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  Fluentenglish.com > English > "Can I become fluent in spoken English thro' self-study?"
  Self-study facts: Page 3 of 7
   
 
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Fluency techniques and real-life situations
You see, the things you need are a thorough knowledge of fluency techniques and the experience of using them in real-life situations.

Can classroom practice be practical for learners who aren’t fluent at all?
Of course, classroom sessions can set up mock conversational situations and get you to take part in them. But 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?

Suppose that a few people (who can’t speak fluent English) keep getting together and keep speaking among themselves in broken English for a few months. Are they going to pick up the skill of speaking fluent English – from this sort of practice? Won’t they only be getting more and more used to their broken English habit – and other bad speech habits? Instead of breaking those habits?

You see, that’s why the most important thing you should do first is to learn fluency techniques.

Teacher can help only with accuracy — Not fluency...
Mind you, even a teacher’s presence cannot improve the situation. No, it can’t. Why? Because a teacher will be able to notice and correct only ‘externally noticeable’ mistakes: Mistakes of grammar, usage, vocabulary, etc. But remember this: We’re speaking about people who know English — very well or reasonably well. Don’t they already have a good command of grammar and usage? And don’t they have a reasonable (or even a wide) vocabulary? Even then, don’t most of them find it hard to be truly fluent?

So ‘externally noticeable’ mistakes are not the real reason that blocks fluency. The real reason is this: Internal speech processing difficulties. And internal speech composition problems. Mistakes, difficulties and problems that happen when your mind tries to compose speech before its delivery. When your mind tries to manipulate the semantic and syntactic resources of the English language — to process information. And to formulate speech out of that information. And to bring it up for delivery.

Mind you, a teacher or anyone else will not be able to notice these internal mistakes and problems. Or the pre-delivery process. No, they can’t, because these things happen inside your mind. You are the only person who’ll be able to be aware of them — and to cope with them on the spot.

Deal with the realities of the real-life situations
A mock conversational session is an artificial speech-situation, and not a real-life speech situation. And so in a mock session, most of your time would be spent in wondering what to say and in racking your brain – unless you’ve prepared yourself thoroughly in advance with the help of a script.

And if you train to become fluent by first learning from a script and then by repeating the same thing from memory, you’re not going to become fluent. No. This is because in such a situation, you’re actually training in ‘prepared speech production’, and not in ‘spontaneous speech production’. But in a real-life speech situation, you feel the real need to speak. And the situation itself provides you with 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 so in such a situation, 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 those things develop in an artificial conversational situation. When fluent speakers speak in real-life situations, they put together and say their speech-units by coping with a number of types of pressures —pressures from factors connected with language as well as pressures from factors not connected with language. Depending on the way these pressures and factors work, they keep adapting and manipulating the form, content and phrasing of what they say. And they keep modifying and adjusting the sizes and shapes of their speech-units and the very framework of the whole spoken text.

But in a mock conversational situation, the pressures present are of a different type. So whatever experience you get from such a mock situation won’t be of much real value to you — in real-life speech situations. What will be of real value to you in real-life situations are the skills you need to manipulate your English and to adapt it to the moment-to-moment demands of those situations.
And the fluency techniques that Prof. Kev Nair’s self-study books teach you are the very things that help you get these skills.

Classroom sessions can’t train you in language manipulation
You see, if you join a group of learners and try speaking to them in English, purely for gaining fluency in that language, this is what’s going to happen: When you start speaking, your attention would be focused not on what you say, but on how you say it. That is, your attention would be focused 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 repeatedly rearrange, change and modify your speech-units and the way they’re organized — 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.

Get experience from real-life situations
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 think that self-study learners don’t get this sort of experience. Self-study learners do get plenty of experience of this sort. They get it from the only sources from where anybody can hope to get it: The real-life situations they face every day.

You know, one of the reasons why many people buy Prof. Kev Nair’s self-study books and do a self-directed self-training is this: They often find themselves in real-life situations where they have to speak fluent English. But they’re not able to make the most of those situations, because the English they speak isn’t quite fluent — or fluent enough to their satisfaction.

Most of the self-study learners who train with the help of Prof. Kev Nair’s self-study books are people who have jobs or professions or are in business. They’re usually in contact with people who speak English. And they all have plenty of opportunity to make use of their fluency skill in their workplaces or in places where their jobs, professions or social and spare-time activities take them — or while travelling. Other learners who take this course also 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, there are several practical ways to get yourselves into real-life speech situations and to have the opportunity of putting fluency techniques to real use. And so, remember this: Generally speaking, classroom training in interaction doesn’t have much value for people who already know English, but are trying to become fluent. It has real value only for beginners who are trying to learn English.

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In this section
1. Alternatives to self-study route, not really practical. 5. Helping learners in difficulty
2. Classroom instruction, not really effective 6. Living and working in an English environment
3. Fluency techniques and real-life situations 7. Fluency techniques: The only quick and easy route
4. Face-to-face instruction and feedback
 
 
 

 
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