Why practicing speaking is not enough

Dans: Apprendre l'anglais
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When I ask my students of English as a foreign language what they might do to improve their competence, one idea that occurs to most of them is: I should speak English more often (with native speakers or people very competent in the language).

When I ask my students of English as a foreign language what they might do to improve their competence, one idea that occurs to most of them is: I should speak English more often (with native speakers or people very competent in the language). On one hand, there is much to be gained by doing this, and yes – I do encourage my students to speak as often as possible. The most immediate benefit that we see is that students start to understand more English; and, with time, they can understand English when it is spoken more rapidly – that is, at normal speeds (generally ranging from 325 to 400 syllables per minute, depending on the region of the native speaker). They will also begin to understand more informal speech (which might not occur in textbooks they are studying). So, it is safe to say that their comprehension of spoken English will more rapidly increase because of conversing with English speakers.

On the other hand, this is almost never the case with students’ spoken production of English. That is, the vast majority of students will not improve their capacity to speak normal, proper English as rapidly as they will improve their comprehension. What is the reason for this inequality? Most often, if an English speaker is capable of understanding a student’s message - although the student is speaking incorrectly – the English speaker will not correct the student (often believing it to be discourteous to do so). This means that the student’s incorrect habits will remain in place much longer; and, as mentioned, improvement will be much slower. In my next article, I will address ways for students to deal with this situation.

Questions:
What is the main idea of this article?

  1. Students must speak fast
  2. English speakers speak rapidly
  3. I encourage my students to speak
  4. Speaking, by itself, does not guarantee a student will speak correctly

What benefit will students gain from speaking more often?

  1. They will quickly learn to speak correctly
  2. They will understand their textbooks better
  3. They will speak more clearly
  4. They will understand spoken English more rapidly

Why will English speakers avoid correcting students who speak incorrectly?

  1. Most English speakers are not teachers of English
  2. Students of English cannot understand more than 325 syllables per minute
  3. English speakers have not read the students’ English textbooks
  4. The English speakers believe it would be rude to correct the students