Students, and many Japanese, seem at a loss about how to use English. This is not so different than being given the equipment to play any game or sport--just having shoes and a soccer ball, or learning the soccer vocabulary and how to talk about soccer, does not make you a good soccer player. You still need to practice really playing soccer. Studying English and speaking English are no different.
Speaking English well takes practice. Just studying English is not enough to make most students become good speakers of English. Again, like sports, they need experience playing the game. We need to teach our students how to have a conversation.
Teaching Conversation Skills in your classes does two things:
- It teaches the skills students need to use all the English they learn (imagine someone giving you a ball, bat and glove, but never showing you how to use them or play baseball!)
- You are helping them to be Life Long Learners. After all, using English outside the classroom is what students are training for. Empower them to learn from every conversation!
The basic Skills are so simple you may not believe it:
- Listen & Repeat
- Repeat, Change One Word
Listen & Repeat is how we ALL learn language- when we are born we speak -or read- nothing. But by only listening, we learn to speak. Magic! And Repeating is also the most basic Communication Skill ('My telephone number is 596-9602.' '596-9602?' 'Yes.').
Repeat, Change One Word teaches students to create new language. I can say, 'My name is Elton.' But only repeating this will not be true for you; you must Change One Word. This is commonly called Pattern Practice or Substitution Drills.
Perhaps most importantly, practicing this skill helps give students a feel for the language which, like playing the piano or guitar, lets them do it without thinking about it.