Speaking Skill and Better Way to Teach It

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Speaking is using the organs of speech to express our thoughts in words, phrases and sentences vocally. It is the production of sounds from a man’s organs of speech. It is a means of communication in words pronounced in one or more words or in phrases or sentences.

Speaking is saying but it is neither signaling nor making symbols. It is using the organs of speech to produce sounds clearly. It is typified in shouting, murmuring and whispering.

Speaking is saying in words, talks and conversions. It is the delivery of some argument or plea, etc. It is stating or declaring in written or printed words. It is telling or expressing an ideal. Speaking is expressing in words or speech.

Classes or types of speaking

There are several types of speaking but we shall discuss three major of them.

  1. Shouting: Shouting is calling or crying loudly and vigorously. It is exercising the organs of speech vigorously and loudly to produce sound. It is speaking with extra force, so that a distant listener may hear the produced sound. It is not speaking with pleasure, but speaking with force.
  2. Murmuring: Murmuring is producing soft low indistinct sound that rises and falls a little and goes on without breaks. It is the production of sound in the heart or lungs, especially an abdominal sound caused by a leaky value in the heart. It is making a soft, low indistinct sound. It is speaking softly and indistinctly, it is grumbling or complaining under the breath.
  3. Whispering: Whispering is speaking very softly and low. It is talking into another person’s ear. It is telling something secretly or privately. It is the utterance of words in a low and soft voice. It is speaking under one’s breath. It is the sound produced by the outgoing breath stream when the glottis is closed almost as much as for voice, but the vocal cords are tightened so that they do not vibrate. Speaking standardizes itself in protection. To project means to speak well clearly and interpretatively. Projection in speaking implies speaking with articulation and correct intonation. It is speaking very well and loudly enough for the last person in the last row of a large hall or a theatre to hear clearly and understand. Speech making therefore needs some training. This is found in the oral or speech courses in the study of different languages.
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How to teach speaking skills

The following techniques are suggested for a language teacher to use in teaching speaking skills.

Teach correct pronunciation exercises.

The teacher should teach the pupils the correct pronunciation of the words they come across in their reading exercises. When the correct pronunciation of each word is mastered the pupils will be able to say their sentences with the correct intonation.

They will be able to read interpretatively and speak with the appropriate intonation. The pupils should start how to say simple and short sentences correctly first and later extend their speaking exercises to compound and complex sentences.

The teacher should master the sound systems of the language he is teaching so that he may be able to teach his pupils the correct pronunciation of the different words in their reading exercises.

Teach the structural elements.

Structural elements in English are SPCA or SVOA. SPCA means Subject Predicator Complement and Adjunct while SVOA means Subject Verb Object and Adjunct.

The teacher is expected to teach pupils the structural sentence patterns of SPCA and SVOA. These elements will enhance the pupils to speak well and communicate correctly.

Who does what and how does it will be very explicit in the pupils’ speech if they understand the pattern. Along with this in English is the voice pattern. The pupils should be exposed to active and passive voices in order to speak well.

Engage pupils in meaningful conversations

Pupils should be made to engage themselves in meaningful conversations for them to be able to speak well. Meaningful conversations are those involving the different subjects they study in school and matters involving moral teaching by the church or the mosque.

They are those conversations that could benefit the pupils learning process in schools and make them live well and happy.

Teach to avoid code-mixing and code-switching.

Code-mixing is mixing a language with another. It is when two languages overlap within a sentence. Also, it is mixing or putting one or two words of one language in sentences in another language, e.g. mixing English with Yoruba. For example:

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Code-mixing                                                 English

  1. So ti understand e? meaning             Do you understand it?
  2. Oruko mi o difficult at all. meaning    My name is not difficult al at.
  3. Mi o like omo yan. meaning           I don’t like the child

Code-switching is when the two languages overlap intersentially. The speaker does not mix languages within the language here but switch into another language unconsciously during the conversations. For example: one  may be speaking English and suddenly changes to Hausa or Igbo languages.

Pupils should be encouraged to do away entirely with code-mixing and code-switching when speaking so that they may acquire the speaking skill.

Teach to read aloud.

Reading aloud will help the pupils to master pronunciation, intonation, stress and oral interpretation in their speaking. When a pupil read prose, poems and plays aloud, their bad reading will be corrected and their speaking will be improved. Reading aloud aids speaking.

Encourage pupils in the debates.

Pupils should be encouraged to take part in debates in which they contribute in different arguments, discussion and impromptu speeches. In debating, they will learn what to say and how to say it. They will be made bold to speak before gatherings of different ages of males and females.

Class and school debate programmes should be encouraged by teachers for their classes and by the head-teacher and committee in-charge. Pupils learn how to speak fluently when they take part in debates.

Encourage pupils to be involved in oral compositions.

When pupils are involved in oral composition, they will develop the ability to speak fluently and confidently. In the oral composition lessons nearly every pupil talks.

They develop their ideas and with good points on the topics before them, their mistakes are corrected by the teacher, and by this they develop speaking well and with confidence.

In an oral composition lesson class could be put into different groups. Let each group select a leader. They could speak on a single topic or different topics. The group leader acts as the moderator in the lesson.

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