I recently did a presentation on improving students’ oral communication through formative assessment and someone asked how much time I spend on having my students speak. in the target language. My definition of student speaking in the modern language does not include doing grammar exercises such as “Did you buy the fruit? Yes, I bought it” where the focus is on the correct verb form. Neither do I include in the category of speaking vocabulary exercises such as “What do you do with your pen? I write.” These sentences do not communicate ideas;they only practice grammar or vocabulary.
My answer to how much the students should be speaking in the modern language class is to take the percent for the speaking part on the final and multiple it by the number of minutes in a class. For example, if speaking on your final counts 20%, then multiple 20% percent x 40 minutes of class = at least 8 minutes of speaking per student per class. When students work in pairs during a conversation, then students can accumulate minutes easily.
If we believe that oral communication is critical and if we want our students to be speakers of the language, then we have to allocate at least eight minutes of each class to develop their speaking in the target language. We need to have speaking activities that allow for the exchange of reactions and ideas. When students really communicate with one another, they become very engaged.
For how many minutes do your students speak each class?
My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You can instantly use these many communication activities in your classroom with even beginning students when only half the class has mobile devices. It can be downloaded as a pdf.
I have developed 5 Visual activities/games for any modern language (no words) and have developed 27 Spanish activities for students to begin to express themselves in the modern language and to move toward spontaneous speaking Teacherspayteachers: http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle
My three formative assessment books, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, are available at http://is.gd/tbook