Moment-to-moment speech production
If you want to be fluent in producing
long sequences of speech, there’s a basic skill you must have:
The skill of composing speech and uttering it at the same
time. That is, the skill of moment-to-moment speech production.
Of course, you must have this skill not only for producing
long sequences, but also for producing short sequences, too.
But this skill has a greater role in producing long sequences
than in producing short sequences.
By now, you already have a sound theoretical
knowledge of speech-composition features and moment-to-moment
speech production. You have already had considerable oral
training, too. It is now time for you to get some more intensive
training in moment-to-moment speech production. But before
going through the practice materials given below, go carefully
through Lessons 5, 7 and 8 once again.
Life-giving elements of spoken English
Now remember this: What gives life to
a spoken language is the presence of speech-composition features.
Yes, features like starting-troubles, false-starts, repetition
of syllables, repetition of words and word groups, incomplete
structures, unfinished word groups, pauses, pause-fillers,
reformulations, refinements, rearrangements, back-tracking,
looseness in packing information etc. If these features are
absent, your speech will have no life in it, and it won’t
even sound like spoken language. What is more, if you try
to avoid these features, you won’t be able to speak on either.
Go through the following three pieces of
1) I was going that way + and I saw a -
a picture + in a shop + th - the picture of a – Chinese
– net + you know + a very beautiful picture + and I wanted
to buy it + but :– I didn’t
– didn’t have any money on me then + no + actually + I had
some money + but not much + anyway it wasn’t – wasn’t enough
for the – for the – picture. (= When I was going that way,
I saw a very beautiful picture of a chinese net in a shop.
I wanted to buy it. But I did not have enough money for
2) There was a - There was a huge – m
structure + you know : – they
call it the dome + oh it’s amazing + the way they have built
it. (= There was a huge structure called ‘the dome’ there.
The way they have built it is amazing).
3) She wanted this – this new book
+ and as she - she picked it up + then there was another
man there who + he wanted it too + and this man said + I’ve
- I’ve already reserved it + and he – sort of started shouting
+ and he made a scene there. (= She wanted this new book,
and as she picked it up, another man who was there, and
who also wanted the book, said that he had already reserved
it, and he started shouting and making a scene).
The materials within the brackets are the
written English equivalents of the materials outside the brackets.
And the materials outside the brackets are spoken English
texts. Look at the difference between each spoken English
text and its written English equivalent. Now don’t you see?
The chief difference between a spoken English text and its
written English equivalent is this: The spoken English text
contains features of speech-composition. The written English
equivalent does not. So the lesson you must learn is this:
If you take away speech-composition features from a spoken
text, it ceases to be a spoken text.
A common mistake
The trouble with most non-fluent people
is this: They believe that the word groups that a fluent speaker
produces are similar to those within the brackets. When they
aim at spoken English fluency, their aim is to gain the skill
of producing word groups similar to those within brackets.
That is, they try to produce written English word groups orally.
No wonder they don’t become fluent in speech.
What they must try to produce orally is a
sequence of oral (spoken) English word groups, and not a sequence
of written English word groups. Only then can they become
fluent in oral (spoken) English. And oral (spoken) English
word groups are similar to those outside the brackets (in
the three examples given above), and not those within the
Speech-composition features &
duration of speech
Remember one thing — always, whenever
you open your mouth to speak. Yes, whenever. Without the help
of speech-composition features, nobody can produce speech
— orally. Nobody can. Not even a fluent native speaker of
In fact, whenever a fluent speaker speaks,
30% to 50% of the speaking time is taken up by pauses, hesitations
and other speech-composition features. Yes, 30% to 50% of
the speaking time! Yes, when a well-educated native speaker
of English speaks, the information content of his speech takes
up only about 50% to 70% of the speaking time. The rest of
the time is taken up by pauses, hesitations and other speech-composition
It is this duration of time (taken up by
speech-composition features) that gives fluency to the production
of the information content. And so if you don’t spend 30%
to 50% of your speaking time to speech-composition features,
you won’t be able to produce the information content fluently.
So speech-composition features are an essential
part of a spoken language — particularly spoken English. But
listeners don’t consciously notice the speech-composition
features. They don’t keep track of the time that the speaker
spends on the process of spontaneous speech-composition. Everybody
unconsciously accepts the speech-composition features in their
native speech as an integral part of the speech content. That’s
why people don’t consciously notice the presence of these
features in speech.
In fact, most people are not aware that 30%
to 50% of the speaking time is taken up by speech-composition
features alone — though everyone makes use of these features
to speak in their native language. That’s why when a non-native
speaker tries to produce a foreign language orally, he tries
to fill the whole of his speaking time with information content
alone. And he does not spend any time on speech-composition
features. The result is that he fails to speak fluently —
though he may be highly educated in that foreign language
and has a good command of its grammar and vocabulary.
You are not going to commit this mistake. From now on, make
it a point to spend 30% to 50% of your speaking time for getting
help from speech-composition features.
Spoken English texts
What follows is a collection of spoken
English texts. Each text (stretch of speech) is divided into
chunks, and each text contains speech-composition features.
As you know, there’s no rigid rule about where exactly to
divide a stretch of language into chunks. There are only guidelines
— practical guidelines. You are free to divide a stream of
speech virtually anywhere — depending on the needs of the
“on-the -spot-speech-composition” process.
Go through each text carefully. Identify
the speech-composition features found in each text. Notice
how different in form each text would have been if the speech-composition
features had not been present. Notice how different the written-English
equivalent of each text would be.
Read each text ALOUD — making full use of
the speech-composition features. Repeat several times. Here
• The place + it looks really - dirty +
in the rainy season + I mean + gutters and - pools of mud
+ and everything. • He’s a very able man + I’ve noticed
that + I mean + m – just from
the point of view of his – mastery of law + and – looking
at the way he - explains things + he grasps things quickly
+ and prepares himself - thoroughly + before coming to the
Court. • At the next junction + about th - two furlongs
from here + you’ve got – m – well it’ll be a bit expensive
+ but it’s a good hotel. • It go – goes to the – comes from
the other side. • It takes a – it’s about a ten-mile-drive
from here. • You would love the place + the buildings +
the parks + the playgrounds + but it is the - backwaters
+ you can hire a boat and + and – it’ll be really be enj
– fantastic. • In a place where – :
– places like these + if we have – if you have a small -
shop + or something like that + you can make money + a very
busy place + this – bus stop + railway station + and all
that. • Abraham Lincoln + it’s very interesting actually
+ there’s a story about Lincoln where + one day Lincoln
was… • And one of them + he was m
– a fat fellow you know + m - bulky + and - m
– he was in that chair + oh - and the other man came in
+ through that door. • Di - did - oh - you went there +
didn’t you? • They kept it in – they have a big iron safe
+ they put it away safely. • Oh the – she says + they didn’t
complete it she says. • I met her husband there + John +
that’s right + and John told me the + when he started the
business + that was years back + he didn’t have much money
with him – then. • She filled up the form + and dropped
it in the - box + and the office people + on the last day
+ she dropped it on the last day + and their – they got
it on the last day. • Some of these people + they - you
can easily convince them. • He quarrels with everybody +
yes + and criticizes everybody + and this sort of thing
happens whenever you – whenever you meet him. • He was so
interested in – in this thing that – you see + this was
his hobby + and he – he used to spend thousands of rupees
every year + buying books, tools and things.