English Language Study Skills and the Internet (ELSSI)

Computer connecting to Internet

Module 6: Speaking Skills
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One problem many language learners face is finding opportunities to improve their speaking skills. Luckily, there are ways to use online resources in this area as well. In this module, we will discuss how to improve your speaking skills using some of the websites and activities discussed in previous modules and introduce some new or future possibilities. Some questions we will consider in this module are:

(1) What is important when trying to develop our speaking skills?

(2) What kinds of materials are available online to help us?

First, there are at least two main areas we should concentrate on, fluency and accuracy. We first discussed these points in Module 3 when talking about reading skills, but fluency and accuracy are also important for developing our writing and speaking skills.

In speaking, fluency means trying to express ourselves faster, without too many pauses or interruptions. However, just speaking quickly will not help us if we continue having problems forming correct sentences or using words or phrases properly. Therefore, we also need to develop accuracy, or speaking with fewer mistakes.

One useful activity for improving fluency is shadowing. With shadowing, you want to repeat (shadow) every word you hear. You can of course use radio, television and audio or video tapes, but online sound and video files are also useful.

You can also use shadowing in different ways. Sometimes you will want to listen to longer clips and not worry about every word. The focus here is on quantity.

At other times, you can choose shorter clips or segments for more careful shadowing. The focus here is on quality and you want to listen to the same part over and over until you can repeat every word with the correct pronunciation, intonation, rhythm, etc.

A good starting point for practicing pronunciation is the Internet TESL Journal's ESL: Pronunciation page. You can find links here to tongue twisters, examples of British and American pronunciation, practice quizzes with sound files, etc.

For intonation and rhythm practice, you can shadow while listening to conversations at Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab, monologues at The English Listening Lounge (sadly they have begun charging for access to the full collection) or the news at Voice of America.

Live online chats (such as those hosted by Yahoo) are a good way to practice communication skills but this is still limited to writing and reading for most people. With new technologies, we should begin seeing online forum and chat sites that use sound (and video), providing more opportunities for real-time communication.

One example of the developments being made is iChat by Apple. This AV system allows for videoconferencing and provides a glimpse at things to come.

(1) Visit the DF1LM website and practice making some short animated movies.
(2) Practice shadowing (described above) with some of the listening activities at Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab or Voice of America.
(3) Arrange for a time to chat and then click on Boldchat below.

Live chat by Boldchat
Live chat by Boldchat

(1) E-mail me the URL of your animated movie created at
(2) Participate in the ELSSI Forum at MSN Groups. Initial postings will be due on 12/13 (Mon) and responses to at least two classmates will be due on 12/20 (Mon).
(3) Post your thoughts, questions and comments on this module in your blog. Due by 12/20 (Mon).

ESL: Speaking - List of speaking related links maintained by Internet TESL Journal
Talk City - Several categories and limited free access, Requires registration
i wanna talk! - Chat rooms for a number of different interests, Requires registration

ELSSI Navigation

- Introduction
  This is the ELSSI homepage.

- Syllabus
  Includes course description, goals and other useful information.

- Schedule
  A list of starting and ending dates for each module.

- Evaluation
  Grading rubric for evaluating learner performance and survey to evaluate the course.

- Module One
- Module Two
- Module Three
- Module Four
- Module Five
- Module Seven

Consider - think about
Concentrate on - focus on
Interruption - break or stop
Quantity - amount, how much
Quality - degree of excellence
Pronunciation - saying a word correctly
Intonation - using correct rises and falls in tone or pitch
Rhythm - how phrases and sentences flow

This course was designed and developed as a requirement for the L630 Course Development for Online Educators course through the Education Department at Indiana University.
The work of both Karen Hallett and Eileen Cotton provided inspiration for the content and organization of this course. This page was created with Netscape Navigator Gold.

Contact Information
For more information, email me at bjones_jp@yahoo.com.

This page last updated on September 12, 2004.
Copyright © 2004 Brent A. Jones. All rights reserved.