How Do We Teach Public Speaking?
Shortly before the end of term, students in Years 6 to 11 took to the stage for Yew Chung International School of Beijing’s annual Speech Competition. Students competed in four categories:
- Original oratory – where they must present a piece of their own writing in a persuasive way.
- Impromptu speeches – where they are given a quote or prompt and have 90 seconds to prepare a speech about it.
- Oral interpretation – where they perform a poem, scene from a play, or a book in an expressive way.
- Duet acting – where two students perform their dramatic piece together.
The quality of all the entries was very high and staff and the panel of teacher judges were extremely impressed. We speak to Head of English, Ms Rebecca Flavin, to find out more.
What is the purpose of the speech competition?
There are a number of reasons we do this competition. First and foremost, it is a great way to help our students develop their public speaking skills. Being able to perform in public and be expressive, clear and meaningful is an important life skill and one which we want to develop in all our students.
The competition also brings our Secondary community together, allowing students to show their appreciation and support for each other and their work.
Why is public speaking so important?
There is just no avoiding public speaking in our lives. It is essential for work, leadership – and for socialising! There are also a number of assessed public speaking units in IGCSE and IBDP, so getting students started on it early gives them a great advantage.
In what ways does this event support EAL students?
The most important thing for an EAL student about to speak in public is to feel prepared. So we spend many weeks preparing the pieces, practising in class, having support and feedback from teachers and peers, so that on the actual day students of all English language levels will feel confident.
EAL students also compete alongside English first language students, not in a separate category. This year, prizes were awarded to a good mix of first language and EAL speakers. This is a great boost for our students and shows that their ability is valued and recognised.
What do you hope students learned from the event?
This event tests and teaches a lot of skills. Firstly, I hope our students have learned more about expressiveness in public speaking and how to create mood and meaning using voice and gestures. Secondly, for the impromptu speeches, they learned to think on their feet and organise their thoughts into a coherent message in a very short amount of time. Finally, having spent many weeks preparing and rehearsing their pieces, I hope our students have learned the value of practice and hard work – and a bit of bravery!
Congratulations to all our performers and prize winners!