How to Improve Students’ Speaking Skill

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Language is a means of communication.  Every language has four skills. They are listening, speaking, reading and writing. Listening and reading are reception skills whereas speaking and writing are production skills. In the same way listening and reading are input whereas speaking and writing are output of language. It is believed that without listening, speaking is impossible. English for Nepalese is used as second or third language. Most of students in community schools seem to be very poor in speaking.

In Nepal SlC students have to take the exam of four language skills. In total it is a compulsory subject and belongs to 100 marks weight. Though every skill is of great important, they are not of equal weight; reading, writing, listening, speaking weighs 40, 35, 15 and 10 respectively out of 100. Why most of students are very poor in speaking?  Lack of English environment, only English subject is taught in English mostly applying translation method, teachers may not be friendly; shyness, hesitation and no encouragement to the learners are the majors causes that leave Nepalese students poor in spoken language. Tarigan (1990:3-4) defines that speaking is a language skill that is developed in child life, which is produced by listening skill, and at that period speaking skill is learned. Speaking and the art of communication is a productive skill.     A good speaking skill is the act of generating words that can be understood by listeners. A good speaker is clear and informative. Wallace (1978:98) started that oral practice (speaking) becomes meaningful to students when they have to pay attention what they are saying. Though speaking is output of language, it is of most importance in front of people. If anyone is not able to express his or her feelings to other clearly, he/she may fail in interview though they might have presented very well in written form. It is a precious ornament of every individual. Harmer, (in Tarigan, 1990: 12) writes that when teaching speaking or productive skill, we can apply three major stages, those are:  Introducing new language, b. Practice   c. Communicative activity

Therefore, to teach students speaking skill, the researcher introduced what the language is, and ask them to practice applying different communicative activity. If a student does not develop good commutative skill in school level, he /she may have to suffer a lot in future career.  Having realized the importance of spoken language, the researcher tried to apply different techniques to uplift their speaking performance. Here are some activities that help learners to improve their speaking performance: Create English environment, conduct different programs in English, encourage students to read English newspaper, listen English songs, watch English programs,  develop vocabulary,  familiar with sentence structure, drill, recitation and greeting in English may help them be good at spoken language.

  1. Motivating students to conduct speech program in the classroom everyday

When the researcher entered the classroom he found most of the students felt nervous and shy to talk in English. Realizing their weakness the researcher asked them very simple question to each student so that each student could respond. He said, “What’s your name? Where are you from? How do you come to school? , etc.”  A student said, “Alisha.”  Then to make her speak clearly the researcher asked Alisha what?  Then she said, “Dhakal.”   Then he asked her to tell her full name and at the moment she said, “Alisha Dhakal.”Again the teacher told her to say, “My name is AlishaDhakal.” In the end she was able to speak full sentence. In the same way he turned to Pushpa and said, “Where are you from?”  She said, “Boudha.”  It was not the answer he hoped from her. He advised her to answer in sentence. This time she said, “I come from Boudha.”   Again he was not satisfied with the answer and asked the class what might be the right way to answer. Everyone tried their best but no one could respond correctly.  In the end the teacher advised Pushpa to repeat this sentence, “I am from Boudha.”  Then the teacher asked other students in turn.  Most of the students answered correctly. What it showed is that students were not in the habit of talking grammatically correct sentence. The language spoken by students must be correct though the means of language is to be able to communicate. He said to Bibek, “What do you like? What do you like doing” Here for the first question he said, “I like banana.”  “Excellent”, the teacher said. But for the second question, he said “I like coffee.”  He was unable to respond correctly and the teacher turned to other students and asked them to respond the second question. Everyone tried but their attempt could not meet the goal. In the end the teacher advised them to ask the same question to their teacher. They said to their teacher, “What do you like doing?” The teacher said, “I like teaching you English. I like singing folk songs. I like playing volleyball. I like jumping.” Then every student knew where they escaped. Then the teacher asked some students to respond. Everyone seemed to be able at that moment. At the moment he looked at Binod and said, “How do you come to school?” He said, “By walking.” Then he asked to other. One of students said, “On Foot.”  “Excellent.”, the teacher said. He asked them to use ‘on foot’ in the place of by foot or by walking.  Binod should say, “I come to school on foot/by bus/ on bicycle etc” This is called encouragement and friendliness too. The teacher tried his best to encourage every student to speak. The formula for encouraging student is to make them speak, speak only speak in English all the time.  No translation unless there is no alternative to make students what the teacher wanted to pass on. Moreover, the teacher should make every student active to take part in conversation.

To make every student active in communication in English, he divided 32 students in four groups.  He advised them to conduct speech program everyday in the classroom. Each group had 8 students.  While grouping students the teacher focused on their ability and made the groups of equal level. Moreover, he asked them to listen to English news on radio or TV, or read the newspaper and come with a piece of news in English and had to cast the news in English. The teacher gave them five minutes time for casting news every day.  It was individual but had to cast the news from the place where they were. The teacher asked each group to choose their own chairman, anchor, orators and reporter. He advised them every day a group had to run the program. Only 10 minutes time was given to them. The chairman had to chair the program; anchor should run the program, orators had to deliver speech in front of class and the reporter had to note down what happened during the class and next day he/she had to report the happening as soon as the teacher entered the class. When the teacher entered in the class, everyone interested had to cast the news then the   reporter of the previous day had to report the events of the day and the anchor had to conduct the program.

Before conducting such a program in the classroom the teacher counseled them how to conduct the program. He wrote some sentences on the white board and made them write and memorize them carefully. In the beginning of the days all the students were not feeling comfort but hesitated to be at the front. After a week every student either prepared or not but seemed to be ready to be at the front to take part in the program.  Sometimes when the teacher was absent in the classroom they could run the class of their own. Such programs in each class helped students to be frank and ready to answer either they were familiar or not. The teacher conducted such program till the second terminal examination. He observed each student and put the record and awarded the marks for speaking test according to their performance.

  1. Asking students to read the text listen to the teacher, radio or television and narrate the text aloud in the classroom

Though silent reading is preferred in senior classes, read aloud help students to be competitive in the classroom. In the beginning the teacher read aloud and asked students to follow him. Without words no one could respond. If anyone is familiar with words but cannot pronounce correctly it does not have any sense. Therefore, the teacher made them pronounce the word correctly, follow punctuation appropriately. It helped them in communication too. Reading aloud and recitation are the ways to pronounce the words correctly. Language is learnt through imitation. Letting them imitate and use them in sentences helped a lot in communication too. Reading books is also one of the best ways to make students competent in language. It is the input of the language. Without inputting language, spoken is impossible too. There are different ways to input the language. Sometimes listening is useful. Narrating the story is another way. First the teacher should narrate an interesting story and should ask them to narrate the same story in the classroom. Opportunity is the mother of progress. Let every student equal chance to perform their ability. In the same way the teacher sometimes narrated the different happening and asked them to listen with whole heartedly. After his narration, he asked them to narrate everything as he did. This also helped students a lot to speak. Sometime he used to tell story and let them listen and after completion. He asked some of students to tell the same story as he told in the class.

Here the teacher’s experience tells that most of the students do not seem to be ready to study the text as the students used to do in the past. Why it happened? It’s because the present students are born with technology where as the students of past were born with strict social regulations. Whatever was not allowed to do in the past has been very common in contemporary society. Even the political arena and system has been changed. The teacher should let them speak their experience. Let them ask very simple questions about the temple they have seen, about the poets they have read, about the politicians they have known. Instead of commencing the text on fixed page no, it will be better for them to lead them through indirect ways. For example, if a teacher had to teach about Nelson Mandela, he could ask them about the contemporary leaders, a constituent assembly member, and so on. Then the teacher asked them to tell something about the leaders they liked most. In the end he began to ask if they had heard the name of. Nelson Mandela. A few students answered as they heard and known. This is the way that could help the teacher a lot to uplift students’ performance in speaking English.

  1. By conducting spelling contest, asking memory question, showing maps and asking them the instruction to reach to the nearest temple

There are different ways to conduct spelling contest. But the teacher who wanted to involve all students in spelling contest, he conducted mass spelling contest. He asked them to read the words from the text book and noticed the time when he was going to conduct spelling context. More or less it is similar to dictation. The teacher pronounced the words and asked them to take down. Later he checked the paper and ranked them as the score they got. This also helped a lot to assist in speaking performance.

To make students familiar with the text, the teacher gave them some memory questions to read and memories. Next day he asked them to answer the questions from the text books. In the same way the teacher used to ask some students to inform the class about their village, family, and social workers and so on. It seemed out of the text but was able to attract students. They were ready to tell something about their family, village and so on. In the same way sometime he used to show the map and asked them to tell the instruction to reach from one place to another.

  1. By letting students chance to deal with the text

            Another but simple way to make students speak is to let them chance to deal with the content in their book in the classroom. Before letting them deal with text the teacher decided the different group had to perform different activity in written and oral form. In the beginning they wrote in their exercise books and later they presented as they were asked to perform. It kept all students active to do their job. Other techniques that the researcher did in the class were: information gap by using pictures, by using song, by using mysterious thing by performing drama etc.

Findings:

            During a year of experience the teacher came to know that to make students able to speak in English is to make them speak, speak only speak in English. The researcher believed that    practice makes a man perfect. Therefore, he focused on speaking English all the time.    Regular practice helps students to be interactive in English. In the end of the session no students remained silence and everyone was curious to respond to their friends, teachers or others in their own ways.

BIBILIOGROPHY

Tarigan, H. Guntur. Prinsip-prinsipDasar Metode Riset Pengajaran dan Pembeleajaran Bahasa. Bandung: ANGkasa.

Wallace, D’Arcy-Adrian 1978. Junior Comprehension 1England: Longman.

-Chandra Kanta Pandit

Pashupati Mitra Secondary School, Chabahil, Kathmandu

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