1. Spoken English Errors- Introduction

Every individual has the right to communicate as he places, however if the person desires to express himself effectively and confidentially, he should be aware of common errors while speaking in the English language. The objective of this tutorial is to discuss a few tips and tricks that can help non-native English speakers to spot some basic errors in speech, which would ultimately benefit them in avoiding low grades, lost employment opportunities, and unproductive business.

  • Audience

This tutorial is designed primarily for young professionals who need assistance in spotting those common errors in English speech which might result in general embarrassment while communicating in public.

  • Prerequisites

Before proceeding with this tutorial, you are expected to be in an open frame of mind and ask the right questions and get their specific solutions on the topic.
Before we begin, let’s be frank to ourselves- there is no magic formula that will work for all who want to speak fluently in a non-native language, because every person has different levels of understanding and learning speeds curve. It is quite a demanding task to learn and speak a non-native language fluently. This tutorial is meant for those readers who learn English as their second language. It provides sufficient information on how nonnative English speakers can spot and rectify the errors they commit inadvertently while speaking in English.

  • English Grammar vs. Spoken English

A person stands to learn English quicker if he stresses more on the spoken side of it, as compared to the grammatical side. Constant speaking and listening to correct usage will incorporate the right rules of grammar in his brain. This doesn’t mean that grammar can be neglected.
A conversation becomes more meaningful with the right usage of grammar, but as with anything new, stress should be more on practicing what you have learnt many times first, before moving on to something more complex. Similarly, beginners should stress on speaking what they have learnt first before moving on to grammar and more technical stuff.

2. Identifying Language Barriers

Non-native speakers find it difficult to speak just what they really want; sometimes they even struggle to obtain basic information connecting products or services while communicating.
Teachers frequently complain about non-native speaker’s lack of critical thinking. Sometimes they feel that students are loss or confused but the problem lies in the student ability (or rather inability) to communicate effectively.

  • What Stops US?

Different speakers have different motives behind learning English-some learn it to clear their examination papers, while some to get job offers, and there are some who learn English simply because they love the language. It’s still debatable if motivation yields success or it’s the other way round, but English can only be learnt out of the love to be hold a meaningful conversation in it.

  • Limitations of Grammar

SQL SERVER - Keywords View Definition Must Not Contain for Indexed View - Limitation of the View 10 - SQL Authority with Pinal DavePeople interested in improving their spoken English need to understand that learning the rules and usages of English grammar does not improve their chances of speaking the language, but confuses them and discourage their speaking.
Spoken English can be only enhanced by repeated listening to correct usage, constantly speaking the language with audiences with different levels of aptitudes in speech, and learning grammar rules and usages simultaneously.

3. Four Rules of Learning

Rules are important because they set the guidelines to what is acceptable and what is not. Here, in this chapter, we will discuss the four rules of learning.

  • Speaking, Thinking, Practicing & Checking

    Many suggest that continuous practice is the key to fluent spoken English, however, studies have found that only practicing doesn’t necessarily guarantee results.

    The best way to learn how to speak in English is listening to large volumes of audio input, learning its grammatical structure and vocabulary, and then using the knowledge you have gained on a target audience.

  • Speak the Language Aloud

    Traditional spoken English training methods take a very long time to yield results, if at all, because the stress is more on reading and writing, however, speaking a language needs a lot of interaction with a target audience who can provide direct feedback and also suggest improvements to your speech.

  • Think in the Target Language

    Most of us have a fully technique of thinking about a sentence in our native language and then translating it in our head into English before finally speaking it out. You need to remember that speaking, in itself, is an extremely tricky and complex exercise involving a huge part of our brain, throat and tongue muscles and wind flow. Adding mental translation to the already complex task leads to errors like abrupt pauses and filters in speaking. Thinking in the target language is a major decision which has to be taken by the individual.

  • Speak in the Language Whenever Possible

    Any language comes with its own set of sounds, phonetics, wind flow that makes pronunciation of words and sounds in that language very different from the way we speak in our native language. To master these variations in sounds and speech, one needs immense practice of the correctly pronounced sounds.

4. Tips to Correcting Error

  • Fossilization

    A person who is interested in just putting his message across may not be completely aware of correct usage of grammar, as his primary objective is only to convey his/her message across by using any means of communication available to them, which include signaling, paraphrasing, signaling and directing. In this way, over a period of time, these people learn a self-adapted method of speaking.
    They learn that their errors in subject-verb agreement (e.g.- ‘she’ instead of ‘her’, ‘us’ instead of ‘we’) are not affecting their transfer of the message to their listeners, so they start to subconsciously ignore certain rules of grammar even when they are introduced to it, trained in it and asked to communicate with it.
    This phenomenon is called “fossilization”, where a speaker continues to make the same mistakes over and over again, even if he knows the correct usage, simply because he is encouraged by the fact that his message is getting understood without him not having to abide by the rules of grammar.
    Speakers like these need to be nurtured in an environment where their target audience encourage them to talk in simple and accurate English, and ask them to repeat themselves when they make such mistakes. This will eventually help these speakers internalize the correct usage, as opposed to storing all the usages for a period of time and then forgetting them as soon as the testing scenario-like examination, evaluation, presentation-changes.

  • The Art of Paraphrasing

    Despite having a wide vocabulary enables you to speak fluently and accurately in English, not knowing the right word for something you want to mention shouldn’t dent your confidence too. A lot of people feel  insecure about speaking in English for the fear of not being able to find the right words. In case like these, they should revert to a very effective technique called “paraphrasing”.
    Paraphrasing is a technique of using an alternative word or sentences to describe something you wanted to say, for example, instead of saying ‘rhinoceros’, you could say- “you know? That animal with a horn on its head?”, or instead of resume, you could say- that document you are supposed to give to the HR.
    When you speak to someone, it’s a two-way communication. Both are equally important to be a part of the conversation. If your listeners lose interest while you wait for the right word, the conversation might get over very quickly. Paragraphing will allow you to continue your speaking while involving the listeners by asking them to help you out with the right word(s).
    Speaker- I went to what do you call it? The place where they keep animals?
    Listener- Yes, a zoo. You went to the zoo? Wow!
    See? The listeners feel he has a part in helping you speak and in return, will value the conversation much more

5. Active Listening

  • Filter the Content Words

    The traditional approach of learning grammar has always been to help you understand what others are saying and at what time they talk.
    A lot of people get confused with the excessive intake of information while talking to a native speaker. They complain that the native speakers speak the language too fast, even when the native speakers are speaking with a perfectly normal rate of speech. This is due to the fact that your brain is taking in way too much information (grammar, intonation, meaning, usage, pronunciation) than your brain can process at one time.
    The idea is to listen carefully for content words that helps us in getting a very basic idea of what the person is talking about. Listen carefully to the entire sentence, picking only those familiar words that you could comprehend and filter out the rest of the words. Now you have lesser and familiar words to understand the meaning of. Try to arrange the words in a sentence and start paragraphing.

  • Beginner’s Jitters

    If you have understood what the speaker was saying, he would respond with a yes, or else he would reply back with a much easier version of his original sentence. By doing this you have given him a clear idea of how much of his former sentence you have grasped the meaning of, so that the next sentence he speaks will be directed towards explaining the rest of the information in a simpler way.
    Similarly, don’t get upset or disappointed when you can’t apply all the correct rules of grammar in spontaneous speech. It’s perfectly normal for a beginner to become nervous when you are trying to be fluent and accurate in a non-native language, but the keys lie in enjoying the conversation without paying a
    lot of stress on correctness in the beginning.

6. Types of Spoken English

Slangs consist of a vocabulary of non-standard words and phrases in a given language. It’s use implies that the user is familiar with whatever is referred to, or with a group of people who are familiar with it and use the ter.

  • Variations in Speech English

    Different people will need different levels of accuracy and fluency in spoken English, depending on the professions they are in. let’s discuss the different levels here-

  • Professionals Spoken English

    This type of language is used by professionals from the specific industries. The speech used here is highly technical, with stress put on facts, figures, and data and industry jargons.

Marry- “How is your day going?”
John- “Very busy. I’m preparing a detailed presentation on marketing strategy and computer analysis which would be presented to the client. I’m not even half done yet.”
Marry- “You must feel anxious out now.”
John- “Of course, that’s an understatement.”

  • Literary Spoken English

    This is the language used in magazines and newspapers. The stress is more on communicating with a large section of the crowd. The speech follows all rules of grammar and yet, the words used are simple and common.
    Clive Staples Lewis, commonly known as C.S. Lewis (29 November 1898-22 November 1963), was a novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literacy critic, essayist, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecture, and Christian apologist. Born in Belfast, Ireland, he held academic positions at both Oxford University (Magdalen College), 1925-54, and Cambridge University (Magdalene College), 1954-63. He is best known for his fictional work, especially the screw tape letters, the Chronicles of Narnia, and the Space Trilogy, and for his non-fiction
    Christian apologetics, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.

  • Conversational Spoken English

    This English is the more widely used in daily conversation, where rules of grammar are more relaxed, stress is more on just getting the message across. Sentences might be dropped half-way on realizing that the listener has gotten the message.
    Situation- The conversation is between an employee who works with an interior designing store and a client.
    Receptionist- “Good Afternoon. This is EFX Interior Designer Store. How may I help you today?”
    Mohan- “Hi. I am Mohan. I wanted to get a custom-made interior decoration done for my house. Could I please speak to someone?”
    Receptionist- “Sure Sir. Just hold on for a second or two.”
    Mohan- “Okay. Sure.’
    After a While…
    Raj- “Hey. This is Raj. How can I assist you?”
    Mohan- “Hi Raj, I’ve heard a lot about your interior designing company. Could you provide me some samples of your work? I am looking for a trendy and aesthetically looking interiors for my newly built house.”
    Raj- “Well, Mohan. You’ve approached the right place. I will be more than gland to help. Through you will have to provide some more details that you are looking at.”
    Mohan- “Raj, I am actually looking for a colorful theme for each room along with some lighting variations on the ceiling.”
    Raj- “Sounds interesting! Any color in particular?”
    Mohan- “Yes, actually. I am hovering over two colors. One being light blue and one being sunset or orange.”
    Raj- “Perfect! Through Mohan, I will require you to visit my store at the earliest.”
    Mohan- “That will be good. Can I drop by on the coming Sunday?”
    Raj- “Great! Sunday, around 4. Also, by the time you are here, I will assemble some samples in the two colors mentioned by you along with some of my printed designs that displays the pattern you’ve got in mind.”
    Mohan- “Perfect. Thanks a lot. It’s quite a relief frankly. See you soon.”
    Raj- “You’re welcome Mohan. Bye.”

  • Slang, Ethnic, and Vulgar English

    Every language comes with a set of words that have multiple meanings, and depending upon the situation in which you use them, multiple interpretations as well. These words are called slangs, and are native to particular region.
    Certain words might not be strictly off-limits in a society, but could be highly offensive to a particular community. These ethnic slangs and vulgar words find their way into mode of communication while having a friendly, informal conversation. In addition to this, the pronunciation of certain words changes with different regions which might cause confusion in speech.

7. Exercise on Increasing Expression

A common saying is that it’s about what you say; its about how you say. Nothing, especially public speaking, where a great emphasis is put on words deliberately to invoke strong emotions from the listeners. They are many exercises that can be practiced regularly to improve expression, some of which are discussed here.

  • Exercise on Increasing Expression

    • Try to listen to native speakers and imbibe their usage and structure of words.
    • Speak with non-native speakers who understand but hesitate to speak English.
    • Try to learn how to speak confidently, even with mistakes, and read text aloud.
    • Talk in English over the phone with people; it will increase intonation abilities.
    • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are common and absolutely normal.
    • Study grammar so that the purpose of language, i.e., communication.
    • Overcome fear of losing face. Take advantage of opportunities to use English to communicate with both native and proficient non-native speakers.

  • Tips to Remember

    In the beginning, people might not always understand what you are saying. In these cases-
    • Repeat things they didn’t understand.
    • Use gestures.
    • Speak easier sentences, or say the same thing in a different manner.
    • Give example of what you are trying to say.
    • Instead of using big words, use sentences to explain their meaning

  • There might be cases where you won’t understand what people are trying to say. In these cases-

    • Skip structural words (e.g.- it, for, then) and grasp content words (pizza, go, lets share).

    • Try to get a basic idea and guess the meaning of the sentence.

    • In cases when you are confused, always reinstate the original statement with your guess. E.g.- did you mean…?

8. Reading Exercise

  • Content-Speech Disagreement-I

    Please the read the following paragraph in your mind first-
    There was a time when the software Industry was just warming up, and the government needed a lot space to the multinational companies, who aggressively lobbied for larger territories to expand their office premise.
    Note that, it was very easy to go through the entire paragraph without any issues. However, I’m sure many of you could have speed-read through it.

  • Content-Speech Disagreement-II

    Now let’s try reading the same paragraph as you would read something aloud, but only by moving your lips and not uttering any sound-
    There was a time when the software Industry was just warming up, and the government needed a lot space to the multinational companies, who aggressively lobbied for larger territories to expand their office premise.
    Did you notice any differences in the way your brain functions in both the cases?
    Human brain is trained to accept running text as just information, hence the level of mental exercise is minimum. However, when we are reading it aloud, different factors which are listed below will start coming to our mind which increases brain activity.
    • Pronunciation
    • Speech
    • Breath
    • Wind manipulation

  • Reading Exercise

    This is the reason why many experts state the traditional method of book- reading as a complete waste of time, unless it includes exercise where people are encouraged to read from the text and speak it aloud, a times at top volumes.

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