Time for Speaking

Philip Kerr

Oral fluency practice is not always given the classroom time it needs. In his recent webinar, Philip Kerr explored the reasons why speaking activities are so important, and asked – how much time should we be giving to speaking practice? Watch the webinar recording below to hear the discussion, and for further reading make sure to download Philip’s related whitepaper.

Philip began the webinar by outlining why fluency activities are important. He acknowledged that often, teachers will begin classes with a short speaking task, with the main speaking activity then usually coming towards the end of a lesson, at which point teachers have often run out of time!

He stressed that it is during these communicative moments however that real learning takes place. The important fundamentals of grammar and vocabulary can really be tested when students engage in a speaking activity.

Planning time

Planning time is imperative before any speaking task. Philip outlines the following ideas for effective planning time before any speaking activity:

  • Silent thinking time – research shows that students who have silent thinking time are far more likely to speak accurately.
  • Note taking – Philip suggests that during planning time you should encourage students to make notes – however they must not write down what they want to say word for word and then read it out loud.
  • Brainstorming – encourage students to write down useful vocabulary items needed. This becomes particularly useful if students are then given time to compare notes.
  • Topic research – don’t de-motivate your students by asking them to talk about a topic that they haven’t been able to research beforehand! Perhaps encouraging them to do so as homework is a good way around this.
  • Mental rehearsal – give your students time to mentally rehearse before speaking.
  • Vocabulary review and research – using L1, ask your students to do some vocabulary review and research using a dictionary.


Philip continues his webinar by looking at the importance of task repetition as a great way to encourage your students to practice, become more experimental, and perfect their spoken responses with confidence. He goes on to outline some practical ideas for ways you can incorporate this task repetition in your classes. Watch the webinar recording to hear these ideas and the full discussion:

Apologies but due to technical issues the first minute of the audio has not been captured in the recording, however the text on the slide details the first two points covered by Philip.  


If you’d like to read more about this topic, make sure to download Philip Kerr’s whitepaper: ‘How much time should we give to speaking practice?‘ This paper further considers the amount of time that may be desirable for communicative tasks, before looking at the practical questions of how this time may be best used.







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