Thursday, April 13, 2006

Teaching Speaking (7)


As we saw in the last chapter, guessing is important for listening comprehension. Guessing can be used also to develop speaking skill. Through the process of guessing, students are encouraged to see the patterns of usage and to “invent” the correct words and sentences. Students will guess words and sentences that have not yet been taught to them. Through guessing, students work out the rules of deriving new words for themselves.

The teacher writes a few pairs of sentences such as the following on the board (Doff 1988):
He drives buses. ----- He’s a bus driver.
She sells books. --- She’s a book seller.
Based on these examples, students would guess the correct answers for the following.
Someone who drives trucks (truck driver)
Someone who owns ships (ship owner)
Someone who robs banks (bank robber)

You can find lots of such sets of words for eliciting. Egypt-Egyptian, Brazil-Brazilian; Russia-Russian, India-Indian; buy-bought, catch-caught, think-thought; leaf-leaves, loaf-loaves, knife-knives, wife-wives; interesting-more interesting, beautiful-more beautiful; sleep-slept, meet-met, feel-felt; short-shorter, big-bigger.

Mime may be used to encourage students to guess and speak about what is being mimed. The teacher writes an act on a sheet of paper and asks a student to mime what is written on the paper. Other students describe the act as in sentences such as You are changing a light bulb; You are brushing your teeth; You are reading a book.

A number of guessing games have been suggested by Doff (1988) and others to help students to produce sentences, to get the students to speak. One student may pretend to be a famous person demonstrating some characteristic features of that person. It may be physical appearance, dress, gait, posture, etc. Other students are required to guess who that person is by asking questions such as Are you alive? Are you American, British, etc.? Are you a writer? Are you a movie actor? Are you a general?

A student may choose a job and mime a typical activity of that job. Other students try to guess the job by asking questions as to whether he is mending a shoe, cooking, is using his stethoscope, etc.

In yet another guessing game, an object is hidden and students are asked to guess the name of the object by asking questions such as, Is it made of wood? Is it a pencil? Is it on this side of the room? Is it high or low? etc.


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