Tuesday, August 23, 2011
How To Improve Your English. Fast and Easy Methods. A Report.
After having taught English to hundreds of business executives for almost three decades, I have found out that the best results my students had when their courses were closely related to what they performed at work or in business.
I have also discovered that the method of learning a foreign language worked well as soon as my students realized that English for them was merely a tool for delivering their goods and services worldwide.
Reading literature in the area of their expertise, taking part in trade fairs and conferences gave them an opportunity to find new partners, customers and develop their business.
Years of experience finally helped me to create a set of recommendations for business executives and entrepreneurs who wanted to ‘cross the borders’ and develop international business.
This report is the presentation of the methods and approaches that worked for the many and can work for you too.
Short Historical Background of Learning English in Central and Eastern Europe.
English, as a dominant foreign language came into Eastern Europe in the early 1990s.
Due to revolutionary changes in the former socialistic states located in Central and Eastern Europe, thousands of people began actively learning English.
Language schools grew in big numbers, travelers from English speaking countries rushed to help Europeans speak English, while thousands of Czech, Polish, Hungarian and other former socialist countries’ residents moved to western states.
Now, after 20 years of teaching-learning English on all levels, the number of schools, directions, methods and concepts of learning is so huge that to find the right school, courses and teachers is not simple. And what is more, acquiring a set of English communicative skills is a long process of hard and regular work, the only way to achieve good results.
Who Are My Students.
There are two categories of business executives on the market.
One is the group of people who deliver goods and services locally and the other group of businessmen and executives who want to develop international contacts and cooperate with business partners from other countries.
The people of the second group become my clients.
How I start working with them?
On our first meeting I listen to them talk about what they are responsible for, how they carry out their duties and what range of business activities they are in charge for.
On the first stage, therefore, I get acquainted with the language they use at work, the vocabulary, the grammar aspects, the topics of communication they cover each day, this sort of things.
I figure out the spectrum of daily activities of a concrete person and when I have a clear picture of what my potential candidate does at work, I make an individual program for this client.
As a rule, this is a year program of regular two 90min sessions a week with breaks for business trips, holidays and other personal arrangements.
Is this Book the Right Choice for You?
Let me repeat this again. There is an enormous amount of concepts, trends and approaches in studying English and I have no intention to persuade you to pick up mine and state that this one is better than the ones you may have used.
The choice is yours.
Here’s a brief description of a typical client I teach and if you fit in this picture, you are my student and I will lead you to a good level of English in one year.
You are a person who…
spends 8-10-12 hours at work
has very busy daily agenda
travels a lot
cannot leave work/business for longer than 10 days
wants to communicate with foreign partners and use English on trips
thinks that she is too old to start or develop her language skills
thinks is not gifted for learning a foreign language
believes she is too lazy to learn
is tired of trying again and again without any good results…
If to all or most of the points you answered :”Yes”, you’ve made the right choice of buying this book.
Try the methods described in it and if you have any questions, I am ready to help you.
Models of Communication Lessons.
Model One. One Person Communication.
On a one person communication (not at all something bizarre, trust me) a student practices the following language skills:
preparing notes or a short essay for using them on the group session
Thus, the goal of one-man training is to get ready for communication in a group
on a specific topic.
This can be done by a student without a teacher/ coach, instructor.
Two Persons Communication: a Student and a Tutor/Instructor.
(When the student is ready, a teacher will appear) :-)
The same language skills as in model One are practiced, but the instructor checks whether the student is ready for taking part in a group session/s.
Going to a group session without a proper preparation is unproductive.
A Group of Three and More Participants.
It’s sort of a test of the skills practiced on the previous individual English communication sessions.
After completing two initial models, students are invited for a group session.
A tutor, instructor, well-trained leader is necessary. The activities are:
Listening to information on the topic the students practiced on the models one and two.
Making short notes on the info heard.
Preparing a short message/speech based on the material received.
Delivering a 3-5min speech based on this material.
Topic discussion, exchange of opinions, thoughts, ideas, etc.
What happens to a student on all the above mentioned models.
The student works on a model of self-education. A very wide-spread worry:
“How can I work on my own if no one hears and corrects me?”
This is not true and I will give you all the explanations when we go to a description of method one. Let’s forget about it for now.
A tutor, instructor ( I don’t classify myself a ‘teacher’, rather a consultant, a language coach, a leading authority in communication, not a teacher.) checks whether the client has been able to work on his own and had prepared made any progress in her studies.
At this stage, a coach may help a student to practice exercises and if necessary agree on a number of extra training sessions.
A Student is involved into communication with the group of her fellow-students on a particular subject.
This is an ideal environment for the student to develop her public speaking skills.
Description of Model One.
Step One: Listening.
Materials should include a textbook of units, a CD/DVD with the texts and exercises recorded a set of exercises for practicing listening.
Listening. Element One.
A student listens to the whole text and tries to understand it without looking into the text.
In case she understands the text completely, she has to go to the element of the training on this stage.
If the student doesn’t understand the recording, she can read the text and find out the meaning of the unknown words and then to listen to the text again.
The main task of this element is to hear and understand all the words in the text.
I believe is important to hear all the words in the text, not only to catch the idea of the recording and answer true-false questions.
Why is it necessary to understand every word said?
The way native speakers in various countries pronounce the words in the same sentence may sound differently from the way our instructors pronounce them or we do.
That’s the reason we don’t understand native speakers of English when we hear how they speak. With movies it is even worse.
Yet, when we read the text of the conversation we have just heard, we understand everything.
That’s why we need to compare the written text to what speakers ‘make out’ of it when they speak, especially when we have no chances to ask a speaker to articulate, repeat the phrase or say the same phrase slowly.
I believe listening itself serves us less effectively than when we listen and repeat and check whether we understand correctly what has been said.
How to do so.
Listen to the passage and try to understand what is said.
Listen again, this time sentence by sentence.
Repeat what the speaker says and try to understand the phrase completely.
Check your understanding with the written text.
If you understand the phrases of the text in the way they are written and pronounced, well done!
If not, try again until you reach the point of complete understanding.
I know it seems like a lot of work and, not too creative and much fun…
But if you want to be a champion, that’s one of the ways to the top!
As for the textbook and recordings, feel free to choose the one on your level of the language expertise.
Try to avoid too much of a challenge, as instead of even slow progress, you may get the feeling that you don’t go forward at all.
At this moment I would like to warn you of asking a language expert for help.
You may find the one who doesn’t accept my method and will try to offer her methods of teaching. In short, do it yourself, follow your intuition.
And remember. I do not promise ‘a rose garden’ to my followers as the most of teachers of English, especially native speakers of English do.
The way how they learned to speak English does not suit us, for whom English is a second language.
Native speakers of English can educate only children who will learn the language in a similar way as they learned their mother tongue.
For adults these methods may work only when they are in a community where only English is spoken, which is a rare case. At least for my adult students who always learn English thru their native language and always compare an English sentence to the same sentence in their language.
Only non-native speakers, teachers of English know how to teach English, especially the ones who have not lived for years in English speaking countries.
Because the teacher usually say, that it is impossible to speak English without living abroad.
So, try to do all on your own. Following my instructions you will easily find what and how works for you better and you will start speaking good English even without living abroad.
Another thing that may also happen as soon as you share your plan of studying with other teachers, they may accept your idea painfully: every teacher is fond of her ways of teaching.
Let me repeat that: I have met a good number of serious educators in various countries and of many nationalities.
Most of them had their individual concepts of teaching their students.
But, it’s not about how intelligent the teacher is, it is about how well you are able to speak after being taught by your teacher, right?
My mentor Brian Tracy often says:
“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”
In other words it is not enough to know the subject you teach, it is necessary to lead your student to the results she wants”
That’s the essence of the studying process as I understand it.
Description of Model Two.
As we’ve already agreed, on this stage a tutor turns up.
We also understand that at this moment it is clear whether a student is able to work on her own or the tutor has work with her from the very beginning.
Let’s consider that the student has learned her tasks and has performed her home preparation.
The tutor, thru a series of exercises, checks if the student is ready to move to the next level and if there’s anything in her preparation that might be corrected, improved or simply prepared better.
This phase of studying may vary from one session to a number of consecutive meetings of the student and the tutor.
As soon as the tutor and the student agree that the latter has achieved the result that allows her to move forward, she goes to phase or model three.
Model three is the final stage of the series of sessions to make a serious improvement of the English language skills and is focused on a fluent exchange of knowledge, information, opinions on a specific subject.
The structure of the meeting.
As the members of the discussion group had received the topic for a group discussions they come to the session prepared to speak on a topic and a problem/aspect of the topic they had been asked to prepare.
A tutor starts the session and invites the first participant to deliver her short ( 7-10min) report for further discussion.
The speaker gives her presentation and the listeners make notes and think over the ideas of the report-presentation.
As soon as the speaker ends up her presentation, all are invited to take part in a discussion on this particular aspect of the matter.
I will repeat again this basic rule of this debate: the students have to be prepared for talking on the subject, which means they have to learn the vocabulary they will use for this particular topic.
The tutor monitors the discussion and guides the participants to the next speaker...
When the agenda of the meeting is at the end, the tutor makes the conclusion, invites the students to express their opinions about the meting and gives the tasks for the next session.
Resume of the author.
I strongly believe that the method of individual work followed by a series of group sessions, will not only improve their individual knowledge of the students, but will also help to boost their public speaking skills.
George Rusky VPPR, CC