The main problem in teaching a foreign language at school is the recreation of situations at a lesson which would be identical to the situations of the real communication. The most important constituents of natural communication are speech situations; these are such conditions and circumstances which prompt students to speech activity concerning the personal interests of students. The thematic direction of foreign language communication allows teachers of comprehensive schools to create educational speech situations in class; thereby they not only develop speaking skills of students, but also, develop their mental outlook, shape moral values, the relation to people around, etc. Such situations are of great importance in modern society; they force students to express their thoughts, assert their opinions on different things and phenomena. Therefore today teachers of public schools, gymnasiums, lyceums are interested in applying an approach which allows developing students’ conversational skills in EFL classrooms.
This article is devoted to the importance of situational exercises in the development of speaking skills in teaching English as a foreign language. In order to apply such exercises in a classroom correctly, first of all it is necessary to explain some theoretical concepts and, cer-
tainly, to understand how to use such types of exercises in practice.
For this purpose, in this article we will consider:
- the essence of notion “exercise” in the foreign language teaching;
- the main types of language exercises;
- the teaching techniques for successful use of situational exercises;
- we will select the situational exercises for development of students’ communicative skills in the 7th grade of comprehensive school.
The hypothesis of this research is: the purposeful application of situational exercises will be effective if:
- the teacher uses educational speech situations as the representation and enhancing the new material;
- the teacher applies various ways of a reinforcement of speech situations (audio means, fragments from the movie, presentations) in order to motivate students
- the teacher uses preparatory situational exercises at the initial stages of teaching English to secondary school students
- the teacher introduces a complex of communicative exercises gradually, after working thoroughly with preparatory exercises.
As the main emphasis here is placed on a communicative method, in the very beginning we would like to make a review of literature on the topic. The main resources include: Passov Efim Izralievich "Коммуникативный метод обучения иноязычному говорению"; Zimnya Irina Alekseevna "Психологические аспекты обучения говорению на иностранном языке"; Skalkin Vladimir Lvovich "Коммуникативные упражнения на английском языке"; H. Douglas Brown “Principles of language learning and teaching”; Kulibayeva Dinara Nursultanovna “Методологические основы управления образовательной системой школ международного типа”, Rogova G.V. “Роль учебной ситуации при обучении иностранному языку”; Vaysburd Mira Lazarevna “ Использование учебных ситуаций при обучении устной речи на иностранном языке ”.
All above-mentioned works of authors contain classification of methods by certain criteria, for example, E.I. Passov paid the special attention to speech reaction of students,
M.L. Vaysburd examines the components of a speech situation and ways of their creation, V. Skalkin, in his turn, offered conditional speech exercises which are considered as a complex of preparatory exercises to be used before making situational exercises. H. Douglas Brown described the way to use communicative methods in a classroom, what additional resources we can apply.
This article is an attempt to make the general classification of situational exercises, to consider the main methods of their use and determine their importance in teaching English.
An exercise is defined as a regularly repeated action directed at mastering certain activity.
To reveal the efficiency of using exercise, E.I. Passov singled out three main components:
- specific goal (skill, ability);
- qualitative parameters of exercise (structure, nature of action);
- specific conditions of using exercise (external, internal) .
Conditional speech situations are one of effective means in the development of speech skills and abilities:
- Due to an educational speech situation students are in the conditions close to conditions of the real speech communication.
- Using conditional speech situations it is possible to make active all studied lexical and grammatical material in such a way that students use them in communicative tasks, and it promotes the best assimilation of the material.
- Conditional speech situations help to develop the imagination of students. Being guided by the experience of many teachers it is possible to tell with confidence that the frequent use of an imaginary situation in a classroom helps the students "to get the feel of the role" and to easily perceive a conditional character of an educational situation .
In order to make students enthusiastically perceive an educational speech situation, a teacher has to consider such aspects as subject of discussed topics in the native language, a personal orientation of tasks and age features of school students. Taking into account these factors creating speech situations promotes strengthening of their stimulation and allows increasing their educational effect.
Language exercises are subdivided into linguistic and verbal exercises.
Linguistic exercises include:
- grammatical ("Put verbs in the correct tense", "Write sentences in the second conditional", etc.);
- lexical ("The allocated words replace with synonyms", "Find the antonyms", etc.),
- phonetic ("Group words in a way of a pronunciation", "Read the following words", etc.).
Basic element of situational exercises is the situation. We can refer the term “speech situation” to any elements of reality which prompt students to speech activity. However the educational speech situation differs from naturalistic situation due to the stimulus existence. In a natural situation this stimulus is created with the help of real circumstances, in the conditional speech situation the stimulus is created verbally. The student is given the situation description (You are guest in your friend’s house or your friend invites you to go skating) and at once the stimulus (Ask questions about his room. Then say how you like it or refuse to go skating. Explain why you are so busy).
Among ways of creation of educational and speech situations M.L. Vaysburd mentions:
- verbal description;
- presentation (the graphic: drawing on a board, an illustration in the book, a wall picture, the movie; CD, Multi ROM);
- role playing, using the ready texts, playing of speech games;
- use of real circumstances .
The majority of methodologists consider the situational exercises to be subdivided into preparatory and communicative. Preparatory exercises (according to E.I. Passov) include imitative, substitutional, transformational and reproductive). In his turn, V.L. Skalkin divided communicative exercises into: supplemented, problem, imagined and role educational and speech situations
Logically, the first complex of training exercises is preparatory and is aimed at the use of lexical and grammatical constructions in speech. There are four types of such exercises: imitative, substitutional, transformational and reproductive.
Imitative exercises: a student finds language structures, lexical units in a cue of a teacher (in a sample) and uses them without changing.
For example: short answers to a question, consent, confirmation:
– Is Sasha a good student?
- Yes, he is.
- Substitutional exercises suppose the substitution of lexical units in the structure of a grammatical form. For example "express disagreement to something", "remind something":
- Do you have a small flat?
- No. I have a big flat.
- In transformational exercises students change a cue of the interlocutor. It can be the replacement of a word order or the change of tense etc. For example: analogical answer, inquiry:
- I don't read detectives.
- He said that he didn't read detectives.
- Reproductive exercises (students answer the question, the statement with use of a trained structure) .
For example: the interlocutor has to guess the word or the phrase, to answer a question independently:
- Yesterday I bought something in the shop.
- New costume?
- No a new coat.
All four types of exercises should be performed in specified sequence; they represent the complex of exercises used usually for assimilation of one form or group of lexical and/or grammatical units.
Communicative educational speech situations include the following types:
Supplemented educational speech situations consider the addition of new information, the description of a situation, making a conclusion.
Situation 1. The plane you are flying on lands in Astana instead of Almaty (place where you are going to). You ask the stewardess why. She says…
Student: She says, "Because of the bad weather…" (foggy, unfavorable) in Almaty.
(Variant: Because of the bad weather report we have received from the Almaty airport.)
The problem educational speech
the most difficult ones role-play situations, and also to apply them at the final stage of
situation contains an extra speech task; students describe a problem precisely and ways of its decision" (V.L. Skalkin).
Situation: You want to learn Chinese by yourself (on your own). You need some instruction, textbooks, and records.
Student: First of all I will go to the central bookshop and ask if they have any Chinese teaching material. If they haven’t got them, I will then go to the Abai library and visit section of foreign languages.
Imaginary educational speech situations comprise dispute, discussion, assertion of an opinion.
For example: You get an e-mail from a friend of yours who is going to arrive in your city tomorrow at 3 p.m. As you are very busy at this time, you ask your sister to meet him at the railway station and describe his appearance to her.
Role-play educational speech situations assume the indication of social roles of participants. Some details of conversation can be specified also. The task of participants is to play a role and to define a topic of conversation independently.
You are a journalist of local newspaper. You should write a report about one famous artist of your town. You take interview about his the most attractive pictures, portraits and other works.
V.L. Skalkin recommends to use educational speech situations in that sequence in which they are given above, i.e. from simpler supplemented educational speech situations to
learning the material. It is considered that, only having seized all lexical material of a subject, students will be able to participate in offered situations .
Thus, application of situational exercises:
- develops speaking and thinking activity
- stimulates the development of monological and dialogical speech
- develops skills of spontaneous speech
- is aimed at students’ communicative skills development in a context of real communication.
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