It is really important that the students put into practic3e what they are learning, especially if they are learning another language. it is also important to let students make mistaskes when they are talking, because they are communicating. therefore, I would like to know what kind of activities I can use to make my students speak in English. I have done different activities bu they are not very confident when speaking in English because they are afraid of making mistakes.I appreciate any tips you can share.
An effective strategy to facilitate student led discussions is the Socratic seminar. This protocol can be effective for study in both primary and secondary languages. For a good overview of the strategy, see the webpage at the following URL: http://www.journeytoexcellence.org/practice/instruction/theories/miscideas/socratic/
Maybe in a real life context, students could learn to communicate in a foreign language better. An example might be learning to order from a menu, buying something in a shop, or asking directions. My Spanish teacher always made us memorize and perform scripted dialogues. We hated them because they weren't very relevant. Before I got married, I went to Mexico City on a travel agents' trip. I wanted to buy a Mexican wedding dress in the native market. I felt pretty dumb trying to remember Spanish lessons that were 20 years past. But, I was motivated to get that dress, and I succeeded with many mistakes and laughter about it (especially when my credit card was rejected!).
I completely agree with you: the only way to really develop students' speaking abilities, and especially if they are doing it in a (to them) foreign language, is to encourage them to just speak, not bothering about whether they make mistakes or not. As someone who has lived in S. America and learnt Spanish there, that is the only way to gain fluency - after all, we all learn through making mistakes! I would try to encourage my students to speak through a variety of activities in the classroom to promote discussions. You can do this in a variety of ways. When I taught English as a Foreign language giving out pictures of different scenes and getting students to describe them to each other in small groups worked really well. Starting off discussions in small groups may be a really effective way to improve confidence and encourage fluency before perhaps having whole room discussions. Above all, be creative and try to come up with teaching strategies that will interest and engage students and take the focus away from them speaking "perfectly".
If you can remove those things they fear, you might be able to empower them with the courage to try. Have you tired writing? Writing is a tool for thinking, and if they are given an opportunity to write in English, they will be thinking in English. It's not too far from writing to speaking.
First give them opportunities to write free of fear and judgement. Perhaps introducing freewriting--an uninterrupted written recording of their thoughts as they think about a specific topic. Have them writer without stopping whatever comes into their minds. They don't stop to think about what they want to write. They simply write whatever comes into their minds even if it seems off topic. This of course should be in Englsih, but they won't be being scored on correctness. Cooperative learning groups work best for this type of activity as you will want to have them share their best part of their writing. This is easier if done in small groups. By having them share their best part, they are reflecting and analyzing their writing. Doing this on a daily basis develops writing, thinking, and speaking skills.
Allowing them other writing opportunities to write will also encourage more thinking, and if they are afraid, perhaps they could choose pen names to use when they write. This would remove their fear of being wrong or silly as you would be the only one who knew their pen names.
Also, please, please check out the National Writing Project Website.