Fluentzy.com > English > Book B6: Oral Training in Fluency Vocabulary (Part - I)
Book B6: Oral Training
in Fluency Vocabulary (Part - I)

Oral Training in Fluency Vocabulary (Part - I)

Oral Training in Fluency Vocabulary (Part - I)
By Prof. Kev Nair

"Oral Training in Fluency Vocabulary comes in three volumes. They concentrate on training you thoroughly in techniques of vocabulary-manipulation during spontaneous speech production. "
The New Indian Express.

Please note: This book is not sold separately. It is available for sale only as part of Fluentzy: The English Fluency Encyclopedia.

Sample pages from this book

Training in ‘General Structures?/span>

We saw the first instalment of GSs in Lesson 2. Let’s now go through the second instalment.

Some of you may now be thinking like this: ‘Oh, these are all elementary sentences. Why should I learn them at all?? If you have any such thought, give it up. The aim of the practice with GSs is not to improve your understanding of the meanings of words or word groups. The aim of the practice is to help you get your organs of speech used to working in a special way ?the way the English language wants them to work. You must be clear in your mind about this aim. That’s why I explained the reasons behind our drills early on. (Here, read through what I have said about GSs in Lesson 2). Of course, the drills give you another benefit on the side: They put you in the midst of ‘everyday vocabulary? ?word groups that help you carry on conversations of all kinds. But that’s only a side benefit. The main aim of the drills with GSs is this: To get the patterns of the structures fixed in your mind, so that it becomes second nature to you to use those patterns to build speech.

The way speech gets produced
Here’s something you should firmly understand:

You know, human beings have a tendency ? the tendency to imitate things. You have that tendency; everybody has that tendency.
The word ‘imitate?only roughly expresses the idea. There’s no exact word for that tendency. But you can easily get an idea of what that tendency is: That tendency is to make things by copying. To make new things that are similar to the things that are already known ?by using the known things as models.

For example, if you hear a song with a special tune, you have a tendency to make up other songs with the same tune ?using other words. If you notice that most others are wearing a particular kind of dress, you have a tendency to get a similar dress for you. If you’re faced with a tough situation and you have to take a decision, your tendency is to find out whether others have faced similar situations in the past, and if so, what decisions they have taken.

All these are examples of the same thing ?our mental slant. We always imitate. Sometimes consciously; sometimes unconsciously. Show me something. I am sure to imitate it ?consciously or unconsciously. And here comes the importance of the GSs. I’m putting you in the middle of those GSs. You’re sure to imitate them ?consciously or unconsciously. And what is the result of this imitation? Production of new idea units, of course! That is, new idea units that are similar to the GS word groups.

Frame-work for speech-production
Now we can look at everything from another angle. Suppose you want to make up a song. Your work will be easier if you have another song to copy. Suppose you want to make a dress. Your work will be easier, if you have another dress as a ‘pattern? Suppose you want to take a decision on some issues. Your work will be easier, if you have another decision on a similar issue as a guide.

So this is the point: It’ll be easier for you to do anything, if you can have another thing as a reference or pattern or guide or frame-work.

Of course, when you make anything with reference to a pattern or guide or frame-work, you’re free to make changes here and there. But the point is this: The pattern or guide or frame-work will make it easy for you to make new things. This is so about making new idea units, too. GSs are nothing but patterns or guides or frame works. That’s why they’re called ‘structures? Think about the structure of a tall building. It’s just a frame-work or skeleton. You have to fill it up with bricks and other materials to make the building. In the same way, a GS is only a frame-work or a skeleton. You can fill it up with words and word groups to make an idea unit.

Shape of speech units
You see, the word groups given under GS No. 1, GS No. 2, GS No. 3, etc. are only examples of GSs ?and not GSs themselves. GSs are the ‘shapes?of those examples. For example, look at the examples under GS No. 1. They all have a common shape, don’t they? That ‘shape?is GS No. 1. It’s that ‘shape?that must get ‘imprinted?on your mind.

Fluency tools
Think about children. Take the case of a boy or girl aged 10 or 12. Their vocabulary in their mother-tongue isn’t large. They know how to use just about 2000 words or so in their mother-tongue. That’s all. But still, aren’t they able to speak fluently in their mother-tongue?

You see, they’ve learnt to fit those few words in different ways into the basic syntactic structures of their language ?unconsciously. They’ve unconsciously picked up the ‘feel?about the various structures by listening to other people and from reading ?and through actively using them in real life situations. They’ve also learnt how to fill those structures with the words and word groups they know.

These structures and the limited vocabulary they’ve mastered are the core of their language skill. These core structures help them expand their fluency, because whenever they learn a new word or word group, they can easily fit them into those structures, and make newer and newer idea units. For example, a boy or girl of 10 or 12 has been exposed only to a very limited quantity of their mother-tongue. Yet, with that limited quantity, they’re able to produce an unlimited quantity of idea units. The key to this mystery is this: They have mastery over the core structures, and these core structures help them process, bend, twist and manipulate the limited quantity of the language they know in a number of different ways. They can fit the words and word groups they know into the basic structures appropriately ?to suit their communicative convenience. In short, the core structures help them juggle with and manipulate the words they know. The core structures are their fluency tools.

Repeated exposure
It’s true that children know only a very few words. Yes, they’re exposed only to a limited quantity of language. But there’s one thing. They come across this limited quantity not just a few times, but a lot of times. They come across and use the few words that they know in a large number of contexts and situations. And they’re exposed to the limited quantity of the language they know quite frequently, too.

So this is the point: The more frequently you come across the same thing, the more you will become acquainted with it. That’s why it’s useless to spend your time trying to learn a lot of ‘newer?and ‘newer?words. Instead, you should be paying more and more attention to the words you already know.

The most important point in vocabulary choice
Why do you speak at all? What is the reason why you speak to someone? Because you want to be nice and friendly to them ?or because you want to communicate something to them. Isn’t that so? But will you be successful in your efforts if the addressees do not understand the words you use? If they don’t understand your words, is there any point in your speaking to them? Of course not.

So isn’t one thing plain? Your speech must be ‘understandable?to your addressees. And how can you make sure that what you say would be ‘understandable?to your addressees? The most important thing you should do is this: Use only those words that the addressees can understand. That is, the words you use must be known to the addressees. But this brings up a difficulty. Is it practically possible to find out how many words each of your addressees know?

So the only solution to this problem is this: There are certain fundamental, everyday, words. These are words that every speaker normally uses and every hearer normally understands. Use only those words while you’re speaking. Then you can be sure that your addressees would understand those words, too.

About words you should master
Now what are these fundamental, everyday, words? You see, they’re the core-words I told you about in Lesson 2.

Here let me tell you one thing: There’s no use in making up a list of the core-words and learning their meanings alone. For example, the word ‘beautiful?means ‘nice to look at? You certainly should have a clear understanding of this meaning in your mind. But you needn’t learn to explain this meaning in words. What you need to learn is to ‘use? the word ‘beautiful? That is, you need to fit this word into the various structures that are possible. This means that you must have a command of these structures.

You’ll come across the most essential ones among the core words several times in this course. They’ve been spread out throughout the several Lessons in such a way that they stick in your mind unconsciously. Here you should note two things:

1) I am not talking about limiting the vocabulary range to an artificial number (say, 2000 words), because occasionally, you’ll have to go beyond this range ?depending on the nature of the topic you’re speaking about. And may have to use several ‘special words? too. These special words are not part of the core words. I have already told you about these special words in Lesson 2. Now go back to Lesson 2 and find out what these special words are.

2) Nobody can be precise and say that there are only 2000 core words, or 1999 core words or 2001 core words. All we can say is this: There are about 2000 words that can meet more than 75% of everybody’s vocabulary needs in speech. And if you have a complete mastery of about 3500 most frequently-used words, vocabulary difficulty won’t stop you from being fluent. When you want to speak about a wide variety of subjects, especially in educated circles, you may have to use a higher vocabulary range. But even then, if you have a good command of about 4700 words, you won’t have any vocabulary-related difficulty.

Objective-based vocabulary-development
So the crux of all I have been saying is this: There’s no use in hunting after ‘newer?and ‘newer? words ?as far as fluency building is concerned. That is not worth the effort.

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Remember this: I am speaking about production vocabulary, that too, speech-production vocabulary, and not about recognition vocabulary. That is, I’m speaking about the vocabulary you need to have mastery of in order to produce speech ?and not about the vocabulary that you need to have acquaintance with in order you understand written things while reading. Mind you, our aim is ‘fluency development? For fluency development, your attention should be on words you and others are likely to actively use in order to produce speech. (In fact, this is true not only of fluency in spoken English, but also of fluency in plain written English ?plain, straight-forward, modern English).

I’ve already pointed out in Lesson 2 that your ‘reading?vocabulary would always be far higher than your ‘spoken?and ‘written?vocabulary. But even if you come across a few words that you do not know while reading, there’s no point in rushing to learn their meanings and usage. Normally, the context in which those words occur will give you an idea of the whole passage.

If you’re a college graduate or above, and if you’ve done your studies through the medium of English in college, and if you (with your educational background) have not come across those words so far, the chances are that those words are not words in general use. So even if you spend time mastering them now, you won’t be able to use them.


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