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Use the Principles of SPEECH to Improve Your Effectiveness as an ESL Teacher

written by: Audrey Alleyne • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 8/2/2012

Use the basic teaching principles of SPEECH to teach English as a second language.

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    What is SPEECH?

    The word SPEECH can help you gain a lot of success in teaching English as a second language. For the purpose of this article, each letter of the word represents an important step in helping your students to achieve the goal of learning the language.

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    S-P-E-E-C-H

    S - First, you must speak the target language. Find creative ways to encourage your students to speak. Students should have the opportunity to speak as much as possible. Use relevant and interesting activities to enable them to do this. English is usually your common bond anyway, since your students will probably comprise different nationalities. The main focus of each lesson should be on speaking and listening. This is the only true route to fluency and improved pronunciation.

    P –Prepare your lessons in advance. Be prepared to encounter different ideas. Tailor activities to the needs and interests of the students. Most probably you will be dealing with a combination of people from other cultures, so difficulties may arise. There may be business people, teenagers and housewives for example. You need to establish a tone that is appropriate to the needs and personalities of the students. The right atmosphere will encourage them to learn.

    E – Elicit knowledge from your students before presenting new material, but do not bore them with points they have already mastered. Once you realize they have got the hang of the lesson, move on.

    E - Encourage them to express their personal opinions, and give them opportunities to experiment. An important point here is to exemplify rather than explain. Use good examples of patterns of the language, in order to get a point across, instead of long, complicated explanations.

    C - Compliment your students at every opportunity, and correct them gently. Keep corrections to a minimum though, and do not correct during a discussion. Use drills to correct; and you can correct during oral drills. The best way to correct is to repeat the student’s mistake correctly. Create a supportive environment for your students.

    H Help your students by keeping their level of interest high. Keep their interests and needs foremost in your teaching approach. Build on their prior knowledge and experience, and integrate skills whenever possible and appropriate. You will gain valuable insights into your students' needs and interests; in addition, the lessons will be interesting, enjoyable and memorable.

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    Vary Activities

    With the SPEECH approach to teaching English as a second language, you should vary the activities at least twice during an hour’s lesson. Have your students move around. Develop the same language points with a variety of activities such as: role play, mimes, games, quizzes and questionnaires.

    These activities help in maintaining the students’ level of interest and motivation. In the end, your teaching experience and their learning experience will be mutually rewarding.