Monday, 31 October 2011

O, and improving fluency

Needs analyses often seem to end with an addendum: O, and I want to improve my fluency.

Whatever the main objectives might be - report writing, doing negotiations, meetings - there always seems to be a demand for speaking better generally.

It's not so much the icing on the cake as the wish for a completely different dessert in the first place.

As the client is always right, how is it possible to satisfy their desires in this area?

My first port of call is usually Paul Nation.

In particular, I have found the 4-3-2 method very useful.

This method was originally created by K Maurice in 1983, but Nation brought it my attention.

It involves a learner retelling the same content in 4 minute, 3 minute, and then 2 minute sequences.

Ideally, the learner will speak about familiar material, won't use any new vocab, and will retell the content to different listeners (I sometimes borrow a colleague for the middle listen).

The results in terms of talking quicker, pausing less, making fewer mistakes, and speaking with more complex phrasing are quite dramatic.

What I like about it, apart from the results, is that when time is tight and the main objectives are non-negotiable, doing this exercise does not feel like you're going off-topic.

You can use it to consolidate material you have covered already, while at the same time delivering on that fluency promise.

Anyone interested in reading more about it can find it here.

(Image: Zazzle)

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