Lesson of the Day Red Paper Clip


As a result of your schooling, many of you may have plenty experience reading and writing in English but have had no real chance to practice speaking it. So, how do you get better at speaking? I have three words for you: practice, Practice, PRACTICE!

Really, there is NOTHING else that will help you as much as this will. It's like with any other new skill: the more you practice, the better you get. However, unlike other journeys that begin with a single step, this is one that begins with a single word.

So, if speaking English (especially with foreigners) is something that makes you antsy, you must learn to get out of your comfort zone from time to time. The key to remember is that you are better than you think you are! But, unless you start showing it, how is anyone else to know?

I have spoken many times with people whose overall English I thought was weak, only to learn later that they were actually "A" students when it came to writing, reading, grammar, etc.

In particular, I remember the first time I taught a class in Taiwan: they were all 12-13 years old and, honestly, I must've talked for 20 minutes without getting so much as a nod from them. I honestly figured they just did not have a clue what I was babbling about. As the day continued and they started responding more and more, I realized that they had understood me all along - but had been absolutely terrified to say anything to this new Canadian teacher!

That being said, grammar and all the other components of English cannot be forgotten. I often meet students who tell me that they want to focus only on speaking and conversation, and not at all on grammar or vocabulary. But think about this for a moment: could you have decent conversations if your grammar was all over the place and you knew only 50 words?

Therefore, I always stress to students that if they really want to become fluent English conversationalists they must, over time, become proficient at all the components of conversation: vocabulary, pronunciation and - no matter how much you might hate it - grammar too.