When I was administering the end-of-year Speaking test in one of my Upper-Intermediate groups last spring, I was struck with how non-fluent my students were: around half of them were speaking slowly and with frequent pauses, which made a sharp contrast with their overall language proficiency. It was evident that there had been something fundamentally wrong with my teaching – apparently, using lots of authentic listening in class and for homework, as well as providing the group with lots of genuinely communicative speaking activities of all sorts, was not enough to help my students in this respect. One of the reasons might have been that, as they were living in a monolingual environment and only used English in class, when they engaged in speaking activities my students always felt too safe and took their time to formulate their thoughts, and thus did not progress.
So, when it came to doing a Speaking skill assignment on Delta Mod2, fluency was the obvious choice. A week of frantic digging in literature ensued, and I didn’t regret the choice of topic for a second as it turned out to be a fascinating area.
I’ve been using the insights from that week’s reading for over seven months now in a variety of ways, ranging from little ‘tweaks’ to full 90-minute activities to, recently, a series of workshops for higher level students, so now I want to re-examine that experience. There’s quite a lot, so I’m splitting this into a series of posts.
Part 1. The theory, a post about key insights from literature into what factors contribute (or detract from) to fluency, illustrated with a number of real life examples that I used with my students to raise awareness of these factors (the longest post in the blog – not for the faint of heart!)
Part 2. The practice (I’ll add the links when the posts have been finished):
- A modification of the 4-3-2 technique: mining texts for lexis + mind-mapping to increase fluency gains at B1-B2
- Using the technique with lower levels: mind-mapping social encounters
- An awareness raising workshop for B1+ and B2 students (a lesson plan)
- There are more suggestions for practical activities, with rationale explained, in my Delta Module 2 LSA on spoken fluency.