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Topic 5 – Oral communication. Elements and rules of speech. Routines and formulae. Strategies of oral communication.


2 way process between speaker and listener involving the productive skill or speaking and the receptive skill of understanding.


There is a tendency to give priority to speech over writing (1st stages) to develop automatic speech habits.

Arguments in favour of speech over writing:

1 It reflects the way children learn native language. (chomsky).

2 Writing is a secondary language, (not in importance), but it is a codification of speech.

Arguments in favour of writing over speech:

1 The spelling system of English, contains useful morphological information which is not present in the spoken language.

2 Speech is not useful, for advanced (derivative vocabulary, compounds, etc), and more complex sentences.



1 Formed by SPEECH ACTS.

J. L. Austin, 60s. Infinite sentences in a finite set of functions.

Speech acts, or illocutionary acts…

expressives representatives directives commisives declaratives

2 sequencing:

ordering of contributions to negotiations of meanings

openings developments closings interrupting turn-taking

3 implicature

H.P Grice quantity, truth, clarity, relevance

Implicature when a hearer notices that the speaker has deliberately flouted one of the maxims


SPEECH EVENTS bridge between speech acts and the higher level of communication system. How people use speech acts in a larger context (speech event).


Expressive expressions of like and dislike


Contrast what it is with what it should be:




When learners of a second language interact with native speakers or other learners, they often experience considerable difficulty in communicating. This leads to interactional efforts by both parts to get mutual understanding. This work is called negotiation of meaning.

Negotiation of meaning has implications in the acquisition of a new language:

Use of strategies to avoid trouble: checking comprehension, selecting salient topics…

Use of tactics to repair trouble: requests for clarification, slow pace, repetition, stressing key words, using gestures…

Speech ones:

Avoid communication. Go to the counter, take it…

Adjust the message I have to hang a picture on the wall.

Paraphrase the thing you use to hang…

Approximation a tool

New words knocker

Switch to native language martillo

Non linguistic resources

Help dictionary.

Learning strategies:

Silent period

Not only through conscious effort.



Listening comprehension

Problems not found with reading material.

Written can be looked at more than once. Spoken word cannot be repeated.

Spontaneous conversation not very organized.

Listening to a teacher or to a tape recorder is not the same as real life listening.


Perception exercises. It is the only category where actual comprehension is a secondary consideration, the emphasis being on aural perception. Visual clues to meaning are eliminated or kept to a minimum in order to induce the learner to rely upon his hear.

Comprehension exercises

Word level:

At early stages. Learning new sounds is not a particularly intellectual activity. It is a matter of acquiring habits. The process of teaching them, therefore, is mostly based on a behaviourist model. The teacher demonstrates the sounds he wishes to teach and encourages students to imitate them with a fair degree of accuracy.

Sentence level:

Once words are integrated into sentences, it is more difficult recognizing them:

Contraction and disappearance of weak forms

Elision of consonants

Ill defined word division

Consequence: acoustic blur, out of which the student has to try to reconstruct what words the speaker actually meant.

No response Can be an excellent framework for the students to be exposed to a large amount to English input

Short responses

Longer responses


Same or different.

Checking understanding.

English or not


Same or different

Checking understanding

Ticking off items (bingo with verbs, vocabulary, etc)

Listening to a familiar text

Listening aided by visuals. (classroom, pictures, student…)

Following a written text

Obeying instructions

Picture dictation

Notin specific information

Detecting mistakes

Paraphrase (simplification avoids repetition)

Answering questions

Guessing definitions

filling gaps


discussion and debate

problem solving


They help to assimilate facts about new language and enable the student to produce the new language for the first time by helping him master the basic structural patterns of the language. They are usually very controlled and have a fairly limited potential. They should not be used either too frequently or for too long. Insist on accuracy, correcting.


They gain some confidence and fluency.

They improve pronunciation.


Pupils can repeat one sentence numberless times and still they may not know how to construct a new one with the same structure.


The model sentence for the drills should always be contextualized and wherever possible an element of contextualization will be sustained through the drill.

The partition of the class in groups or the use of choral drilling permits a longer time of exposition, and increases the confidence of the pupil.

A good idea is to let pupils think about the answer mentally, and then select a pupil.


Mechanical drills:

Substitution: A new word or phrase is substituted in the same position with each response. The teacher gives the substitution word (prompt) orally, using a series of pictures, or with realia, and the students incorporates it in the preceding response.

I can play the guitar


I can play the piano

Ride a horse

I can ride a horse


I can ride a bike

Want to

I want to ride a bike

Meaningful drills:

Open-ended responses

Peter was thirsty so he….

Guessing drills

Guess who he is

Is he tall?

Is he fat?

Imaginary situations.

I am thirsty, what can I do?

Why don´t you have a glass of water?


In this kind of activities the focus will be on the success of the communication. The students use the language as a vehicle of communication rather than being an end itself. They say what they want to say rather than what they are directed to say. The teacher´s attitude to error and mistake will be completely different.

Not only in advanced levels.

Problems of the learners:

Linguistic. The linguistic errors are not so important here as the success of the learner in communicating what he tries to communicate. When errors are corrected, we will try not to make him lose his confidence, nor distract him.


1 inhibition from students to express themselves in the presence of a whole class, and also the fear of making mistakes. Better begining at early stages. Only correcting when essential, and depending on pupils.

2 motivation. Need to communicate. Group work. Every a fragment of a history.


Provide the learners with something to talk about, a theme, a topic, a problem. Stimulus not need to be verbal: picture. General (not technical nor specialised knowledge), and interesting.