Framework of speaking skills for beginner English learners in higher education

Proceedings of The 4th International Conference on Teaching, Learning and Education

Year: 2021


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Framework of speaking skills for beginner English learners in higher education

Ayesha Mudhaffer



Preparatory year students in Saudi Arabia are undergraduates ages 18-19 who are studying English in order to enroll in various majors (e.g. medicine, engineering). Students in their preparatory year often struggle with speaking skills. Studies have shown that students’ fluency in oral English in the Saudi context is relatively low (Al-Nofai, 2010; Liton, 2012; and Elyas & Al Grigri, 2014). In this virtual presentation, I will share a framework of speaking skills that has developed out of my PhD studies. The framework is derived from theories of communicative competence (Canale and Swaine, 1980) and Oracy Skills framework (Mercer et al. 2017) and results in the emergence of an additional category to Canale and Swain’s model of communicative competence which is interactional competence. In the presentation, I will describe how I combined the two frameworks and used it to analyze low level English learners’ speaking performance in roleplays. Additionally, I will discuss the process in which I have used this framework to help elementary level students develop their English-speaking skills. The overall process includes awareness raising about the features of communicative competence (explicit teaching), opportunities for learners to notice the features in written texts, and providing practicing time where students can apply these features to their speaking (e.g. roleplays). Additionally, teachers can use the framework to assess students’ speaking skills by analyzing their talk for evidence of features that are indicative of communicative competence. Initial results of analyzing and comparing students’ pre-test and post-test roleplays show development in learners’ speaking skills in relation to the five categories, in addition to an improvement in their fluency rate.

keywords: Communicative competence; English language development; Oracy skills; Roleplays; Speaking skills.