TI-AIE: Supporting speaking in English: pair and groupwork

What this unit is about

This unit is about classroom activities that will help your students to speak independently in English. Being able to speak English well is a skill that will benefit your students in life outside and beyond school. In order to achieve this, your students need to learn to express themselves in English using the language for their own purposes: to discuss an issue, hold a conversation or gain some information. They need to take part in a variety of speaking activities, including ones that allow them to develop the skills they need for real-life communication. They also need the opportunity to speak using their own words. If words and phrases are always provided for them, or if they recite memorised words and phrases, they will have difficulties when they come to speak by themselves.

This unit gives you some ideas about how to run a variety of activities in your classes that support students in developing the skills necessary to take part in real life. It shows how you can provide opportunities for students to speak in English as much as possible by using pair and groupwork. Pair and groupwork help you to create situations where students have to use English to communicate with each other. There are challenges involved in using pair and groupwork for language practice, so this unit explores how other teachers organise and manage these kinds of speaking activities.

When students first start speaking English in pairs and groups, they need a lot of support. This can begin with giving them the text to say, such as reading aloud from the textbook, repeating phrases and sentences (see the unit Using more English in your classroom), or dictating a passage to a classmate (discussed below). As they gain confidence, you can give them less support and more space to communicate using their own words and ideas through speaking activities such as role play (see the unit Building your students’ confidence to speak English ), an interview or discussion (discussed below).

What you can learn in this unit