Transforming skills into real goals

Aproach & Technique

Everyone learns the first language by bathing in it, sleeping in it out of the goad of necessity, because if we do not, no one can understand what we want. We learn our first language without being aware that we are "learning."

Teaching goes on, vocabulary and spelling drills at school, stuff like that. But we also speak in some kind of accent, and no one teaches us that. The accents are developed because we hear; we do not learn it in any official sense, and yet we know it as well as we know our own name, another fact we didn't "learn." In most cases, we really do "learn" our second language. We have textbooks and teachers and long lists of things to memorize, and then exceptions to the things, and then exceptions to the exceptions. We learn by translating. And that pause in our halting and pathetic speech comes as we frantically try to find the word in the new language that matches the word we are thinking of, because we are thinking in our first language. Yes? Really bad news!

The native language stops you from "thinking in English", first of all, it will be switched to "stand-by-mode" preventing your mother tongue from interfering with English. Learning a second language can be affected by the patterns of the first language. This is referred to as
linguistic interference. There can be some blending of phonemes. For instance, most Americans who learn French in high school or college pronounce French words with a distinctive American accent. Grammar can also be affected. English speakers who learn some French and Spanish at times combine grammatical rules of both when speaking either of them. Linguistic interference can also be a problem in learning and using another dialect.

Forget to remember
Trust your brain -
the most complex piece of equipment in the known universe - to surprise you with the answers. Sometimes the best way to remember is to forget.

Learning to understand
When you are communicating in a second language, itís not always easy to understand what people are saying. As native speakers, your partners may talk quickly or with a strong regional accent, or they may be poor second-language speakers. Either way, you need to keep control of the situation and make sure you understand each other.

Cut & Paste
Copying and analyzing your favourite Master paintings is a time tested method of learning.

Picture this - mnemonics
For most people, locations and places are much easier to remember than printed or spoken information. How often have you remembered the exact position on a page where some essential information was located, but totally forgotten the page number or even the book?

Practice makes perfect! really?
"Practice doesn't make perfect - only perfect practice makes perfect." In today's competitive world, we must be well-prepared and in peak shape. As with every skill we've ever learned, we have to learn the technique and then practice, practice, practice. "Practice makes perfect" means the more you practice at something the better you will become. If you want to make yourself perfect you must practice and keep practicing.

Method of Learning by Adults
We have taught many college students whose initial attitude was that they would sit passively while I poured them full of new language. But passive learning, which was ineffective even in primary and secondary school years, is all but useless for people of college age and beyond. Instead, adults must work hard--intellectually, emotionally, or both. There seem to be two primary ways in which adults can learn a second language.

The first is by brute force--constant repetition and practice--maybe 100 times more than a child would require. In the course of this, explicit instruction is of limited help. For the adult learner, the function of explicit instruction is not to "learn" new forms in any sense of practical use, but instead to legitimize them in the mind of the learner, so they can later be practiced, relatively free of cognitive dissonance, on their way to automatic use.

The second way for an adult to learn a new language is to take it to heart. We often say casually that to learn a new language is to learn a new personality, and that the learner must put himself or herself in the mind of the language in order to function within it. But how are these fundamental mental changes to be brought about? Certainly not by standard classroom techniques. Yet there are ways, even for an adult, to embrace the speech-feeling of a language by fitting it into the psyche in some new way.

Practice or Forget
Believe it or not, it's your choice, there's only one way to keep your hard-earned business vocab where it will be: use it or you will lose it.
A rich vocabulary is imperative when it comes to getting your message across.

A permanent exposure to correct English linked with a persistent rectification of divergent pronunciation will subsequently lead towards accent reduction and flawless articulation

A woman from social services knocks at the door of a run down house. A scruffy kid answers. "May I speak to your mother?" she asks.
"She aint 'ere," says the kid.
"May I speak to your father then?" she asks.
"He aint 'ere." says the kid.
"It's appalling the way you speak. What about your grammar?" she explodes.
"She int 'ere niver," says the kid.

Throw away your grammar book!
You don't need to know the rules for the present perfect tense. You don't even have to know the name "present perfect". Instead, watch a few videos in English, and soon you will feel that "I have seen John yesterday" is wrong, and "I saw John yesterday" is correct. How? Simple. Your brain has heard the second kind of sentence 192 times, and the first kind 0 times.

Sorry, My Poor English
... The first step to better your spoken English is to OPEN YOUR MIND. Never mind making mistakes, even if it is as ridiculous.

I often hear people say "Sorry, my poor English..." with a faint sheepish smile at the corner of their mouth. Other typical apologies are: "I cannot open my mouth to speak." "Too many mistakes in my English." "I cannot find proper words." Really? I only see you perfectly show your worry with expressive English sentences and understandable body language. In fact, in most cases, the root of "poor" spoken English beneath all these is shyness or fear of making mistakes. So the first step to better your spoken English is to OPEN YOUR MIND, before opening your mouth. Have you ever realized your fear may be nothing but groundless misunderstanding?
Do you exactly know what may damage a successful communication in English?

Recently an English teacher in Japan, did a survey of native English speakers' feelings and attitudes toward non-native speakers' English. Results show that most of the native English speakers surveyed regard pronunciation and fluency as the most facilitative to communication, and that accuracy is less important than the former two factors while accent is the least important. See details in the following charts.

Factor important to communication
Accent 7%
Pronunciation 100%
Fluency 89%
Accuracy 37%

Factors interrupting communication
Accent 4%
Pronunciation 46%
Fluency 41%
Accuracy 18%
Other Reasons 17%

It doesn't matter whether you speak American English or British English or Chinese English with the accent of your local dialect. But it is critical that you pronounce every word correctly. For example, native speakers can understand your /ne:n/ is "learn" /le:n/ (typical Nanjing Dialect problem), but not /april/ is April /eipril/. If you see anyone boasting they can teach you idiomatic "American English", think twice. The first step is to learn acceptable pronunciation, but not the American dialect of the English languages. Learn a general English pronunciation, mixed American-British-Chinese English in China, to save your time and energy. Don't worry about your British accent. In America, British accent is considered elegant and genteel and mysterious.

Fluency more important than accuracy. So never mind making mistakes, even if it is as ridiculous as "You IS a student". Just say as much as you can. Out of ten sentences with mistakes, surely, there are more information than that out of one correct sentence. When you cannot find proper words, keep saying "well...;", "this, you know", "just like that", and your foreign partners will be most probably able to fill the gap themselves in the context with your gestures and facial expressions.

I ever met a man with very "poor" English. He could make more than 3 mistakes in a 10-word sentence. But with that "poor" English, he usually said more than 10 sentences when the others tried to make one correct sentence. Guess what, he, with adult higher education diploma, became the leader of workers with formal college degree in a testing lab in a joint venture. Besides his diligence, he told me, one big reason was that he could communicate with foreign experts EASILY.

Donít be afraid of mistakes. They are the mother of success! Now, you may feel less nervous of your "poor" English. But how can you improve your fluency and pronunciation? As for fluency, first open your mind and feel at ease to make mistakes. Too much attention to accuracy easily hinders fluency. Remember, communication is of utmost importance. Keep in mind the bottom line of understandable spoken English, and practice and practice and practice. To settle a good pronunciation, imitation is the best way. Listen attentively to radio, tapes, TV programs, discs, and whatever oral English materials available, and repeat as much as you can. If possible, record your own speech and listen repeatedly and see if you can improve it. Be brazen and persevering. Say to yourself: "My English is perfect!"

Better Business English: A Proposal
In our years of teaching Business English courses we are time and again surprised by one fact: Multinationals invest a surprising amount to teach basic English skills to a wide variety of employees. These learners vary in level from beginner to advanced. They are working in entry-level to management positions. They all strive to improve their command of English, and are usually successful in their efforts. Unfortunately, after attaining a certain degree of fluency they invariably run into the same problem: Communicating with a native speaker! WHAT! What good is all this teaching if they have problems communicating with the people whose language they are supposedly learning?! There are two interesting points to this observation:

Non-native speakers.
This is often the case, as other non-native speakers tend to not use idiomatic language and use a limited range of vocabulary. Their grammatical use is often more "bookish". Students who study English as a second or foreign language tend to communicate their ideas with few cultural references. You certainly wouldn't expect German and Japanese businessmen to use sporting idioms from US culture to communicate their ideas about a sales campaign. Another important point is that non-native speakers of are usually more patient with each other when it comes to variations in pronunciation. All of these factors work together to help non-native speakers have a relatively easy time when communicating with amongst themselves.

Native speakers
Native speakers' use of the language often reflects their own cultural bias. They bring standard idioms into play that, in their own environment, seem perfectly natural. They often prefer a highly idiomatic use of the language. Phrasal verbs and slang creep into their expressions. Take for example the issue of connected speech: "I've got to go to the bank" easily becomes "I gotta go to the bank.". These minor issues quickly become overwhelming to non-native speakers who are used to standard forms. This, of course, does not mean that native speakers use English incorrectly and speak in dialects. It does however mean that native speakers tend to economize and use English which, especially in today's hyper-speed world, is constantly evolving in terms of vocabulary, collocation and idiomatic usage.

From the very first second, from the very beginning until the very end of your training, your achievements and progress will be recorded, tracked, and documented in your "notebook". This "notebook" has been designed as a highly personal journal (called Bible) stating your colorful idioms, your catchy phrases, your powerful vocab, your invaluable hints, your precious advice, your inspiring suggestions, and your careful considerations. The "notebook" plays an integral part and serves a decisive function: processing and memorizing thousands of "bytes". This highly consistent technique conjures up state-of-the-art DP, i.e. configuration, main memory upgrade, data transfer, linking and connecting new files, information storage and retrieval. Data transfer will be executed via
Vocab-Listings compiled individually.

Acclerated Learning
i.e. accelerated processing/memorizing of information

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