Four Things To Consider About Guided Conversations
Learning A Language.
1. The tutor acts as a guide for you to become aware, whether it be pronunciation, grammar, sentence structure, etc.
The tutor will give you encouragement, pass on knowledge and orient you to tools you can use to help yourself and encourage you to be more aware of what you are having difficulties in. Your learning should be a stress-free experience because if you are interested and excited you will learn. Practicing new words when you can, practicing your pronunciation when you can, especially, if you have difficulty, should not be stressful. Take action and become more aware of the need to listen, to really listen to and repeat new words to train your mind and the muscles of your mouth to pronounce words well. You don’t have to be perfect always. You just need to be understood. Because English can be difficult to pronounce, sometimes due to the spelling, it is necessary to listen to the pronunciation. Listen to new words as soon as you can. You can use an online dictionary to hear American and British pronunciation. Repeat, repeat and repeat, especially, if the word is difficult. Always ask for help. Your tutor is here for you.
In sessions, not classes, with the tutor you will be learning to become aware, aware in English. The time with your tutor is called a “session” because you will not be in a traditional classroom. You will be in an experience which, in my view, is when you really, really begin to enter the world of another language. In essence you will be going to another planet, so to speak. Each culture in this world is a different experience in many, many ways. This “experience” cannot be acted out or learned in a dead environment like a class. Language is real, living experience. You have to “feel” the language and this takes time, practice and, above all, experience. This is what I am trying to pass on to my students. It’s the next best thing to actually being in a real live situation. The sessions will be in a real live situation for you to become more comfortable in the language, to allow the tutor to correct you and help you and guide you in experiencing the language as much as possible. The pupose of these sessions, however many you decide to take, a maximum of thirty (30) sessions really will be enough time to really, learn and experience what you need to do on your own (by yourself) to gain experience in whatever way possible that you can do online through videos, films, books, articles, lectures, documentaries, chat room experience, virtually anything you have to do speak with real live native speakers or, at least, listen and/or read intently to real native speakers through these types of media.
Right now most of you are only really aware in your native language but since English is your second language the awareness of the language is possibly minimal, so far. This is perfectly normal and natural. There is nothing wrong with that. What my conversation sessions try to do is to make you aware of bad habits you have acquired along the way, either because you learned incorrectly or because you obtained a habit for some reason or another. The principal habit is speaking English in the same way you speak your native language. This habit becomes ingrained over time when you are learning the language, through no fault of your own. This habit needs to be broken in order for you to become more and more fluent and, again, become “aware” in the language. The goal is to sound as native as possible if you want. It’s perfectly OK to have an accent but you do need to be understood. If your pronunciation is not clear you WILL be misunderstood. You don’t want that to happen because you will not have as good as an experience if, in reality, your pronunciation were understandable. I use the word “aware” a lot in my sessions because the word “aware” is more than being conscious or awake. Awareness consists of paying attention to what you are saying and paying attention to what others, who speak the language natively, are saying. Listening to pronunciation and meaning in the context you are in, at the time of hearing, at the time of listening to the language as it is being spoken, IN THE MOMENT, is paramount. Language is always understood in the moment. Emotions, feelings and many, many other variables come into play that affect language and our understanding. We must always be aware of our pronunciation and how things should be said in English. Many people, including the tutor, when hearing a non-native speaker speak will use a response to what the student is saying to show the right way to say it in a way that if the student is really aware, he or she will notice the subtle correction. Learn to hear how the person you are speaking to you responds, the use of language spoken. This is called “soft” correction in my view. People do it all the time, if you really pay attention, even in your own language, people will do that in order to clarify or offer a different way to speak. If you pay attention to this you can acquire these subtle corrections through a natural conversation without being formally corrected. I use this technique many times so that a student will not think I am correcting too much. When I do correct a student it is because the mistake is not how a native speaker will speak and is serious enough that the student needs to know. I call this “hard” correction. From a good, patient and knowledgeable teacher these corrections are not to criticize the student, at all. Please, understand this. This is a way of waking up the student at the moment of a mistake so that the student becomes aware. Learn from it and don’t take it personally that you are a “bad” student because you are not. We ALL learn from mistakes in anything we undertake. Making mistakes in life is normal and a natural way to learning. Thomas Edison, when inventing the light bulb and to try and try again hundreds of times to find the exact right substance to use in the filament of the light bulb to create light that would last a good length of time. In language that is what we must do. Keep trying to find the way to improve your knowledge of the language.
2. Read and/or listen to, in a very relaxed way, useful, informative and interesting material that you want to know about in order to provide food for conversation that you enjoy and which will feed and nourish you linguistically.
If you read and/or listen to something every day you will progress and grow in the language you are learning. You will. Let time do its work. Read often and read as much as you can so that you can gain more and more vocabulary. Being aware and conscious of the language you are learning is accomplished by focusing and concentrating on what you are doing. To do that, be in contact with the language every day or as often as is possible. Ideally, be in contact every single day!
3. Remember, learning a language is a process, not a final goal and it requires practice, practice and more practice in order to gain more fluency.
Be patient with yourself. Know that you are on a journey, a journey in growing awareness of the language you are learning. There will be no final stop on your journey unless you want to stop. If you want to speak English well you must live it as much as possible. If you really want to learn as much as possible know that you will always be learning new words, especially, if you want to know as much about the language as possible. Even in you own language there are always new words and concepts to learn.
4. Surround yourself with English as much as possible and always stay connected to the language, at least, one way or another.
You have the Internet, so, in your hands you have virtually the whole world of English. Remember to always look for the definition of new words, always. Stop for that moment when you see or hear a new word. Get to know the word like you would stop and get to know someone. Remember, only guess the meaning of the word if the context is very, very clear. Even so, look in the dictionary. Words are rich and have various meanings. You will remember what you need for the moment. If for some reason you see or hear the word again and don’t remember, look again to see the meaning. This is normal. Seeing words again and again help up to get to know them. Remember, context which surrounds the word is everything. If you cannot figure out the meaning from the context or if you have doubts look in the dictionary or ask a native speaker. Learning requires dedication and diligence but in the end, it will be worth it because you will become part of another world, another culture, another way of living. You will always be learning new words, if you are really interested in becoming more and more aware of the language. Even in your own native language there will always be new words. It’s the same when learning another language. Love what you want to learn. It will make it easier, stress-free, more interesting and much more fun if you love what you are doing.