The Four Domains of Language: Speaking

Speaking is an essential language skill to develop.  It's one of the four skills that most learners want to develop; it can also be one of the most challenging.  

On this page, John Kongsvik reviews what speaking is, what it involves, and how to develop it in the classroom.

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What are the four domains of language? ‚Äč

The four domains of language (or the four skills) are the four ways that we interact with language.  We speak and listen; we read, and we write. Of these skills, two of the skills, speaking and writing, are considered productive skills since we create language with each of these. On the other hand, listening and reading are described as receptive skills because we are receiving the from an outside source.  This is important to know because the type of skill (or language domain) it is determines how to support its development.

‚ÄčSpeaking: ¬†A Productive Language Skill

Definition: Speaking is communicating information through the spoken word.

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What Speaking Involves

TESOL Trainers Four Domains of Language - Speaking

Knowing and using the following in order to convey intended meaning:

  • Appropriate Vocabulary And Expressions;
  • Correct Pronunciation;
  • Correct Word Order;
  • Body Language, Tone, And Facial Expressions;
  • Appropriate register (degree of politeness).
  • The ability to check understanding and use repair strategies when necessary.
  • An awareness of who the ‚Äúlistener‚ÄĚ is.

What Qualities does an Effective Speaking Lesson Have?

  1. Has one or more of these purposes:
    • to learn to talk about an interesting/motivating topic;
    • to learn something new about others;
    • to accomplish a task;
  2. Provides ways for students to learn the vocabulary they need to express themselves.
  3. Gives students a variety of opportunities to use content-specific vocabulary.
  4. Helps students develop communication strategies to make themselves understood.
  5. Scaffolds students into increasing speaking confidence and competence.

Typical Speaking Activities

TESOL Trainers Four Domains of Language - Speaking
  • Choral Q&A:¬†¬†Students get comfortable with the cadence of the language and the vocabulary constructs used.
  • Small Group Discussion:¬†¬†Students have a chance to ask and answer questions to one another building accuracy and fluency.
  • Oral Presentations:¬†¬†Students get comfortable expressing their viewpoints in a cohesive, structured manner.
  • Peer Interviews:¬†¬†Students interview one another on specific topics to share knowledge and develop fluency

The Four Domains of Language

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