One thing that both teachers and learners appreciate is
the need to manage communication in a wide variety of
encounters, and to know what's appropriate to say in
given situations. These can be transactional exchanges,
where the main focus is on getting something done (buying
something in a shop or phoning to make an enquiry),
or interactional exchanges, where the main focus is on
socialising with others (talking about the weekend, or
responding appropriately to good news). As one learner
commented to us, 'Grammar rules aren't enough -I need
to know what to say.' Although it is possible to categorise
'functions' under 'lexical phrases', we believe it is useful
for learners to focus on functional phrases separately from
vocabulary or grammar.
The third lesson in every unit of Speakout looks at one such
situation, and focuses on the functional language needed.
Learners hear or see the language used in context and then
practise it in mini-situations. in both a wrinen and a spoken
context. Each of these lessons also includes a Lea牮 to
section, which highlights and practises a useful strategy for
dealing with both transactional and interactional exchanges.
for example asking for clarification. showing interest. etc.
Learners will find themselves not just more confident users
of the language. but also more active listeners.
The dynamism of most lessons depends on the success of
the speaking tasks. whether the task is a short oral practice
of new language, a discussion comparing information
or opinions, a personal response to a reading text or a
presentation where a student might speak uninterrupted
for a minute or more. Students develop fluency when
they are motivated to speak. For this to happen. engaging
topics and tasks are essential, as is the sequencing of stages
and task design. For longer tasks. students often need to
prepare their ideas and language in a structured way. This
all-important rehearsal time leads to more motivation
and confidence as well as greater accuracy. fluency and
complexity. Also. where appropriate. students need to hear
a model before they speak. in order to have a realistic goal.
There are several strands to speaking in Speakou琺
After introducing any
new language (vocabulary. grammar or function) there
are many opportunities in Spea氼out for students to use it
in a variety of activities which focus on communication as
well as accuracy. These include personalised exchanges,
dialogues. flow-charts and role-plays.
Focus on fluency-
In every unit of Spea氼out
we include opportunities for students to respond
spontaneously. They might be asked to respond to a
series of questions, to a DVD.
Video podcast or a text.
or to take part in conversations, discussions and role
plays. These activities involve a variety of interactional
formations such as pairs and groups.
Speaking strategies and sub
In the third
lesson of each unit, students are encouraged to notice
in a systematic way features which will help them
improve their speaking. These include, for example,
ways to manage a phone conversation, the use of mirror
questions to ask for clarification, sentence starters to
introduce an opinion and intonation to correct mistakes.
Extended speaking tasks -
In the Speakout DVD
lesson. as well as in other speaking tasks throughout
the course. students are encouraged to anempt more
adventurous and extended use of language in tasks such
as problem solving. developing a project or telling a sto特.
These tasks go beyond discussion: they include rehearsal
time, useful language and a concrete outcome.
For most users of English (or any language, for that
matter). listening is the most frequently used skill. A
learner who can speak well but not understand at least as
well is unlikely to be a competent communicator or user
of the language. We feel that listening can be developed
effectively through well-structured materials. As with
speaking. the choice of interesting topics and texts works
hand in hand with carefully considered sequencing and
task design. At the same time, listening texts can act as a
springboard to stimulate discussion in class.
There are several strands to listening in Speakout:
Focus on authentic recordings-
In Speakout, we
believe that it is motivating for all levels of learner to
try to access and cope with authentic material. Each
unit includes a DVD extract from a BBC documentary.
drama or light entertainment programme as well as a
podcast filmed on location with real people giving their
opinions. At the higher levels you will also find unscripted
audio texts and BBC radio extracts. All are invaluable in
the way they expose learners to real language in use as
well as different varieties of English. Where recordings,
particularly at lower levels, are scripted, they aim to
reflect the patterns of natural speech.
Focus on sub-skills and strategies-
the recordings in each unit are designed with a number
of sub-skills and strategies in mind. These include:
listening for global meaning and more detail: scanning
for specific information; becoming sensitised to possible
misunderstandings; and noticing nuances of intonation and
expression. We also help learners to listen actively by using
strategies such as asking for repetition and paraphrasing.
As a context for new language-
We see listening
as a key mode of input and Speakout includes many
listening texts which contain target grammar, vocabulary
or functions in their natural contexts. Learners are
encouraged to notice this new language and how and
where it occurs. often by using the audio scripts as a resource.
As a model for speak
In the third and fourth
lessons of each unit the recordings serve as models
for speaking tasks. These models reveal the ways in
which speakers use specific language to structure their
discourse. for example with regard to turn-taking,
hesitating and checking for understanding. These
recordings also se牶e as a goal for the learners' speaking.
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Reading is a priority for many students, whether it's for
study, work or pleasure, and can be practised alone,
an祷here and at any time. Learners who read regularly
tend to have a richer, more varied vocabulary, and are
often better writers, which in turn supports their oral
communication skills. Nowadays, the Internet has given
students access to an extraordina特 range of English
language reading material, and the availability of English
language newspapers, books and magazines is greater
than ever before. The language learner who develops
skill and confidence in reading in the classroom will be
more motivated to read outside the classroom. Within
the classroom reading texts can also introduce stimulating
topics and act as springboards for class discussion.
There are several strands to reading in Speakout:
Focus on authentic texts
-As with Speakout listening
materials, there is an emphasis on authenticity, and this is
reflected in a number of ways. Many of the reading texts
in Speakout are sourced from the BBC. Where texts have
been adapted or graded, there is an attempt to maintain
authenticity by remaining faithful to the text type in
terms of content and style. We have chosen up-to-date,
relevant texts to stimulate interest and motivate learners
to read. The texts represent a variety of genres that
correspond to the text types that learners will probably
encounter in their eve特day lives.
Focus on sub-skills and strategies
we strive to maintain authenticity in the way the
readers interact with a text. We always give students a
reason to read, and provide tasks which bring about or
simulate authentic reading, including real-life tasks such
as summarising, extracting specific information, reacting
to an opinion or following an anecdote. We also focus
on strategies for decoding texts, such as guessing the
meaning of unknown vocabulary, understanding pronoun
referencing and following discourse markers.
Noticing new language-
Noticing language in use
is a key step towards the development of a rich
vocabula特 and greater all-round proficiency in a language,
and this is most easily achieved through reading. In
Speakout, reading texts often serve as valuable contexts
for introducing grammar and vocabula特 as well as
As a model for writing
-In the writing sections, as
well as the Writeback sections of the DVD spreads, the
readings se牶e as models for students to refer to when
they are writing
in terms of overall organisation as well
as style and language content.
In recent years the growth of email and the internet has
led to a shift in the nature of the writing our students need
to do. Email has also led to an increased informality in
written English. However, many students need to develop
their formal writing for professional and exam
pu牰oses. It is therefore important to focus on a range
of genres, from formal text types such as essays, letters
and reports to informal genres such as blog entries and
There are four strands to writing in Speakout:
Focus on genres -
In every unit at the four higher
levels there is a section that focuses on a genre of
writing, emails for example. We provide a model
to show the conventions of the genre and, where
we highlight fixed phrases associated with it.
We usually then ask the students to produce their own
piece of writing. While there is always a written product,
we also focus on the process of writing, including the
relevant stages such as brainstorming, planning, and
checking. At Starter and Elementary, we focus on more
basic writing skills, including basic written sentence
punctuation and text organisation, in
some cases linking this focus to a specific genre.
Focus on sub-skills and strategies-
with the genres, we include a section which focuses
on a sub-skill or strategy that is generally applicable to
all writing. Sub-skills include paragraphing, organising
content and using linking words and pronouns, while
strategies include activities like writing a first dra晴 quickly,
keeping your reader in mind and self-editing. We present
the sub-skill by asking the students to notice the feature.
We then provide an opportunity for the students to
At the end of eve特 unit, following the
DVD and final speaking task, we include a Writeback
task. The idea is for students to develop fluency in their
writing. While we always provide a model, the task is
not tied to any particular grammatical structure. Instead
the emphasis is on using writing to generate ideas and
Writing as a classroom activity-
that writing can be ve特 usefully employed as an aid to
speaking and as a reflective technique for responding
to texts-akin to the practice of writing notes in the
margins of books. It also provides a change of pace and
focus in lessons. Activities such as short dictations. note
taking. brainstorming on paper and group story writing
are all included in Speakout.
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In recent years, attitudes towards pronunciation in
many English language classrooms have moved towards
a focus on intelligibility: if students' spoken language is
understandable, then the pronunciation is good enough.
We are aware, however, that many learners and teachers
place great importance on developing pronunciation that
is more than 'good enough', and that systematic attention
to pronunciation in a lesson, however brief, can have a
significant impact on developing learners' speech.
we have taken a practical, integrated approach
to developing students' pronunciation, highlighting
features that often cause problems in conjunction with
a given area of grammar, particular vocabulary items
and functional language. Where relevant to the level. a
grammatical or functional language focus is followed by a
focus on a feature of pronunciation, for example. the weak
forms of auxiliary verbs or connected speech in certain
functional exponents. Students are given the opportunity
to listen to models of the pronunciation, notice the key
feature and then practise it.
TEACHING PRE-INTERMEDIATE LEARNERS
Pre-intermediate students have usually not yet reached
a plateau. This makes them potentially very rewarding
to teach. While they have enough English to have a basic
conversation, they will be able to see progress during the
course in terms of the range, fluency and accuracy of
Pre-intermediate students still probably see the English
language in terms of small. discrete pieces-verb
tenses learned sequentially and basic lexical sets such as
colours, jobs, hobbies. animals. etc. -which they have
not yet 'put together'. One of the keys to teaching at
this level is to provide students with deeper encounters
with the language: setting more challenging tasks than at
elementary, and sometimes asking students to deal with
the complexities of authentic material -text and ﬁlm -in
order to develop strategies for coping with incomplete
understanding. Strategy development, both metacognitive
(learning habits such as keeping a vocabulary notebook.
watching films etc.) and cognitive (ways to deal with tasks
at hand. e.g. using phrases to ask for help, predicting
content by reading a title etc.). as at other levels. are
essential for students' progress.
Typically. pre-intermediate students are able to make
themselves understood in a wider variety of situations
than they could at elementary. They are also able to
deal with short basic texts. However. they may have
problems with extended discourse. This applies to all
four skills: their spoken utterances will probably be short
and their written compositions brief; they probably do
little extensive reading, and they may have difficulty in
sustaining concentration while listening to recordings or
conversations that are longer than two minutes. One
of the teacher's roles at this level is to gradually expose
students to longer pieces of discourse while providing
both linguistic and motivational support. Teachers should
do thorough. personalised pre-reading/ pre-listening tasks,
break long pieces into shorter sections. and use whole
class activities in order to foster students' conﬁdence.
As regards the syllabus. it is very important for learners
at this stage to encounter the same language again and
again. Pre-intermediate students need a lot of review and
recycling of grammar and vocabulary that they may have
encountered but not yet mastered. Pre-intermediate is a
key stage at which they begin to change passive knowledge
(language they know) into active knowledge (language they
Here are our Top Tips for teaching at this level:
Recycle grammar and vocabula特. Although they will
have covered many key points such as the past simple,
they will not have mastered them.
Introduce learning strategies-e.g. for recording
vocabulary-by modelling them. By now the students
are beyond 'survival English' and should be able to sta牴
'collecting' vocabula特 from the texts they encounter.
• Look at how words work together. At elementa特
students probably need to learn mainly one-word items
in order to name things. but at pre-intermediate they are
more able to work with phrases and chunks of language.
• Get students into the habit of reviewing language
frequently. You could begin each class with a short
review of grammar and vocabulary learnt in the previous
lesson, perhaps by using a game or photocopiable
Do a lot of work on pronunciation through short drills.
At this level. the students need to continue familiarizing
themselves with the sounds of English. particularly the
ways in which the sounds of words change in the context
of connected speech.
Get students to self-correct. At pre-intermediate level,
many students start to develop awareness of correct
and incorrect English. You could try having small signals
on the board, for example. -s for third person 's', -ed for
past tense endings. When the students make a mistake,
you can just point to the board to remind them.
• Where possible. begin to use short authentic texts such
as menus. brochures and newspaper articles.
• Use role-plays and structured speaking tasks to
encourage students to extend their speaking skills.
Encourage fluency by having conversations at the
beginning or the end of the class. Use topics that
students should all be able to talk about. like what they
did at the weekend, or what their plans are for after the
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Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested