Learning a language is a complex and long process as anyone who has tried will agree. One of the most difficult and frustrating things is making the transition from the classroom to the 'real' world. In the classroom, everyone knows you are a student and mistakes are allowed, and the environment is contained and safe. Speaking another language outside the classroom is completely different and often students are lost at sea as soon as they step outside the door. Lists of memorized vocabulary are suddenly useless when ordering in a restaurant.
The problem becomes more complicated when it comes to Vietnam setting. English teachers in Vietnam have just adopted communicative approach for just a few years since the using of the new textbooks. However, they have not paid enough attention to speaking skill. The speaking tasks are simple, and more importantly, impractical.
In this writing, I would like to recommend a more practical way of teaching speaking in high school classrooms; that is using role-plays and simulations. Role-plays, or simulations are one of the ways ESL instructors can ease students' transition into using English in real world situations. A simulation is where students act out a real-life situation, for example checking into at a hotel, but do not act out a different personality. Role-plays are where students take on different personalities. In a role-play, for example, one student may be asked to take on the role of "an angry neighbor" which is out of character for the student.
The purpose of role playing is to give the students an opportunity to work with others in determining how an individual or group might behave in response to a particular situation. Role playing is often used primarily to promote classroom discussion. The use of role playing as a cooperative learning model also includes class discussion as a vital step, but in this approach the entire class is involved in preparing and presenting role plays through group activity.