Rachel Appleby, author and seasoned EAP teacher, looks at the challenges of teaching speaking skills in an academic context. Rachel hosted a webinar on this topic on 21st November. You can view a recording of the webinar here.
Why should academic speaking be any different from regular speaking skills?
In General English contexts, students need informal discussion skills, everyday transactional skills (such as those we practise in roleplay activities), and ultimately to be able to communicate successfully. Quite often those students who have good communication skills in their first language are able to transfer them successfully to a second language.
In an academic context, these general skills are still important, but specifically, there are two key areas which require focus, namely:
- participating in seminars
- giving academic presentations
So what do we mean by these? Apart from regular language work, how can we help students participate? What sort of questions open up a discussion, or enable a student to delve more deeply into a topic? How can they present an argument well? What do we mean by ‘clarity’ from a speaker’s perspective? And how can we help students structure their speaking, both in terms of an overall text, as well as at sentence level?
As these are actually important in everyday conversation, then they are skills which are already accessible to the teacher; they are things that we should be able to do too!
In terms of fine-tuning what students need, we should also bear in mind the sorts of contexts they learn in. For seminars, this is raising an awareness of, and practising group discussion conventions. For presentations, students need help in planning, and then in organizing the content. And of course unless they are seasoned presenters in their own language, a lot of effective work can be done on delivery, either for giving a PowerPoint presentation, or a poster presentation. I recently spent a little time on the latter, and the results were impressive: my students were not only able to layout a poster with visual clarity, but also present it orally with a good degree of conviction. It certainly pays to work on a few nifty tips and strategies!
Academic speaking skills training gives students structure for what they want to say, as well as rationale and focus; all of which are extremely useful for effective communication in every walk of life.
For us as teachers, it’s also important to be able to ensure equal participation among our students. By first observing, and then working on techniques students can use, we can maximize their participation in seminars and help enable students not simply to join in a discussion but also to lead a discussion.
If you teach students about to study at college, or already in tertiary education, or you’d simply like to know more about these issues, then watch the webinar here!
Pingback: Teaching Speaking for Academic Purposes | TEFL & Educational Technologies | Scoop.it
7 November 2012 at
Could be sleepless night for me depending on the time…
9 November 2012 at
Excellent topic to discuss! Academic speaking is always a challenge to teach. Looking forward to your webinar, and thank you for the EAP book. I am exploring it and enjoying a lot!
13 November 2012 at
Is this for free?
13 November 2012 at
Hi Berrios, yes, it is free of charge to attend this webinar. Thanks!
16 November 2012 at
how to apply to webinar?
16 November 2012 at
Hi, you can register at http://elt.oup.com/events/global/approaches_to_academic_speaking Thanks!
21 November 2012 at
It was a great webinar! Thank you!
22 November 2012 at
Unluckily I missed this great progam.
26 November 2012 at
Hi, you can now view a recording of this webinar at https://sas.elluminate.com/mr.jnlp?suid=M.623E83B6500FF53BBF743E478F9FC4&sid=2011204
Pingback: Teaching Speaking for Academic Purposes | ...