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TECHNIQUES TO IMPROVE SPEAKING FLUENCY

Wan Hazlina Ahmad Tajudin


Student ID A0671
Assignment 2
Module 2 – Language Skills and Awareness

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TECHNIQUES TO IMPROVE SPEAKING FLUENCY

We all know fluency when we hear it in a foreign language speaker. We say,


“She speak fluent Italian” when we observe a person speaking Italian smoothly,
quickly, and without hesitation. It is not just about saying the correct words. It is
also about achieving a useful pace or speed of performance.

In the classroom, most teachers have observed a student’s jerky, stop-and-go


speech. This choppy, slow, expressionless speech is often called dis-fluent
speech. C. J. Fillmore in his paper titled 'On Fluency' described fluency as an
ability to speak without having to stop many times to think of what to say next or
how to phrase it. From a teacher's viewpoint, activities to develop this level of
fluency can be successfully achieved, with techniques such as the 4/3/2
technique; the MarketPlace; and the Messenger technique.

The 4/3/2 technique was devised by K. Maurice in 1983 and the technique
consist of three steps:-

• In the first step, a learner spends a few minutes preparing a talk on a


given topic. During this time the learner just thinks of what she will talk
about and does not make notes.

• In the second step, the learner pairs up with another learner and she talks
on that topic for four minutes. The listener does not interrupt and does not
ask questions. The listener's job is just to listen. Then they change
partners. The speaker now talks again on the same topic to the new
listener, but this time she has only three minutes to give the same
information. When this has been done the listener change partners again.

• In this third step, the speaker gives the same talk for the third time to her
new partner, but this time she has only two minutes.

In a nut shell, the speaker gives the same talk to a different partner with less
time to do it each time.

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To further understand the efficacy of the 4/3/2 technique, we need to study it's
three important features:

• First, the speaker has a different audience each time she speaks, so her
attention will be on communicating the message elements, phonology,
grammar and discourse. If partners did not change, there would be
pressure on the speaker to add new information to keep the listener
interested during the repetitions. The speaker might also be encouraged to
focus more of her attention on formal features of her talk, which would
reduce the value of the technique as a fluency activity.

• Second, the speaker repeats the same talk uninterrupted and this allows
stream of speech to flow. This means that she will develop confidence in
her ability to deliver the talk and will have less difficulty in accessing the
language she needs to deliver the talk. The repetition provides an ideal
opportunity to develop fluency.

• Third, the time available to deliver the talk is reduced each time the talk is
given. This is another encouragement to fluency. It also means that as the
speaker delivers her talk more fluently there is no need to think of new
material to fill the available time. There is evidence that the 4/3/2
technique affects speaking fluency positively as measured by
improvement in speed and occurrence of hesitation during the speech.

In the steps and features explained above, we have looked at some aspects of
language use in Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) which include
fluency, accuracy and control of content.. There was evidence that the 4/3/2
technique increased the fluency with which the speakers delivered the talk. In
'The Fluency Workshop' conducted by K. Maurice (1983), the value of the
technique can be seen clearly in the case study of one learner. During the 4/3/2
activity, the learner spoke to three different listeners for a total of nine minutes.
She spoke with unaccustomed fluency, eventually speaking fifty percent faster
than her usual rate with a twenty-five percent reduction in hesitations. She
spoke with fractionally more grammatical accuracy then usual and used three
more complex constructions than she would normally have done. The nine
minutes were clearly profitably spent. Her performance was typical of others in
the case study.

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Overall, the 4/3/2 technique gives learners the opportunity to perform at a level
which is superior to their normal performance even though they are focusing on
the message under a time constraint. The assumption is that having the
opportunity to perform at this higher level will result in an improvement in their
normal level of performance. The repetition, reducing time, and a change of
audience directly affect fluency in encouraging a focus on the message while
providing an opportunity for monitoring and learning to occur.

Other techniques which involve repetition and a change of audience is


MarketPlace and Messengers. In MarketPlace, the learners are divided into
buyers and sellers. The sellers are told what they are selling. It might be
holidays, furniture, books or anything else. Each seller then prepares a sales
talk to deliver to the buyers. The buyers then circulate around the various sellers
listening to the sales talks and finally making a decision about which holiday
they are going to buy. Each seller has to deliver their sales talk several times to
the different buyers.

Similarly in Messengers technique, the learners are divided into describers,


messengers, and makers. The describers have a model or a diagram to
describe. It cannot be seen by the messengers or the makers. A messenger
listens to a describer and then goes to a maker and tells the maker what to do.
Because the task is complicated, the messenger will need to return to the
describer several times for the same information. One describer can work with
two or three messengers.

The 4/3/2, MarketPlace and Messenger techniques can be personalized using


a time delay as a challenge to repeat the same story, retelling with minor
substitutions, and rerecording in order to produce the best possible recording.

In summary, with all of these techniques it is possible to record what the learners
say and to analyze it to see what opportunities are being provided for learning to
occur. In this way we can evaluate the techniques we use and decide if they
meet our learning goals.

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References

FILLMORE, C.J. (1979) On Fluency.


MAURICE, K. (1983) The Fluency Workshop.

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