Improve English Speaking Strategies for Hong Kong Secondary School Student
Nowadays, language is a critical tool that is used for the efficient communication. Spoken language is the fundamental form and means for the language value realization. Hence, oral English teaching is one of the most crucial elements of the general English teaching. In China, many lessons are devoted to the improvement of English speaking skills. Thus, such classes are aimed to promote the interest in learning the language and increase the motivation. Nonetheless, there are still many challenges due to wrong application of the methods and tools for broadening of the speaking skills. Consequently, it is highly essential to encourage educators to employ more efficient strategies with the purpose to upgrade language skills. However, it is important to understand that speaking skills improvement depends not only on the sufficient amount of practice. It is significant to excite the interest of students to make them participate more in the learning process. Moreover, the speaking skills can be decreased due to the lack of confidence among students. The methods used in the education system have to consider all these issues and provide positive effects through addressing the aforementioned obstacles. Therefore, for mastering of the English-speaking skills among Hong Kong secondary school students, it is critical to apply such strategies as the 4/3/2 technique, interactive activities, particularly work in groups and mock situations performance, as well as small talk and debating techniques.
Strategies for the Speaking Skills Improvement
One of the strategies aimed at the speaking skill improvement is the 4/3/2 tool. The main goal of the fluency directed communication activities is to promote the learner to integrate previously encountered language issues in the easily accessed, largely unconscious language system as the outcome of concentrating on the messages communication (Nation, 1990). Besides, this technique is implemented in several steps. The students have to spend several minutes preparing the talk on the provided topic. During this time, they have to think about what they will tell without making notes. After that, the students have to split into pairs and talk on the given topic for four minutes (Nation, 1990).
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The listener cannot interrupt the other person or ask questions. The basic task of the listener is just to listen. Then the partners are changed. The speaker talks again on the same topic to another student, but at this time, the learners have only three minutes to present the information. When this speech is completed, the students will change the partner again. The speaker delivers the same speech for the third time to the new listener, but only for two minutes. Hence, this approach has several critical elements (Nation, 1990). First of all, the speakers have the different audience each time, so the attention will be focused on communicating the message. In case partners did not change, the speaker would be placed under the pressure to add new information in order to maintain the interest of the listener during the next speech. The speaker can be also promoted to concentrate attention on the formal features of the talk that would lower the value of techniques directed at the fluency activity (Nation, 1990). The second important issue is that the speakers give the same speech. It means that they will build confidence in the ability to declaim and will have fewer challenges in accessing the language needed to make the speech. The repetition provides the perfect chance to achieve fluency. The third point is that the time available for the speech delivery is decreased with all the following attempts. Thus, this is another fluency encouragement (Nation, 1990). Therefore, as the speaker delivers the speech more fluently, there is no need to think of the new material to fill the time gaps. As a result, this technique proved to be highly efficient. In the research, most of the participants reduced their hesitation such as sentence incompletion, false starts or repetition in the third talk. Two individuals minimized the occurrence of problems by more than fifty percent. With regard to grammatical mistakes, seven out of ten students were successful in decreasing the number of grammatical errors and they managed to improve their speaking speed, as well as overcome hesitation (Arab, 2016). In case of the content control, the participant was able to skip all the unnecessary information to concentrate only on the message they wanted to deliver to the listener. In general, this technique is very helpful for students for their speaking fluency (Arab, 2016). The average increase in speaking speed equal to 30.68%, the average decrease in the participants hesitations reaching 22.78% and the average decrease in grammatical errors equal to 17.23% (Arab, 2016). At the same time, planning must have the effect of raising the performance level of the speaker. Hence, this technique can be used with both large and small classes (Arevart & Nation, 1991). In case of the large class, seating has to be arranged so that half of the students remain at their places, while the other half move to their next partner. The learners in pair take turns at delivering their speech before approaching another partner (Arevart & Nation, 1991). It is possible to encourage speakers to repeat their speech immediately without having to alternate the roles for them to have a better chance to render more material in the subsequent declamations (Arevart & Nation, 1991). With respect to a low proficient student, it is possible to allocate time for students to plan and discuss their speech with each other before its actual delivery. Therefore, this tool can be effective in the promotion of fluency and broadening of speaking skills in general.
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The other strategy includes the interactive activities such as group discussion, presentation and mock events that can sharpen the speaking skills. Classrooms are critical places for the individual and intellectual development because many classroom activities shaped through the oral interaction among students and teachers will make the students advance in the process of learning. It can be gained when students are properly motivated through adopting interactive activities. Interaction is the elicitation of willing student participation and the initiative that need the high interpersonal communication skills degree (Sharma, 2006). Furthermore, it related to the information exchange between students and teachers or among students only. It will make the latter included in activities that demand their creativity. During such interactions students can use all they have learned of the language or have observed in the real-life exchanged were expressing their real meaning is critical for them (Brown, 2007). Group learning can be efficient for increasing the speaking skills because it incorporates facilitated interaction and improved oral language. Learning to speak English will be fostered when students are actively promoted and attempt to communicate in groups (Brown, 2007). It is the most efficient tool for the foreign language learning and for proving simultaneous opportunities for all class members. Interactive activities assist students in managing their tasks without immediate teachers supervision. There are two efficient interactive types such as group discussion and presentation and mock association meeting (Jeyasala, 2014). In the first interactive type, students have to be divided into groups, get different text articles and have twenty minutes for clarification, comprehension, discussion of alternative possibilities, expansion, interpretive reading, and preparation of presentation. Then every group member has to decide what points will be emphasized and all individuals have to come to the front and face the others expressing their viewpoints. During the process, teachers have to move around the class and facilitate the discussion (Jeyasala, 2014). The conversation in class has to be held in English, students have to listen to the presentation and they cannot take notes or read out their arguments. In case of another alternative, it is possible to pretend that students have to realize how to organize the Literary Association Meeting (Jeyasala, 2014). Thus, they have to fix the venue, time, date and chef guests as well as other speakers among themselves; then topics have to be presented. After that, the learners need to be asked to select or assign roles along with duties for the performance. The chance has to be equally provided to the advanced and less proficient students in order to promote motivation. Some students can prepare agenda and invitations, while others can offer the context for comparison (Jeyasala, 2014). All tasks have to be managed by teachers. In this way, the student will be guided, motivated and their questions will be clarified. Hence, such an activity can continue for approximately one hour but half an hour has to be devoted to the feedback and discussion. In this regard, the speaking skills will be increased (Jeyasala, 2014). Therefore, interactive activities can encourage students to strengthen the motivation and broaden the speaking skills.
Another strategy for the improvement of English-speaking skills is the application of the small talk technique. Nonetheless, the small talk ability is not something easy because it requires a lot of practice. Small talk means the course discussion of any subject matter that assists in gaining wider appropriate vocabulary covering most topics of interest (Valimareanu, 2010). It is a critical speaking activity that leads to the acquirement of specific vocabulary and the ability to manage the spontaneous circumstances. At first, the teacher has to choose the topic that has to be interesting for all students and keep it to provoke their engagement (Valimareanu, 2010). The educator has to ask students to provide some key words that can summarize the ideas regarding the chosen topic. Moreover, this is a great warming-up activity that helps in breaking the ice and making the students ready to engage themselves in this kind of practice (Valimareanu, 2010). In order to hold the efficient small talk, it is essential to conduct the previous research through TV programs, magazines or Internet in order to make the conversation more interesting. Nonetheless, it is crucial not to emphasize strong political beliefs or religion. The main idea of the small talk is to keep it light and not to convince students in some personal beliefs because it can provoke conflicts and misunderstanding. At the same time, it is significant to prepare specific vocabulary regarding the chosen topic and explain it to the students (Center for English Language Support & Center for English Language Learners, 2007). Small talk has to be similar to the short friendly conversation without covering serious issues. The topic can consider sports. For instance, in the dialogue, it is possible to ask about the preferred sports and a favorite player, or the real cases and stories that can make the discussion more engaging. In addition, the small talk for the first time can help to become more familiar with the students (Center for English Language Support & Center for English Language Learners, 2007). The small talk also promotes confidence in the speaking skills that in turn develops the language proficiency. The small-talk activities in the classroom and the language use as for socializing as for the skills improvement can be efficient and interesting (Vijayan, 2016). Therefore, the small talk technique can encourage greater self-assurance as well as sharpen the speaking skills of students.
The debate as the efficient strategy can help students to improve the English speaking skills through a lot of practice and position varieties. Besides, the debate is the form of the argument grounded in several rules of conduct and arguing techniques (Valimareanu, 2010). It is a more engaging activity because students need to develop concepts and dispute on diverse subjects with the representation of pros and cons of the provided argument.
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Thus, such a speaking strategy is implemented in the debating team with every speaker having a specific role during the topic discussion. In debating, every team has to present the point in favor of their case, but they have to consider and criticize the reasoning of the other team through rebuttal (Valimareanu, 2010). The debate can be about simulated or real issues. The roles of students are to be allocated taking into account their shared knowledge regarding the issues as well as different interests and opinions to defend. After the activity, learners can have to reach the specific decision or put the issue to the vote (Arung, 2016). Hence, this technique can bring many benefits. In particular, it can improve the students critical thinking because they have to analyze challenge critically, it can assist in communication skills development because they spend many hours in practicing the public speeches, and it can help in adopting multiple perspectives as for teachers as for students (Arung, 2016). Usually debating includes three members of every team; however, sometimes there can be four members. At the same time, it can be based on the number of students in the class and the level of their knowledge (Arung, 2016). Classroom debate is the efficient learning strategy because it encourages interaction between students. Active learning promotes the multifaceted thinking as well as builds the content comprehension and maintenance. It assists in improving the language speaking skills through raising the proficiency due to the often practice with other students in speaking own position on the foreign language (Zare & Othman, 2013). The debate techniques offer many opportunities for practical use of the language speaking skills. In particular, in order to achieve the appropriate position presentation, students have to practice out aloud, with their own notes and for as many times as needed to remember and learn new words as well as to represent the coherent and smooth speech (Rybold, 2006). Notwithstanding, the greatest practice is provided in front of the audience that encourages to increase the language proficiency even more (Rybold, 2006). Therefore, the debating technique can assist students in upgrading their skills through the possibility to practice at length.
Overall, language learning is a highly demanding process that demands the efficient participation of both students and teachers. Learning English is the most popular tendency around the world, because this language became critical for the efficient communication during the era of globalization. Hence, it from the early childhood, learning of the English language is a great priority. Hong Kong secondary school students are no exception. Nonetheless, there are many challenges in learning English. The most crucial part is the improvement of speaking skills, but it can be quite complicated. In particular, there are some difficulties with pronunciation, and it means that a lot of practice is needed for broadening of this skill. The other issue includes the insufficient motivation since often teachers do not try to make the learning process interesting for students. The next challenge is the lack of confidence among learners that poses obstacles in the development of the speaking skills proficiency. Therefore, it is essential to apply the strategies that will address all these requirements and increase the speaking skills among students. Consequently, it is significant to employ such approaches as the 4/3/2 technique, interactive activities, namely the group work and mock situations performance, along with small talk and debating techniques.