How speak English fluently

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Published Date:11-07-2017
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INDEX: Introduction Chapter 1: The Proprioceptive Sense in Language Learning 1 Chapter 2: Focusing On the Target Language 8 Chapter 3: Four Rules for Learning a Spoken Language 13 Chapter 4: Grammar and Writing in Spoken Language Study 17 Chapter 5: Do You Need Both Beginning and Advanced Lessons? 21 Chapter 6: Selecting a Text 27 Chapter 7: Studying the Verb 34 Chapter 8: Making the Feedback Training Method Work 42 Looking to the Future 52 Appendix Overview 53 Appendix A: Introductory Lesson 55 Appendix B: Text Exercises 58 Appendix C: Lesson Exercises 61 Appendix D: More Verb Exercises 66 Appendix E: Expression Exercises 69 Appendix F: Miscellaneous Exercises 71 Chapter 1: The Proprioceptive Sense in Language Learning Chapter summary: Human speech uses a closed-loop control system. Speech is controlled in the mind by feedback from hearing and mouth position as much as it is by memory. In order to produce fluent speech, language instruction for Second Acquired Language (SAL) speaking adults must simultaneously retrain the entire feedback chain used by the mind. By using methodology restricted to open-loop control which emphasizes memory alone without the simultaneous training of all senses, grammar-based language instruction fails to effectively teach spoken language to adult learners. n order to teach adult students to speak a second language fluently, it is necessary to I understand how the human mind produces speech before it is possible to design an effective language instruction program for them. However, before looking at speech, drawing an analogy from machine control will be helpful because the analogy closely parallels neurological responses in spoken language. Open-loop machine control Wikipedia describes an open-loop control system as follows: An open-loop controller, also called a non-feedback controller, is a type of controller that computes its input into a system using only the current state . . . of the system. A characteristic of the open-loop controller is that it does not use feedback to determine if its input has achieved the desired goal. This means that the system does not observe the output of the processes that it is controlling. Consequently, a true open-loop system . . . cannot correct any errors that it could make. For example, a sprinkler system, programmed to turn on at set times could be an example of an open-loop system if it does not measure soil moisture as a form of feedback. Even if rain is pouring down on the lawn, the sprinkler system would activate on schedule, wasting water. Figure 1 shows an open-loop control system. The control could be a simple switch, or it could be a combination of a switch and a timer. Yet, all it can do is turn the machine on. It cannot respond to anything the machine is doing. Learning to Speak a Second Language Closed-loop machine control Wikipedia then describes closed-loop control as follows: To avoid the problems of the open- loop controller, control theory introduces feedback. A closed-loop controller uses feedback to control states or outputs of a dynamic system. Its name comes from the information path in the system: process inputs (e.g. voltage applied to a motor) have an effect on the process outputs (e.g. velocity. . . of the motor), which is measured with sensors and processed by the controller; the result (the control signal) is used as input to the process, closing the loop. Wikipedia's definition of a closed-loop system subsequently becomes too technical to use here. However, as Wikipedia suggests above, a sprinkler incorporating a soil moisture sensor would be a simple closed-loop system. The sprinkler system would have both a timer and a control valve. Either could operate independently, and either could shut the water off, but both would need to be open in order for the sprinkler to operate. The arrangement is shown in Figure 2. If the soil is already moist, the sprinkler will remain off whether or not the timer is open. When the moisture probe senses dry soil, the valve is opened. However, after the sprinkler is on, if the soil becomes moist enough, the valve will close even if the timer is still open. Thus, the sprinkler uses feedback from its own operation to control itself. Figure 3 shows a simple closed-loop machine control. Notice that Figure 3 also shows a calibration function. Irrespective of whether it is a soil moisture sensor on a sprinkler — or a counter on a machine — there must be some way of setting the control so that it will respond in a Chapter 1: The Proprioceptive Sense in Language Learning 2Learning to Speak a Second Language predetermined way. In a machine application, the calibration function could be a counter that is set so that the machine will shut down after producing a certain number of finished parts. Human speech is a closed-loop system Human speech is a complex learned skill and is dependent on a number of memory and neurological functions. Speech is a closed-loop system because sensors within the system itself give feedback to the control portion of the system. The control then corrects and coordinates ongoing speech. In this case, the mind is in control of the closed-loop system, the mouth produces the desired product (speech), and auditory feedback from the ears and proprioceptive feedback from the mouth allow the mind to coordinate the speech 1 process in real time. The inter-relationship of these functions is shown in the table below. The meaning of specialized words is given below the table. The Organ or Sense Primary Function(s) Comments The mind provides: 1. Vocabulary memory The mind is the storage bank for vocabulary. Memory is 2. Partial syntax control also involved in structuring 3. Feedback coordination syntax. In addition, the mind uses both auditory and 4. Calibration by the speaker to proprioceptive feedback to give meaning to the sounds monitor and calibrate speech in real time. The mouth and related 1. Sound production The proprioceptive sense is organs provide: involved in both 2. Breath regulation pronunciation and syntax 3. Proprioceptive feedback to the feedback. It is essential for mind in real time which speech control. regulates pronunciation and provides partial syntax control Hearing provides: 1. Auditory feedback to the mind in Auditory and proprioceptive real time feedback are combined in the mind for essential speech control. Table 1: The three components of human speech and their primary functions. 2 Proprioceptive. Human speech would be impossible without the proprioceptive sense. (Proprioceptive refers to the sense within the organism itself that detects or controls the movement and location of the muscles, tendons, and joints which are used to create Chapter 1: The Proprioceptive Sense in Language Learning 3Learning to Speak a Second Language speech.) Our mouth, vocal cords, diaphragm, and lungs incorporate thousands of nerve sensors that the brain uses to control their movement and determine their position. Imagine the complexity of pronouncing even a single word with the need to coordinate the tongue, breath control, and jaw muscles. Now multiply this complexity as sentences are constructed in rapid succession during normal speech. Real time. Unlike an open-loop control system, a closed-loop control system monitors feedback and corrects the process as the machine is running. The reciprocal path between the control, the feedback sensors, and the process itself is instantaneous. That is, information is not stored for later use. Rather, it is used instantaneously as the sensors detect it. In this chapter, the term simultaneous is used to indicate real time feedback during language instruction. Calibration. In human speech, the mind must constantly monitor the feedback information from both the speaker's own hearing and the proprioceptive senses so that the mind can control muscles to create the desired sounds. Thus, the speaker is constantly calibrating the feedback to control speech. To change a tense, the speaker may change "run" to "ran," or change the person from "he" to "she," and so on. These word changes are achieved by precise control of the muscles used to produce speech. Thus, in Figure 4, human speech is represented as the interplay between the mind, the mouth, and its related organs (represented in the figure by the tongue), two feedback systems, and conscious calibration as the speaker constructs each sentence. In addition, calibration continuously takes place within the control center — the mind. However, it acts on feedback from hearing and the proprioceptive senses, so calibration is shown as acting on the source of the feedback. When children learn their mother tongue (First Acquired Language or L1), their natural ability to hear and mimic adult speech builds complex proprioceptive response patterns. A French-speaking child effortlessly learns to make nasal sounds. An English- speaking child learns to put his tongue between his teeth and make the "th" sound. A Chinese-speaking child learns to mimic the important tones which change the meaning of words. Each of these unique sounds requires learned muscle control within the mouth. No apology is needed for the intricacy of this explanation. The neurological feedback and resulting control of the muscles involved in speech is extremely complex. The mind plays a far more important role than simply remembering vocabulary and organizing words into meaningful sentences. Chapter 1: The Proprioceptive Sense in Language Learning 4Learning to Speak a Second Language When a new language is being learned, all of its unique sounds and syntax must be studied. This is not merely a memory function. Each of these new sounds and syntax patterns requires retraining of the entire mind, proprioceptive feedback, and the auditory feedback chain involved in speech. Even syntax is dependent on the proprioceptive sense. The statement, "This is a book," feels different to the nerve receptors in the mouth than the question, "Is this a book?" We can certainly understand that memory is involved in using correct grammar. Just as important, however, is the observation that proprioceptive feedback demands that a question must evoke a different sequence of feedback than does a statement. This is why partial syntax control has been identified in Table 1 as being a shared function of both the mind (memory) and the mouth (as a proprioceptive sense). If you doubt that the proprioceptive sense is an important part of speech, try this experiment: Read a sentence or two of this article entirely in your mind without moving your lips. You may even speed read it. Now read the same sentences silently by moving your lips but making no sound. Your mind responds to the first as simple information that is primarily a memory function. However, your mind will respond to the latter as speech because of the proprioceptive feedback from your mouth. The latter is not just cognitive — your mind will respond to it as speech that transcends mere mental activity. Did you also notice a difference in your mental intensity between the two readings? The first would be the mental activity required of a student doing a written grammar-based assignment. The second would be the mental activity required of a student studying a language using spoken exercises. The effectiveness of language learning is in direct proportion to the student's mental involvement. The best way to teach a second language Two skill areas must be emphasized while teaching an adult a new language. The first is memory (which is involved in both vocabulary and syntax) and the second is the proprioceptive responses (which are involved in both pronunciation and syntax). Simple vocabulary-related memory skills may probably be learned with equal effectiveness by using either verbal or visual training methods. That is, they may be learned either by a spoken drill or a written exercise. Chapter 1: The Proprioceptive Sense in Language Learning 5Learning to Speak a Second Language However, it is impossible to train the important proprioceptive sense without involving students' hearing and voices at full speaking volume. Thus, in my opinion, it is a waste of the students' time to introduce written assignments for the purpose of teaching a spoken language. Surprisingly, it will take far less time for students to learn both fluent speech and excellent grammar by perfecting only spoken language first, than it will to incorporate written grammar instruction into the lessons before a moderate level of fluency is attained. This does not mean, however, that grammar is not a necessary part of spoken language instruction. It is impossible to speak a language without using its grammar correctly. This statement simply means that the best way to learn a target language's grammar is through spoken language exercises. See Chapter 4: Grammar and Writing in Spoken Language Study. Inasmuch as spoken language involves multiple cognitive, muscle, and neurological components working cooperatively in real time, it is mandatory that effective spoken language methods train students to use all of these components of speech simultaneously. This is shown in Figure 5. It is the important area of the proprioceptive sense that has been most overlooked in current grammar-based teaching methodology. When any student over the age of 12 or so attempts to learn a new language, his or her proprioceptive response patterns must be consciously retrained in order to reproduce all of the new sounds and syntax of that language. Further, to properly train the proprioceptive sense of the mouth, the combined feedback from the mouth and hearing must be simultaneously processed in the mind. Simply said, the student must speak out loud for optimum language learning. Chapter 1: The Proprioceptive Sense in Language Learning 6Learning to Speak a Second Language Without simultaneous involvement of all components of speech, it is impossible to effectively retrain the students' proprioceptive senses to accommodate a new language. Yet, this is exactly what grammar-based language instruction has traditionally done by introducing grammar, listening, writing, and reading as segregated activities. It is not surprising that it takes students in a grammar-based program a long time to learn to speak their target language fluently. Grammar-based instruction has hindered language learning by segregating individual areas of study. This segregation is represented in Figure 6. Grammar-based language training has not only isolated proprioceptive training areas so that it prevents simultaneous skill development, but it has replaced it instead with visual memory training through the use of written assignments. Grammar-based language instruction teaches the target language as though spoken language was an open-loop system. In so doing, gaining language fluency requires far more study time, pronunciation is often faulty, and grammar becomes more difficult to learn. Conclusion Grammar-based language study traditionally teaches a spoken language as though speech is primarily a function of memory. Consequently, grammar-based instruction has emphasized non-verbal (written) studies of grammar, writing, reading, and listening. All of these activities may increase recall memory for written examinations, but they have little benefit in teaching a student to speak a new language. The only way an adult can effectively learn a new spoken language is by using spoken language as the method of instruction. All lessons should be verbal, with the student speaking at full voice volume for the entire study period. 1 Some researchers view human speech as an open-loop system. However, it has been shown that the human brain performs many functions using both open- and closed-loop control. As suggested in this chapter, language learning speed would be improved by the use of spoken language instruction irrespective of whether speech control is open- or closed-loop. 2 The terms Proprioceptive Method and Feedback Training Method may be used interchangeably in describing this language learning method. An earlier term, Proprio-kinesthetic Method, was also used for this same language program. Throughout this book, the term proprioceptive will be used to describe the neurological process, while the language learning method will be called the Feedback Training Method. Chapter 1: The Proprioceptive Sense in Language Learning 7 Chapter 2: Focusing on the Target Language Chapter summary: This chapter emphasizes the importance of selecting a suitable language program on the basis of the student’s target audience. Since this can be more easily demonstrated with an English language illustration, the example in this chapter will describe how an international student might choose an English study program. You may be tempted to select a language course simply because the name of your target language is in the course title. However, if you plan to supplement an existing language course in which you will be enrolled, or if, by necessity, you will be forced to develop your own course of study, you will need to carefully design your program to ensure that your target language will be the same language form used by those with whom you will be communicating. At the end of the chapter there is a closing comment regarding beginning, intermediate, and advanced language levels. t would be impossible to say that any spoken language has a neatly defined vocabulary I and syntax, or that it can be fully taught through a single language training program. Let's illustrate that with the following example: Maria, a Bolivian national, wants to complete her undergraduate studies at a university in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Then she plans to enter the civil engineering program at the University of Texas because she wants to work in flood control in Bolivia. In order to succeed, she will need to achieve fluency in the following six English forms: 1. Legal and technical English. Maria will need to be able to read and write legal and technical English in order to submit her university application, immigration forms, and financial paperwork. In addition, she will also need to use this English form as spoken language when such things as textbook glossary terms and engineering legal matters are discussed in classes. This English form will use specialized — and often unfamiliar — vocabulary. 2. Grammatically complete written English. Almost all of Maria's textbooks will use this English form in which complete sentences containing a full complement of all necessary parts of speech are used. Coincidentally, vocabulary will often consist of precise terms used in a specific field such as engineering, law, finance, etc. Most of her need for this English form will be in reading, though it will occasionally be used in speech. 3. Grammatically complete spoken English. Many of her instructors will often use grammatically complete spoken English during their class or lab presentations. Local newspapers will also use this English form in written format even though it will be on the reading level of the general populace. The newspaper will use a Learning to Speak a Second Language simpler vocabulary and less complex sentence structure than more technical 1 publications might. For our purposes, the term grammatically complete English means that sentences contain all necessary parts of speech, while conversational English means that sentences sometimes employ understood (but unspoken) parts of speech. 4. Conversational spoken English. Maria will need to master the English used by the ordinary people on the street in her American university city. She will also need to communicate with fellow students using conversational English common to her own age group. In English — and probably most languages — conversational spoken language often abbreviates sentences and alters vocabulary. When properly used, conversational English is grammatically correct English, but it is not always grammatically complete English. 5. Slang, ethnic, and vulgar English. Maria will most likely watch American movies and television and will be involved in social contexts where unique vocabulary and sentence structure will be used. Whether or not she chooses to incorporate these terms into her own speech, she will need to learn the vocabulary in order to avoid the risk of using socially inappropriate language. 6. Regional pronunciation and vocabulary. Though she will need to be familiar with standard American broadcasting English as it is used in national news casting, national media, and cinema productions, Maria will also need to be able to mimic the accent and vocabulary used at the University of Texas. Assuming that Maria is able to fulfill her goal of completing an advanced degree at the University of Texas, by the time she graduates she will most likely have learned to adequately communicate in the six English forms listed above. But an important decision she will need to make while she is still a student in Santa Cruz is which of these six English forms she should begin studying first. Selecting a precise language for study Before going further, a point of reference needs to be developed that will aid a student like Maria in selecting her language study program. As already discussed, there are six English forms that she must choose between. She needs to choose wisely at this point in order to avoid wasting time in her English study. Students using the Spoken English Learned Quickly course have commented that they have studied English for a number of years without learning the technical English vocabulary they needed to enter their chosen field of study or employment. Others have said that their poor pronunciation has been a hindrance to their employment opportunities. These students spent years in "English" study, but it was not tailored to fit their future need. The question Maria or any other language student must ask is, "What language do the people with whom I will be communicating speak?" A simplistic answer like "Polish," or "Chichewa," or "English" is inadequate. We propose the following terminology: Chapter 2: Focusing on the Target Language 9Learning to Speak a Second Language 1. The term target language in its customary sense will indicate the language that will be learned. 2. The term target language group — and a synonym needed for comparative 2 purposes, general target language group — are loosely defined terms that simply identify those who speak a particular language. This group will typically be spread over a wide geographical area with members having dissimilar socio- economic status. Nonetheless, speakers within this group will use syntax and pronunciation that is understood by all others in the same target group when the speaker is using non-regional or non-technical vocabulary. 3. The term general target language group will then be contrasted with a new term specific target language group. It is this second term that has the precise meaning we want. A specific target language group will more likely be in a particular geographical location, and will, because of the similar socio-economic status of its members, use vocabulary, syntax, and pronunciation that is generally common to all in that group. We could classify all Americans who speak fluent English as being included in a single general target language group because, in spite of regional differences in dialect and vocabulary, they can readily communicate with each other. It is the specific target language group that is important to Maria because she will need to learn an English form that will allow her to communicate with instructors and Texas-raised students in the Engineering Department at the University of Texas. We strongly encourage you to gain as much information as possible about the specific target language group with which you will be communicating. Carefully plan your language learning program so that the pronunciation and vocabulary you learn will be useful to you. This may save you a great deal of wasted effort. Maria's choice A first observation can now be made. Maria will need to learn the same English which is spoken by her future classmates in the University of Texas Engineering Department. The majority of her American fellow students will be able to correctly use the six English forms above as they have been described. Many writers in the field of English-as-a- world-language make a distinction between forms of English which are grammatically complete, written, conversational, slang, and the like — often identifying them as separate kinds of English. We will simply state, however, that the language we are defining as the target language for any language student is the one spoken in a single location by the specific group of people with whom the student will be communicating. In Maria's case, that will be the English that her future fellow students in Texas will use both inside and outside of the classroom, whether talking to each other, listening to an instructor’s lecture, buying a hamburger at McDonald's, taking an exam, watching a movie or television, or reading an assignment. This will be the specific target language group she will want to communicate with. On the other hand, there will be other groups of people living in her university city who will use English speech which Maria may not need to learn. Chapter 2: Focusing on the Target Language 10Learning to Speak a Second Language What has been said so far actually simplifies Maria's choice. Even though she will eventually want to gain fluency in each of these six English forms, they are now defined for her. For now, she must only decide on which of the above six English forms to focus as she begins her study. There is a surprisingly simple second suggestion we can make. Because of her three years of grammar-based English classes in Bolivia, her ability to read and write English far exceeds her ability to speak it. Therefore, she should try to find an English course which would include a strong foundation in grammatically complete spoken English (English form 3), but which would also include a mix of colloquial conversational spoken English (English form 4). The accent used in this ideal language course for Maria would be Texan. However, it is highly unlikely that Maria would be able to find an English course that would fit her need this precisely. The closest thing she might be able to find would be a course that would use grammatically complete spoken English with American national broadcast pronunciation. Because the Spoken English Learned Quickly language course was developed for university students and young professionals, it uses grammatically complete spoken English along with some colloquial conversational spoken English. Furthermore, the audio recordings provide the option of either American or British national broadcast accents. We feel that this level of English syntax and vocabulary will best serve the needs of most of our students. It will also allow them to acquire with the least amount of difficulty the other English forms of spoken English that are not included in the Spoken English Learned Quickly lessons. We clearly understand, however, that there is no universal spoken English, so there can be no single English course that can be used to simultaneously teach all of the worldwide varieties of English. We are certainly not saying that there is only one kind of English that is used worldwide. As you consider the target language you want to learn, you will need to evaluate the materials and courses that are available to you. You will need to decide how you can best use them to reach your fluency goals. You will need to focus on a language study program that will teach you to fluently speak the language that is spoken in a single location by the specific group of people with whom you wish to communicate. Where to start Finally, you will need to begin your language study by using some kind of vocabulary and sentences. We strongly suggest that you not look for a beginning level of language but that as quickly as possible you begin by using simple sentences and vocabulary in the everyday language of your specific target language group. You will want to begin your language study using the same sentences that you will want to perfect as you become fluent. This topic will be covered fully in Chapter 5: Do You Need Both Beginning and Advanced Lessons? Chapter 2: Focusing on the Target Language 11Learning to Speak a Second Language 1 If technical newspapers such as financial and business publications are excluded, this probably pertains to newspapers in the United States more than it does to those in countries that have both literary and common language newspapers. This will be discussed more completely in Chapter 6: Selecting a Text. 2 The term target language group is commonly used in scholarly literature. On the other hand, neither general target language group nor specific target language group appear to be used. However, the term specific target language group is not restrictive, inasmuch as a single language speaker may be a member of several specific target language groups. For example, an engineering professor at the University of Texas may also be a lay synagogue treasurer. He would certainly share common vocabulary and syntax with a second specific target language group in his synagogue that was quite different from the one he shared with fellow University of Texas instructors. Chapter 2: Focusing on the Target Language 12 Chapter 3: Four Rules for Learning a Spoken Language Chapter summary: This chapter explains four rules which must be followed in order to learn a new spoken language. The emphasis is on spoken language and retraining the language learner's proprioceptive sense. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion and application of the fourth rule which states, "You must never make a mistake when you are speaking." here are four simple rules to follow when learning a second language: T 1. To learn to speak the language correctly, you must speak it aloud. It is important that you speak loudly and clearly when you are learning your target language. You must always use spoken exercises. You are retraining your mind to respond to a new pattern of proprioceptive and auditory stimuli. This can only be done when you are speaking aloud at full volume. One of the reasons that traditional language study methods require so much time to produce results is that silent study does nothing to train the proprioceptive sense. 2. To learn to speak a language fluently, you must think in that language. The proprioceptive sense is not all you are retraining when you learn a new language. There is cognitive learning which must also take place. Traditional language teaching has emphasized cognitive learning to the exclusion of retraining the proprioceptive sense. Nonetheless, cognitive learning is an important part of the language process. For speech to occur, the mind must be actively involved in syntax development. The more actively the mind is involved, the more effective the learning process becomes. However, just as you will short-circuit proprioceptive training by silent study, so you will also limit cognitive learning if you simply read from a text rather than constructing the syntax yourself. You must force your mind to think in the target language by using your recall memory when you are studying spoken exercises. This will be discussed again in Chapter 6: Selecting a Text, because there will be times when reading from a text such as a newspaper is an effective language learning tool. But when you are doing sentence responses using recorded exercises, you must force your mind to develop the syntax by doing the exercise without reading from a text. Learning to Speak a Second Language You are not thinking in your target language if you are reading a text. Making your mind work to create the answer is an important part of learning to speak a new language. 3. The more you speak the language aloud, the more quickly you will learn to speak fluently. Proprioceptive retraining is not instantaneous. It will require much repetition to build the new patterns in your mind. As these new patterns develop, there will be progression from a laborious, conscious effort, to speech which is reproduced rapidly and unconsciously. When any of us speak our first language, we do so with no conscious awareness of tongue or mouth position and the air flow through the vocal cords. In contrast, when we first attempt to make an unknown discrete sound — called a phoneme — in another language, it requires experimentation and conscious effort. Some new sounds are relatively simple. Others are more difficult. A good nasal French "on" in bonjour will require some careful practice for the English-speaker, but it is within reach. The six tones in Cantonese Chinese will be extremely difficult for the same English-speaker, and will undoubtedly require an immense amount of repetition in order to perfect their use. To add to the complexity, each phoneme has other phonemes or stops adjacent to it which change its sound slightly. (A stop is a break in the air flow.) The nasal "on" in "bonjour" is slightly different from the "on" in "mon frere." The objective is not to be able to write the letters representing the phoneme in the target language. The goal is not even to be able to say it with reasonable accuracy. The objective for the English-speaker learning French is to be able to say, "Bonjour, mon frere," so perfectly that a Frenchman would think he had just been greeted by a compatriot. That degree of perfection will require thousands — if not tens of thousands — of repetitions. Therefore — to be somewhat facetious — the more quickly you correctly repeat a particularly difficult phoneme ten thousand times, the more quickly you will be able to use it fluently. That is what is meant by the statement, "The more you speak the language aloud, the more quickly you will learn to speak fluently." 4. You must never make a mistake when you are speaking. When you are learning a language using this Feedback Training Method, you are strongly reinforcing the learning process each time you speak. However, when you construct a sentence incorrectly, you have not only wasted the learning time used to construct your faulty sentence, but you must now invest even more time retraining your mind, mouth, and hearing so you can construct the sentence correctly. The more you use a sentence structure incorrectly, the longer it will take for your mind, mouth, and hearing to identify the correct syntax. Chapter 3: Four Rules for Learning a Spoken Language 14Learning to Speak a Second Language Ideally, if you used only correct syntax and pronunciation, you could retrain your speech in considerably less time. Consequently, you could learn to speak the target language more quickly. Yet before you roll your eyes and declare this to be impossible, let's look at a way in which it could actually be done. (Well, almost) Traditional language study Traditional language study attempts to engage students in free speech as quickly as possible. Though the goal is commendable, in practice it has a serious drawback. A beginning student does not have enough language experience to be able to construct sentences properly. More to the point, the instruction program seldom has enough personnel to be able to work with individual students so as to help them correct their errors. Consequently, beginning students regularly use incorrect sentences having improper syntax and verb construction. The instructor often praises them for their valiant effort, despite the reality that they are learning to use the language incorrectly. The student will now need to spend even more time relearning the correct syntax. Controlled language study The better alternative is to derive all initial spoken language study from audio recorded (or written) materials that contain perfect syntax, perfect use of the verb, and perfect pronunciation. This sounds restrictive, but, in fact, it could be done relatively easily. Say, for example, that during the first four weeks of instruction, beginning students worked only from recorded exercises. They would repeat the recorded lesson material that was accurate in every respect. As an alternative, they could read aloud from a written text. The disadvantage of the text, however, would be that the mind would be considerably less active, and a pronunciation model would be absent. For the entire instruction period, each student would work independently while repeating the exercise lessons. Needless to say, in four weeks' time, the students would have spoken the new language correctly far more than had they been somewhat passively sitting in a traditional language class. But more to the point, everything the students would have learned would have been correct. Their syntax would have been correct. Their use of verbs would have been correct. And, as much as possible, their pronunciation would have been correct. To continue the example, say that it was now time for the students to begin venturing into free speech. Yet mistakes must still be avoided. Consequently, all free speaking would be based upon the many sentences they would have already learned. Questions would be asked that the students could answer in the exact words of the sentences they would have studied. Subsequently, they would be given questions to answer that would use the same structure as the sentences they already knew, but now they would substitute other vocabulary that would be in the same lessons. Chapter 3: Four Rules for Learning a Spoken Language 15Learning to Speak a Second Language Making the application The assumption in this book is that you are a college student or a young professional and that you are highly motivated to learn your target language. The above illustration was not given to suggest that you should be treated like a high school freshman, forced to sit at a desk by yourself, repeating sentences in Japanese, Swahili, or Gujarati. Nonetheless, you should be able to see what is being said. As you read through this book, you will see the repeated suggestion that you take a high degree of control of your language learning, irrespective of whether you are in an established language school or developing your own language study program. You will do much better if you seek out ways in which you can speak the language correctly from the very start. Strike a careful balance between venturing out into the unknown and forcing yourself to follow a pattern of correct language use. Do everything in your power to use the language correctly. In the early weeks of language study, this may require that you spend more time reading simple material aloud than in trying to engage in free speech. Later, however, you will need to spend a great deal of time talking with others. Nonetheless, every time you encounter new syntax in your target language, use controlled language drills long enough that your mind becomes thoroughly familiar with it. As you progress in the language, searching a newspaper article for examples of the new sentence format can reinforce correct syntax. Mark the sentences, verify the vocabulary, and then read — and repeat from recall memory — the sentences aloud until they become a natural part of your speech. Chapter 3: Four Rules for Learning a Spoken Language 16 Chapter 4: Grammar and Writing in Spoken Language Study Chapter summary: Language is unintelligible without grammar because grammar consists of the rules used to string words together into units that convey meaning. The issue is not whether a student learning a second language needs to know grammar or not. The question is, "How is grammar best taught?" My personal experience I had the great advantage of growing up in a home in which grammatically correct English was spoken. As I progressed through grade school and on into high school, my language ability matured as a result of my home and school environments. In retrospect, I believe that this is what happened: For the most part, I used proper sentence structure and pronunciation because that is what I heard in my home. However, when I went to school, I needed to learn grammar in school in order to reinforce my knowledge of my own language. I — like probably most of my classmates — did not learn to speak by studying grammar. Rather, I was able to learn how to do grammar exercises because I already knew how to speak. Certainly, I learned many important things about my language through grammar study. But it was of importance to me only because I had already achieved basic English fluency. I did not learn to speak English as a result of English grammar lessons. In contrast, I also took two years of Spanish in high school. We started with basic grammar. We wrote exercises almost every day. But we almost never heard spoken Spanish, and had even less opportunity to try to speak it ourselves. (Language instruction in the United States has changed considerably since I was in high school.) After high school graduation, I could neither speak Spanish, nor did I understand Spanish grammar. In my mid-twenties, I spent a year in Paris studying French. I had the great fortune of enrolling in a French language school that emphasized spoken French to the complete exclusion of written exercises. Not only did I learn French grammar — meaning that I learned to use sentences that communicated what I intended to say to a French listener — but, interestingly enough, because verb construction is similar in both French and Spanish, I also began to understand the Spanish grammar which had made no sense to me in high school. Because I could read and write in English, I had no difficulty reading French. It was a simple transfer of knowledge from reading in English to reading in French. Later, I studied another language in Africa. Because school-based language courses were almost non-existent in that country, all of my language training was done by way of recorded language drills that I adapted from local radio broadcasts. I also had a university student as my language helper. Yet I learned how to structure a sentence in that language — which is applied grammar — and how to write much more quickly than had I been studying grammar and writing independently of the spoken language. Learning to Speak a Second Language Traditional language instruction Traditional language instruction has reversed the process with poor results. Most second language classes teach grammar as a foundation for spoken language. The quickest way to teach students to read a new language is to teach them to speak it first. The fastest way to teach them sufficient grammar to pass college entrance exams is to build a foundation by teaching them to speak the language fluently. Then as they build on that foundation, they will understand the target language's grammar. Finally, it is almost impossible to teach non-speaking students how to write well before they have mastered the basic spoken language. Whenever the process is reversed, it takes a needlessly long time to succeed in teaching grammar and writing skills, much less spoken language fluency. Do not misunderstand. One cannot speak any language — fluently or otherwise — without using the grammar of that language. That is true because grammar consists of the rules used in that language to string words together as units to convey meaning. (In English we call these units sentences or paragraphs.) In English, we can use a given number of words to make a statement or ask a question by the way in which we order the words and use inflection. Simply stated, placing the words in the correct order is applied grammar. The issue is not whether or not students learning a new language need to know grammar. Language is unintelligible without it. The question is, "How is grammar best taught?" The best time to study grammar Chapter 1 explained that effective spoken language instruction simultaneously trains all of the cognitive and sensory centers of speech. To again resort to an English example, when is the best time to introduce the grammar rule that the sentence, "That is a book," is an English statement, and "Is that a book?" is an English question? The best time is when students simultaneously learn to speak these two sentences, inverting word order to change a statement to a question. That would take place while they are learning many other similar sentences so that they develop a cognitive sense reinforced by motor skill and auditory feedback that the order and inflection of the one sentence is a question, while the other is a statement. The sound of the sentence is as much an indicator of its meaning as its written form. Right? Right There is also a relationship between good pronunciation and good spelling. I am a poor speller. I understand that I misspell many words because I mispronounce them. At some point, everyone who expects to write a target language well must learn its spelling. Yet, it will probably be faster for a student to learn good spelling after learning good speech habits than it will be for the same student to learn good spelling without being able to speak. In practice, in a spoken language course, students should learn the spelling of new words as they are added to the vocabulary of each new lesson. This is not to say that grammar and spelling are unnecessary for the new language learner. Rather, what is being said is that grammar can be taught more effectively — and in less time — by using audio language drills. Teaching grammar by means of spoken 18 Chapter 4: Grammar and Writing in Spoken Language Study

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