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Cafetalk Tutor's Column

Jim 講師のコラム

Secrets to learning spoken English quickly and effectively

2021年5月12日

Hello everyone, 

I'm Tim. I've been teaching English for 10 years. I have a Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from the University of London. Most of my experience is as a Head Teacher in France (3 years), Japan (4 years) and Australia (3 years). I have two Master's degrees - one in International Relations and one in Evaluation - First Class Honours. I live in Japan and I speak Japanese and French.

So, what are the secrets to learning spoken English quickly and effectively? Here are the basics.

1. Surround yourself with English

This means exposing yourself to English language as much as possible and if your goal is to be a better speaker, it means listening to lots of English.

My suggestions include listening to English language radio as much as possible. With new technologies, there is an endless supply of English language radio on the internet. The BBC world service is a good start for intermediate students.

Another suggestion is to watch English language TV without subtitles. Research shows that when we watch TV with subtitles we tend to read and we stop listening. If we stop listening, then it is simply a reading exercise and this doesn't help our speaking as much. So my advice is to turn off the subtitles and practice your listening skills. This will help you speak better.

Another important tip is to make sure you speak and communicate with your tutor in English. I am constantly surprised by how much Japanese language English teachers use in their communication with students. I understand that sometimes we need to clarify a term or a word in one's native language but if we really want to improve, then your lesson, and the feedback, should be in English. If your tutor speaks to you in Japanese during the lesson, ask them to stop and speak English. Also, ask for your feedback in English. There isn't much point in having an English language lesson if you communicate in Japanese.  

2. Choose a good tutor

Choose your tutor wisely. They should be a native speaker of English. They should be qualified teachers of English as a Second Language. They should be experienced. 

Since beginning online lessons, I have been very surprised at the high number of mistakes teachers make in their feedback to students. Often the mistakes are basic errors. As a professional, it makes me mad that people are paying money for low quality services. If your tutor is teaching you mistakes, stop using them.

Qualified and experienced tutors normally have a good grasp of how to best help you learn English. If your teacher is not qualified or experienced in teaching English, you may find that you are not making progress. This is a waste of time and money. 

3. Make a plan with your tutor and have regular lessons.

I understand that often we just want to have fun and a laugh. That is fine. But if you are serious about improving your English, then I suggest working together with your tutor to develop a long term plan for improvement. This might take the form of a textbook or a tailored course for your needs. 

Textbooks are designed to systematically and methodically grow your language skills. They include review of previous material so you don't forget it. They introduce grammar progressively so that issues you learnt previously are used as a foundation for future improvements. Textbooks don't have to be boring. They can be a lot of fun if you have the right tutor.   

So, those are my views on the secrets to learning English. Surround yourself with English, choose a good tutor and make a plan. 

Comments are welcome. See you online. 

Tim.

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