A speaking lesson’s main aim is to develop the speaking for fluency abilities of the students – emphasis on for fluency because you want to focus on developing their abilities to speak in an uninterrupted flow in a ‘on the spot’ manner like a conversation rather than saying a few word responses, individual sentences, or reading some kind of script out loud. If following a speaking framework, depending on how much time your lesson is, you should dedicate around half or one-third of the time to the speaking activity itself. In order to accomplish an activity that can go for so long, it’s best to think of having various layers of staging and changing of interaction patterns (e.g. changing student roles, changing from a pair-speaking to small group activity etc.). Also, it’s really nice to associate the speaking activity with a communicative goal (some sort of task that requires the students to speak). The ‘go-to’ lesson framework for a speaking lesson (generally based on a 40 – 60 minute time frame) to help guide the teacher in the classroom, is as follows (you can click the hyperlinks to get more detail about each specific stage and below the framework are lesson examples)
- Lead-in: Engage the students in the context of the lesson. Generally, a good practice for a lead-in is to elicit a keyword relating to the topic, and then give them a pair-speaking activity also relating to the topic. Try to keep the lead-in to be around 3 minutes minimum and 7 minutes maximum. It’s good practice to link the lead-in with the final speaking task (e.g. could have a brainstorm during the lead-in that relates to the final speaking activity).
- Introduce Text/Gist Question(s)/Demo of Task: This stage usually provides some form of text (and by ‘text’ it could be either reading or listening) that sets the context and ideally acts as some kind of demo of the final speaking task. Whenever you introduce a text, you should introduce it with a gist question (a comprehension question that focuses on the main idea). Alternatively, you can do a model of the task as the teacher in front of/with the students without a gist activity associated with it e.g. If you want them to do a presentation of the city they’re from in small groups, you can start by doing one in front of the class about the city you’re from.
- [Noticing/Analysis Task]: The noticing task will draw the students’ attention to the target language of the lesson used in the previous text (if a text was used), which will be focused on in the next stage.
- Language Clarification/Language Focus: Here you will clarify meaning, form, and pronunciation (or MFP) of the target language (the ‘TL’). You can decide to clarify grammar, vocabulary, or functional language depending on what will be most useful in terms of facilitating the final speaking activity (i.e. If it’s a role play at a restaurant, perhaps phrases like: “Could I get the…”, “Does the __ come with __?” etc. would be useful)
- [Preparation]: Here the students will do some sort of activity to help them for the final speaking task i.e. brainstorming, writing down some notes, doing a modified version of the final task etc.
- Productive Speaking Activity: Here is where the main aim of the lesson will take place; the students will practice speaking for fluency in some sort of communicative activity format. The bulk of the time of the lesson should be dedicated to this stage. Think of having various layers of different stages and interaction patterns here to give the students plenty of time to practice speaking for fluency.
Note: The stages in [ ] are optional.
Here are some ready-to-go lessons for you to implement inside the classroom and/or use as examples when creating your very own lesson plans.
The mid-intermediate English level is in-between upper-intermediate and pre-intermediate that corresponds with the ‘B1’ scale of the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) language proficiency guidelines, which you can learn more about here. These lessons are most suitable for the intermediate level; however, they could be implemented in both a pre-intermediate as well as upper-intermediate classroom.
Ready for Halloween? Know what you’re going to wear? Here’s a fun lesson based on the context of Halloween costumes – sure to be fun for all the students as they get to develop their speaking for fluency abilities in a fun and interactive lesson! Relates to topics such as Holidays, Clothes, Drawing, and Art.
The upper-intermediate level corresponds with learner who are of the B2 band of the Common European Framework Reference (or CEFR), which you can read about here.
Here’s a lesson utilizing a clip from the famous 1990’s film ‘Jerry McGuire’ that teaches some fun and colorful functional language phrases and sets up a fun and interactive speaking activity. Relates to topics such as Sports, Business, Negotiation, and American Football.