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  Fluentenglish.com > English > "Can I become fluent in spoken English thro' self-study?"
  Self-study facts: Page 4 of 7
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Face-to-face instruction and Feedback
You see, face-to-face instruction and an instructor’s feedback on a learner’s work are not as important in fluency training as in learning other subjects of study.

You don’t need face-to-face instruction
Fluency is a unique skill – the only one of its kind. It’s a ‘learning oriented’ skill, and not an ‘instruction oriented’ one. It’s a skill that’s of a type quite different from other skills like cycling or swimming.

This is because fluency in speech depends mainly on a series of mental processes that go on within you. These are a series of actions that you carry out within your mind (to compose what to say and to say it at the same time). And these are not ‘external’ actions, or actions that are visible or obvious to other people. Others have no way of noticing or finding out what actually goes on inside your mind.
The point is this: While you’re training to speak fluent English, the kind of help teachers will be able to give you is quite different from the kind of help they’ll be able to give you while you’re training to swim or ride a bicycle — or while you’re learning mathematics or computer programming or machine repair. And note this: While you’re training to speak fluent English, the kind of help that teachers will practically be able to give you is of a kind that can effectively be given through self-study books.
You see, face-to-face interaction between an instructor and a learner may have great importance in learning most other subjects. But its role is limited when you learn a skill like fluency. The performance and progress of a fluency learner (who already knows English) does not actually depend on learner-instructor interaction or on feedback or on the instructor watching the performance of a learner or on a learner watching the performance of the instructor.

Fluency work doesn’t normally need correction
When you learn a subject like mathematics or computer programming or machine repair, you’ll need to interact with a teacher – from time to time.

The reason is this: In subjects like these, even the smallest thing you do has to be according to a rigid framework – a framework that you cannot modify at all to suit your convenience. And such frameworks are not only rigid, but also externally imposed – that is, they come from sources outside your own mind. In subjects like these, you have to follow principles, rules, concepts, formulas and procedures that others have set. And you’re not free to deviate from them or to adapt them to different conditions and circumstances (as and when those conditions and circumstances occur).
So in subjects like these, you’ll need a teacher’s help and guidance from time to time. In subjects like these, teachers may have to get feedback on your work, so that they can tell you where you’ve gone wrong and why, how well or badly you’ve been doing, and how you could improve.

But when you learn a unique skill like fluency, things happen differently.

When you learn a skill like fluency, there are no rigid frameworks that you have to follow compulsorily. Whatever frameworks you may happen to follow are those that you yourself decide on – according to your convenience. And you’re free to adapt and modify them to suit your speech-composition needs (from moment to moment). Whatever external constraints may happen to be there are not of a rigid nature, but are quite flexible. And anybody who has learnt fluency techniques can deal with those constraints in a number of different ways (according to their communicative convenience). This is so about all externally imposed constraints in spontaneous speech – constraints imposed by the content as well as form, semantic and syntactic constraints, lexical and grammatical constraints, and constraints imposed by verbal and situational contexts.

Speaker is total master of language manipulation
You see, it’s not as though you can only compose a long stretch of spontaneous speech by a single method. Each learner is free to compose it in any of the several ways they find convenient.
Also, a natural speech-situation is ever alive, fluctuating and open-ended. And there are no restrictions or limits set in advance on the way speakers can give shape to their speech-units and organize these speech units into a spoken text. And speakers themselves are the only people who’ll be able to decide what restrictions or limits they should set on things as they speak on, and how they should keep adapting their speech units to the speech situations from moment to moment.
So when you learn a skill like fluency, you don’t have to solve any problem of a mathematical or machine-related type or of a manual or technical type. In particular, you don’t have to solve any problem that can only have one answer or solution. So the question of accuracy (in the sense of mathematical accuracy) or the need for correction of mistakes (by an instructor) does not arise at all.
The only question of accuracy that can be thought of in fluency training is the question of grammatical accuracy or word-related accuracy of an elementary type. Here, you should note two things:

• Prof. Kev Nair’s self-study books are meant for people who already know reasonable English, and not for beginners. Even then, they deal extensively and thoroughly with various aspects of grammar and vocabulary that would help you in spontaneous speech production. (Of course, Prof. Kev Nair’s self-study books do these things from the fluency development angle, and not from the conventional angle).

• If you want to become good at English production, you’ll have to learn to sort out all grammatical and word-related difficulties on your own – without help from other people. You can easily do this with the help of a dictionary meant for advanced learners.

So in fluency training, the question of a learner needing to get his work corrected by an instructor doesn’t arise – in the way that this question arises when you’re learning other subjects or skills.

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Pages >> 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

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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