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Speaking has often been narrowly defined.

When speaking skills


are discussed, this often happens in a context of public speaking.
Speaking, however, is much more than that. Broader views focus either
on communication realized to achieve specific purposes, e.g. to inform, to
ask for explanations, etc., or they describe speaking in terms of its basic
competences used in daily communication such as booking a room,
giving directions, etc. Some definitions will be mentioned here:
Florez (1999) defines speaking as a twoway process involving a
true communication of ideas, information or feelings. This top-down
view considers the spoken texts, the product of cooperation between two
or more interact ants in shared time, and a shared physical context. Thus,
proponents of this view suggest that, rather than teaching learners to
make well-formed sentences and then -putting these to use in discourse
we should encourage learners to take part in spoken discourse from the
beginning and then they will acquire the smaller units (Nunan, 1989, 32).
Solcova (2011) defines speaking as, the process of building and
sharing meaning through the use of verbal and non-verbal symbols, in a
variety of contexts."
Nunan (2003) defines speaking in a different way. He defines the
construct with its sub-skills. He states that "teaching learners to speak in
the foreign language" or "target language" means teaching them to:
Produce the English speech sounds and sound patterns
Use word and sentence stress, intonation patterns and the rhythm of
the second language.
Select appropriate words and sentences according to the proper
social setting, audience, situation and subject matter.
Organize their thoughts in a meaningful and logical sequence.
Use language as a means of expressing values and judgments.
Use the language quickly and confidently with few unnatural
pauses, which is called as fluency.

Chaneys (1998 - quoted in Solcova, 2011) definition describes as


the process of building and sharing meaning through the use of verbal
and non-verbal symbols, in a variety of contexts (Chaney, 1998 cited
in Solcova, 2011).

Burns & Joyce (1997) and Luoma (2004: 2) define speaking as an


interactive process of constructing meaning that involves producing,
receiving and processing information. Its form and meaning are
dependent on the context in which it occurs, including the participants
themselves, the physical environment, and the purposes for speaking. It is
often spontaneous, open-ended, and evolving. However, speech is not
always unpredictable. Language functions (or patterns) that tend to recur
in certain discourse situations can be identified.
Speaking as defined has distinct genres. Speaking has been classified
to monologue and dialogue. The former focuses on giving an interrupted
oral presentation and the latter on interacting with other speakers
(Nunan.1989: 27). Speaking can also serve one of two main functions:
transactional (transfer of information) and interactional (maintenance of
social relationships) (see Torky, 2006: 14).
Broadly speaking, interactional speech is communicating with
someone for social purposes. It includes both establishing and
maintaining social relationships. Transactional speech involves
communicating to accomplish something, including the exchange of
goods and services. Most spoken interactions can be placed on a
continuum from relatively predictable to relatively unpredictable
(Nunan, 1991, p. 42). Interactional conversations are relatively
unpredictable and can range over many topics, with the participants
taking turns and commenting freely. In contrast, Nunan (1991; 2003)
states that transactional encounters of a fairly restricted kind will usually
contain highly predictable patterns (p. 42).

It can be noticed that two main approaches are adopted to define


speaking: the bottom-up and the top down approaches. Explaining the
bottom up view, Bygate (1987: 5-6) points out that traditionally the focus
in speaking was on motor perceptive skills. Within this context, speaking
is defined as the production of auditory signals designed to produce
differential verbal responses in a listener. It is considered as combining
sounds in a systematic way, according to language specific principles to
form meaningful utterances. This approach is adopted by audio-
lingualism. Eventually, in terms of teaching speaking, the bottom-up
approach suggests that we should start with teaching the smallest units-
sounds and move through mastery of words and sentences to discourse
(Torky, 2006).
Actually, the problem with this approach is that it overlooks the
interactive and social aspect of speaking, restricting it only to its
psychomotor sense. Moreover, it is hard to ensure a satisfactory transition
from supposed learning in the classroom to real life use of the skill.
Alternatively, Bygate (1998: 23) advocates adopting a definition of
speaking based on interactional skills which involve making decision
about communication. This is considered a top- down view of speaking.
What these approaches have in common is that they view
communication and speaking as an interactive process in which
individuals alternate in their roles as speakers and listeners and employ
both verbal and non-verbal means to reach their communicative goals.
This indicates that speaking requires that learners not only know
how to produce specific points of language such as grammar,
pronunciation, or vocabulary ("linguistic competence"), but also that they
understand when, why, and in what ways to produce language
("sociolinguistic competence"). Finally, speech has its own skills,
structures, and conventions different from written language (Burns &
Joyce, 1997; Carter & McCarthy, 1995; Cohen, 1996; Florez, 1999). A
good speaker synthesizes this array of skills and knowledge to succeed in
a given speech act (Florez, 1999).
Hence, speaking is an interactive process of constructing meaning
that involves producing and receiving and processing information
(Brown, 1996; Brown, 2001; Burns & Joyce, 1997 as quoted in Florez,
1999; Mater, 2013). Its form and meaning are dependent on the context in
which it occurs, including the participants themselves, their collective
experiences, the physical environment, and the purposes for speaking. It
is often spontaneous, open-ended, and evolving. However, speech is not
always unpredictable. Language functions (or patterns) that tend to recur
in certain discourse situations (e.g., declining an invitation or requesting
time off from work), can be identified and charted (Burns & Joyce,
1997). Speaking requires that learners not only know how to produce
specific points of language such as grammar, pronunciation, or
vocabulary (linguistic competence), but also they understand when, why
and in what ways to produce language (sociolinguistic competence)
(Murad, 2009).