Various activities a teacher can select in a language class

Although dialogues and conversations are the most obvious and most often used speaking activities in language classrooms, a teacher can select activities from a variety of tasks.


Drills in which the learner simply repeats a phrase or structure (e.g., “Excuse me.’ or “Can you help me?”) for clarity and accuracy;


Drills or repetitions focusing on specific phonological or grammatical points, such as minimal pairs or repetition of a series of imperative sentences;


Short replies to teacher or learner questions or comments, such as a series of answers to yes/no questions;


Dialogues conducted for the purpose of information exchange, such as information-gathering interviews, role plays, or debates;


Dialogues to establish or maintain social relationships, such as personal interviews or casual conversation role plays; and


Extended monologues such as short speeches, oral reports, or oral summaries.

These tasks are not sequential. Each can be used independently or they can be integrated, depending on learners’ needs. For example, if learners are not using appropriate sentence intonations when participating in a transactional activity that focuses on the skill of politely interrupting to make a point, the teacher might decide to follow up with a brief imitative lesson targeting this feature.

When presenting tasks, teachers should tell learners about the language function to be produced in the task and the real contexts) in which it usually occurs. They should provide opportunities for interactive practice and build upon previous instruction as necessary (Burns & Joyce, 1997). Teachers should also be careful not to overload a speaking lesson with other new material such as numerous vocabulary or grammatical structures. This can distract learners from the primary speaking goals of the lesson.