To start with, it is necessary to realize that speaking our mother tongue is something everybody takes for granted. People from various classes, with different social status and intellect, use it naturally on everyday basis. As Thornbury (2005) puts it, “so natural and integral is speaking that we forget how we once struggled to achieve this ability — until, that is, we have to learn how to do it all over again in a foreign language”. The truth is that every child learns to speak naturally and unaware of the fact that it is actually learning something. People talk to them, sing the songs or read fairy-tales, in other words, they expose children to as much mother tongue as possible. Regarding teaching speaking English as the second language, Harmer (1998) sees exposure to the „new language‟ among four basic things that students need to be present and clear before they are able to master the language. The other three are to understand its meaning, understand its form and practice the language. Nowadays, it might seem very easy for the learners to acquire a certain lexical level, grammatical structures or catch correct pronunciation since the modern world and its technological inventions and gadgets brought many changes. Learners are exposed to English much more than they used to be before thanks to the Internet, mobile phone applications, games, entertainment industry (films, series, and music) etc. All of the previously mentioned elements may play a substitution role for the teacher in learning foreign language. Taking in consideration the massive possibilities of exposure to English as well as time spent at school in foreign language classes, a question arises: “Why are there so many students whose level of English is inadequate compared to the number of years they have been learning the second language?” Scrivener (2005) who claims, “Teaching does not necessarily lead to learning”, provides one of the possible answers. He adds, “The fact that the first is happening doesn’t automatically mean the other must occur” (Scrivener, 2005, p. 17). To put it simply, the teacher might be an excellent methodologist, have deep knowledge of the language and academic education, spend a lot of energy preparing for and performing in the lessons, but there may still not be the expected result. If he or she cannot motivate the students, bring the language closer to their interests or needs, they will not invest their energy into learning. In addition, it is obvious that language needs to be practiced in not only the classroom, but also anywhere else where there is an opportunity to do so.
There is a distinction between fluency and accuracy. According to Harmer (2001) “we need to make a clear difference between „non-communicative‟ and „communicative‟ activities; whereas the former are generally intended to ensure correctness, the latter are designed to improve language fluency”. We can conclude that each activity-taking place in the lesson is being done either to improve fluency, accuracy or in some cases both. This is supported by Scrivener (2005) who claims that: Certainly there are activities in which you are arguably working on both accuracy and fluency in relatively equal measure, but many everyday language-teaching lesson stages are focused on one more than the other, and at any moment, in any activity, it is likely that you will be aiming to focus on accuracy rather than fluency, or fluency rather than accuracy.
Speaking activities focused on accuracy aim at elimination of mistakes and at correctness of produced utterances in terms of not only grammar, but also vocabulary and proper pronunciation. The biggest difference compared to fluency can be seen in the time the feedback is being provided and its amount. According to Harmer (2001) “when students are involved in accuracy work it is part of the teacher’s function to point out and correct the mistakes students are making”. He further calls this „teacher intervention‟ (Harmer, 2001, p. 105). In general, the frequency of interventions and corrections is much higher than during fluency-oriented activities and often it is done instantaneously, breaching the flow of the speech. The goal of fluency-focused activities is according to Davies and Pearse (2000) to practice utterances of newly acquired language in natural communication (p. 36). During these activities, learners are not expected to avoid mistakes at any cost; they are encouraged to be able to express their opinions, react spontaneously to real-life situations and to convey the message as quickly as possible.
As for interrupting, Scrivener (2005) recommends not to interrupt learners during communicative activities, but rather make notes about various contributions for later feedback. Harmer (2001) shares this opinion when he concludes: During communicative activities, however, it is generally felt that teachers should not interrupt students in mid-flow to point out a grammatical, lexical or pronunciation error, since to do so interrupts the communication and drags an activity back to the study of language form or precise meaning.
Speaking is with no doubt one of the most important language skills students can acquire during their ESL (“English as the Second Language”) classes. In the past, there had always been strong emphasis on teaching grammar and vocabulary as the crucial tools for communication, but as Thornbury (2005) claims “It is generally accepted that knowing a language and being able to speak it are not synonymous”. One of them is the Grammar translation method, where teachers focus predominantly on grammar and teach language via translating texts and utterances. This leads to situation, when students know a large number of vocabulary and in some cases, their level of grammar is at higher level than the one of native speakers. However, when they are supposed either to activate their theoretical and passive knowledge in everyday real-life situations, they fail to produce any coherent utterance or their fluency does not correspond to the needs of the conversation. The use of old-fashioned methodology is confirmed by Finocchiaro who states, “Many theories and methods favored at the turn of the century are still in use in classes today in many parts of the world”. She adds that not too many of them have disappeared. On the contrary, they have been kept and adapted to fit modern approaches. English Language Teaching Methodology offers a vast number of various approaches, methods, procedures and techniques for learning and teaching foreign language such as the Grammar translation method, Audio-lingualism, PPP (“Presentation-Practice-Production”), the Communicative Approach, Task-based learning, Humanistic teaching, the Lexical Approach and many others. There is no need to emphasize that each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages. For the purpose of the practical part of this thesis, the Communicative approach, also known as Communicative Language Teaching (“CLT”), is preferred.