Benito Vacio

Unending speaking day

Ideas to get your students speaking English


I had the rare privilege of attending an English seminar facilitated by one of the most sought-after language speakers in Thailand, Mr Andrew Biggs. This happened two terms ago during a seminar in Sainoi, Nonthaburi. I was able to get many ideas in making Thai students like English. One of these ideas is through auto-suggestion by way of reciting everyday ... I am getting better and better every day at English.

From the time I started this practice. I was so delighted to hear my students recite it like a mantra. So I thought of sustaining it by letting them share what they could say, ask, answer, name, and tell. Last semester I taught them what they could say in the first week.

They would reply when asked, "How are you?" with "I am fine thank you, and I am getting better and better every day at English" I can say: Hello. Hi. Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening. Good night. In the 2nd week, they learned, I can ask: What's your name? How old are you? What grade are you in? Who is your teacher? What is the name of your school?

In the 3rd week I taught them, "I can answer: My name is______. I am _____ years old. I am in Grade ____.My teacher is____. My school is _________.

In class when asked what they could say, they enumerated the greetings. When asked what they could ask, they asked personal info questions. If asked what they could answer, they answered.... My name is, I am......

As students were repeating this for three months during the flag ceremony and before starting my classes, I was so delighted that my students indeed felt more comfortable with English. The better ones could read with confidence, so many of them could spell pretty well, the enthusiastic ones used simple English expressions, and the not so good ones caught up a little with the better ones. Even the less attentive students actively participated. In class, if a student could recite at least one category he/she earned a point. But if they could recite more categories they could earn more points. At the end of the month, the highest pointer of each grade level was awarded during the flag ceremony.

In the succeeding weeks, I taught them what they could tell... the days of the week. They said, "I can tell the days of the week... Sunday,Monday, Tuesday.... A after that,"I can name the 10 ASEAN countries." ,"I can count 1-10", " I can count by tens" Actually there are a lot of things the students can do. They can , name the months of the year, enumerate what they play, like, drink, read, watch, listen, go to , love, etc.

To reinforce the things they learned, during the flag ceremony, selected students were assigned to say each category. One student would present what he/she could say. Another student would recite what he/she could ask. The 3rd student would say what she could answer. The 4th one would name the days of the week, and the 5th one would name the ASEAN countries. This was done from level 1- 6. Every grade level had 5 speakers. They first introduced themselves said their name, age and grade, said their piece and ended with a thank you. It was very rewarding for the not so good students for even if they could recite only one category they still got the appreciation of everybody. They felt as if they had accomplished something great.

I also applied what I learned from a Nonthaburi English Teachers' Project teacher who used to require his students to ask questions before entering his room. I wrote the structures the students learned on pieces of papers, which the students had to draw out from a box, read, and answer.

Before I attended Andrew Biggs' seminar, I ran out of speaking gimmicks to present in our morning activities but with what I do now, I have a lot. How about trying this in your school? Once you've tried it , let me know if it works. Good luck.




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