As a a global English language school that interacts with thousands of students everyday, we are firm believers that all Oral English lessons must be Conversational. Our approach is Fluency First and we focus on Real English.
In this blog post, we are going to talk about why a Fluency First, Real English approach is critical for anyone learning English.
Accuracy is using the mechanics of the language correctly. Fluency is the flow of the language. All Oral English Lessons it is critical to balance Fluency and Accuracy. However, the fastest way to improving Spoken English is by starting with Fluency and then improving Accuracy. This is why a Conversational approach is the best way to teach oral English.
Most students learn the English language to communicate better. Whether through reading, writing, speaking or listening the goal is to communicate. Fluency is the root of communication. Without the ability and confidence to output language (write/speak) the student will not be able to communicate their ideas & concepts. With fluency people are able to output, in a way the listener or reader will be able to gain the main idea of their communication.
For most language learners, Accuracy comes after Fluency in that the writer/speaker will be able to pick up natural errors in communication and correct them through more formalized instruction. Accuracy is important in the ability to communicate due to the need to correctly describe what is meant to be communicated; however, without the confidence or fluency to begin communication, communication would not be enough to be meaningful.
At Spoken English Practice, our Oral English lessons are 100% Conversational. Our teachers will encourage students speaks 70% of the time during lessons. The teachers will correct mistakes and give feedback, but in the way that students are not interrupted all the time . Our teachers are trained to strike a balance between conversation continuty and meaningful corrections in grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary.
Most traditional oral English lessons focus on accuracy first, hence making students afraid to speak in English. This correction only approach will reduce fluency of students, and make them less confident in the long term. That is why a fluency-first approach that is conversational is the key to effective oral English lessons.
Effective Oral English lessons must teach real English. This is another reason why a Conversational approach is the best way to teach.
Take pronunciation as an example. Most ESL students are keen to improve their pronunciation, because unlike grammar and vocabulary, it is hard to correct pronunciation mistakes on the own. However, most English learners understand standard RP accents to a great extent. What they struggle to understand are the more “real” native accents that are common in “street English”. (E.g. the Boston accent or the Yorkshire dialect)
Another aspect of language learning where real English is critical is learning the advanced vocabulary and colloquialisms used by Native English speakers. This is particularly prevalent in teaching Business English or English for Specific Purposes, for students planning to migrate to a certain region or do business with clients from a certain country. Native English speakers don’t use textbook English. They never use expressions like “It is raining cats and dogs” in real conversations. Instead native English speakers use expressions like “sounds good” or “what’s happening” in day to day conversations.
Similes, Metaphors, Idioms and Slang are key to productive Oral English lessons. Having conversations with Native English teachers is the best way to master these.
If you have been taking Oral English lessons for years but still can’t speak fluently, this is probably because you have spent time only learning grammar rules and memorizing vocabulary. It is time to stop wasting time and use a Conversational approach to learning English. Here is a good article on the science of improving Spoken English fast.