Speaking well is more than pronunciation!
It's HOW we do it!
– SPEECH ETIQUETTE
LEARNING ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE
Learning a new language is fun and exciting, but it can also be frustrating at the same time. When learning to speak a new language as our second or third language, it is usually not as easy comparing to when we were learning our own language as a child. Reading books is great! It will improve your English vocabulary and grammar, but not your pronunciation. Let’s use music as an example, while the music theory is the same the techniques to play various instruments are different. An experienced guitarist will not automatically be able to play the violin, although both instruments are string instruments.
Traditional English classes
The majority of the traditional English classes mainly follow a script to help their students to pass the exams in order to obtain a certificate at the end of the course. It does not offer the necessary training to improve their speaking skill. This is how the system works, even for native English-speakers. Students are mostly taught how to read and write but not how to speak in both public and state schools. Quite often you will find the well-spoken native English people were taught at home by their family from the day they started to learn to speak. Anything other than the traditional learning will need to be privately funded, just like piano lessons outside of school hours.
Speaking with native speakers to practise your English – Great idea! After all, practice makes perfect, right? But what exactly are you practising and why is your accent still the same? You will not drive around to practise your driving skill without adequate driving lessons, would you?
Free YouTube videos mainly care about Ad sales! You might learn a few things or two but don’t expect genuine progress. How do you measure if they are good or not when you don’t even know the English language and ask yourself why your accent hasn’t changed?
Watching TV dramas and movies can be fun! You can pick up words here and there, usually the easy words. Try saying “Worcestershire sauce”!
There’s an app for that – These apps have centralised the pronunciation of words under one roof. Isn’t this great? Sure! It is convenient for when you need to express yourself but don’t know how to pronounce the words. It’s a quick fix! To speak properly, it takes more than pronunciation of words.
I already have a Bachelor’s, Master’s degree or a PhD – My certificates will get me a good job. This should be enough, right? Well! This is the chicken or the egg question. What is your profession? Do you need to regularly communicate with colleagues or clients? Are you a scientist or coder who spend all the time alone? Above all, what is your expectation? If you set your bar high, then it is highly likely that speaking well is important to you.
I’m already learning with a native English teacher, I have improved my vocabulary, reading & writing skills but I’m struggling to speak clearly & my accent is still strong – Learning English is not the same as learning to speak English. It requires different skillsets. First-language speakers of English do not necessarily make the best accent experts.
Regional accents and RP – There are many different accents across the UK and most TEFL English teachers don’t speak RP, let alone teaching RP. On top of that they aren’t trained to provide the service. It’s a very specialised area.
Free community English classes – Why should I pay if I can get it for free or cheap in my community. No one can compete with that. Enjoy the free lunch while you can. But remember the popular saying “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”.
Muscle memory & adequate training
From a young age, we trained our facial muscles and tongue movements in order to produce the correct sound when speaking in our native language, therefore if we are not trained to articulate differently, we will never be able to make the correct sound when speaking in another language. It is easier to learn to read and write. This is why many non-native English-speakers can read and write fluently but either struggle to speak and speak with a strong foreign accent. The worst case we have seen is constant mumbling. This is caused by the lack of knowledge, understanding of and adequate training of the English language. As a result, there are many variations of the English accents, e.g. Spanglish (Spanish English), Chinglish (Chinese English), Indo-English (Indian English) etc.
There's no SHORTCUT
to speaking well!
– SPEECH ETIQUETTE
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