I'm not good at spoken English.

David Bosch   Tuesday, April 22, 2003, 18:17 GMT
Certainly, if you want to improve and make your vocabulary larger, you will have to buy a dictionary.

TIP: When you look up in a dictioanry for some word, you remamber it very easily but sometimes you could have many words to look for; If this happens it's certain that you wouldn't be able to remember all those words, in that case write them down on a notebook or something. For example, I have a whiteboard in my bedroom where I write all the words I've looked for in the last 2 weeks with their meanings, so each time I get up in the morning I see them and remember them.

If this is not your problem, write exactly what it is, because, well, honestly you don't seem to like our advice very much indeed. If you have an exact or certain problem, tell us exactly what it is with details and all the stuff so we can help you in a better way.
abdul   Wednesday, April 23, 2003, 02:56 GMT
As a person who learn English, it is common that we will make mistake. May be the problem is how to know the mistake we have made in English.

If the English learners are not allowed to write sentence here just because they make a lot of mistakes, how they will be developed in English?

I have the same problem with Boy. Even though I read English material everyday ---because I can connect to Internet everyday at the office-- the main problem is still about how to speak English.

In my office, I have somebody who can speak English fluently --he is not a native speaker, but he is from a country where English is spoken daily--. So far, I still have to think first when I want to ask him what he eats at lunch. I have to choose several options, --which I don;t know wether my sentence is correct or not--, such as:
--"What you eat for your lunch?"
--"Have you had your lunch?"
--"Have you finish your lunch?"

Correct me if I am wrong...
mjd   Wednesday, April 23, 2003, 03:20 GMT

If you want to ask him what he ate for lunch, you'd say....

YOU: "What did you have for lunch today?"
COWORKER: "I had a caesar salad today." (example)

If you want to ask him if he has eaten yet:

YOU: "Have you eaten yet?" OR "Have you had lunch yet?" OR "Did you eat yet?"
COWORKER: "No, I haven't had a chance yet."

Your last sentence should read...."Have you finished your lunch?" OR
"Did you finish your lunch?"

I hope this has helped you and good luck at the cafeteria tomorrow.
Runninwolf   Wednesday, April 23, 2003, 03:51 GMT
I had this same problem when I tried to learn German I knew what to say, could write it about as fast as I could English, but it came out all wrong. Let me say that I'm from the middle of the U.S. and I don't speak "good" English at all I say ain't , narry, befer, yuns, etc... I have friends that would say "I go to church yesterday", instead of "I went to church yesterday". Nobody speaks correct English here (its vary rare is what I mean). Just look at our President, his English isn't all that but he is able to convey a message to his people, right? The only way I would know to tell you to completely over come this is to move to an English speaking country and live there for a really long time. DON'T do this though if you can get your message across it will all come out ok in the end. Even when I watch CNN or some other news broadcast when they are translating a speech into English live, they can't think fast enough to translate correctely.
Boy   Wednesday, April 23, 2003, 07:27 GMT

You say your vocabulary is too small. But how do you manage to write in good English then? Do you use your dictionary frequently?

- Yea, my vocabulary is too small. Lemme give you a ball-park figure.
I have a Co-build dictionary for Advanced learners, I know 4 and 5 bands completely. Now, come to other words of the dictionary except these two bands, I just know 1% of the dictionary's words. It means that you can not compare my vocabulary level to any advanced and intermediate students.

- I don't know vegetable and fruit names in English. When you talk about something like preparing a dish recipe, I can't understand your English, like, what yo talking about or what you're trying to say, your vocabulary will bypass my head.

- What's your criteria to judge one's English level?

I made some minor mistakes in my above posts. I also didn't write good and well-organized English.

- 'Frequently' is not the right word. I use it whenever I feel like looking words up in a dic.

- I used to listen to those stories. Be honest, I had a hard time to understand speakers' conversations. Thus, I very much understand 'Voice of America' http://www.voanews.com and audio recordings at http://www.penguindossiers.com

Listening there will make students easy to look up words in the texts If they don't understand any.
Boy   Wednesday, April 23, 2003, 08:47 GMT
David Bosch:

First of all, I'm appreciating your useful tips. I'm not bored at all.
In my case, I keep in touch with supermemo daily. I repeat words when I need to repeat them. That's not my problem either.

1) When I speak with someone then I feel, like, my voice is coming from a creepy jungle. No confidence in my voice. I feel quite nervous. When I feel nervous, my nervousness fades away my main points of the dialogue. Then, I am unable to design and deliver correct English sentences. This is my MAIN problem. I end up my conversation blankly.

Gimme your tips for improving my confidence. Whenever I speak something, my voice must be smooth and relaxed. I mean, even, no matter what I speak atleast I speak it with a ton of confidence.

2) My second problem is, like, you say "He is sleeping on her mother's lap."

I speak the sentence correctly till [mother's] and I don't know the word [lap]. So, this kinda thing happen with other words as well. Not usually but happen like when you are not sure what you have to use a preposition or an article before the respective nouns: For example:

Last night I saw Abdul in the street. (on, in or at). While speaking I make these kinds of mistakes. I'm not sure which preposition is the right one to use. For that matter, I guess, I should search a word 'street' in the dictionary and find out which preposition has to take with it. Am I right?

X   Wednesday, April 23, 2003, 18:13 GMT

You and I have similar problems. Let me share them.

First, my everyday life vocabulary is very limited. I usually don't know what things are called in English. But I think this problem will be gone if I increase my everyday life vocabulary e.g. by memorizing the names of the fruits, places, etc; by learning verbs that are frequently used in daily life, etc. I think bilingual and picture dictionaries can be very useful for this purpose.

Second, I have very few commonly-used phrases and expressions in my head. I think it is necessary to learn them because one needs to react quickly and appropriately when speaking. To solve this problem, I will need to memorize some useful expressions, read lots of dialogues and watch movies in English. Of course, I'll have to practice speaking (to myself and to other people) as well.

I also find it relatively easy to speak in English with my friends (especially those whose English are worse than mine) because I feel "safe" when talking to them -- I am not nervous and I can understand everything they are saying.

But my situation is different from yours in that I write in English very slowly. It usually takes me "too much" time to produce English sentences. This is largely due to lack of practice. I think my speaking skill will surely get better if I practice writing every day.

I've been thinking a lot about how to learn English effectively for quite a long time. I've also carefully planned what to do in my learning process. The only problem is that I have a habit of procrastination. I have a lot of goals in mind, but I am too lazy to do things to achieve them :-(
I am now trying to get rid of this bad habit...
Das behälter   Wednesday, April 23, 2003, 18:13 GMT

in the world

in the building (inside)

at the building (outside)
He threw the ball at the building.

to the building (outside)
He walked to the building

at the street
He looked at the street.
The word "at" implies the goal of an indicated or implied action or motion.

to the street
He looked at the sidewalk leading to the street.
The word "to" is used as a function word to indicate movement or an action or condition suggestive of movement toward a place, person, or thing reached.

in the street
He played in the street.
The word "in" is used as a function word to indicate inclusion, location, or position within limits.

on the street
He looked at the paint on the street.
The word "on" is used as a function word to indicate position in contact with an outer surface or in contact with and supported by the top surface.

of the street
He looked in wonder at the color of the street.
The word of is used as a function word to indicate origin or derivation;

A man of noble birth

It is also used as a function word to indicate the cause, motive, or reason:

He died of influenza

It is also used as a function word to indicate the component material, parts, or elements or the contents:

The throne of gold. A cup of water.

It is also used as a function word to indicate the whole that includes the part denoted by the preceding word:

Most of the army. Part of the sea.
David Bosch   Wednesday, April 23, 2003, 18:39 GMT
I haven't lived here in Britain to have a perfect english, so I still have that same confidence problem. For example, when I'm in a classroom debate, I just can't find the very suitable words for my idea, it's because I fear the other classmates will make fun of me or the teacher will correct me severely, I just have to think exactly what my idea is envolving and try to make the correct sequence of words; on the other hand, when I am with my friends in whichever place, they just show themselves amazed by how I'm able to manage the language and the British accent very but very well, because in that moment, I'm not concerned about whether I've to speak perfectly or not.
That same thing happened when my American cousin came to Britain, he is a native american english speaker, to me, it was far too much more difficult to have a word with him, really, I think I just uttered what seemed to be a Hello, How are you?, and Bye, I look forward to seeing you later, in the entire evening, it was really embarassing. And even worse I was used to listening to British slow accent (they talk slow to me, because they do so with all the foreigners), not to american 'flash' accent, lol.

I would say that the 'speking to yourself in english' method is very helpful for the fluency, which is a very important part in a conversation, and certainly, you would be able to speak in a more natural way, faster and more accurately. try it, it really works, I hope this helps you as well. :)
Tom   Wednesday, April 23, 2003, 21:03 GMT

If you need to learn vegetable & fruit names, I suggest http://www.tesco.com or some other online grocery.

To improve your listening skills, I prescribe two things:

- Improve your vocabulary. If you know only frequency bands 4 and 5, that's less than 2,000 words, which is far too little. Of course, your writing shows you know more than 2,000 words, but you still probably don't know enough to understand the Shaggy Dog Stories.
Voice of America is super-slow and limited vocabulary, so no wonder you understand it.

- Study English pronunciation. The knowledge of the sounds of English can be an aid to understanding spoken English.

Otherwise, keep listening to English. Maybe you're getting discouraged too quickly.
Tom   Wednesday, April 23, 2003, 21:58 GMT
If you're not sure what preposition to use, you can simply interrupt your sentence, and ask the other person (esp. if he/she is a native speaker). Or simply stop and try to say the same thing in other words.
>>>   Wednesday, April 23, 2003, 23:58 GMT
read a lot of anything you can read in the language you want to speak. read comics, online newspapers, simple things. this will greatly improve vocabulary.
Boy   Thursday, April 24, 2003, 10:49 GMT

Yeah, I liked the idea of speaking oneself. Trust me, I want to speak myself.
I don't know how I should start talking to myself. I don't have any specific topics in my mind for starting a conversation. Would you mind showing me a sample of how one can start the conversation by oneself?

Plus, I have to pose a question. Should I write my whole conversation on a sheet of paper and read it two or three times in a quick session and let head does a trick after that?

Or Should I speak myself naturally without writing anything on the paper?
David Bosch   Thursday, April 24, 2003, 17:13 GMT
I will give you an example of how I use the method for you to make the same:
I wake up in the morning; 'What a wonderful morning, despite the bloody sun is on my face' I say, then I walk downstairs to the kitchen, 'Perfect, today mum prepared breakfast earlier than usual.'
In the afternoon, when I do my homework: 'Let's see, What have we got today, Oh no!!, Chemistry and Maths, I want those teachers to be dead, lol.'

You see, normally in a day, you say a lot to yourself or at least you think it, the only thing you have to do is do exactly the same but in English, because an average person spends a huge part of the day thinking or saying something to him or herself.
If you think saying short and simple sentences to yourself is not what you want, you can do what I do at times: invent an imaginary situation and act it.
I start saying: 'Sir, you cannot dismiss me from my job, is the only thing I've got in my life', and I say as well: 'I'm sorry David, but there's no vacancy for the really good employees and I have to dismiss some', (lol, kinda crazy situation), and things like that, you decide.
I you like neither of these, tell me, and I can work on some method, so that you have the best possible acting.
David Bosch   Thursday, April 24, 2003, 17:16 GMT
And don't, don't write any, it should be spontaneous, because matter of fact what you must say is what you think, you don't write on a paper what you are going to think?, do you?