Teaching Spoken Language – Literature review Example

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The paper “ Teaching Spoken Language” is a pathetic variant of a literature review on English. There is a growing need for good communicative skills in English around the world which has created a lot of interest in the acquisition of English as a second language discourse. Altbach (2007) says that it is the most broadly studied second language while Crystal (2003) describes it as the most powerful international lingua franca. Since cross-cultural interactions are inevitable, and the fact that English has grown to be the most widely used language in the world, teaching English to Speakers of a Second Language (ESOL) is a discourse that has continued to generate interest.

Spoken English, especially casual conversation, is described as the most difficult to learn and the most difficult to teach. Nonetheless, it is important because it is what learners of English as a second language use to establish and maintain social relationships. Teaching and learning English effectively involves many factors which the teachers need to be conversant with, in order to embrace a method of teaching that fully exploits the opportunities while managing the negative factors.   This paper appraises what the teacher of ESOL should take into account when teaching spoken language.

Specifically, it looks at the learners; their reasons for learning, their social-cultural as well as economic conditions and other factors. It also looks at the context of acquisition and the role English plays in society. Furthermore, it will address the role of first language and English inside and outside the classroom and its implication to the teachers. Finally, the paper will discuss the current teaching approaches and what position spoken language occupies in ESOL. Spoken EnglishSpoken language is characterized by the use of direct speech and expression of the relationship of content.

Learners of English as a second language go through the processes of false starts, starting over, afterthoughts, self-correction, repetition, and hesitations. This is because there is a reference to mental processes. De Silva Joyce (2000) described spoken interactions as either pragmatically motivated or interpersonally motivated. Eggins (1990) categorized pragmatically motivated interactions as encounters while the interpersonally motivate interactions as conversations. Further, she classified the conversations into casual and formal and the encounters as factual and transactional.

Richards argues that teaching spoken English is not the absence of grammar and the rules of language use. As opposed to earlier language learning that focused on mastering the grammar of the English language, recent developments have seen the appreciation of other perspectives in language teaching and learning. According to Richards (2006), there are other processes that enhance learning English as a second language. They include the interactions that occur between the learner and other users of the English language, creating meaning collaboratively, negotiating meaning by arriving at an understanding between the learner and the interlocutor, and learners experimenting in different ways by saying things.

Cross-cultural communication where shared meaning is not created leads to misinterpretations and negative reactions. Richards (2006) defined communicative language teaching as “ a set of principles about the goals of language teaching, how learners learn a language, the kinds of classroom activities that best facilitates learning and the roles of teachers and learners in the classroom” (p. 2). Teachers of spoken English as well as material designers have the task of engaging the learners in exploring cross-cultural perspectives.    


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