Oral English Teaching In Middle Schools
Speaking is regarded as a major objective in foreign language learning , so foreign language teaching mainly aims at communication. But it is often neglected in middle schools. Exam systems limits the procedures of teachers, Students still spend much time on language structures, grammar and reading. The result of doing so leads to more students who are deaf and dumb in communication.
Why should teachers focus on spoken language in initial stage of learning a foreign language? This may be justified for some physical and psychological reasons rather than linguistic ones. Middle School students’ ability to imitate is greater than that of grown-ups. Young students have an advantage in quick responses in English. They are less shy and less afraid of making mistakes and this places them in fovorable position to learn foreign languages . The spoken language is more closely related to everyday life and this is more appealing to young students.
How to develop the students’ speaking skill ,especially, their
speaking ability, is the problem I want to discuss in this thesis.
1. Build up self-confidence.
Firstly, the most important thing is to create ample
opportunities to practise speaking and make students self—confident.
Students should be told that they needn’t be afraid of making mistakes
or of failure. Everybody including native speakers makes mistakes.
Secondly, a relaxed atmosphere is conductive to free expression. A skillful teacher can create an atmosphere in which students feel at ease to find words to express themselves . When a teacher stops a student numerous times to correct errors in his speech, he is running the risk of silencing the students forever, and what is worse, of scaring the rest of the class. In class, the students should have many chances to speak without tension or fear.
It is certain that students would make grammatical or
communicative mistakes in language activities, however, it’s completely wrong to require them to use the language as accurately as possible and correct their mistakes frequently while they are expressing themselves. No one can learn a language well without making mistakes. What teachers should be concerned most about is that students can play an active part in communicative activities and make themselves understood, especially in the beginning .It is believed as long as people use language, they are learning to use it consciously or unconsciously. In a word, the more they practise, the fewer mistakes they will make. And the fewer mistakes the students make, the more progress they will make. Surely the students can easily attain their goal.
2. Stimulate study interest and motives
Study interest and motives are the inner power for students to achieve a certain goal and to change from passive study to active one. The motives to study actively:
1. Help students to master the knowledge and to form their speaking skills.
2. Help to digest the language learned .The process, which includes memorizing dialogues, drilling and practising, for digestion is to personalize the knowledge, to form the ability and to practise it in everyday life.
3. Help to better the relationship between teachers and students. 4. Help teachers to adjust their teaching methods to meet students’
needs and to improve the effect of their teaching after receiving the information from students.
In a word, it is necessary for teachers to take all kinds of measures to educate and stimulate students study interest and study motive to improve their English.
Most students are required to learn English well in order to graduate, to pursue good jobs and to do the work competently. Yet due to some subjective and objective reasons, the ability in speaking is almost totally neglected. It is disadvantageous to speak a foreign language in the sealed-off circumstances in an ordinary school where there is no target language community and thus no meaningful oral communication.
I. First of all, the teacher should try to create language environments in class
Teachers can develop the students’ speaking skill inside the classroom. It is necessary to speak as much English in class as possible.
Meanwhile, an English learning environment is badly needed without the language environment, they can’t remember and strengthen what
they have studied by putting them into practice. They have to remember new words, phrases, idioms, sentence structures and grammar rules consciously, which are the burden weighed upon their mind. Creating a pleasant atmosphere for the students and putting them in a cheerful mood is very important. In class, the teacher should impart knowledge in English and should explain the words, grammar, and the text all in English. At the same time, encourage the students to try as hard as possible to use English. At the beginning undoubtedly, some students found it difficult to adapt to. But once they were familiar with the terms of English teaching and basic class English, they felt more interested in class. Thus environment came into being, and it enhanced the students’ interest and their sense of participating in communication. There are some aspects to train the students’ speaking skills inside the classroom.
Do some comprehension tasks about the text. Different comprehension tasks on the reading texts are designed in addition to the ones set up in the books. For example, students are required to retell the text or to summarize the main points of the texts and play the roles of the characters in the text. They may even be asked to give a performance of their own. These tasks cannot only help the students understand the texts better, but also give them a challenge in expressing themselves in English orally.
Retelling can help expand vocabulary. It is one of the best methods to make using the new words easier. After a detailed study, the students are encouraged to describe what they have with their own words. Encourage them to sum up the material, using newly learned words. Sometimes the teacher may invite one or two students to retell in front of the whole class, but mostly, they do it in pairs so that everyone has a chance to practise. Retelling can set the students free from the hard and boring work of memorizing word lists which decreases self-confidence and deepen interest in English study. It can associate an isolated word with something we are already familiar with and put the lifeless new words into meaningful context. All these can make the study interesting, the flow of thought possible and the memorizing of the new words easier. Its advantage is that it improves the students’ speaking abilities as well as helps them to learn new words. Take 《The Diamond Necklace》 for
example. Ask the students to turn the play into a short story.
Pierre Loisel used to work in a government office. One day he and his wife Mathilde Loisel received an invitation to a ball in the palace. Mathilde Loisel spent 400 francs on a new dress but had no more money for jewellery. She borrowed a beautiful necklace from her friend Jeanne .The couple had a very good time in the palace. But after the ball Mathilde found the necklace missing. They borrowed money to buy a diamond necklace for Jeanne. The necklace that looked exactly like Jeanne’s cost them 36000 francs. After they returned the necklace, they
had to work day and night for ten years to pay back the money they had borrowed. When Mathilde met Jeanne again, she had changed so much that her friend could not recognize her. She didn’t know until then that the necklace she borrowed was not made of diamond. It was made of glass. It was worth 500 francs at the most.
It is easy for us to understand that a language can only be learned and not be taught. The teachers’ role is providing condition for students’ learning, and setting it going. The teacher should spare no efforts to motivate the students to think and speak English in class. As Hamer says,“Motivation is some kind of internal drive that encourages somebody to pursue a course of action. Speaking skill can only be gained by practice.”
Free talk is a better way for students to practise English more communicatively, and it plays an important part in teaching. At the beginning of class, the teacher can ask one of the students on duty to come to the front to talk in a limited time about something he liked to, his own experiences or a story he had ever read , what they talked about covered weather ,study, picnics, hobbies and even some customs and so on. The teacher can arrange some topics for the students to prepare and discuss in class. For example, after learning the text《How Marx Learned
Foreign Languages》.Let the students discuss good methods of learning English. Give them guidance when necessary. Some topics, such as embracing WTO , how to keep the balance of nature. What’s your opinion of the war between America and Afghanistan? What do you think of Ben
Laden? Every question is open to different answers . In real life ,questions rarely have only fixed answer and problem. In the process of free talk , the teacher can divide the students into groups. Ask them to practise in pairs. Then what is pair work? In this activity the learners are divided into pairs to perform the activities, such as question and answer practice, information gap exercises, and etc. Just as Harmer points out,“ pair work allows the students to use language and also encourage students co-operation which is itself important for the atmosphere of the class and for the motivation it gives to learning with others.” The teacher
should now and then make some encouraging comments to establish their confidence. By and by, to their enjoyment, the students come to realize their own communicative competence. By doing these meaningful practices, the students must think aloud and respond activity in English. Language thus learned is very impressively lasting.
5. The role of a teacher in class
Traditionally, the teacher was a dictator in class. The
traditional method of teaching was to load students with a whole set
of grammar rules and to cram them with various meanings and uses
of a word. As a result, students got bored and would probably soon
forget most of the irrelevant meanings and uses that had overfilled
their heads. Worst of all, the students were horribly “dumb” and
“deaf” after several years of English study like that.
Obviously, the course of intensive reading can’t be carried out in
a traditional way to students, who will be future secretaries. In class
students are considered to be the leading role and the teacher a supplementary role. The teacher should not at all satisfied with the traditional method by which the teacher delivered knowledge from the texts and students received it, notebook in hand only .To my mind, what is necessary for a teacher to do is not only to impart knowledge of English, but also to develop students’ ability to use the language by all kinds of means to communicate through practice.
So in class, the teacher should do his best to explain as concisely as possible . As a teacher of intensive reading course, he still concerned himself with the explanation of the meaning and the usage of a word or a phrase, for students to be familiar with the accurate to employ them in their compositions, which are an inseparable part of this course. But it should be handled within limits, i.e. within the context of the sentence. It’s the teacher’s duty
to point out the appropriate meaning of a word or a phrase used in a given sentence . And the teacher should do everything in his power to be at any time aware of the possibility for communication no matter how simple a word or a sentence was, in other words , he should try his best to direct students to employ words and phrases appropriately on various occasions. In class , the teacher should not overlabor grammar although it is necessary to impart a good knowledge of essential grammar rules to students.
After all, the leading role of a class is not the teacher but students,
and no communicative competence can be gained without students’ initiative flexibility and perception.
II. However efficient a class is, the opportunity for students to practice speaking English is very much limited. So practicing speaking English outside the classroom is also very important.
1.Making telephone calls is a good way to speak English.
In participating these activities the students are trained to improve their communicative competence. For instance, they may be required to make a preparation for it.
2.Finding a good place for talks is another way to practise English, the meeting hall of the school, the garden and the park of the city would be the possible base.
3.Setting up an English club is another idea.
A school English club is a great help to students. They can hold English evenings or parties under the direction of the teacher . Teachers can choose reasonable topics for the students to discuss. These topics should relate to some features of the texts, and to the students’ interests. Some examples of topics are sports , life, music, travel, my favorite and so on. The topics must be as easy as possible.
4.Organizing English corner is another way to train the students’
Make preparations for the corner. Make the time reasonable and limited, put out the notice, show the list of useful idioms and expressions, inform the students to get ready for the coming discussion.
5.The students can develop their English from organizing English- speaking contests. Through the preparation and delivery of a speech, students can reflect on their experiences and speak their minds while improving their English skills.
6.Besides, there are also other good ways to train English- speaking skill. Such as conversations—introducing oneself to a friend, asking for
information, giving directions, making an appointment to see a doctor, booking a hotel room.
Singing is a popular activity throughout the world and students are mostly fond of learning English songs. Teaching an English song has many benefits. Singing gives the students a chance to relax from the pressure of lessons and it can reinforce the students’ interest. in learning English .The words, sentences, and cultural background of the song can serve as materials for discussion. Procedures are as follows.
?.prepare the words to the song in advance so that every student has them.
?.Let the students listen to the song twice.
?；Teach pronunciation and words.
?；Teach line by line.
?.The students sing the song twice by themselves.
?.Taqlk about its particular meaning, cultural background.
?.Review the song from time to time. It will arouse their enthusiasm for learning other songs.