Speaking is an important part of the learning and teaching process of English as a second language . Despite its importance, for many years, teaching speaking has been undervalued because English teachers continually teach speaking just as a repetition of drills or memorization of dialogues. Nowadays, however, the goal of teaching is shifted to improve students’ communication skills, because, only in that way, students can express themselves and learn how to follow the social and cultural rules appropriate in certain circumstances. There are several activities to teach second language learners how to speak communicatively.
The first activity is discussion, which aims at drawing a conclusion, sharing ideas about something, or finding solution on a problem. In this activity, a teacher must set the purpose of discussion in the beginning, so that students will discuss relevant points according to the purpose. In addition, they will not spend their time chatting with each other about irrelevant and unnecessary things.
The second way of setting students to speak is role play and simulation. In role play activities, students pretend they are in various contexts and have a variety of social roles. The teacher then gives information to the learners such as who they are and what they think or feel. For example, the teacher can tell the student, “Andy, you go to an accountant and tell him what happened to your business last month.” Simulations, on the other hand, are more elaborations of role play, because students can bring items to class to create a realistic environment. For instance, if a student acting as a doctor, he brings a stethoscope to examine his patients, and so on. Role play and simulation have advantages. For one, it is entertaining as well as motivating students. The second advantage is increasing the self-confidence of hesitant students, because they have a different role and do not have to speak for themselves, which means they do not need to feel ashamed of making mistakes.
The third activity is brainstorming, which necessitates students to produce ideas on a given topic in a limited time. Brainstorming is very effective to encourage students to speak up their thoughts and feelings quickly and freely. The good characteristic of this activity is that students are not criticized for their ideas, so students will be open to share new things collaboratively.
The fourth and the most favorite, in my opinion, is storytelling. Students can briefly summarize a tale or story heard from somebody beforehand, or they may create their own stories to tell to their classmates. This activity encourages students to have creative thinking, because they must organize the story in the format of beginning, development, and ending. In addition, students must be able to describe characters and the setting of the story very clearly. By this activity, the teacher can both explore students’ speaking and entertain the class.
The last activity is reporting, which integrates students reading or listening skill with speaking ability. Before coming to class, students are asked to read newspaper or magazines, or to listen to news on radio or television. Later in class, they report to their friends what they find as the most interesting news. Students can also express their opinion about the news, or tell whether they have experienced anything related to the news worth telling to class. This activity fosters the creativity of the learners as well as their public speaking skills.
In summary, teaching speaking can use a variety of communicative activities, ranging from discussion, role play and simulation, brainstorming, storytelling, and reporting. By using those communicative methods, students will have more opportunity to communicate with each other based on real-life situations, or to engage in active tasks to promote their confidence, creativity, and speaking ability in the ways that are meaningful and fun for them.