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Lesson Transcript : –
Hi this is Ceema and today’s lesson is for those who can read English , write English and listen to
English but still struggle to speak fluent English! So basically this lesson is for all of you, because as a
teacher I know that this is a common problem with almost all English learners. Most people get
discouraged because they feel that speaking is difficult compared to -reading, writing and listening.
Now I have trained several students over the years and I have worked hard to find the right way to fix
this this problem. So this is not your regular video, I’m not here to give you superficial tips like “read
another book” or “memorise a new word”. No none of that! I’m here to offer you really practical tips
and if you follow them, you will see a great improvement in your English speaking capability.! Because
fluent English is going to take you places and I’m going to help you do that. So watch this video until
the end because you don’t want to miss any of this. Let’s fix the problem-together!
Ok now we’re going to first understand what you’re doing wrong. Because in order to fix a problem
you need to first know what the problem is, right? Ok so let’s see why reading, listening and writing
doesn’t translate into the ability of speaking well.
1) When you read, write and listen, you have enough time to think about the language that you come
across. Let’s say, you have read a passage. You come across a sentence. And you can spend five
thinking about the sentence structure. But guess what? You cant do this while speaking. Speaking
requires you to be prepared with what you want to say when you have to say it. You don’t have the
time to think and ponder! So you cant apply this reading skill of analysing the language if you want to
speak fluently. It will not work!! What does that mean? You need to learn a new skill to come up with
sentences quickly or promptly. So what’s the skill? It is building up a database of sentences which can
be used in a variety of speaking situations. So let me help you understand this better! Let’s assume
you want to get ready for a big important event, what do you do? You organise your outfit, your
shoes, your makeup- all of this a day in advance so that you look great for the event right? Similarly,
you need to organise your language in order to be ready for speaking in various situations. So you
need to organise or make a list of the different situations or contexts that you need to speak in. When
I was a college student, I made a list of the various situations I would mostly face. So my list included
1) Speaking with teachers to ask permission and give opinions- So in this situation what type of
sentence structures would I require? Ok let me think. For permission I would need sentences with
modal verbs like “Would you please help me with..” Or “Could you go over my assignment”. Now let’s
say I want to give my opinion on a lesson we’ve learned, what type of sentence structures would I
need, I would probably need sentence structures with stative verbs in present simple like believe,
think, feel, so I can say, “I believe that we can look at things from a different perspective..” OR “I
THINK this theory is a great idea, however we can ..”
When I was in college, I worked part time in a sales profile. So the second item on my list of speaking
situations would be what I said to sell a product or service. So here I may use conditional sentence
structures to convince people, I MIGHT SAY, “If you buy this, we will give you a one year warranty”. I
had almost 20 different speaking contexts or speaking situations and I kept working on it regularly.
That ensured that I was well organised, well prepared to speak promptly in real conversations. Until it
became a habit, until I became fluent. YES, preparation of what you are going to say in typical
situations is a great start to become fluent and confident as your English improves. This is a tried and
tested method, believe me it works. So don’t use your analytical skills in reading to expect you to
become fluent in speech. Prepare and organise your speech situation and get ready to deliver when
the times comes to actually open your mouth and speak!
2) Okay so now what’s the other mistake you are making? Now the problem is that the sentence
structures in texts used in reading or writing are not the same as in speaking. So texts that you read or
write use formal sentence structures. On the other hand, spoken English is more casual and has more
natural sounding phrases. So maybe a written text would say, “The parcel was delivered promptly”.
Now this sounds a little too stilted, a little too formal, you can see the use of passive voice which is not
really necessary when speaking. In spoken English I would simply say, “they delivered the parcel on
time”. A lot of LEARNERS try to use the sentence structure used in texts and reports and try to apply
those in spoken English. It makes you sound unnatural. So what do you do? Another skill- YOU Learn
to rephrase the sentences to make them sound natural. To do that you can use phrasal verbs for
smart English conversations, or you can use use narrative style of speech when talking. Work at
sounding more natural, don’t sound text-bookish. When you sound natural, you will want to speak
more and eventually grow in confidence as far as your speaking ability is concerned.
3) Okay so what is the other reason why reading , listening and writing doesn’t help you with
speaking? The answer is the inequality between sound and spelling relationships. So here’s the thing.
English is mostly never pronounced according to the spelling or the written text. So you can be great
at spelling and reading which is a really good thing. But that doesn’t not translate into good speaking.
So what’s the skill you must learn? Learn the speech sounds. When you are able to learn all the
speech sounds, as opposed to spellings, you become more confident to use the correctly pronounced
words in actual conversations. Infact, according to research people who learn good pronunciation
through speech sounds are more confident to speak in conversations. We have a few videos on
speech sounds and word stress that you must look up to understand this in detail. So learn speech
sounds within words and don’t rely on spellings alone. Good pronunciations automatically makes you
confident to speak more and get more fluent.
4) And last of all, you cant use the skill of reading, listening and writing to speak well because speaking
is not a solo activity. You can read by yourself, listen by yourself, write by yourself. But speaking?
Can you do that by yourself? Not a chance! So what does that mean? It means that reading, listening
and writing keep you in your comfort zone, but speaking requires that you step out of your comfort
zone and actually put your language skills to the test. So this is really a psychological issue. Because a
lot of people tell me that they are scared that people will make fun of them if they make a mistake.
Their fear and nervousness doesn’t allow them to come out of the reading, writing and listening
phased and enter the speaking phase. So what is the skill you need to do this? To take care of this, I’d
always recommend that you record yourself speaking and ask a friend or teacher go through the
recording after which you re-record yourself by correcting your mistakes. Remember that speaking is
not a solo activity and preparing for speaking is not a solo activity either. But when you prepare
yourself by recording what you want to say, you will hear enough of yourself to actually have the
confidence to go out and speak in real conversations.