Many students focus their language learning on memorizing vocabulary. The most committed ones usually write down the noun, or verb, or idiom mentioned by the teacher in class as if that would be the solution to all their problems. Well, even if that were true, those words would be soon forgotten behind other lists and pages in the student’s notebook never to be seen again.
But there’s an approach that can be used in class and by students on their own. Fluency and vocabulary memory can be greatly improved by students using CHUNKING AND PAUSING – techniques for effective speaking:
Even intelligibility and clarity improves much more when students focus on volume, pace and chunking instead of only on pronunciation.
- Collocations – strong tea
– heavy traffic /heavy rain
– the national soccer team
2. Idioms – to get cold feet
Against all odds /
3. Phrasal verbs
put up a great fight /
put up with your boss
4. a whole sentence / clause
Thousands took to the streets –
The Teacher must help students to:
recognize chunks and
practice their use
Pauses and chunks package information for the listener. Speakers divide speech into ‘chunks’, which may be single words or groups of words to communicate a thought or idea, or to focus on information the speaker thinks is important.
Without the use of pausing and chunking, it is hard for listeners to follow your meaning and they may be overwhelmed with too much information.
Look at these examples. Try reading both of them out loud. Which one do you think a listener would understand better?
Does it really matter whether people speak with an accent as long as they can be easily understood many people now believe that in an increasingly globalized world we should accept variations in pronunciation that is accent. however there’s no point in speaking with an accent if people can’t understand you is there?
Does it really matter /
whether people speak with an accent /
as long as they can be easily understood?//
Many people now believe /
that in an increasingly globalized world /
we should accept variations in pronunciation /
that is / accent. //
there’s no point in speaking with an accent /
if people can’t understand you /
Speech chunks and pauses are marked with a slash / or // for a longer pause.
Source: University of Technology Sydney
But chunking is only one rung on the language learning ladder. All that vocabulary must be firmly grounded on basic but solid grammar structure.
Cheers and good speaking,
WHAT DO STUDENTS WANT?
Find below some of the answers my own students have given me in recent months:
“A tough teacher”
“A demanding teacher”
“A patient teacher”
“A kind teacher”
“A teacher who teaches me English”
“I don’t like English so I want a teacher who’ll make me like English”
“My worst grade in High School was 7. The subject? English, of course”
“Never needed it.”
“Read for gist and presto”
“I can understand what I hear or read by Deduction and logic”
“I want to speak and understand in one year”
“I want perfection in my writing and speech”
“I want to speak proper English not the ‘patois’ my father uses”
“I don’t know exactly”.
And the list could go on and on.
Students’ wants can be endless but their needs – as far as language learning applies are simple:
They need a teacher who loves the language
who knows what he’s teaching
Who can motivate and create opportunities for students to grow
As regards to perfection, no one can expect it in a language that has regular and irregular verbs and tons of exceptions to any rule. Beauty yes, perfection just a pie in the sky. So be realistic, optimistic or even pessimistic but leave perfectionist in the closet.