Rusova Y.V. The ways of improving future primary school teachers’ English speaking skills

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Русова Юлія Володимирівна – студентка Педагогічного інституту Київського університету імені Бориса Грінченка, спеціальність «Початкова освіта», кафедра іноземних мов і методик їх навчання Київського університету імені Бориса Грінченка

Стаття присвячена проблемі вдосконалення навичок говоріння англійською мовою майбутніх учителів початкової школи. У статті обґрунтовано важливість формування та вдосконалення навичок говоріння для здійснення успішного спілкування; вказано найбільш значущі фактори, що впливають на вдосконалення навичок говоріння; запропоновано декілька ефективних способів вдосконалення навичок говоріння англійською мовою.

Ключові слова: навички говоріння, розвиток і вдосконалення, комунікативний підхід, ефективні способи, майбутні учителі початкової школи.

Статья посвящена проблеме совершенствования навыков говорения на английском языке будущих учителей начальной школы. В статье обосновано важность формирования и совершенствования навыков говорения для осуществления успешного общения; указано наиболее значимые факторы, влияющие на совершенствование навыков говорения; предложено несколько эффективных способов совершенствования навыков говорения на английском языке.

Ключевые слова: навыки говорения, развитие и совершенствование, коммуникативный подход, эффективные способы, будущие учителя начальной школы.

The article is devoted to the problem of improving future primary school teachers’ English speaking skills. The importance of developing and improving speaking skills for the successful communication is substantiated; the most significant factors affecting the improving of speaking skills are indicated; several effective ways of improving English speaking skills are proposed in the article.

Key words: speaking skills, development and improving, communicative approach, effective ways, future primary school teachers.


Problem setting

The strategic course of our country to integrate into the European cultural, educational, and economic space inevitably affects the educational sphere, the current priority direction of which is to form a new generation of teachers, particularly primary school teachers. As each modern primary school teacher of Ukraine is also a teacher of a foreign language, one of the urgent tasks of a high pedagogical institution is to optimize the professional training of future teachers who are able to form the individuality of a primary school student by means of a foreign language.

In other words, the main aim of the foreign language teaching in high school is future primary school teachers’ speaking skills developing and improving. Future Ukrainian teachers have to acquire the ability to speak a foreign language at an independent level, which will make possible their direct contacts with representatives of other countries, provide them effective functioning in academic and professional environment as well as mobility and competitiveness at the global labour market.

Last scientific researches and publications analysis

The question how to approach the teaching of speaking skills best has long been the focus of methodological debates. It has become a subject of investigation of many native and foreign researchers.

Different aspects of teaching foreign language speaking of high school students have been studied so far: principles of teaching speaking (V.A. Artemov, B.V. Bieliaiev, E.P. Shubin, M.A. Florez), a speaking training system (Yu.I. Passov), communication fields and creating of educational authentic situations (V.A. Bukhbinder, V.L. Skalkin, H.A. Rubinshtein, Ye.M. Rozenbaum, T. Wallace, W.E. Stariha, H.J. Walberg, H. Kayi), a system of exercises for teaching speaking (Yu.I. Passov, N.K. Skliarenko, V.M. Filatov, V.B. Tsarkova), functions and units of dialogical and monological speaking (N.I. Hez, P.B. Hurvych, A.D. Klymentenko), peculiarities of teaching speaking through the use of dramatizing (G. Bolton, R.A. Via, S. Holden, G.P. Ladousse, M.L. Schewe, E. Tselikas, Сh. Wessels).

Formulation of the article’s purpose

During the analysis of recent publications, it was found out that the problem of improving English speaking skills is topical and it has been studied by a great deal of linguists and methodologists. It was investigated that improving of students’ speaking skills depends on the teachers’ speaking, on the atmosphere in the auditorium, on the methods, forms, and tasks using during practical classes etc.

However, despite the number of investigations which contain recommendations on how to teach speaking effectively, this important aspect of speech activity is paid little attention by most secondary and high school teachers and needs further development.

The aim of the article is to overview the ways of improving one of the main speech skills, namely speaking skills, of future primary school teachers and to work out practical recommendations on improvement of abovementioned skills which high school foreign language teachers can use in their practice.

The statement of basic material of investigation

Teaching speaking is vital, but speaking is, to our mind, the most difficult part in learning a foreign language because it is usage sense involves the manifestation either of the phonological system or the grammatical system of the language. To form students’ English speaking skills is to teach them to:

  • produce the English speech sounds and sound patterns;
  • use word and sentence stress, intonation patterns, and the rhythm of the second language;
  • select appropriate words and sentences according to the proper social setting, audience, situation, and subject matter;
  • organize their thoughts in a meaningful and logical sequence;
  • use language as a means of expressing values and judgments;
  • use language quickly and confidently with few unnatural pauses, which is called as fluency [1; p. 108].

Thus, the forming and developing of speaking skills should be the priority area of teaching English. We are sure that one of the best ways of improving future primary school teachers’ English speaking skills is to put them in the foreign language environment where they are inspired and encouraged to try to speak the language. It is possible when a teacher uses the communicative approach. As we know, communicative approach to foreign language teaching is not just an environment in which students are offered to study, but directly the involvement of students into activities in the proposed conditions. When students are involved in real communication, their natural strategies for language acquisition are used, and this allow them to learn to use the language, and thus to develop their speaking skills.

It’s a common knowledge, that producing spoken language has often meant a difficulty and an obstacle for English learners. There are many reasons of it: speaking fears, uncertainty in the knowledge, low motivation, frightening atmosphere in the auditorium because of the authoritarian teacher etc. Therefore, English teachers’ task is to help students overcome the difficulties which arise in producing spoken language. In other words, they have to create comfortable environment in auditorium, to organize work in right way, to activate passive students through using of interesting speaking activities. This goal can be successfully achieved through three steps, which are:

  • reducing speaking fear;
  • maximizing student-talking time;
  • using activities to promote speaking.

Students often hesitate to speak because they are afraid of pronouncing foreign words incorrectly or feel really shy about talking in the presence of other students. English teachers can help them reduce this fear, as we think, by maintaining a friendly atmosphere in the auditorium. Once students feel a sense of support from their teacher and peers, it is likely that they will be more willing to speak the target language. It is considered that to make the classroom environment a non-threatening place a teacher should do the following:

  • encourage free discussion, as the objective is to make students speak fluently;
  • tolerate students’ grammatical errors and correct them later, not during their speech;
  • allow judicious use of certain words and expressions in the students’ native language when they struggle to find the equivalents in English;
  • even if students violate the rule of speaking English, do not get angry with them but gently tell them not to use their native language;
  • give more pair work and group work, as most students are comfortable being part of a small group;
  • add humour to presentation and have fun with students;
  • ask students sit face to face during group discussion, as direct eye contact helps students develop their communication skills.

A teacher should also avoid situations which make students anxious such as correcting mistakes on the spot, calling on students at random, and calling on students without allowing them to prepare for the answers etc. In this way a teacher will definitely reduce students’ speaking fears and raise general motivation making the English classes fun and dynamic [4; p. 155-156].

Maximizing student-talking time is as important as reducing speaking fear. Therefore, before practical classes a teacher should choose educational materials which are interesting and engaging, should provide clear instructions before tasks to not waste time using unnecessary explaining. English language practical classes should include lots of pair and group work that will help reduce teacher talking time.

During practical classes a teacher should be concentrate on eliciting rather than on telling students, there should be also open-ended questions such as Who, What, Why, How, etc, rather than closed questions which can be answered with a “yes” or “no”. A teacher should be a good listener, show interest in what students tell about and respond naturally.

At the end of practical classes a teacher should convert correcting errors into a class activity: errors which a teacher has noted down during the class should become the theme of students’ discussion in pairs – what is wrong with the sentences and how to correct them. And a teacher should ask students to sum up what they have learnt during the practical class.

We would like to point out that English teachers should use a lot of different activities to promote speaking. There exist a lot of speaking activities. But here we will mention only the most popular and effective of them.

Brainstorming – a group or individual creativity technique by which efforts are made to find a conclusion for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members. On a given topic, students can produce ideas in a limited time. Depending on the context, either individual or group brainstorming is effective and learners generate ideas quickly and freely. The good characteristic of brainstorming is that students are not criticized for their ideas so they will be open to sharing new ideas.

Discussion is another technique that can be held for various reasons after a content-based practical class. Before the discussion, it is essential that the purpose of the discussion activity is set by a teacher. A teacher may form groups of students, preferably of 4 or 5, and provide controversial sentences. Then each group works on their topic for a given time period, and presents their opinions to the others. It is important to let each group member to speak. At the end, all the students decide on the winning group who defended the idea in the best way. This activity fosters critical thinking and quick decision making, and students learn how to express and justify themselves in polite ways while disagreeing with the others [3; p. 227].

Information gap activities let students work in pairs. One student usually has the information that other partner does not have and the partners have to share their information. Information gap activities serve many purposes such as solving a problem or collecting information. Each partner of such activities plays an important role because the task cannot be completed if a partner does not provide the information another one needs. These activities are effective because everybody has the opportunity to talk extensively in the target language.

Interviews are also effective speaking activities. Students can conduct interviews on selected topics with various people. Students should prepare their own interview questions and after interviews, they may present their study to the whole group. Conducting interviews with people gives students a chance to practice their speaking ability not only in auditorium but outside as well and helps them becoming socialized.

Role play supposes that students pretend they are in various social contexts and have a variety of social roles. In role-play activities, a teacher gives information to students such as who they are and what they think or feel. It puts students in situations in which they are required to use and develop language necessary in social relationships and helps them to build up their social skills [2; p. 261].

From our point of view, the use of all these recommendations can make students more active at English practical classes, help improve their speaking skills and at the same time make their learning more meaningful and fun.


Thus, we are of the opinion that speaking is a crucial part of second language learning and teaching. The ability to communicate in English clearly and efficiently contributes to students’ success in high school and success later in their professional career and personal life. Therefore, language teachers should pay great attention to improving students’ English speaking skills by different means, remembering three main factors which affect students’ speaking in auditorium: comfortable psychological environment, quantity of students’-talking time, activities and forms of students’ work during practical classes. So, teachers should do their best to reduce students’ speaking fears, to maximize students’-talking time, and use different activities to promote speaking.

The next step of our research is to study the problem of using modern informational technologies in the process of mastering foreign language speaking skills of future primary school teachers.


  1. A. Burns. Teaching Speaking. – Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 18, 1998. – Pp. 102-123.
  2. A. Cohen. Developing the Ability to Perform Speech Acts. – Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 18 (2), 1996. – Pp. 253-267.
  3. F. Green, E. Christopher, J. Lam. Developing Discussion Skills in the ESL Classroom. – Methodology in Language Teaching. – New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. – Pp. 225-234.
  4. R. Carter, M. McCarthy. Grammar and Spoken Language. – Applied Linguistics, 16 (2), 1995. – Pp. 141-158.

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