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SPEAKING

Martin Bygate
From
The Cambridge Guide to Teaching English to Speakers of
Other Languages, CUP (2011)
Summary by Sajit M Mathews, IIT Kanpur

INTRODUCTION
Spoken language is much different from written form.
Reason
Circumstances of production is different
Processing skills required are different

BACKGROUND
Till recently, speaking wasnt a discrete branch of teaching, learning and

testing on its own right.

Reasons
1. tradition: grammar-translation method marginalised communication and its

teaching.
2. technology to provide listening materials (tapes, recording, etc.) was not
available till mid 70s. The difficulty in studying speaking itself pushed it out of
class rooms and syllabi.
3. exploitation: Speaking remained a marginal technique used to teach other
skills. It was part of a methodology (Silent Way, Community Language Learning,
Suggestopedia, etc.) It was just a special medium for language input. Focus was
limited to pronunciation. It was essential that the learners pronunciation should
be correct before moving on to texts. (Howatt, 1984).
This confusion of speaking as a skill in its own right and as a central

medium for learning continues till date.

BACKGROUND
Audiolingualism appreciated the importance of input before output.
The order of skills LSRW was applied to every structure learned.
Audiolingualism was based on behaviourism. So language was just another

behaviour learned by the learner using repetition for habit formation.

Speaking therefore was used to learn structures accurately through

repetition.

BACKGROUND
Tapes in 1950s were used for pronunciation practice, grammar, translation,

etc.

1970s saw the influence of cognitive and sociolinguistic theories of

language and learning.

Audiolingualism didnt take into account two aspects of language:


1. relation between language and meaning
2. social context of communication where formal features of language are

associated with functional aspects


Communicative approach- 2 ways
1. notional-functional approach which included teaching of interactional notions.
2. emergence of learner centred approach which started from meaning to ways

to communicate

BACKGROUND
But none of the approaches studied naturally occurring oral interactive

discourse

Study of oral discourses in L1 has influenced this. Conversation analysts,

and discourse analysts have illustrated features of spoken language that


are different from that of written language.

RESEARCH:
CHARACTERISTICS OF
SPEECH

Nature and conditions of speech: psycholinguistic skills processing model is

the most in use

Levelt: 4 processes: conceptualization, formulation, articulation and self-

monitoring

Conceptualisation: planning message content based on background

knowledge. This includes a monitor

Formulator: finds words and expressions, prepares sound patterns


Articulator: motor control of articulatory organs
Self-monitoring: identify and self-correct mistakes
This process depends on automation for its success. Automation is

necessary since we dont have enough attention capacity to control all of


the above.

RESEARCH:
CHARACTERISTICS OF
SPEECH

Skills are affected by context since speaking is reciprocal.


Multiple participants, hierarchy in participants, proficiency, face-to-face

communication, use of physical signals, etc. are the contextual elements.

Speech can tolerate more implicit reference.


Speech is online. Thus grammatically more fragmented.
Self correction, hesitation, changing message before expression, etc. happen.

RESEARCH:
CHARACTERISTICS OF
SPEECH

Oral language differs from written language in process and product.


Thus necessitates different teaching and learning conditions.
A distinct methodology and syllabus?

Development in L2 speech
How can automation be developed?
Skehan: fluency, accuracy and complexity of speech share and trade

capacity in individuals. Forcing one will deprive the others of this capacity.

Skehan and Foster: task types can differ in impact on accuracy and fluency.

Linguistic complexity is affected by cognitive complexity of a task.

Yet we dont know if tasks affect oral language development. But task

repetition affects performance.

RESEARCH:
CHARACTERISTICS OF
SPEECH
Therefore,

Task selection affects learner's language and language processing.


Task repetitions can shift attention from conceptualization to formulation.

PRACTICE
Communicative approach: task should give opportunity to use language to

develop fluency, which in turn will encourage creative use of language.

Problems
1. HOW TO INTEGRATE ACCURACY AND FLUENCY?
2. WHAT RANGE OF DISCOURSE SKILLS SHOULD BE PRACTICED WITHIN ORAL

LANGUAGE SYLLABUS?
So, focus is on: many types of instruction, different treatment of oral tasks

improvised speech practice, overt oral editing (communication strategies),


integration of accuracy, fluency and complexity, varying emphasis on
accuracy, fluency and complexity.

PRACTICE
New materials with oral syllabus organised around functions
Bygate: interaction and information routines to practice patterns of

discourse

J. Willis: Cycle of input phase, rehearsal phase, performance phase


Repetition is central and has shown to have positive effects (Bygate)

CURRENT AND FUTURE


TRENDS AND DIRECTIONS
2 positions
1. tasks can make learners work on particular kind of language feature
2. tasks can provide a jumpboard from where learners express them in whatever

way they wish


Studies on impact of tasks on learners processing skills are still in infancy.
Oral language syllabus- a major research area.
Study of discourse patterns generated by task types.
How accuracy, fluency and complexity can be integrated Using different

combinations of activities?
Role of routines in developing discourse skills.