How to Teach the English Spoken Syllabus

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Planning the oral English section of the syllabus shifts the focus from the teacher doing most of the talking to involving the students in speaking. Learning to speak English well is a skill that has to be honed. Too often, the spoken part of the syllabus is neglected in favor of the written components of the English class. Giving the spoken word its just due encourages students to develop their public speaking skills and to pay more attention to their oral presentations.

1 Lead by example

Lead by example. Enunciate your words and speak slowly and clearly. Students often emulate what they hear, and since teachers are role-models, they have an important role to play when it comes to setting the example for the spoken component of the syllabus.

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2 Provide examples

Provide examples of English as spoken by the orators. Listen to Barack Obama’s “Don’t Tell Me Words Don’t Matter” speech, Bill Clinton's address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, or John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address.

3 Have group discussions

Have group discussions. Encourage students to practice their oral English skills by debating with others. Also, use this oral exercise to help them develop logical arguments and to cultivate high-thinking skills.

4 Set up partner practices

Set up partner practices. Divide the students into pairs and have them interview each other. Follow this exercise by having them speak about the person they interviewed to the class.

5 Record the students

Record the students making a class presentation and then have them listen to it. The spoken exercises are an ideal time to get students to realize how they sound to others. It also encourages them to improve their intonation and to slow down when speaking.

6 Write a class play

Write a class play. Encourage spoken English development by including a play in the syllabus. Turn it into a collaborative class project, and have everyone contribute to the dialogue for the script.

7 Challenge students to use figurative language

Challenge students to use figurative language, painting pictures with words so their listening audience can better visualize what the students are speaking about.

Jody Hanson began writing professionally in 1992 to help finance her second around-the-world trip. In addition to her academic books, she has written for "International Living," the "Sydney Courier" and the "Australian Woman's Forum." Hanson holds a Ph.D. in adult education from Greenwich University.