Yes, that's correct. That sort of
classroom interaction is not necessary at all ó for
people who already know English reasonably
Listen. It's certainly important
that you should get experience in talking with people
- in English. Yes, experience. But understand
one thing: The experience you get must be experience
in talking with people in real-life situations.
And the training you get in artificial conversational
situations set up in classrooms - that training is
not the same as (or even similar to) the experience
you get in real-life situations. No. Read on,
and you'll be convinced.
of 3 misunderstandings
Mind you, there are
three things you should understand here:
First of all, don't be under
the impression that any training you get in interaction
in a classroom is of much value for "fluency
development". This sort of training may get you
more knowledge of English. But it can't get you the
Secondly, it won't be correct
to say that you'll only become fluent through this
sort of classroom training.
Thirdly, it won't be correct
to say that you don't get any training or experience
in interaction when you do a self-study course.
These things need a little explaining.
practice be practical for learners who aren't fluent
You see, if you want
to have a meaningful conversation in English with
somebody, shouldn't you already be somewhat
fluent? Fluent at least to some extent or degree?
By 'a meaningful conversation', what we mean is, a
conversation in which you really say something in
English for some time, and not a conversation in which
the other person says everything and all your contribution
is limited to reaction signals like yes, no, mm,
mhm, wow, OK, etc. or formulaic responses like
Absolutely!, Exactly!, Certainly!, Certainly not!,
Not at all!, That's OK, Never mind, My Gosh!, Good
Heavens!, Nothing doing, I'm sorry, etc.
The same thing applies to artificial
or mock conversational situations set up in a classroom.
If you want to take part in a mock conversational
practice session, and if you want to contribute something
to that session in English, shouldn't you already
know how to speak English spontaneously - at least
somewhat fluently? Otherwise, how will you be able
to take your turn and say something meaningful at
That's why the thing every fluency
learner should do first is to learn fluency techniques.
practice can be counter-productive
Now if you're not
somewhat fluent already, this sort of training in
interaction is likely to become a distorting
factor. Yes, a distorting factor: Something
that will have a bad effect on your ability to speak
fluently. This is because every time you make an attempt
to speak, you're likely to follow habits and methods
that are not suited to spoken English - habits
and practices that are not natural to spoken
English. And you're also likely to phrase what you
say in words or word groups that are not suited to
And in a mock situation, who are
going to be the other participants? Learners who can't
speak fluent English, aren't they? Obviously. That
is, a mock conversational training situation is one
where a few people (who can't speak fluent English)
make attempts to talk in broken or non-fluent English
among themselves - with a teacher acting as the moderator
If you keep on taking part in such
mock conversational situations for several days or
weeks in order to become fluent, that experience
can have a bad effect. This is because, over a period
of time, you tend to develop wrong language habits
and wrong patterns of thought and performance - those
that are not suited to fluent speech. For example,
you tend to develop a lot of restrictive habits like
fixing your attention on how you say things,
rather than on what you say. These wrong language
habits and wrong patterns of thought and performance
further prevent you from speaking English fluently.
(About why classroom speech practice can be counterproductive,
see also answer to Q2.
and answer to Q3).
somewhat fluent, why do you need classroom
practice at all?
Now you may ask a
question: How about people who have already learnt
a few fluency techniques and are somewhat fluent?
Won't they be able to take part in mock classroom
training situations and become more fluent by speaking
in English? Well, please note this: Even for people
who have already learnt a few fluency techniques and
who are somewhat fluent, mock conversational situations
set up in classrooms won't be of much value.
If you're somewhat fluent, why do
you have to take part in mock conversational situations
anyway? Why? If you're already somewhat fluent,
can't you find enough real-life conversational situations
at your workplace, or in the offices you go to, or
in the places where your social activities or spare-time
activities take you - or while travelling? Can't you
find enough real-life conversational situations in
these places and put what fluency skill you have learnt
to practical use? In fact, what a lot of imaginative
ways there are for finding natural situations where
you can speak English!
So if you're already somewhat fluent,
what you should do is to learn more fluency techniques.
And you should get a complete inside-out understanding
of the nicer aspects of all the fluency techniques.
In that way, you can try and achieve higher degrees
of fluency. Classroom training situations won't
help you here. They're likely to leave your fluency
skill to remain disorganized. You see, you'll be doing
a lot of unnecessary things, and not really achieving
That's why there's the Fluentzy
system. The Fluentzy books help you reorganize
your whole knowledge of English from the fluency development
angle - so that your fluency skill develops from a
firm foundation, in an orderly way. The Fluentzy
books not only help you become "somewhat fluent",
but also teach you advanced techniques of fluency
development and help you achieve higher degrees of
practice can't really prepare you for real-life fluency
Don't be under the
impression that the mock training situations that
can be set up in a classroom are anything like real-life
situations. Suppose that an artificial situation is
set up in a classroom, and that you're asked to say
something - or that you and a few others are asked
to have a conversation about something. Don't think
that such a situation is anything like a real-life
situation. This will be clear from the following facts:
Prepared speech production won't
help spontaneous speech production
Have you ever deliberately
or consciously tried to make conversation with somebody?
When you deliberately try to make conversation with
somebody, you would be spending most of your time
in wondering what to say and in racking your brain
to think of something to say - unless you've prepared
yourself in advance with the help of a script.
But if you train to become fluent
by first learning from a script or a written
version of a conversation, and then by repeating
the same thing from memory at a mock session, you're
not going to become fluent - in the real sense
of the term. You know, when we speak about the fluency
skill, we're not really speaking about the skill of
preparing what to say in advance and of saying it
later (by trying to remember the wording, syntax,
etc. of what you have prepared). We're speaking about
speaking English spontaneously - without advance
preparation or rehearsal. So you can see that mock
conversational sessions in classrooms are often sessions
that attempt to train you in delivering prepared
speech, and not in speaking spontaneously.
And so they're not real fluency training sessions.
In fact, if you're not good at fluency
techniques and related skills, you won't know anything
about idea units - or how to phrase them or how to
put them together. And so, it's likely that even what
you prepare and rehearse in advance would not
be according to the principles of fluent speech production
and delivery. And so even what you prepare and rehearse
would be something that doesn't suit the production
of fluent speech. So if you're not good at
fluency techniques and related skills, you'll find
it difficult to say even your prepared stuff fluently.
Deal with the realities of the
In a real-life speech
situation, you feel the real need to speak, and the
situation itself provides the content of what to say.
In such a situation, the very things that urge you
to speak provide you with plenty of ideas to speak
about, and you won't have to make any effort to think
of something to say.
And the way the form and content
of speech develop in a real-life situation is quite
different from the way the form and content of speech
develop in an artificial conversational situation.
When fluent speakers speak naturally in real-life
situations, they compose and say their speech units
by coping with a number of types of pressures and
factors outside language. They adapt the form,
content and phrasing of what they say, the sizes and
shapes of their speech units and the very framework
of the whole spoken text according to the way these
pressures and factors act.
But in a mock conversational situation,
these pressures and factors are absent. So whatever
experience you get from such a mock situation won't
be of much value to you - in real-life situations.
What will be of real value to you in real-life situations
are the skills you need in order to manipulate and
adapt your English to the moment-to-moment demands
of these situations.
And the fluency techniques that the
Fluentzy books teach you are the very things
that help you get these skills.
sessions can't train you in language manipulation
And here's another
important reason why mock conversational situations
can't really be helpful.
You see, when you speak to others
in a group in a particular language, purely for
trying to become fluent in that language, this
is what happens: When you start speaking, your attention
would be focussed not on what you say,
but on how you say it. That is, your attention
would be focussed on the form of the language
itself, rather than on the content. This would
make you highly self-conscious. And you'd keep
feeling that others are looking at you - and judging
you and the way you speak. And this would make you
keep feeling uncomfortable, awkward, embarrassed and
All this would prevent the speech
situation from giving you effective training in language
manipulation. But you see, the core of your fluency
skill is nothing but your ability to manipulate the
language you use and to juggle with it - to rearrange,
change and modify your speech units (and the way they're
organized) repeatedly in order to make them convey
your ideas in the best way possible. So, if a mock
conversational situation cannot give you effective
training in language manipulation, it cannot be called
an effective fluency tool at all - whatever else its
other advantages may be.
On the other hand, in a real-life
situation, your attention is most often held firmly
and completely by the content of what you say,
and by your involvement in that content. And
so, in a real-life situation, your attention doesn't
often get diverted to the way you speak.
So the situations from which you
should get the experience of speaking are real-life
situations, and not mock conversational situations
'group-practice' is different from 'group study'
Now remember this:
Don't be under the impression that we're speaking
about group study. We're not. We're only speaking
about learners forming into groups and trying to have
a conversation among themselves in order to try
and improve their fluency. That is not group study.
Students who go to college or university
do group study, and their aim then is to learn
a subject - and not to improve their fluency
in the language they use during the group study. While
doing group study, what is important for the participants
is the learning of the content of a topic,
and not the language they use or the way that
language flows from them. The participants may speak
in broken English or in their mother-tongue or in
a mixture of several languages. That doesn't affect
their aim in doing the group study, because their
aim then is not to train in fluency in a particular
language, but to share together their knowledge of
a topic and to learn that topic.
But suppose that a few learners form
a group and try to speak to one another in a particular
language, in order to become fluent in that language.
Then what is important to them is not the learning
of the content of any topic, but the learning of the
knack of speaking in that language fluently.
So group study and group speech practice
are two different things.
Now, because 'group study' is an
effective study tool, many people tend to
think that 'group speech practice' will be equally
effective in achieving fluency in that language.
That is why many people have the wrong notion
that if someone wants to speak English fluently, they
must get training in interaction in a classroom -
by actually taking part in group conversations and
users get experience from real-life situations
So what you need
(in order to achieve fluency) is not training
in mock conversational situations, but the experience
of speaking in real-life situations. And it won't
be correct to say that those who do independent study
using the Fluentzy books don't get this sort
of experience. They do get plenty of experience
of this sort. They get it from the only sources from
where anybody can hope to get it: They get the experience
from the real-life situations they face every day.
You know, one
of the reasons why many people buy the Fluentzy
books is this: They often find themselves in real-life
situations where they have to speak fluent English,
but they can't make the most of those situations,
because the English they speak isn't fluent - or fluent
enough to their satisfaction.
Most of the
people who use the Fluentzy books are people
who have jobs or professions or are in business and
are usually in contact with people who speak English.
And they all have plenty of opportunity to make practical
use of their fluency skill in their own workplaces
or in places where their jobs, professions or social
and spare-time activities take them ó or while travelling.
As far as other
learners are concerned, they too have enough opportunity
of interacting with people who speak English at places
where their career-preparation activities, higher-educational
activities, social and spare-time activities and daily
life take them.
if you want to get yourselves into real-life situations
and to have the opportunity of speaking English, what
a lot of ingenious ways there are!
the only ways in which you can face real-life situations,
even if you attend classroom sessions?
And so, remember
this: Generally speaking, classroom training in interaction
has real value only for people who are trying to learn
English for the first time -or who are trying to learn
more English. It doesn't have much value for learners
who already know English, but are trying to become