Dialogic skills development as one of the priorities in teaching foreign languages

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №7 - 2015

Author: Yezhitskaya Svetlana, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan

The process of globalization occurring in the world, dynamically developing modern society, extending international contacts and cooperation has led to the expansion and strengthening of the role of English as the leading language of modern civilization. Nowadays, English is a means of social, economic, educational and cultural development of the society. In this regard, the global economy and culture are interconnected and interdependent in the political, social and technological aspects.

Global development trends are clearly reflected in Kazakhstani realities. The Republic of Kazakhstan entry into the world community, as well as the impact of the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of globalization on communication, requires determining the role and place of English in social and communicative life of the country and solving the complicated problem of its functioning in different areas.

In the Strategy of the Development of Kazakhstan-2050, N.A. Nazarbayev states that the English language is necessary to represent the country on the world stage. "Out of 10 million books, which are published in the world, 85% are in English. The latest data in science and information technology is published in English. Today 3,500 foreign companies operate in Kazakhstan. And we need a language to communicate and cooperate with them,"- emphasizes the President. In addition, the President noted the need for a qualitative "breakthrough" in the English language studying. He claimed that it will provide every Kazakhstani citizen with new boundless opportunities in life [1].

At present, the task of improving the efficiency of foreign language teaching in high school is becoming increasingly important. In this regard, teaching methods are constantly improving, and also the students' interest to the subject increases. The intensification of these aspects ultimately leads to taking into account key directions in planning the academic work form and content, such as epistemological awareness (informing students on the country study issues and grammatical structure of the English language), axiological principles (developing students' values and motives) and pragmatic aspects (forming students' communicative skills). These directions in determining the educational activities are aimed at enhancing the educational process, which can be fulfilled through the students’ involvement into cognitive, practical, social and political activities, thereby providing the principle of connection with real life [2, p. 12]. These include festivals, conferences, theme parties, dramatizations, and the organization of role-play that simulate the actual process of communication; giving out leaflets, watching and filming videos, meeting foreigners, etc. The main thing is to create a learning atmosphere in which students are required to creatively solve educational problems that would develop their ability to independently assess the situations.

The specifics of the Foreign Language subject, in contrast to other subjects, is that the content of education is not only studying the language system, such as pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar, but mainly the mastery of speech activity in a foreign language as a means of intercultural communication, resulting in the formation of multilingual and multicultural identity.

The Foreign Language subject sets the objective to form multilingual personality, through introducing students into the values of world culture, improving the knowledge of their own native culture through the dialogue of cultures and educating humanistic outlook. Meeting the needs of the society, in foreign language teaching at schools greater importance belongs to communicative orientation, or, in other words, communicative competence. This is due to the fact that the speech activity occupies a large part of our lives. If a person cannot speak in a language, receive information and respond to the interlocutor, we cannot say this person knows the language. The main purpose of any language is to provide communication and allow people to exchange information and thoughts. That is why, formation of intercultural communicative competence, and its component subcompetences is another objective of the Foreign Language subject.

In its turn, intercultural communicative competence includes the following types of subcompetences. First, linguistic competence, that is mastering the new language means in accordance with the themes and areas of communication, including those selected for the particular profile, the skills of managing these means in communicative purposes; systematization of linguistic knowledge, as well as increasing the volume of knowledge through profile-oriented information (in particular terminology). Second, speech competence provides functional use of the English language as a means of communication and cognitive activity based on the four language skills: listening, reading, speaking and writing. Another one is socio-cultural competence, which undertakes enhancing the knowledge of the socio-cultural specificity of the English speaking countries, improving the ability to build one’s verbal and nonverbal behavior adequately taking into account the specifics of profile-oriented communication situations. Next, linguistic cultural competence means improving the skills to understand and interpret linguistic and cultural facts adequately. The last, compensatory competence includes improving the ability to deal with the situation of the shortage of linguistic resource in the process of foreign language communication, including profile-oriented situations of communication (gestures, facial expressions, body language). Here we can see that students of the English language subject should be competent and able to communicate in close to life situations. They should also realize their own culture and understand and respect other people and their lifestyles [2, p. 3].

Therefore, one of the main objectives of foreign language teaching is developing communicative competence, which, in fact, should determine the entire educational process. It is a form of verbal communication, one of which, in particular, is dialogic speech.

It should be noted that the development of dialogical speech in the target foreign language has always been one of the most acute problems of language teaching. This issue was studied in the works of S.V. Perkas, V.L. Skalkin and other methodologists. So, the dialogic speech teaching technique has recently emerged as an independent aspect of speech teaching, where there are still many issues that require theoretical and experimental research. For example, the important aspects are such as: the connection of dialogic and monologic speech; principles and techniques for creating a communicative situation in class; the peculiarities of speech perception in a dialogue; selection of situations that base dialogue teaching at different stages; the possibility of using information and communication technologies for teaching dialogue, etc. [3, p. 1].

Learning a language is a social experience, so it is important to approach the teaching of a language as a social learning experience and take the students inside of the culture of the studied language. Moreover, language is a means of communication, which is the most important part of modern insistently developing world, so it is really relevant to teach students how to communicate in a proper way. Without the ability to select information, express thoughts, react in any life situation, the knowledge of a language cannot be full and complete.

The teachers’ responsibility is to train students to feel free in their communication abilities and providing communications. At the lesson there should be created such conditions, close to daily life, where students will be able to have verisimilar conversations, related to the situations they can have in everyday activities. Acting out such scenes will motivate the students’ learning interest, because these sketches are part of their familiar environment. Students will be able not only to learn educational material, but also they will know how to use it in real life. However, the majority of students have difficulty with making up impromptu dialogues, with listening and responding to the partner, with adapting to a new situation and holding up the conversation.

Dialogue, in its widest sense, is the recorded conversation of two or more persons, especially as an element of drama or fiction. As a literary form, it is a carefully organized exposition, by means of invented conversation, of contrasting philosophical or intellectual attitudes [4, p. 13]. The dialogue is a form of social and verbal interaction; involving two sides (a speaker and a listener), who can switch their roles (a listener can act as a speaker and vice versa). The dialogue consists of the exchange of interlocutors’ remarks. In its course the participants constantly switch from listening to speaking, that is, one interlocutor percepts the speech of another party, understands and analyzes it, then plans and produces his \ her own speech.

This two-side communication process occurs in a specific situation in which each of the participants alternately performs the role of a speaker or a listener. The result of receiving the information and its transmission is the combination of cues that are combined depending on the communicative goals of each participant and make particular statements (questionnaire, interview) and answers (narration, report), which can also become a complete utterance [5, p. 44].

The first cue (initiative), which begins any dialogue, will be the theme indicator and will act as the basic speech stimulus. Despite the fact that the interlocutor’s responding cue is difficult to predict, it still must be thematically consistent.

According to the communicative point of view the first cues can be reduced to the following types of statements:

- formulas of social communication, such as greetings, expressions of gratitude, apologies and others;

- request for information, for example, a question;

- expression of emotions;

- providing information;

- an order-request;

- commenting (stating) the circumstances in which the communicators are;

- statements that do not carry any sensitive information (they are exchanged to maintain a conversation, for example, when you need to fill the silence in awkward silence) [6, p. 10].

A wide range of issues may be the subject of dialogue speech. The factors forming the subject of a dialogue can help to identify the relationships between the interlocutors, their level of communicative community and a variety of external events.

Dialogic speech requires high automatization and availability of the language material, as during the dialogue, the exchange of remarks is fast enough that indicates it is unprepared and spontaneous. Dialogue has its specific features that facilitate its perception and production. In particular, a speaker and a listener usually share a common situation; frequently a communication takes place between people who perform certain social and communicative roles (e.g., a doctor and a patient, a driver and a passenger). Also, stereotypes and conversational clichés are used more widely in a dialogue. The interlocutors can rely on non-verbal signs of each other, such as mimics, gestures and body language. Dialogue is often spontaneous, emotional and expressive. It is usually less extended, more informative, pithy and syntactically complex than a monologue [7].

A dialogue has specific communicative features. It depends on a situation and interlocutors and occurs under special circumstances. So, a dialogue takes place in the cases when:

1) one of the interlocutors is deficient in the data, and the second one is supposed to be competent in this field and is able to fill the information gap;

2) revealing the plot or the theme cannot be realized by one interlocutor because of his\her language or mnemonic failure, lack of information or due to the need to check an expressed utterance on every stage; 

3) partners feel the need for mutual exchange of ideas, experiences, feelings;

4) there is a need to agree various approaches to solving specific problems, resolve differences, to solve a dispute, and so on [6, p. 6].

Moreover, different types of dialogues are distinguished in TFL. The most typical kind of dialogue in natural communication, and particularly, in the educational process is a dialogue that realizes informative function of communication. By classifying informative dialogues with regard to the initiative of the interlocutors and their influence on the course of the dialogue, linguists single out 3 types of dialogue: actual dialogue, efferent dialogue and afferent dialogue.

The first type of dialogue, actual dialogue, implies equality of the interlocutors and equal share of initiative of each of them. This dialogue has oppositely-directed character. The two other types are characterized by the leading role of one of the parties of the communication. The actual dialogue is characterized by the fact that every interlocutor has relevant and interesting information, as it happens in a case of two friends meeting after some break: after weekends, holidays, or after participating in various sport or entertaining activities; after reading various books, watching movies, etc. [8, p. 112].

Afferent dialogue is designed to generate initiative speech, aimed at obtaining information. Such speech requires the ability to ask questions, to understand the speech of the interlocutor, give cues controlling speech acts of the partner, forcing him\her to make his\her message more understandable for the listener, close to the subject, corresponding to reality. Afferent dialogue presupposes that one of the partners disposes the information that the other one does not have. And this second partner has a right or an obligation to get acquainted with this information. Accordingly, modeling of situations, aimed at producing afferent dialogue, involves the use of roles of parents, journalists, teachers, etc. within a lesson.

Efferent dialogue is seen from the perspective of an interviewee, a responding person, or a partner being asked while communication. This person is the main carrier of the information, but it is another partner who regulates the content of the dialogue, acting as a person interested in receiving information and asking proper questions. Efferent dialogue is aimed at forming the skills to respond to the incentive cue as fully and extended as possible. This kind of dialogue prepares to further monologue.

From S. Perkas’s point of view, educational dialogues can be divided into two main groups:

- "equal" dialogues (dialogues performing exchange of information);

- "role" dialogues (dialogues performing various roles, e.g., "a buyer and a seller", "a doctor and a patient") [9, p. 48].

To facilitate the task, "equal" dialogue is built according to the plan proposed by the teacher or developed jointly with all the students of the class. This dialogue has some advantages. For example:

- it is aimed at the personal experience of the students;

- the content of the dialogue is easy to plan;

- the dialogue provides an optimal combination of structural repeatability of the cues with their intonation and lexical variability, providing strength and consciousness of assimilation.

Also, there are several types of dialogs according to the aim of the conversation and message transmitting. They are as follows:

- notification message;

- question message;

- motivation message;

- agreement message;

- question and answer to the question;

- question and counter-question;

- greeting – greeting;

- goodbye message;

- thanking message – respond message [7].

Moreover, a dialogue as a chatting genre can be divided into three types:

1) dialogue-conversation: interlocutors have equal participation in the dialogue and exchanged views;

2) dialogue-questioning: one side is actively interested in the responds of the second;

3) dialogue-discussion: conversation, during which each participant expresses his\her point of view [3, p. 1].

In its turn, dialogic speech also has its own characteristics. They occur in terms of selection, design and use of functional orientation of linguistic material. So, it is characterized by the use of introductory words, interjections, stamps, evaluative expressions, reflecting the speaker’s response to the received information, denying or confirming the idea, expressing doubts, surprise, desire, and so on [10, p. 89].

Dialogic speech is characterized not only by linguistic features but also psychological peculiarities. Linguistic features include: ellipticity of speech, the use of simplified syntax, the presence of a cliché, speech standards, the presence of modal words, interjections and other means of expression, the addressness of speech.

On the psychological level, dialogic speech has peculiar features. First, it is always motivated. This means that we always speak for some reason, with a purpose, which is determined by either external or internal stimuli. Second, the speech is always directed to the listener, addressed to the audience. This means that we always talk with someone and for someone to express our opinions, share ideas, make an agreement, prove something, ask for something, and so on. In other words, the speech should be of inverted character. Third, the speech is always emotionally charged, as the speaker expresses his\her thoughts, feelings and attitudes towards what he\she says. Any person is encouraged to speak about those things he \ she has interest in and opinion of. The last feature is that the speech is always situational due to the fact it occurs in a certain situation. The speech demands at least two interlocutors connected by one topic, issue and circumstances [11, p. 138].

Thus, dialogic speech has communicative, psychological and linguistic features, namely: it consists of stimulating and reacting replicas; it is characterized by the addressness, spontaneity, emotionality and expressiveness; dialogic speech typically has elliptical utterances that are often fixed in communicative practice and used in the form of clichés.

When teaching students dialogic speech, a teacher should solve the following main objectives. First, he\she should show the concept of a dialogue in all its diversity, in its natural form, so that convince the students that the question-and-answer form is not the only, but one of the individual, although the most common, case of a dialogic communication. Various examples should show the students that speech is vivid, natural and truly dialogic only if the content of a cue includes greetings, messages, invitations, expressions of various kinds of feelings (surprise, gratitude, confidence, doubt), the assessment of the facts, etc.

The second is to teach students the necessary cues and train them to the level of automaticity in the use of appropriate cues in a particular situation.

The third objective is to teach students to share these cues and remarks in appropriate situations, that is to teach them to conduct their own dialogue. In addition to purely instructional techniques, the language textbook material with a system of lexical collections, special exercises and texts help to implement these objectives [12, p. 148].

The main purpose of teaching dialogic speech is to develop the students’ ability to perform oral verbal communication in different social situations. So, mastering dialogic speech provides the development of skills to ask questions and answer them. Thus, students must learn to answer questions of various kinds (with a question word and without it); to respond to the remark, expressing surprise, consent, joy, doubt or refuting what was heard; ask questions initiatively and independently; make up a dialogue based on a dialogue sample.

To develop dialogic skills exercises that focus on the mastery of a sample dialogue can be used. For example, reading the dialogue with the replacement of the cues, reproducing the dialogue, its staging, which allows for acquainting the students with different types of dialogues that take place in different settings.

In conclusion, we note that the process of teaching dialogic speech should always create a strong motivation to learn the language. It should enable the students to activate the lexical and grammatical material, master speech constructions and (under certain situations) speech formulas, use spontaneously language sample clichés when performing communicative situations, acquire a sense of a language, develop listening skills, get acquainted with the literature and culture of the target language, and contribute to successful communication in different social situations.


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Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №7 - 2015

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