problems in teaching listening and speaking n.
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when students won t use english in class

Context. Teaching speaking and listening skills in a college in Tokyo specializing in foreign language and business training. The class is composed of 15 young people, mostly female, 19 and 20 years of age. Most of the learners saw improving their English proficiency as a way of enhancing their employment prospects.


The fundamental problem is the students ’ dependency on using Japanese in the classroom, not just to translate some English vocabulary and ask questions of their colleagues, but also to converse about their daily lives. This happens even when the teacher is trying to explain something to the class, or another student was asking a question. The teacher knew that the students were fairly fluent in English and that they understood proper classroom behaviour. The teacher pointed out that they should not use English during class time, which some learners ignored.

encouraging meaningful interaction in the classroom

Context. Eurocentres in an English Language School in London, the course is a 13 week general English course, intensive with 20 hours a week of general English in the mornings, and 5 hours week of optional English in the afternoons. The class has 12 students ranging in age from17-50, with 4 Swiss –French, 1 Swiss-Italian, 5 Swiss-German, 1 Salvadorian and 1 Brazilian student. Lower Intermediate level.

Encouraging Meaningful Interaction in the Classroom.

From the beginning of the class it was noticed that students had unusual difficulties in terms of general lack of willingness to participate fully in free speaking activities such as ice-breakers and activities designed to encourage curiosity about each other’s culture and experiences. This may have been because the class was predominantly Swiss based, so there may have been little general curiosity about the other students. The problem was therefore one of creating a context for meaningful spoken interaction among a predominantly single nationality group. Associated with this was the problem of nationality cliques, dependence on the learners’ L1, and dependence on the teacher.

improving students listening

Context:Many students in Asian countries enter university to study English. Invariably a good number of those will also enroll in a conversation school class because their university classes are too large and they get very little talking time or useful feedback from the teacher. An attractive feature and a sales point of many English conversation schools is that the class size is very small, typically this may be 5-9 students (Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand private schools). In such a conversation classroom the teacher would be very aware of the amount of time students spend time talking. The classes are kept small for the very purpose of giving students more chance to speak. There is a positive emphasis placed on the ratio of student talk to teacher talk in the classroom. Teachers are constantly reminded to give their students value for money in the STT – TTT ratio. Students too are inclined to complain if they thing they do not get enough time to speak in the class.


The activities and exercises in many conversation classes tend to treat listening as a by product, with a main focus on the production of speech. There are few activities that promote listening development, with the teaching methods aimed at creating speaking opportunities rather than listening practice. Students will often respond to teacher tasks by addressing the teacher directly and not including other students in the dialogue (students want to interact only with the teacher, not with other students). Other students seldom add to or comment on the interaction, so it seems that often they are not listening to the interaction at all, turning off their attention and concentration until it comes tome for their turn to interact with the teacher. They are very passive when interaction does not involve themselves personally and directly. Often during exercises students do not listen when other students are speaking, they do not pay attention

role plays in a speaking and listening class

Role plays would seem to be an ideal activity for learners to practice both speaking and listening together in an authentic, natural language task. They are given a situation and they act it out generating and then using language that they have been taught. The role play would then seem to be an ideal activity in which students could use their English creatively and develop natural conversation skills. However what often happens in roles play is that students will prepare dialogues based on prompts for a situation, with much work out into the vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation of the items of language they need, with the result that the role play is then practiced as a reading out of the dialogues they have developed, so that it often sounds like an artificial and un life- like piece of language. There is no sense of the unknown or the unpredictable which would be present in authentic language use

Role Plays in a speaking and listening class