AN ANALYSIS OF PERCEPTIONS OF SPEAKING FLUENCY ACTIVITIES: CLASSROOM APPLICATION
Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral (ECUADOR)
About this paper:
Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions that a group of EFL teachers have regarding speaking fluency and to obtain insight as to whether or not these views were reflected in their classroom practices. This topic was considered appropriate to undertake due to the importance and emphasis placed on students´ ability to communicate orally in English. The institution where the study was done has as one of its learning outcomes for students to be able to communicate orally in English upon graduation. In fact, one of the major observations that multinational corporations have made when hiring graduates from this institution is that they are unable to communicate verbally in English. The concern with the development of speaking fluency is not an isolated one as similar studies have been carried out in Iran and Japan.
This qualitative study was conducted at one of the top-ranked public universities in Ecuador. There were a total of 17 participants of whom 10 were male and 7 were female. The participants ranged in age from 25 to 50 years of age. All of them are full -time teachers in the institution and all teach Advanced levels equivalent to the CEFR B1+ or Intermediate level. The study focused on three research questions: What do teachers define as speaking fluency? Are there any differences between those definitions and what the teachers do in class? To what extent are speaking fluency activities developed in class? In order to obtain the necessary data, semi-structured interviews using open-ended questions were used, classroom observations were also done and lesson plans were requested in order to triangulate the data. The classes were specifically requested to be one hour and be dedicated to developing speaking fluency. The study found that for the most part the teachers´ perceptions matched their classroom practices. However, it is the view of the teachers that was a cause for concern. As noted by the British Council (2016) a fluent speaker is able to communicate and receive messages naturally with few errors. Nation & Newton (2009) define speaking fluency as one of the goals of speaking activities in the classroom, which depends largely on having access and control of lexical and syntactic instruments that allow learners to decide how to use them efficiently.
While there was a certain degree of understanding by the teachers about speaking fluency, these views and their classroom practices showed that some major concepts related to speaking fluency were absent or completely misunderstood. Certain principles needed to develop speaking fluency as noted by Kellem (2009) such as time pressure, practice drills, preparation time and the use of familiar and motivating topics were non-existent or only partially done in the classes. It is suggested that further training on the concept of speaking fluency be given to these teachers. In addition the researchers recommend the use of some specific activities in class that match the principles mentioned above such as the 4/3/2 activity attributed to Paul Nation, the use of ¨find someone who¨ activities as well as the need to teach students chunks of language, formulaic sequences and collocations as suggested by Kellem(2009) among others.
Keywords: CEFR European Framework of Reference.