вторник, 10 августа 2010 г.

Speaking English competently

Exploring English
By Keith Wright

IF A person is to be a competent, superior speaker of the English Language, consideration and attention must be given to a number of particular influential factors.

A speaker who speaks too quickly can be a “negative” experience for a listener just like someone who speaks too softly or monotonously. The average person speaks between 120 and 160 words a minute and the average listener prefers a similar “listening speed-range”.

 While a listener can receive up to 200 words a minute, the degree of comprehension of what is heard can often depend on whether the speaker is articulate or regularly listened to, and if the subject is of personal interest or importance.
Articulation, modulation, clarity and currency are the basic prerequisites of a speech or verbal presentation.

They are closely related to the quality and accuracy of pronunciation, to accent or stress, to conceptual emphasis and to word mis-usage and complexity.

Poor and lazy pronunciation, inaccurate syllabic stress, unnecessary complex words, boring modulation and incorrect grammar add to the uncertainty, anxiety and difficulty experienced by many listeners and learners.
Again, the use of words that are not current in their meaning can create further discomfort.
Due cognizance should be given to the fact that particular English words may have different, cultural meanings.

Words used by a primary English speaker in everyday communications may create a comprehension barrier for a new learner, especially for those for whom English is not their first language.
Common multi-meaning words are: bank - port - bonnet/hood/boot - bathroom - ford – support.

The use of highly technical, academic terminology and colloquial jargon in a presentation may make a speaker feel superior and important, but can be totally lost on an audience with the resulting failure of the purpose of the speech.
Different listeners take different lengths of time to mentally “digest” and “process” what has been heard.
Planned pauses are a useful technique to enhance this mental activity. Pausing is also an effective tool to regain or hold attention as pausing can cause listeners to hang on in anticipation of the next word, particularly if they have gained from what has already been shared by the speaker.

Designed repetition

The speaking technique of designed repetition is an effective and listener-friendly way of imparting information effectively and for maximising retention.
Likewise, it is a valuable tool for revision, review and reinforcement. The simplest form of the technique is just to repeat what was said.
A more interesting and receptive form is to repeat the thrust or central theme of the point being made, using a different but related contextual structure or form.

For example, one might say:

“Today, many business people strongly espouse the belief that the economic strength of a nation depends very much on the English language skills of its people.”
This same contention can then be reinforced by adding to and restating the assertion as:
“Governments, such as those in South-East Asia, now realise that the English language standard and level in their nations must be raised significantly if foreign investment is to be attracted and their people are to get jobs.”
This sentence can be elaborated with:
“More and more countries are aware that English is now the international language and if their economy is to grow, then the English-speaking skills of their people must be raised to meet the language requirements of industries such as tourism, health, trade, call centres and education.”
Hidden meanings

Behind many things that are said, there can be hidden meanings. This is often called Meta Talk. The following are some examples of what people say, and also what they may really mean.

·By the way – As an aside – Before I forget – (What I really want to say about this issue is ... )

·As you would be aware – (You probably don’t know this but I am going to tell you anyway.)

·It’s really not my issue but... (I intend to put my point of view on this matter regardless.)

·This is not my area of expertise... (I am going to express my opinion anyway.)

·Honestly... (I want you to believe this even though it may not be 100% true.)

·Truthfully... (This is as close to the actual truth as you need to know.)

·The good news is... (Except for this one thing, the whole matter has been disastrous.)

·Off the top of my head – (I really don’t know what to say – I am having a guess.)

·My educated guess is ... (I am really stabbing in the dark because I have no idea.)

·I am sure everyone realises ... (I doubt if anyone knew this anyway.)

·I would not mislead you ... (You are not going to find out about this regardless what you do.)

·This issue is closed – (I am not prepared to listen to you anymore.)
> Keith Wright is the author and creator of the 4S Approach To Literacy and Language (4S) — a modern, innovative and proven method of accelerating the learning of English.

The 4S methodology and the associated Accelerated English Program (AEP) mentioned in this fortnightly column are now being used internationally to enhance the English language proficiency of people from a diverse range of cultures and with different competency levels.

contact@4Sliteracy.com.au for a free copy of the PDF file “Colloquial and Idiomatic Terms”.
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