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Fluentzy.com > English > Fluency Facts > Corrected broken English is not fluent English
  Back to index of questions   Fluency Facts >> 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15    
  Answer to Q4.
Corrected broken English is not fluent English

Q4. Many people think that if they do speech practice in the presence of a teacher, that kind of practice would make them fluent, because the teacher can correct their mistakes. Is that true, do you think?
  A teacher's presence is not going to help
      What a teacher can do
      Why is it that a teacher can't do more?
  Teacher's interference can be 'destructive'
      External help is not fluency-promoting help
      Accuracy in writing is not accuracy in speech   

Mind you, this is a wrong impression. You see, they think that fluent English is nothing but 'corrected broken English'. Their impression is wrong.

As you're seriously interested in gaining fluency, there's one thing you must understand here and now. This is very important. Fluent English is not 'corrected broken English'. No. Fluent English is something wholly different from broken English. Wholly different. Totally separate. You see, broken English, however improved, is only broken English improved - and not fluent English. It has its source not in fluency, but in brokenness, mistakes, disorder and confusion. But fluent English has its source in something else called the fluency nucleus. This is the central part of the fluency skill, and as long as this nucleus has not taken birth in you, you won't be able to achieve true fluency.

And, the primary aim of Fluentzy: The Fluency-building Encyclopedia is this: To plant the fluency seed in your mind and to get it to start to germinate, sprout and grow into the nucleus of your fluency skill — that is, the central part of it. Once the fluency nucleus is in place, you’ve started becoming truly fluent for the first time. The fluency nucleus then keeps acting, and any experience you have from then on, in handling English, would add to your fluency skill.

A teacher's presence is not going to help
Mind you, even if a teacher oversees the speech practice, that is not going to help build fluency. No.

     What a teacher can do
Of course, the teacher will be able to interrupt and correct you. That is, they'll be able to stop you from speaking and to tell you that you've made a mistake - a grammatical mistake or a usage mistake or a vocabulary-related mistake or a pronunciation mistake. And they'll be able to tell you how to speak without making that mistake. Or they'll be able to complete a 'sentence' for you when you find it difficult to complete it yourself. Or they'll be able to supply you with a vocabulary item that doesn't readily occur to you on the spot.

Isn't that all that a teacher's presence can do?

Now if this is what happens at a training session, that training session is not really a fluency training session, but just a normal English teaching session - in which a teacher teaches English and its grammar, usage and pronunciation to beginners or junior level learners. That sort of training is suited only to somebody who doesn't know much English and is trying to learn it or more of it. As far as advanced learners are concerned, they can easily learn how not to make these mistakes - with the help of a good dictionary. They won't need a teacher to help them with that.

     Why is it that a teacher can't do more?
Pay attention to this: Mistakes of grammar, usage, vocabulary, etc. are all externally noticeable mistakes - mistakes that a teacher or hearer will be able to notice. And a teacher will be able to correct only external mistakes like these, because external mistakes are the only kinds of mistakes that are noticeable. But you see, externally noticeable mistakes are not the reason why an advanced learner of English is not fluent, but internal mistakes and internal speech composition problems - mistakes and problems that happen when their mind tries to compose speech before its delivery. A teacher or anyone else won't be able to notice these internal mistakes and problems - precisely because they happen inside the speaker's mind. These internal mistakes and problems happen because non-fluent people do not know how to process information in their mind and how to generate speech out of that information and to bring it up for delivery. A teacher can observe and notice only the delivery process, and not the pre-delivery process, because the pre-delivery process goes on inside the speaker's mind. A teacher or hearer cannot watch it or become aware of it as it happens. And so a teacher can't correct how the speaker tries to process information in their mind and to generate speech for delivery. (For the difference between the delivery stage and the pre-delivery stage, see answer to Q 2).

So if you want to achieve fluency in speech, internal mistakes and problems are the things that you'll have to pay attention to. You'll have to learn to deal with them and to correct them yourself. On the spot - as you speak on. Yes, you'll have to learn to deal with them and to correct them yourself. Mind you, a teacher's presence won't help you do that. Only a thorough mastery of fluency techniques will. And you see, when you master fluency techniques and learn to deal with the internal mistakes and speech composition problems, that mastery itself prevents external mistakes, too. On the other hand, if you pay attention only to external mistakes, the internal problems remain. And as long as the internal problems remain, you remain non-fluent.

Teacher's interference can be 'destructive'
Yes, destructive. It can cause great harm to your fluency efforts.

Mind you, when a teacher interrupts you, that's not like a participant in a conversation interrupting you. When a participant interrupts, that interruption is a constructive interruption, and not a destructive interruption, because it's part of the conversational process itself. That interruption has to do with the content of the talk, and not with the form - its structure, grammar, usage etc. When somebody interrupts you and says something about the content, what they do is to contribute some content to the conversation and to jointly produce the conversation along with you (though you may not always agree with what they say). And from this sort of interruption, you get more material to speak on. The flow of your thought may or may not get stopped for a moment, but in either case, the speech generation process is not brought to a standstill, because the interruption presents you with an alternate, modified or better line of continuation.

But when a language teacher interrupts, what they do is to interfere with the form of speech, and not with the content. The speech generation process then comes to a halt. Your thought flow is totally blocked, and the interruption does not offer you any alternate line of continuation. Your whole attention is taken away from what you're saying to how you're saying it. And you become self-conscious and find it difficult to go on speaking after the teacher's interruption.

In fact, the very presence of a teacher prevents the production of natural, unselfconscious, speech. This is because you know that the teacher is there to correct your grammar, usage, vocabulary and pronunciation and that they're likely to interrupt you and come up with a correction at any moment. So you're all the time paying attention to the form of your speech and to the teacher's presence, facial expressions or movements, and not to the content of your speech. And most often, your mind will be engaged in wondering whether the teacher is approving or disapproving the way you phrase and organize the things you're saying. You may even be worried about losing face in front of the others in the group and thinking about defending yourself against the teacher's corrections. All these add to the communicative stress you're already under. And with them on your mind, you'll find it difficult to pay attention to what you're saying.

     External help is not fluency-promoting help
And remember this: If a smooth flow of speech is what you're aiming at, any destructive interference with that flow by anyone is not going to help you achieve that aim. Of course, teachers would be able to help you complete your 'sentences' for you whenever you find it difficult to complete them while speaking. And they'd be able to supply you with a right word whenever it doesn't readily occur to you on the spot. But don't think that even when they do all this, you're getting real help - or real fluency training. You're not. All that you're getting is external help with a particular situation at a particular moment. That is not a fluency-promoting help at all. You get fluency-promoting help only when you learn how to keep up a flow of speech yourself without external help - even when you find it difficult to complete a structure and even when the 'right' vocabulary items don't occur to you readily. And don't think that fluency depends on things like completion of 'sentences' in a particular way or the use of certain words that seem 'right' to a teacher.

     Accuracy in writing is not accuracy in speech
Now why do some people think that if a teacher corrects them in the middle of their speech, that would help them become fluent? Isn't it because they think that the grammar, usage and vocabulary of speech are exactly the same as those of writing? And isn't it also because they think that whatever they say in spoken English must be accurate by written English standards? Mind you, the relationship between fluency and accuracy in spoken English is quite different from that between fluency and accuracy in written English. Spoken English has a whole lot of conventions and usages that are altogether different from those of written English. And genuine spoken English is composed through a process and in a way that are quite different from how these things happen in written English. And don't think that vocabulary items that are 'right' by written English standards are also 'right' by spoken English standards.

Just think. If all that you need to do in order to become fluent in spoken English is to carry on speaking in the presence and hearing of a teacher for some time, how easy things would have been!


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