I'm not good at spoken English.

Boy   Sunday, April 20, 2003, 03:52 GMT
I'm a student and learning English. Trust me, my spoken English is pathetic.
I read news headlines daily, I use my dictionary daily for looking complex words up. I tune in to up-to-minute news on international news channels.
I do all stuff that a normal learner can do. I keep in touch with English daily.
I stopped reading news in my native language a long year ago let's say a couple of years. What is my problem, I'm unable to speak proper English sentences with native speakers as well as English-versed non-native speakers.

Really, trust me, I don't have confidence in my speaking skills. I feel antsy when my opponent is an English speaker. I can't deliver what I want to deliver to them.

Reading helps students to enhance their skills in the English language but everything becomes wrong when they come to have speaking something else. I have some friends who have recently gotten higher marks in the toefl tests but they are pathetic speakers and they confess that.

Do you know any ways that you can share with the students for coping their fear with the spoken English?

See ya, then!
KT   Sunday, April 20, 2003, 05:32 GMT
Every beginner has their fear in conversation. The key is to get the words out of your system anyway. You may be incorrect in grammar, you may be wrong in pronounciation. You just can't worry about it too much. Try not to come up with the perfect sentence before you say it. Say it anyway without thinking too much. But afterwards, you have to remember what you've done wrong and correct it in your head.

As long as people can understand what you mean, you are half-way there. Communication is about understanding each other. You may say "I go church yesterday." It's wrong, but guess what? People will understand. I'm not encouraging not trying to be correct. There is a big difference between being ignorant and learning from mistakes. Don't be embrassed by making mistakes. I've heard native speak say "it don't work."

Hope this helps.
cmhiv   Sunday, April 20, 2003, 07:03 GMT
I do not have a fear of conversation; I gladly except it. Unfortunatley, the only Francophones in my part of the world are my instructors :-( This is why I gladly e-mail with people in French.
Boy   Monday, April 21, 2003, 02:37 GMT
Tom says in one of his articles, shut up your mouth If you are not sure what you're going to speak otherwise making mistakes will reinforce bad habbits. Like If I say "I go Church", it is very fresh in my memory and next time I'll speak sentences similar to it for example, "I go school", "I go park",
Now you can see a distinction why is it so much important to speak sentences correctly right from the scratch. I don't have a teacher around me all the time who will correct my mistakes.

Like you said, don't be afraid of making mistakes but once you make them you've to rectify them with the help of a grammar book or a dictionary.
I agree with you. What my problem is, I'm not a native speaker who can judge his mistakes by himself and rectify them through a self help.

cmhiv   Monday, April 21, 2003, 02:54 GMT
I have made an e-mail friend with whom I am writing in French, and he is correcting my mistakes. This is a great way to practice if there are no native-speakers available to someone.
Tom   Monday, April 21, 2003, 09:41 GMT

Thanks for writing!

1. Do you have no problems writing in English? Can you write about as fast as in your native language?

2. Can you speak in correct English sentences when you speak slowly?

3. Can you speak in correct English sentences when you're talking to a person whose English is worse than yours?
cmhiv   Monday, April 21, 2003, 15:43 GMT
I have some problems writing in English, mostly spelling.

Yes, I speak in correct English when I write slowly.

When I speak to someone whose English is not that great, I try to speak correct English to set a good example.
David Bosch   Monday, April 21, 2003, 18:36 GMT
The English is not my mother tongue, I was brought up in Germany, but since I started 8th grade I've working quite hard on my British, (since now I leave in Britain).
Trust me, I was a pathetic english writer, speaker and listener. You see, my method to dramatically improve my conversation has been: "saying all I have to say to myself in English", for example, if you are looking for something to do your homework, you might say "Let's see, where did I put that bloody thing?", and then "Here it is!!, what a relief I've found it", you know, that sort of things, so that way you will get used to speaking English all the time, and you'll start leaving your mother tongue just for talking to people in your country.
I think reading English just helps if you do so in loud voice, otherwise you won't be speaking at all, would you?

IMPORTANT:The best way to improve your fluency is to not just speak in English, but think in english, because if you are thinking in your tongue and you try to translate your message to English before actually saying it you just don't speak in a slow way, but you spoil that day's english advantage and learning. Just try to speak inside of your mind (think) in English, and it will come out in a more natural way.
David Bosch   Monday, April 21, 2003, 18:37 GMT
I hope that helps you
Tom   Monday, April 21, 2003, 22:22 GMT
I second David's advice. Talking to yourself is an excellent idea, especially if you can speak with few mistakes (or at least you can spot your own mistakes).
KT   Tuesday, April 22, 2003, 06:38 GMT

Do you use ICQ or any kind of instant messaging program? Speak as you type and type as you speak. If you play any online game, talk (type) to people in English and learn from other people. Speak out what you're typing. Or speak before you type. That's help you to practice thinking in English. It should work.
Boy   Tuesday, April 22, 2003, 07:49 GMT

I hardly use Msn and Yahoo messengers or any kind of because there is a reason behind it, I've to type at a breakneck speed while chatting and during this whole process I'm unable to allow enough time to my brain in order to design correct sentences. I make mistakes, such as spelling and grammatically. If I spoke English while typing, my brain would not collect correct sentences and they'd come out unconsciously. I'm not improving my English but infact I'm annihilating it.

I think in English, that's not my problem. I write English with mistakes even though I think in English. I used to get wrong inputs and they come automatically even I try to minimize them.

Boy   Tuesday, April 22, 2003, 13:54 GMT

a)I have no problems while writing something in English except making some minor mistakes such as wrong usage of articles and spelling mistakes.
I write English much faster than my native language. I stopped writing in my native language 3 years ago.

b) Not really. I sometimes speak correct sentences but sometimes I don't because I'm not fully sure about the usage of prepositions and articles before the respective nouns. Also, sometimes I can't express my points due to lack of some core words that I need to use them. I can think those words in my native language but not in English. Plus, I don't have a bilingual
dictionary that shows corresponding words in the English language.

c) Yup, I speak correct sentences with them. Even sometimes my pronunciation looks better than theirs. I don't speak correct sentences when I'm about to speak English with a native speaker. They speak fast.
I don't understand what they speak.

Tom   Tuesday, April 22, 2003, 15:29 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?

You say you're not sure of preposition and article usage. My advice is the following: Look up everything you're not sure of in a dictionary or a usage reference. Try to remember the correct usage, so that next time you are sure. If you keep forgetting grammar points, use SuperMemo to review them continually.

Get a bilingual dictionary. Locate English equivalents in the dictionary, then look them up in a monolingual dictionary to check if they're actually equivalent. (Translations in bilingual dictionaries are often inaccurate.)

About speaking with native speakers -- your situation is perfectly normal. My English is always better when I'm talking to someone whose English is worse than mine than it is when I'm talking to a native speakers. It's normal to be a little more nervous when you're talking to someone whose English is by definition perfect.

Remember that it's okay to ask a native speaker to speak more slowly. It is also okay to speak slowly when talking to a native speaker. It is a lot better than speaking fast and making a ton of mistakes.
Once you start speaking correctly and slowly, you should be able to improve your speed quickly. If you speak fast and make a lot of mistakes, you may be unable to get rid of those mistakes.

If you can find a friend who speaks English about as well as you, then having English conversations with that friend would be an excellent idea. When speaking to a friend, you are less nervous, you're not afraid to stop the conversation to look something up in a dictionary, and you can ask your friend questions in your native language.

You say you don't understand native speakers. Can you understand the stories on our website?
X   Tuesday, April 22, 2003, 16:14 GMT
What do you mean by "good English", Tom?
How do you judge if one's written English is good or bad?