IntroductionSpeaking is an important skill, especially for EFL learners it makes them practice the language orally. This skill is considered as a tool of communication, because it helps the learners to interact with others, to express their thoughts or feelings. Speaking skill is a process which refers to sending and receiving messages through using verbal and non verbal symbol in different setting. However, some students face difficulties in speaking which prevent them to improve their oral language.In this chapter, we examine the speaking skill, its definition, functions, importance and its two main characteristics. We demonstrate the basic types of the speaking skill, its various activities that may help EFL learners to develop their oral language. We spot the light on the speaking difficulties that may face EFL learners inside the classroom, and then we clarify the relationship between listening and speaking skill.
2.1. Definition of the Speaking SkillSpeaking is one kind of the productive skill which emphasizes how the learners use their oral language to interact or communicate with others in the foreign language, and this significant skill provides the learners with opportunities to achieve their desires, their needs and their wants. Many researchers and scholars give different points of view about various definitions of the speaking skill. For that reason, this skill considered asthe heart of the learning process which makes the learner masters it in order to send and receive messages through using the second language. Brown (1994); Burns and Joyce (1997) indicate that speaking is an interactive process of building meaning which includes sending and receiving messages and processing the information.
(cited in Florez, 1999).Cheny and Burk (1998) explain that speaking is an important process which makes the learners constructs the meaning by using verbal expression and non verbal symbols such as gestures and facial expression during the interaction. Nunan (1991) states ” to most people, mastering the art of speaking is the single most important factors of learning a second or foreign language and success is a measure item of the ability to carry out a conversation in the language.
“(p.39).On other hand, mastering the speaking skill is crucial element for learning different languages, but it needs to master the other skills, and then it makes the students to be able to use the language in order to perform the conversation. Speaking is one of the most significant skills than the others in EFL classes which involve the ability to use the language to transmit the messages in different setting. Ur (1996) claims “of all the four skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing) speaking seems intuitively the most important: people who know a language are referred to as speakers? of the language, as if speaking included all other kinds of knowing, and many if not most foreign language learners are primarily interested to speak.”(p.
117).Luoma (2004) suggests that speaking skill in the foreign language is not an easy task to practice it, because it needs much time to improve it.2.2. Functions of SpeakingSpeaking skill has three main functions such as: speaking as interaction, speaking as transaction, speaking as performance. These functions supply the learners the opportunities to speak better.2.2.
1. Speaking as InteractionBrown and Yule (1983) explain that speaking as interaction refers to what is called conversation which can be formal or casual depends on the situation. They state the main feature of this function is creating the social interaction, because when person meets someone else, he exchanges greetings and he tells him the recent experience in order to maintain friendly relationship, and to establish suitable area of the interaction with others.
This function focuses on the speakers? identity, how they present themselves to the others and their social needs rather than focuses on the message. (cited in Richards, 2008). Richards (2008) demonstrates that speaking as interaction is difficult to master and it is not priority for learners, because it requires the ability to speak in the natural way in order to interact with others. Some learners avoid this situation because they lose words and they face difficulties in presenting themselves to the others, this can be considered as disadvantage for some learners.2.2.2. Speaking as TransactionRichards (2008) notes that speaking as transaction refers to situations which emphasize on what is said or done, and he states that the focus is making the message understood clearly and precisely, rather than the speakers and how they interact socially with others.
Jone (1996) examines that speaking is related with various activities. For example, students in a science lesson, they explore different concepts about something else. In this type, the teacher and the students emphasize on the meaning of the spoken language in order to understand what is said.(cited in Richards 2008).Burns (1998) suggests that there are two types of speaking as transaction. The first focuses on giving and receiving information, and the participants emphasize on what is said, and the information should be clear, for instance asking someone else for directions.
The second focuses on obtaining things or goods like ordering meal in a restaurant or checking into shopping.(cited in Richards, 2008).2.2.3.
Speaking as PerformanceRichards (2008) indicates that speaking as performance refers to public speaking which conveys information before an audience, like classroom presentations, public announcements and speeches. He states that this type performs in form of monologue rather than dialogues, for example a speech of welcome given by a university president or the students perform report about a school trip. He also explains that this type contains main features such as: the focus on the message and the audience, and the use of formal language is more like written language, and then both form and accuracy are important in speaking as performance.