Posted on 2007-04-24, updated at 2010-01-03. By anonymous.
- Pages: 4
1. Self-Esteem: The most important aspect of speaking is having good self-esteem. Self-esteem is how a person feels about himself. This includes “self-talk”, how a person thinks or what a person says to himself. What a person feels determines what he thinks, and what he thinks determines what he says and how he says it. A person who feels good about himself will say good things and speak well. A person who feels bad about himself will think negative thoughts and not have self-confidence. Then fear will cause a person to not speak. When most Chinese people are asked how their English is, or if they are told their English is very good, they immediately respond by saying, “Oh, my English is very poor. I have no chance to practice.” A student of English should not say this to himself or to others. A person who says it often enough will begin to believe it and soon will be paralyzed and unable to speak. Students will begin to forget what they know since the right brain cannot speak or use the knowledge stored in the left brain. A person learning to speak English must put the Chinese custom of modesty (saving face) aside. When complimented, the correct response is “Thank you.” When asked, “How is your English?” or criticized, a good answer is “I love to speak English,” or “My English is improving,” or “I am working very hard to improve my English.” These positive statements will reinforce positive thoughts and good feelings. With increased confidence a person will overcome fear and speak more freely. The mind is the most fantastic computer in the universe. Saying or thinking negative thoughts will short circuit the mind or give it deadly viruses.
2. Teaching Others: It is a known fact that the teacher learns more than the student. One receives more when one gives. When a person only receives, he becomes crippled and soon dies. First of all, a person who teaches someone else to speak English forgets his inhibitions and concentrates on helping. This is a key process in learning. The teacher actually receives more than he gives. The teacher becomes better at speaking when he gives others instructions and encouragement. Secondly, the person who speaks is forced to utilize all the skills of speaking well. The brain is forced to remember what is stored in the left brain, transfer it to the right side, translate it from Chinese into English, and then verbalize it. A teacher must speak to teach. The teacher hears himself speak and recognizes needs and self corrects while teaching, correcting and encouraging the student(s). It’s a great method and a self-motivating process. For thousands of years, this method has been a powerful secret to learning. Remember that teaching others stimulates improvement.
3. Singing Songs: Singing songs has magic that no other exercise can duplicate. A person who sings English songs over and over again will automatically memorize words and phrases. When someone says, “Let’s sing ‘Jingle Bells’ or ‘Happy Birthday’, immediately a person begins to sing the song exactly right without even thinking about it. There is no hesitation, no translation, no confusion. Also, singing allows for the practice of saying words and, at the same time, practices pronunciation because singers verbalize each word more slowly and exactly with the music. That’s what music does for a person who wants to speak English. Good songs with good words are a great aid to speaking fluently. It is amazing how quickly singing helps a person to speak. Finally, the Chinese language has many tones and in a way the language is sung. When songs are sung in English, the brain can quickly connect the thoughts and meaning with sound.
4. Talking to the TV & Radio: There are English speaking television and radio channels. Watching and listening to them is important, but talking to them is even more important. This may seem strange to family and friends, but it is almost as effective as having a native speaker present. Listening is a great way to learn, but speaking back and asking questions benefits the mind and speaking mechanism as if a real person were there. True, the TV and radio will not answer questions nor pause for comments. Nevertheless, a person’s listening skills will improve and his ability to ask good questions and give good answers will also improve. This is a good method. This method will require concentration since people habitually just “listen” to the radio and TV. Listening is good, but speaking is better. It makes all the difference.
5. Reading Aloud and Reading A Lot: Good teachers always emphasize the value of extensive reading. It’s through reading many stories and books that one absorbs the culture, meaning, and beauty of a language. So the student must Read! Read! Read! But in addition to just reading, students should read out loud. Little children learn to speak by listening to their mothers read to them. Mothers learn to read and speak better by reading and speaking to their children. Together, both the reader and listener learn to tell stories, adding drama and emphasis to words and expressions. It’s important to read to others whenever possible. If there is no one to read to, students can read to themselves. It’s important to read aloud a lot!
6. Calling Others on the Telephone: This is one of the most common and most helpful methods of improving spoken English. First, language students must identify others who are willing to speak to them in English on the telephone. These can be friends, classmates, workmates or family members. Students can either make surprise calls or make appointments to speak with a number of people every day. At first, conversations may only last a few minutes, but with practice, time spent speaking will increase. The value comes in developing the ability to hear and understand the other unseen person. Repeating parts of the conversation and asking the other person to repeat parts of the conversation might prove useful. Soon the ear will become accustomed and the speech will also improve allowing both parties to better understand each other. This can be a fun and very useful practice that exercises the brain, ears and tongue.
7. Group Participation: A student in a formal English class at a school, university, or training company must participate. It is vital to ask questions, offer opinions and actively contribute to the class’s speaking activities. It’s only the active participant whose mind and mouth work together to speak and improve speaking. The left brain of a passive spectator will record what is seen and heard while the right brain weakens and speaking difficulty increases. Also, a person cannot participate unless he attends. Active, dedicated members of a class practice many of the skills necessary to increase verbal speech.
8. Interpreting for Others: Interpreting is one of the strongest methods of exercising the whole brain to improve speaking ability. Interpreters must draw on their left brain reserves while exercising their right brain skills. It is similar to teaching others, but even more powerful because the person interpreting must hear in Chinese, mentally understand and translate information in the mind, then almost instantly verbalizes these ideas correctly in English. The more advanced the English speaking ability, the better the interpretation. It is important to begin very early to interpret, not waiting for proficiency in speaking. Interpreting is not translating written documents which are mostly a left-brain skill.
9. Memorizing New Words and Phrases: In order to progress in learning to speak English, new words must be added to the vocabulary. Always having a small list of words and using them in every day conversation is vital to mastery. Speaking new words in sentences will bring ownership. Doing this faithfully over a period of a few years will build a vocabulary as large as most native English speakers. More effective than just adding new words is adding entire sentences. Great progress comes when quotes and phrases are not just memorized but used in daily speech. The key is to Speak! Speak! Speak!
10. Read, Write, and Memorize Poetry: “Words do not convey meaning, they call it forth.” David O McKay. Like music, poetry enlightens the soul while it exercises the mind in rhythm and vivid imagery. By reading, writing and memorizing poetry, a person is exercising one of the highest forms of spoken English. It energizes both the left and right brain while it conditions thinking and trains the tongue.
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