Conferencia Plenaria: “But why won’t they speak?”

07 Nov 2018
19:30 - 20:30
Salón de Actos

Conferencia Plenaria: “But why won’t they speak?”

Plenary Conference “But why won’t they speak?”, by Dr. Mark Griffiths (Trinity College London – UK).

Presented by: Profa. Pilar Couto Cantero, UdeC (Spain).

Sponsored by: Trinity College London


Anyone who has taught English to language learners will be aware of the difficulty that comes with encouraging students to take the lead when speaking English. We ask them to speak. We tell them to speak. We give them activities to practise speaking. But so often, their contribution is short and limited.

The paradox is that the learners we work with in the modern English language classroom function perfectly well in their L1 when it comes to interacting in spoken communication. Why should it be that so many of our learners struggle to start or maintain a conversation in L2?

Part of the problem lies in the materials and exams used in the language classroom over the last 40 years. Modern language lessons are still constructed around activities that cast learners in the passive role, in which speaking is performed on a teacher’s or examiner’s cue and within highly restricted and controlled activities. Coursebooks and English language tests are particularly guilty of denying learners the opportunity to initiate conversations or take control of a dialogue or transfer their natural urge to interact from L1 into L2.

In this session, we will look at how we can improve the set-up of activities to make them more interactive. We will look at elicitation and awareness-raising techniques that teachers can use. We will play with cooperation and pragmatics in order to make classroom activities more evenly balanced and we will consider what we can do to reduce teacher talking time and offer learners greater opportunities to stretch their legs in a second language.