Speaking a language resembles driving a car.
Learning grammar rules and new vocabulary is like assembling the parts of a car. Speaking a language is driving that car. It is why all those parts are put together in the first place.
Speaking English is just like that. We learn a new language so that we can use it for what it is meant for: to communicate with other people.
Learning different tenses, conjugations, syntax, etc. is very useful. You need them to put your language vehicle together. But once that is done, you need to use it before you can make a language yours.
Just as it takes practice before one can drive a car well, without the risk of causing accidents, it takes practice to speak a language well and with confidence.
Activate what you learn: English speaking practice.
You will become familiar with the target language when you engage in conversation. You must activate your passive knowledge and use the new vocabulary in sentences that you will use in daily life.
If you ask people who moved abroad for work or study, they will inform you that their English skills improved quickly because of the nonstop active usage of the language, which goes much further than passive exposure to it.
You don’t learn to drive your car by reading a book about it. You get in and you get started. Slowly and carefully at the beginning, gradually improving.
Writing is not speaking.
Most learners find writing in English easier than speaking. That is a frequent remark we get when interviewing our new students. Therefore, many people have a big discrepancy between their writing skills and their speaking skills. This is the gap that we try to fill with our conversation tables, which don’t focus on written work at all.
Speaking is after all more natural. Noam Chomsky, the world’s most famous linguist, believes that children are born with an inherited ability to learn to speak a language, what cannot be said about writing.
Overcoming fear of speaking.
When you learn to drive your car, you might be paralyzed by thinking of all the mistakes you could make. If you know that your English is not very good when you speak, you will also be very hesitant to use it. You might even avoid speaking it as much as possible.
This is a fear that needs to be overcome by using the language. A small group of people who have the same problem as you, offers you a ‘safe zone’ in which you can speak the language without constraints. Making mistakes there is not a problem. It is even a good thing to make mistakes, so that the teacher can correct them and formulate a valid alternative. Gradually, your confidence will grow so that you will also use the language out of the classroom environment. Bye, bye, fear of speaking.
Practice makes perfect.
You become better at something by doing it.
Top Formula 1 drivers were not born with a perfect mastery of the wheel. No, they became very good at driving through a lot of practice.
That is how it works. Your spoken English will improve during every lesson. And the nice thing about it is that you learn a language in a practical way so that you can actually use it whenever the needs arises.
It would be wrong to say that you don’t learn grammar and vocabulary during conversation classes. On the contrary, by using unfamiliar words and tenses, you will memorise them. Adult learners often have difficulties finding the extra time to study at home, in between classes. During our conversation tables, they actively repeat and therefore memorize the English language in an easy and practical way.
Studies show that one remembers much more when one verbally repeats what needs to be learned. That is why so many school and university students memorise faster by reading out loud.
Speaking a language is fun, just like driving a car. Conversation classes are often referred to as easy English learning, because they do not require you to study dull lists of vocabulary and grammar rules. You learn in a more spontaneous way, one word or rule at the time, without having the idea that you are making a big effort in doing so.
At the English Academy, we know that making people speak English works very motivating. That is why almost nobody abandons our group classes before the end of the term. This is in strong contrast to self-study methods without speaking activities. There, the dropout rate can be higher than 91%.
This is the proof that speaking motivates people to continue the development of their language skills. And that makes all the difference.
Just remember: to learn English, speaking the language is necessary.
Apply what you learned and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.