Would you teach your students to speak naturally?

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  • sleepytiger
    Participant
    22 September, 2009 at 4:12
    • Total posts: 4

    Hi everyone,
    i am an english teacher in a foreign language context.
    Is it good to teach my students to speak naturally inside and outside the classroom?
    i mean to get them speak like native speakers. if yes, why?
    any ideas about that( please provide me withe reasons)
    thank you so much

    dan
    Moderator
    22 September, 2009 at 17:00
    • Total posts: 590

    Reply To: Would you teach your students to speak naturally?

    Welcome to the forum sleepytiger.

    The answer really depends on the objectives and needs of your students. I would imagine that the ultimate and ideal objective of most of your students would be to communicate like a native speaker – if they are able to do this, then any other more specific objectives that they have are logically achieved.

    You may have students who have no specific short term objectives – they are learning for pleasure / for their future career / for travel / etc. In this case you will be teaching a much more general syllabus, developing the four skills, as well as work on grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. In this sense, you are in effect working towards this ultimate objective of getting your students to speak like native speakers. The less specific and more long term the objectives of your students, the more this will be true.

    However, you may have students with very specific, short-term objectives.

    For example, a businessman may need to reach the level of being operational in meetings with American colleagues. Someone who works in a tourist office will need to be able to give information to visitors about accommodation, places to visit, etc. For these specific objectives, a certain operational level is necessary – native speaker level proficiency is not. The businessman and tourist office employee may also be limited in the time they have to study, and the number of hours training that their company has given them.

    Classroom time for these students is therefore best spent working towards their specific objectives – providing them with functional language and vocabulary that they need, practising listening skills, and so on – getting them to "speak like native speakers" would involve developing a much wider range of language in many different and, in these cases, irrelevant contexts.

    Another point to mention is pronunciation and accent. Sometimes when we talk about "speaking like native speakers" this is the first thing which comes to mind: "I want to speak with a native speaker accent". If your question is more along these lines, then again I would say it depends on the student. Some students want to maintain elements of their accent for different reasons – they may prefer to be identified as French or Italian or Japanese when they speak, rather than losing their accent entirely – they may feel this also means a loss of a part of their identity.

    I hope that helps.

    Dan

    sleepytiger
    Participant
    28 September, 2009 at 8:18
    • Total posts: 4

    Reply To: Would you teach your students to speak naturally?

    Thank you verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry much Dan.
    i think you are a great teacher

    pjsenior
    Participant
    29 September, 2009 at 2:58
    • Total posts: 3

    Reply To: Would you teach your students to speak naturally?

    Hi sleepytiger

    agree with everything Dan said.

    Also, just want to say, remember that it’s hard to define what a native speaker of English sounds like. There’s American, Canadian, British, Indian, Australian and so on and so on, and even in these countries there are great differences in the English spoken, e.g. in Britain we have Scottish English, Southern English and so on. Unlike Chinese, we do not have a standard English pronunciation that is taught in schools. So, the point is, it would be really difficult to teach one kind of native English, because there isn’t just one kind.

    Students need to be able to speak so the listener can understand them, but a native accent isn’t necessary, unless the student really wants to sound like an American or whatever. Actually, the most important accent work you can do in your class is exposing your students to different kinds of accent for listening practice. Many students won’t have listened to much apart from American English in movies, or graded, slightly unnatural English in the coursebook CD. Try to find some authentic sources of other accents to use in class. Being able to listen and understand native speakers is more important than sounding like one.

    Hope that helps,

    Phil

    sleepytiger
    Participant
    30 September, 2009 at 11:59
    • Total posts: 4

    Reply To: Would you teach your students to speak naturally?

    Wooooow Phil
    i think i have started thinking about teaching them to be fluent not accurate in speaking. i mean students need to undersatnd and be understood by others.
    i appreciate what u and Dan did
    thank you so much

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