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Student: “I am agree with you. Correct? I say well? I am agree. I agree? I am agree? Is good? Agree. I am agree”.

Teacher: “I agree.”

Student: “I agree with you. In Naples the people is friendly, people are, people is? Correct? I say well? People is?”

Teacher “People are. Plural”

Students: “Two peoples?”

Teacher: “People are. People are. People….AAARGH!”

Can we continue a whole lesson like this, without a high level of student/teacher fatalities? There is little or no communication going on. Practice makes perfect and here the student is not practising spoken language at all. Frustration and obsession with mistakes abound. So…….

Teacher: Can you drive?
Student: Yes
T: Can you drive well?
S: Yes.
T: Oh!!!! So you drive at Silverstone? (or Monza etc) Your name’s Schumacher? You drive Formula One?
S: No.
T: Why not?
S: ?!?!?!
T: Perhaps you need practice?
S: Yes.
T: So, to drive fast, you need practice…. And to speak fast, you need practice. So we must practice speaking fast.
S: (Nods).
T: When you drive your car, do you always think about car crashes and accidents?
S: No.
T: If you did, how would you drive?
S: Slowly.
T: And when you speak, if you always think about mistakes how do you speak?
S: Slowly.
T: But didn’t we say we must practice speaking fast?
S: Yes.
T: (Pause) So (1) We must practice speaking fast and (2) We must not think about mistakes. Okay?
S: (Nods)

Obviously the conversation might not follow this form exactly and the teacher will have to be a little flexible. Just as long we can “drive” the message home!

Tim Brook, Inlingua Naples, Italy

[email protected]

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