Conversation and Speaking Classes
Christopher M.
em 06 de Dezembro de 2019

Fluency versus Accuracy


When I teach a speaking class, I need to consider what I want my students to achieve and gain from the exercise.  To simplify this idea, I will talk about two concepts: Fluency versus Accuracy.

By fluency, I am talking about the students' ability to speak freely, clearly and comfortably with few breaks and pauses. The ability to change topics easily and also be able speak at length about a particular topic. Sometimes when I have an 'open conversation' class or speaking exercise, I will use a macro theme such as technology for example. I will usually ask a few broad open-ended questions to get the students talking and then step back and allow the students to control the direction of the conversation to speak and express themselves without spot correcting mistakes (although I will note common errors and repeated errors in group at the end of the class). A fluency based conversation class allows the students to link, connect and organize their thoughts, vocabulary and ideas freely. The focus is not on grammar or phrase structure.

By accuracy, I am talking about the students' ability to speak correctly with proper structure and use of grammatical tools. For these types of exercises, I put a component of English in-a-box and use repetition of a grammatical theme. The students practice and repeat the correct structure and grammar and become more accurate in their speech. For example, if we consider prepositions of time, I would first explain the basics of AT, IN and ON then ask questions that require a response which must include one of the prepositions in the response. For example: What time is your English class? The student would need to respond 'My class is AT 10am'. Then I would put these concepts into a usable context, for example: making invitations or appointments etc. I would make sure the student utilize the grammar and structure in their phrases or questions such as 'Are you free ON Monday IN the afternoon AT 2:30?'

Obviously, some classes and themes allow for a mixture of both these concepts. The idea, is to show 2 different styles of conversation and speaking classes with a different focus and approach. One is not better or more important than the other. It is necessary to be able to speak both fluently and accurately.


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Hortolândia / SP
Especialização: TESOL Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (Academy of Languages and Training Canada)
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