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Fluentzy.com > English > Fluency Facts > Things you need are fluency techniques and real-life...
 
  Back to index of questions   Fluency Facts >> 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15    
  Answer to Q8.
 
Things you need are fluency techniques and real-life situations

 
  Q8. Could you explain the last point in detail? Many people think that if someone wants to speak English fluently, they must get training in interaction in a classroom - by actually taking part in group conversations and discussions and by trying to speak in English to other learners and to the teacher. Now, the course of study Iíll be able to do using the Fluentzy books is a self-effort, and it won't give me this sort of classroom training in interaction. Are you saying that this sort of classroom training in interaction is not really necessary, as far as educated adult learners are concerned?
 
  Answer:
 
  Get rid of 3 misunderstandings
  Can classroom practice be practical for learners who aren't fluent at all?
  Classroom practice can be counter-productive
  If you're somewhat fluent, why do you need classroom practice at all?
  Classroom practice can't really prepare you for real-life fluency
      Prepared speech production won't help spontaneous speech production
      Deal with the realities of the real-life situations
  Classroom sessions can't train you in language manipulation
  Classroom 'group-practice' is different from 'group study'
  Fluentzy users get experience from real-life situations
 
 

Yes, that's correct. That sort of classroom interaction is not necessary at all ó for people who already know English reasonably well.

Listen. It's certainly important that you should get experience in talking with people - in English. Yes, experience. But understand one thing: The experience you get must be experience in talking with people in real-life situations. And the training you get in artificial conversational situations set up in classrooms - that training is not the same as (or even similar to) the experience you get in real-life situations. No. Read on, and you'll be convinced.

Get rid of 3 misunderstandings
Mind you, there are three things you should understand here:

First of all, don't be under the impression that any training you get in interaction in a classroom is of much value for "fluency development". This sort of training may get you more knowledge of English. But it can't get you the fluency skill.

Secondly, it won't be correct to say that you'll only become fluent through this sort of classroom training.

Thirdly, it won't be correct to say that you don't get any training or experience in interaction when you do a self-study course.

These things need a little explaining.

Can classroom practice be practical for learners who aren't fluent at all?
You see, if you want to have a meaningful conversation in English with somebody, shouldn't you already be somewhat fluent? Fluent at least to some extent or degree? By 'a meaningful conversation', what we mean is, a conversation in which you really say something in English for some time, and not a conversation in which the other person says everything and all your contribution is limited to reaction signals like yes, no, mm, mhm, wow, OK, etc. or formulaic responses like Absolutely!, Exactly!, Certainly!, Certainly not!, Not at all!, That's OK, Never mind, My Gosh!, Good Heavens!, Nothing doing, I'm sorry, etc.

The same thing applies to artificial or mock conversational situations set up in a classroom. If you want to take part in a mock conversational practice session, and if you want to contribute something to that session in English, shouldn't you already know how to speak English spontaneously - at least somewhat fluently? Otherwise, how will you be able to take your turn and say something meaningful at all?

That's why the thing every fluency learner should do first is to learn fluency techniques.

Classroom practice can be counter-productive
Now if you're not somewhat fluent already, this sort of training in interaction is likely to become a distorting factor. Yes, a distorting factor: Something that will have a bad effect on your ability to speak fluently. This is because every time you make an attempt to speak, you're likely to follow habits and methods that are not suited to spoken English - habits and practices that are not natural to spoken English. And you're also likely to phrase what you say in words or word groups that are not suited to spontaneous speech.

And in a mock situation, who are going to be the other participants? Learners who can't speak fluent English, aren't they? Obviously. That is, a mock conversational training situation is one where a few people (who can't speak fluent English) make attempts to talk in broken or non-fluent English among themselves - with a teacher acting as the moderator or facilitator.

If you keep on taking part in such mock conversational situations for several days or weeks in order to become fluent, that experience can have a bad effect. This is because, over a period of time, you tend to develop wrong language habits and wrong patterns of thought and performance - those that are not suited to fluent speech. For example, you tend to develop a lot of restrictive habits like fixing your attention on how you say things, rather than on what you say. These wrong language habits and wrong patterns of thought and performance further prevent you from speaking English fluently. (About why classroom speech practice can be counterproductive, see also answer to Q2. and answer to Q3).

If you're somewhat fluent, why do you need classroom practice at all?
Now you may ask a question: How about people who have already learnt a few fluency techniques and are somewhat fluent? Won't they be able to take part in mock classroom training situations and become more fluent by speaking in English? Well, please note this: Even for people who have already learnt a few fluency techniques and who are somewhat fluent, mock conversational situations set up in classrooms won't be of much value. No.

If you're somewhat fluent, why do you have to take part in mock conversational situations anyway? Why? If you're already somewhat fluent, can't you find enough real-life conversational situations at your workplace, or in the offices you go to, or in the places where your social activities or spare-time activities take you - or while travelling? Can't you find enough real-life conversational situations in these places and put what fluency skill you have learnt to practical use? In fact, what a lot of imaginative ways there are for finding natural situations where you can speak English!

So if you're already somewhat fluent, what you should do is to learn more fluency techniques. And you should get a complete inside-out understanding of the nicer aspects of all the fluency techniques. In that way, you can try and achieve higher degrees of fluency. Classroom training situations won't help you here. They're likely to leave your fluency skill to remain disorganized. You see, you'll be doing a lot of unnecessary things, and not really achieving very much.

That's why there's the Fluentzy system. The Fluentzy books help you reorganize your whole knowledge of English from the fluency development angle - so that your fluency skill develops from a firm foundation, in an orderly way. The Fluentzy books not only help you become "somewhat fluent", but also teach you advanced techniques of fluency development and help you achieve higher degrees of fluency.

Classroom practice can't really prepare you for real-life fluency
Don't be under the impression that the mock training situations that can be set up in a classroom are anything like real-life situations. Suppose that an artificial situation is set up in a classroom, and that you're asked to say something - or that you and a few others are asked to have a conversation about something. Don't think that such a situation is anything like a real-life situation. This will be clear from the following facts:

     Prepared speech production won't help spontaneous speech production
Have you ever deliberately or consciously tried to make conversation with somebody? When you deliberately try to make conversation with somebody, you would be spending most of your time in wondering what to say and in racking your brain to think of something to say - unless you've prepared yourself in advance with the help of a script.

But if you train to become fluent by first learning from a script or a written version of a conversation, and then by repeating the same thing from memory at a mock session, you're not going to become fluent - in the real sense of the term. You know, when we speak about the fluency skill, we're not really speaking about the skill of preparing what to say in advance and of saying it later (by trying to remember the wording, syntax, etc. of what you have prepared). We're speaking about speaking English spontaneously - without advance preparation or rehearsal. So you can see that mock conversational sessions in classrooms are often sessions that attempt to train you in delivering prepared speech, and not in speaking spontaneously. And so they're not real fluency training sessions.

In fact, if you're not good at fluency techniques and related skills, you won't know anything about idea units - or how to phrase them or how to put them together. And so, it's likely that even what you prepare and rehearse in advance would not be according to the principles of fluent speech production and delivery. And so even what you prepare and rehearse would be something that doesn't suit the production of fluent speech. So if you're not good at fluency techniques and related skills, you'll find it difficult to say even your prepared stuff fluently.

     Deal with the realities of the real-life situations
In a real-life speech situation, you feel the real need to speak, and the situation itself provides the content of what to say. In such a situation, the very things that urge you to speak provide you with plenty of ideas to speak about, and you won't have to make any effort to think of something to say.

And the way the form and content of speech develop in a real-life situation is quite different from the way the form and content of speech develop in an artificial conversational situation. When fluent speakers speak naturally in real-life situations, they compose and say their speech units by coping with a number of types of pressures and factors outside language. They adapt the form, content and phrasing of what they say, the sizes and shapes of their speech units and the very framework of the whole spoken text according to the way these pressures and factors act.

But in a mock conversational situation, these pressures and factors are absent. So whatever experience you get from such a mock situation won't be of much value to you - in real-life situations. What will be of real value to you in real-life situations are the skills you need in order to manipulate and adapt your English to the moment-to-moment demands of these situations.

And the fluency techniques that the Fluentzy books teach you are the very things that help you get these skills.

Classroom sessions can't train you in language manipulation
And here's another important reason why mock conversational situations can't really be helpful.

You see, when you speak to others in a group in a particular language, purely for trying to become fluent in that language, this is what happens: When you start speaking, your attention would be focussed not on what you say, but on how you say it. That is, your attention would be focussed on the form of the language itself, rather than on the content. This would make you highly self-conscious. And you'd keep feeling that others are looking at you - and judging you and the way you speak. And this would make you keep feeling uncomfortable, awkward, embarrassed and even shy.

All this would prevent the speech situation from giving you effective training in language manipulation. But you see, the core of your fluency skill is nothing but your ability to manipulate the language you use and to juggle with it - to rearrange, change and modify your speech units (and the way they're organized) repeatedly in order to make them convey your ideas in the best way possible. So, if a mock conversational situation cannot give you effective training in language manipulation, it cannot be called an effective fluency tool at all - whatever else its other advantages may be.

On the other hand, in a real-life situation, your attention is most often held firmly and completely by the content of what you say, and by your involvement in that content. And so, in a real-life situation, your attention doesn't often get diverted to the way you speak.

So the situations from which you should get the experience of speaking are real-life situations, and not mock conversational situations in classrooms.

Classroom 'group-practice' is different from 'group study'
Now remember this: Don't be under the impression that we're speaking about group study. We're not. We're only speaking about learners forming into groups and trying to have a conversation among themselves in order to try and improve their fluency. That is not group study. No.

Students who go to college or university do group study, and their aim then is to learn a subject - and not to improve their fluency in the language they use during the group study. While doing group study, what is important for the participants is the learning of the content of a topic, and not the language they use or the way that language flows from them. The participants may speak in broken English or in their mother-tongue or in a mixture of several languages. That doesn't affect their aim in doing the group study, because their aim then is not to train in fluency in a particular language, but to share together their knowledge of a topic and to learn that topic.

But suppose that a few learners form a group and try to speak to one another in a particular language, in order to become fluent in that language. Then what is important to them is not the learning of the content of any topic, but the learning of the knack of speaking in that language fluently.

So group study and group speech practice are two different things.

Now, because 'group study' is an effective study tool, many people tend to think that 'group speech practice' will be equally effective in achieving fluency in that language. That is why many people have the wrong notion that if someone wants to speak English fluently, they must get training in interaction in a classroom - by actually taking part in group conversations and discussions.

Fluentzy users get experience from real-life situations
So what you need (in order to achieve fluency) is not training in mock conversational situations, but the experience of speaking in real-life situations. And it won't be correct to say that those who do independent study using the Fluentzy books don't get this sort of experience. They do get plenty of experience of this sort. They get it from the only sources from where anybody can hope to get it: They get the experience from the real-life situations they face every day.

You know, one of the reasons why many people buy the Fluentzy books is this: They often find themselves in real-life situations where they have to speak fluent English, but they can't make the most of those situations, because the English they speak isn't fluent - or fluent enough to their satisfaction.

Most of the people who use the Fluentzy books are people who have jobs or professions or are in business and are usually in contact with people who speak English. And they all have plenty of opportunity to make practical use of their fluency skill in their own workplaces or in places where their jobs, professions or social and spare-time activities take them ó or while travelling.

As far as other learners are concerned, they too have enough opportunity of interacting with people who speak English at places where their career-preparation activities, higher-educational activities, social and spare-time activities and daily life take them.

Even otherwise, if you want to get yourselves into real-life situations and to have the opportunity of speaking English, what a lot of ingenious ways there are!

Aren't these the only ways in which you can face real-life situations, even if you attend classroom sessions?

And so, remember this: Generally speaking, classroom training in interaction has real value only for people who are trying to learn English for the first time -or who are trying to learn more English. It doesn't have much value for learners who already know English, but are trying to become fluent.

 
 

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