GOING DIGITAL: FOUR SQUARES FOR BETTER SPEAKING

One of the first posts on this blog was GOING GRAPHIC: 4 SQUARES FOR BETTER SPEAKING. It described how to help learners organize what they say into a coherent speech using the Four Square Method. At that time, the only resource needed was a sheet of paper (‘fold it once, fold it twice’).

I still believe that the best way to use this organizer (and to learn and remember things in general) is to get learners to write down their thoughts/ideas on paper, especially if they study online.

However, exploring the organizer is much more efficient (and more paper friendly) with a digital tool.

Which I am sharing with you today.

I posted a demo version of the 4 Squares for Better Speaking tool on My English Domain last month. Since then, I’ve found and corrected a few glitches, and I’ve also deleted the not-really-necessary-but-why-not general explanation part. You can check out the final version of the tool here and share it with your learners if you find it helpful.

How to Work with the Tool

Here’s the description of the final version with some practice tips to make the most of the tool.

Before learners start working with the tool, they will (probably) read some brief info about the organizer and press “Practice” (99% of my teenage Doras the Explorers, who participated in the testing, skipped the info and clicked “Practice” straight away).

If you explore the tool together with your learner/learners, discuss why coherence is essential for speaking, and what makes a speech coherent, to make clear the focus of their practice.  

First, learners will need to type their topic. The tool is universal so you may use it with both general English and EAP/ESP learners.

The topic will be shown in all subsequent steps/squares. There is no oh-I-have-changed-my-mind option, so if the learner decides to change the topic, they will need to restart the tool and start from the very beginning.

Next, learners should complete the four squares. To make sure they follow the logical sequence of the organizer, they will be able to click and complete only one particular (green) square at a time.

I’ve also included some pointers/examples for each square to help learners generate their ideas.

At the final stage, learners will need to think of a phrase to open/close their speech.

I’ve given a few examples of phrases to express one’s opinion or make a conclusion. However, learners may type any other expression they like from their list.

Once learners have completed all the steps, they will get the outline of their speech.

There is an option of printing/saving the outline in PDF to work on the speech and improve it further.

Where’s my learners’ information stored?

Once your learners have clicked the “Exit” button, all text inputs will be gone forever. The tool is not part of any platform; it neither collects nor communicates any information to any web server.

I keep it in my cloud storage (Google Cloud Storage) to provide it in open access mode and make sure it loads faster. As such, the tool can be used offline – it’s a simple html file that requires no installation.

If you have any questions about the tool, or if you’d like to try the tool with your learners but you do not have a steady Internet connection, please feel free to get in touch with me.

Your suggestions how to improve the tool would be much appreciated!

Happy teaching and enjoy your summer!

 

3 Comments

  1. This is amazing! I think this tool is extremely useful not only for speaking but also for writing. For speaking, it can be powerful in helping students build their confidence. It is also ideal for part 3 (the long run) in the CPE speaking test. For writing, it can alleviate stress as it breaks any genre into smaller steps and can help students organize their key ideas. Thank you for this! Hope you have a beautiful summer too!

Leave a Reply