reduction on imitative and reproductive speaking at the beginning can have a negative influence on learners' motivation and leads to speaking difficulties. Legutke et al. (2014: 54) add that the productive use of language in various communicative contexts has to be considered and developed right from the start. What can teachers do to use the outlined learning potentials in the field of the speaking skills of young learners? Becker (2014: 40) sees a great necessity for the development of speaking skills in offering speaking opportunities to promote the learner's autonomy. Bottger (2014: 4) has a similar view on the topic: He states that right from the beginning, young learners should be familiarised with comprehension and speaking in meaningful and authentic contexts. Enhancing exclusively imitative and reproductive speech acts in class does not fulfil this condition entirely. Even more, it can take up the character of isolating practice neglecting the complex processes of listening comprehension and speaking.


Excerpt out of 29 pages


Teaching Productive Speaking Skills with Hand Puppets
University of Paderborn  (Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Hand Puppets, puppets, Productive Speaking Skills, speaking skills, Inclusive Classroom, Primary school, EFL Classroom, productive speaking competence, authenticity, meaningful speaking, playway, sunshine, elementary school, english as a foreign language, english lesson, teaching english
Quote paper
Johanna Bergschneider (Author), 2019, Teaching Productive Speaking Skills with Hand Puppets, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/906418


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