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Is SPEAKING the “lost eagle” of ELT? [Part FOUR]

If we are to have any success in “teaching” speaking (or facilitating its learning):
  1. We have to have a decent “roadmap”

  2. We have start walking-our-talk

  3. We have to know how well we are doing (and let learners know about this, too) This first point hints at the dimension of curriculum – an area I have devoted many posts to on this blog (so we won’t cover all this ground again). Suffice to say we have to see curriculum as more than a “series of teaching plans”, we have to conceptualise of it as being more than a “basket of instructional bricks” (or courses) that are “delivered” to students! There are still many schools and universities out there whose only “speaking curriculum” is the content page of their textbook or the limited (and mind-numbingly boring) speaking activities dropped into these books. There are others (cheered on by the “learning outcomes movement”) that have developed more systematic speaking outcomes, worked to staircase these across semesters and developed packs of curriculum outlines (and even their own textbooks). Sadly, however, even on these initiatives such curriculum tools are defined in terms of "teaching" or the language of curriculum developers – in addition to the “way we done things for years around here”. There are very few schools and universities that have meaningfully moved away from a “topic-based teaching model” to one that starts with the question(s):

  1. What type of “speaking” will our students need to do in “the real world” of the 21st Century? What should they be learning to “do” with their oral communication abilities and what they learn about speaking skills? How do we know this? In Turkey, for example, this is evidenced by the fact that so few schools have aligned their speaking programmes to frameworks such as the CEFR or the “can-do statements” developed by ALTE. In many universities, there are also many "hazırlık centres" that do not fully know how their graduates will "use" their English speaking skills in Freshman year - let alone the "real world". In the absence of this type of data, they just keep on doing what they have always done – and prepare students for “academic speaking activities” (that more often than not do not take place or have little relevance to the real world). In the real world, speaking is used for a wide range of activities:

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