Teaching Ideas for the ESL Classroom
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"Shadow Speaking" -
Speaking Practice for All Students

Do you have any silent students in class? Do all of your students get enough speaking practice? If some of your students do too little speaking, try "shadow speaking". Teach your students to follow along with a cassette tape, CD or the teachers voice. Shy students do not need to use their voice, just the muscles around their mouth and tongue. In fact, it is better if the voice is silent, because students can listen more carefully.

Teacher Joe has found that there are many advantages in doing pair practice. Although it is not as good as creating new sentences, students can still get used to pronouncing whole sentences at natural speed. Remember, helping pronunciation helps confidence! Also, shy students can feel free to speak out within the safety of the whole class. And of course, every student can do this kind of repetition, making it a very effective use of class time.

You can do "shadow speaking" with any textbook sentence or reading. It's also good to do "shadow speaking" of key sentences used in an exercise. In other words, it's a good review. Try it with interesting quotes and sayings that students can use again in the future. It's quite interesting, actually.

There are a few things you need to be careful about, though:

- Don't do this too often. A few sentences per class can be enough.

- Don't let lazy students remain silent when the whole class is repeating a sentence. Make sure everyone is exercising their speaking muscles!

- Don't speak too slowly. Students will only learn to speak naturally if they practice at natural speed!

- Even if they miss some sounds at first, don't worry as long as they get the rhythm. (See Teaching Rhythm for help.) The correct sounds can be done right with the second or third repetition.

Although this is a simple technique, it is amazing how effective it can be. Students will often remember sentences after only one lesson and repeat them in conversation out of class. Success!