In the Modern Language / Foreign Language class, speaking is the least developed skill. Teachers may spend much time in teaching a new grammar concept but they usually do not spend that same amount of time in helping students to become better at speaking. One way to help students improve their oral communication involves scaffolding their speaking from very structured speaking to spontaneous speaking.
Students can start off by looking at a sheet of questions and asking one of the written basic target language question such as “How are you?” and “Where do you live?”to their partner who answers. Then, the partner asks them a different question from the sheet. They continue asking and answering for many questions. A next baby step incorporates the students modifying these basic questions. I have included italicized words for Spanish students to change (http://bit.ly/squestc). For example students might change ¿Cuántas clases tienes? to ¿Cuántos libros tienes?
After students have reviewed question words, they can ask question words about randomly given common topics such as school and home. Their partner checks to see which question words they used and tells them which they did not use. As students develop their ability to ask questions about a topic, their partners answer these questions (http://bit.ly/squestw).
Next, the students move on to asking and answering questions about a common topic as presented through a graphic such as clip art picture of a girl at a birthday party or a family at a beach. The students randomly select the topic to speak about and begin to have their conversation about the topic (http://bit.ly/scontop)
As students become proficient at asking a wide variety of questions and answering those questions, they increase in their ability to speak. They become more fluent; they begin to speak spontaneously.
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I have developed many Spanish activities that allow students to begin to express themselves and to begin to move toward spontaneous speaking as in a natural conversation. My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (20+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask a question from a card-whole class), Structured Speaking (Students substitute in or select words to communicate in pairs), Role Playing (Students talk as people in pictures or drawing from 2-4 people) and Speaking Mats (Can talk using a wide variety of nouns, verbs and adjectives to express their ideas- pairs or small group), Spontaneous Speaking (based on visuals or topics in pairs), and Grammar speaking games (pairs or small group). Available for a nominal fee at Teacherspayteachers: http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle
My three formative assessment books: http://is.gd/tbook