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