What is more important?
We speak multiple languages in my country, India. We will encounter a new language or a dialect as we move 100 km further. English is our business language, which can also be helpful for personal interactions when we need to interact with people from different regions. English is also considered an international language spoken by a maximum number of people worldwide.
Last week, I was talking to a friend nicknamed RP, who is a part-time English teacher. He works with the organization in the CSR (Corporate social responsibility) space, where he had to teach kids from lower economic backgrounds. Their organization conducts Spoken English classes so the kids can converse in English. It can help them in higher studies and better job prospects.
I am building a product, “Speakho,” which identifies the pronunciation mistakes in your Spoken English. I was very interested to know RP’s opinion on this product. Would RP find this product useful for his students?
RP’s curt response was, “He does not need this product.”
Although his statement was not favorable for Speakho, I was still eager to hear his reasons so it could help me finetune either my product or my target market.
RP clarified that his students have a different problem altogether. They are hesitant to speak in English. The challenge of using correct Grammar or the pronunciation will come much later for them. Firstly, they should speak in English, even if it is inaccurate. They should just be willing to converse in this language.
It is well known that Spoken English is better learned and mastered through actual practice. To become fluent in English, learners must develop the habit of using the language frequently.
There could be different reasons for the hesitation to speak in English.
They are scared about committing mistakes while they speak.
They cannot express themselves well or adequately because they lack adequate and appropriate vocabulary.
They are shy and nervous.
They feel fearful to speak English in front of other people because they lack confidence about their competence in English.
‘A foreign language is like a frail, delicate muscle. If you do not use it, it weakens. ‘– Jhumpa Lahiri.
To help students overcome this hesitation, RP is following a teaching methodology for teaching Spoken English. He avoids correcting the students on their Grammar or pronunciation. According to him, he does not want to discourage them from speaking English by overloading them with another level of technicalities of English Grammar and pronunciation.
I found his reasoning logical. But at the same time, I also think that speaking and language learning should go hand in hand. It should not happen that first, you learn to speak confidently, and then you learn to speak correct English. Let us just think of a situation. Students get confidence in speaking English in RP’s class. In the class, the environment is very supportive and encouraging. No one will point out the incorrect usage of words or mispronounced words.
When these students speak in front of strangers, they might give them a confused look or, in the worst case, make fun of their mistakes. How long will it take to crush the confidence these students had built in Spoken English classes by RP? There is no correct answer for this. It could be two minutes or two conversations or never. Maybe the students start learning from their mistakes and improve with each conversation.
But the point I want to make here is we should not separate Language teaching into two different parts, i.e., Fluency in Speaking and Accuracy in Language. They should go hand in hand. We need to get more fluent and accurate in our Spoken English. What do you think, or what is your experience so far?
Do share in your comments.
Speakho helps you with Fluency and accuracy.
“Speakho” is like Grammarly for Audio. It can catch all the mispronunciations in your recorded speech. It will also share the word’s correct pronunciation so that the speaker can make the necessary corrections. Clear pronunciation is easier to understand and makes it easier for people to talk to you.
This product is helpful for content creators who are creating audio/video content. It is also useful for students learning the English language and could get an assessment from Speakho, which is less intimidating than a teacher. It is also useful for Job seekers and customer care executives who need to deliver a polished speech to make a favorable first impression on their audience.