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Encouraging 'unplanned' speaking in oral communication classes: Some practical applications (in 'Proceedings of Nagasaki Language Studies Conference (NLSC) 2016')

Mason, S.ORCID: 0000-0002-8999-4448 (2017) Encouraging 'unplanned' speaking in oral communication classes: Some practical applications (in 'Proceedings of Nagasaki Language Studies Conference (NLSC) 2016'). Journal of Center for Language Studies, Nagasaki University, 5 . pp. 116-120.

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English education in Japan is compulsory throughout the six years of secondary education, although many students begin learning English in elementary school, and increasingly from kindergarten. However, the focus of English teaching, learning, and assessment in schools is largely on the skills of reading, writing and listening. This has resulted in criticism of the lack of oral communication skills in Japanese students (Wakabayashi, 2015). In response, oral communication courses are becoming a common element of university study in Japan. For educators, this presents a number of challenges that are unique to Japan, including students’ fear of making mistakes and presenting less-than-perfect work, low social self-confidence, and the social structure of schools which sees students passively taking in information from the all-knowing teacher (Passero, 1993). The mandatory nature of the courses means that there are often vast differences in motivation from student to student, and support for teachers in terms of training and resources may also be limited.

This paper presents a brief outline of a workshop presented at the inaugural Nagasaki Language Studies Conference. The aim of the workshop was to offer some strategies for developing the communicative competence of Japanese students, by encouraging students to speak English in ‘unplanned’ communication, which mimics the natural, unplanned, everyday conversations which are ‘the most commonly occurring universal language ‘genre’ (Shen & Xia, 2010, p. 90). However, 'unplanned' in this context does not equate to completely spontaneous communication, and does not preclude the use of pre-speaking activities, minimal amounts of preparation, or stimulus materials to assist students before and during their speaking experiences.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Center for Language Studies Nagasaki University
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