The CEFR and the production of spoken English: A challenge for teachers

Zuraidah Mohd Don


This article is concerned with the challenges faced by teachers whose task is to enable their students to become effective speakers of English. The CEFR states clearly what language learners have to be able to do in order to attain the target levels set for school leavers and for students in higher education on graduation, but leaves teachers to work out what their students need to learn in order to demonstrate the necessary abilities.  The article draws on brain science to illuminate what is involved in learning a spoken language, and outlines the student-centred kind of teaching that enables students to learn in this context. The article covers the pronunciation of words, particularly with reference to beginning learners, and the role of phonemic awareness in making connections between written and spoken words, and goes on to deal with more advanced matters, such as stress and intonation, and other aspects of phonological competence. A distinction is made between declarative and procedural knowledge, and particular emphasis is placed on the role of procedural knowledge in learning a spoken language, and the fact that learners are not consciously aware of what they have learned to do, and so cannot describe the procedural knowledge they have acquired.

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