What is the most important objective for your students when they start a course? Communication? Speaking? Grammar? Writing? Vocabulary? We usually hear all of these aspects of language knowledge and use, but we rarely hear ‘reading’ as a major goal. It might be the case because it seems evident and inevitable that we learn through reading, and sometimes students feel that it is a tool rather than something they do to consciously learn or to have fun in the classroom. How does reading relate to speaking?
Imagine a lesson in which you want to focus on speaking. What are the most typical difficulties your students will face? Pronunciation and intonation, lack of sufficient vocabulary and grammatical mistakes are among the linguistic obstacles your students need to overcome. However, there are three more points which we constantly run into during speaking activities: not having enough ideas (which is closely connected to lack of vocabulary), difficulty with cultural and situational context, and lack of confidence.
While it might be easy to provide grammatical and formulaic chunks for situational practice, it is a trickier task to ‘teach’ confidence, ideas and contextual knowledge. There are excellent resource books which will provide you with inspiring worksheets, lists of questions, games and drills to improve many aspects of your students’ speaking skills. For everything else it is important to find the right texts for your students which will engage and inspire them. It might mean that you have to find different texts for each student or group of students.
We find that reading any of the three main literary genres (fiction, poetry and drama) always guarantees excellent resources which will help your students have more ideas or activate their own ideas because literary texts do not only provide excellent cultural and situational contexts, but they also trigger emotional and intellectual responses in the readers. Remember that the reflection boxes in the Red and Blue Helbling Readers invite your students to respond with their own opinions and emotions, and they give an easy frame for discussions based on what they are reading. They help your students to develop a more interactive approach to reading which goes towards making them more aware of the reading experience.
If you need ideas on setting up speaking practice and combining it with extensive reading in the classroom, check out these posts and resources on this blog:
- Read to Speak: Improving Speaking Skills in the Reading Class
- 5 + 5 Tips on Extensive Reading in the Classroom
- Storytelling Activities for Adult Learners
- Conversation starters for reading lessons and book clubs
- The Green Room – Bring the theatre to your classroom
If you need more resource books on practising speaking, visit the Helbling Langauges catalogue to browse the titles and see sample pages of The Resourceful Teacher and The Photocopiable Resource Series.