Over the past decades, many countries have started to encourage citizens to adapt another language and become bilinguals, or better yet, multilingual. With this popularity of language learning, experts in English as a second language have never halted seeking for plans and designs that would ensure effective language acquisition among those who learn. For the majority of the language learners and proponents, learning to communicate in languages other than their mother tongue helps achieve progress on any chosen endeavor. Because English is the most prominent of all languages being learned, it is considered international and is often spoken in the business world.
In the field of language teaching, achieving fluency and accuracy in one’s speech is the aim. It also means that being able to communicate what one means by production of sounds is an essential part of success academically or in life. Speaking and the role it plays in learning English are imperative to one’s accomplishments. Like learning other languages, the ability to speak and convey intended meaning is of utmost importance. Looking at the records of language teaching techniques, it is clear that many educators have put more emphasis on learning how to speak above the three other language skills. The number of people devoting much time and effort learning to speak English is important evidence that it is crucial to one’s achievement in school, the workplace and the competitive world.
The 1986 research conducted by Cummins and Swain construed that there is a strong interdependence between L1 and L2 in bilingual education. This interdependence is rooted on the fact that the first language plays an important part in learning a second language successfully. Strengthening skills in the first language is also somehow dependent on one’s ability in the second language. It has been emphasized that competence in the language used in school is important in developing academic skills and comprehension of content presented in that medium. The classroom, then, is a melting pot of developing competitiveness in the second language. With exposure to linguistic activities, students are able to improve processing and discriminating input in English. Equally important, beginners in the language tend to translate ideas first as they can’t think in the target language directly. This is quite different from what many traditional teachers expect from them. It is helpful to understand that for many who are approaching fluency and advancement in the language, code switching or translation is essential in comprehension.
Activities in the classroom open opportunities for class members to communicate. It is through this that many teachers devote much time in designing techniques that would cater to developing the speaking skills and the participation of the students. When students face situations that demand participation or relates to interests, class members are likely to take their part in the process. Strategies and activities serve as a springboard of group sessions in the ESL classrooms. Because they are supposed to serve their purpose in developing fluent speakers, they must be properly observed and effectively practiced. The following are the most popular strategies employed in the ESL classrooms to compel students to communicate:
Often not given enough emphasis, functional or real language exposure is found to be most effective in compelling students to communicate in the target language. Because of its scope and demand, many schools may have shied away from implementing this strategy that includes the whole academic community. Success of its implementation actually demands the active engagement of the teachers, the administration and the students themselves. In many instances, students claim that they did not speak English inside the school premises because they do not find the need for it. For others, unwillingness to try can be a factor. Younger students are not as intrinsically motivated to speak in English as the adults are. Additionally, some students may consider English as an ordinary everyday language employed by people around them. Sadly, a number of students think that there is no relevance in talking to their teacher in English and thus will never be accustomed to it.
Newspapers and magazines are rich sources of timely topics that can jump start conversations. They are also fountains of vocabulary and the developments in social linguistic trends. A context-rich medium, they include a variety of topics on literature and issues that students may have opinions about. Usually, reading topics and preparing for conversations about them are assigned as homework and are stated as part of the requirements for passing English subjects. When not forming part of the syllabus, it can be treated as part of enrichment activities for reading and speaking classes. The challenge, however, comes with the students’ willingness to read the headlines regularly.
Developing communicative competence among students can be done by having oral recitation sessions in the classroom. To be able to score well in this activity, students are to study and recall the important information discussed previously. With this, they develop the habit of reviewing lessons rather than forgetting them after the lecture. When grading recitations include the weight of the answers and the number of times each student has participated, thus, making them prepare for it.
Often used in content areas like the social sciences, reporting can be utilized to challenge students to make their peers understand ideas by the use of personal communication styles. When given the chance to deliver reports in the target language, students will not only be forced to understand the content of the subject but to master the art of explaining it clearly.
Teachers are equipped with abilities to make language learning fun and easy for students. With their desire to produce students who are competent language users, various strategies are employed in the classroom. Teachers are important factors in the language learners’ lives. As one of the main sources of linguistic faculity, they are to model the use of language.