Monolingual classes: how to get them to speak English

Help, tips and advice in teaching English

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Monolingual classes: how to get them to speak English

Unread postby fatma » 19 Mar 2009, 18:37


I am teaching a monolingual class. Most students come for socializing, very few are serious students. Most classes have up to 12 or more students. I find it v. hard to do speaking activities with them, as they just question and answer their partners in their L1, and even when i go around the class monitoring, and telling them to speak in English, they just resort back to L1, since they don't have much motivation to speak English. They only come in the first place to get out of the house and meet up with friends.

How do I solve this problem? Even when I tell them to speak in English with their friends, not just in PW and GW, but all the time, they of course don't. And most of the time I get so tired that I just stop telling them. They are adults, and paying students, so I can't v. well kick them out of class or anything like that.

Please help!

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Re: Monolingual classes: how to get them to speak English

Unread postby Lucy » 29 Mar 2009, 20:09

Hi Fatma,

I would start by insisting that they use English during pair work and group work. Whenever you set up an activity, tell them you expect it to be done in English. Don’t waste time or energy at the beginning insisting that chats with friends be done in English. You’ll be fighting a losing battle. Even if they try, they won’t have all the vocabulary and you’ll end up helping out with chats in class which is not your role. In any case, you should be giving them so much work to do, that they don’t have time to chat.

Remember these three key elements when organising speaking activities:

Language used – make sure students have the language needed to carry out the task. This includes metalanguage. One example is: “whose turn is it?” if they’re playing a game.

Preparation – always allow students time to prepare what they will say. As they get better at speaking, less preparation time will be needed.

Make sure there’s always a valid reason for speaking, remember the communicative element.

Finally, have you carried out a needs analysis with your students? What will they be using English for? What do they think their weak points are? This will help you to choose material that they are motivated to speak about.


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