As you know language is primarily speech, and knowing a language is often defined as the ability to understand and speak the language. It has also been noted that the development of the other language skills, namely reading skill and writing skill would be comparatively easy if they are based on an oral foundation.
The two language skills – listening and speaking are ‘grouped one’ as both of them are working together and constitute the basic language skills. So the development of speaking and listening skills are inter-linked and the development of each skill depends the other. Learn English, the ultimate constituent of a language is its sounds. Therefore, the first requisite for understanding and speaking English is the ability to discriminate between the contrasting units of sounds. There may be a number of English sounds that are not used in the mother tongue. So, the first step to develop your English speaking skills is to listen and understand the English Speech Sounds including the stress, intonation and rhythm. Teachers can try the below activities to develop speaking skill and train your children’s ears to discriminate English sounds from their Mother Tongue sounds.
- The teacher utters/plays (recorded item) pairs of words or sentences and ask students to identify the difference.
- Write “Minimal Pairs” like “tin, thin” “can, cane” “watch, wash” and read aloud before your children. Ask your children to identify the correct word.
- Teach your students primary stress, secondary stress, intonation and sentence stress.
- Watch BBC or other English standard channels and observe the mouth movements, style and the way they talk.
- Slow your speech until you learn stress, intonation and rhythm.
- English poems, Music, and Movies are some of the best ways to improve your English speech.
- Use Dictionary and Read English Books, Lyrics etc. Read them again and again.
- Record your own speech. Replay and correct it.
- Start talking to your friends/parents/teachers
- Start writing a diary
- Make use of internet and computer for analysing your English pronunciation
It is obvious that activities that are interesting and useful to the beginners may not be so to the senior pupils. It is therefore important to grade the activities chosen for developing English speaking skills according to the age and level of mastery.