The Teaching of Speaking in Big Classes

Speaking is one of the productive skills in language study. Learners’ skill in speaking is directly measured whether they are productive or not. Accordingly, they are called skillful if they always produce utterances through their vital organ of speech namely mouth. Conversely, if they just keep silent all the time whether in training, practice or in a speech community they are called unskillful. Thus, opening mouth and sharing ideas are the keys of speaking,. For the reason, speaking is also called oral skill because speakers use the spoken forms of language not the written words. The former is significantly different from the latter.

Teaching speaking is different from teaching the other language skills. There are several factors that should be paid by speaking teachers. One of them is, for instance, this is absolutely individuals’ affair. The evaluation of it should be addressed to the students selves and not others. Besides that, it is also direct so the students’ quality is also directly visible. By the time, they will be directly seen as skillful or unskillful speakers after sharing ideas in front of the assessors or audiences.

The teaching of speaking will be more and more difficult when students and teachers join big classes with the very limited time allotment. Teachers, particularly, should divide the time allotment to all individuals if they like them to get the same or equal time durations. And they should be sure that the individuals have the same opportunity to take part in the process. Time division, however, is not the end of the problem because even though the students have gotten the average opportunity to do so but the time to do is still insufficient. How to share the sufficient time allotment if the class consists of 30m until 50 students./ when the time allotment covers 90 minutes, and there are 30 pupils in the class, alias a student will have three minutes to speak. The problems of time division in teaching speaking will be more complicated if he class begins very late because both teachers and students also come late. Also, this becomes more difficult when the students are unready to come in and join the class. They may come with empty mind unready to speak. When the limited time allotment is added by such conditions, teachers should think of it skillfully.

Still, teachers have extra jobs when students are unmotivated to speak. They should energize them to open mouth and say anything. And this is not an easy job to do. Sometimes they should share rewards: fair, good, excellent, and so forth; even though their students only produce a few words. This is the only way to persuade the students to do so and to progress the class. However, this is not the end of the efforts when some students still keep silent.

West (1966: 1) categorizes big classes as one of the unfavorable circumstances. He says by “unfavorable circumstances” means that a class comprises of over thirty, forty, fifty pupils or more, seated on benches not sitting at individual or dual desks. They are gathered in an unsuitably shaped room, ill-graded, with a teacher who perhaps does not speak English very well or very fluently, working in a hot climate. Such a kind of the class is of course very stressful, moreover if that class is set forth the teaching of speaking. How to move the students when there are 30 or perhaps 50 students in the speaking class while the class must be changed because students need to share ideas in multi-directions. This is also very impossible to move benches and even though they are moved, the form of the class is used stable. In addition, it will time and energy consuming when the class is used together with the other classmates and other subjects. Therefore, it is fair to say that such the class belongs to unfavorable circumstance.

Big classes, particularly, are still dominant in most Indonesian institutions. Occasionally, there are more than twenty students in Indonesian elementary classrooms and thirty until forty pupils or more in junior or senior high school institutions. Such kind of class setting is considered because of several facts. The most common reasons that often appear are for example: the lack of human resources so the number of teachers is insufficient; the shortage of financial supports, and this is also for efficiency. Accordingly, to achieve the satisfactory results is challenging in such conditions. Whatever the reasons, however, teachers should make effective anticipations to the betterment process and result of speaking.

Since big classes still characterize the class form or setting in Indonesian school institutions, teachers should think skillfully to conduct t6he teaching of speaking effectively. There are several stages that should be considered before conducting the teaching of speaking. Teachers should, for instance, identify the students’ existing skills. Secondly, they should professionally organize the big classes in order to be effective. Then, they should select the appropriate methods to be used, and design the teaching learning processes. And the last they should invite students to involve considering their success through individual or group assignment.

wriiten by Ruwandi, MA