This module on speaking began by emphasizing the difference between guided practice and communication; that is, the difference between apparent communication and real communication. The reason for this emphasis is obvious: the goal of communicative language teaching is "communicative competence," which is achieved through the use of the foreign language for actual communicative purposes. Common pedagogical practices such as reading dialogues aloud or performing oral drills (e.g., "I like to play tennis. She likes to play tennis. We like to...") all have their place, but should never be confused with oral communication. Guided oral practice simply doesn't posses the sine qua non for communication: communicative intent and creative use of the language.

If teachers are going to help their students to communicate in the foreign language, they must carefully design and implement oral tasks. Teachers may begin by developing a repertoire of communicative activities that follow the design principles discussed in Lessons 3 and 4. In fact, our participating teachers demonstrate and discuss activities that they developed based on a set of activity templates found in the portfolio section of this module. These flexible templates are easily adapted to different topics, different languages, and different student populations.

Instructor's Final Comments

When people meet me for the first time and find out that I am a French professor, many recount their own failure at learning to speak the language. They typically confess that they studied French for "umpteen" years, but that they never really developed much proficiency at speaking. For most of them, French is a long-forgotten academic subject. I take these common anecdotes as evidence that teachers and students still spend too much of their time talking about the foreign language and precious little time actually talking in the foreign language.

I would like to encourage teachers to create more opportunities in their classrooms for students to develop oral communicative competence. Don't delay your students' gratification. Help them experience how motivating it can be to express their own thoughts and feelings in the foreign language.