Sunday, August 12, 2007

Comment on "How English is Really Spoken"

A couple of days ago, I wrote How English is Really Spoken. Steve, from and submitted a comment about his experiences. I’m not sure if people have a chance to read the Comments, so I wanted to post Steve’s comment more prominently.

“I think every ESL instructor faces the same situation. There is textbook English and there is real world English. You can tell the students what you know to be the truth, often it is best for them to come to a truth on their own. The way I deal with this is to simply play a scene from some English movie which is popular with the students at the time. Provide a copy of the script if possible, simply Google for it and print off a copy for each of the students. Perhaps they can write the script as they hear it. Then show the official copy. In this way they can hear and see the real world English, I then show a scene from some Shakespeare movie (recent famous actor is best). So, I ask....which is English? Let them talk it out and vote on the outcome.

It is the same in any language I know of, textbook v real world. Once they can relate it to their own language, they can see it is the same with English.

Another suggestion, take a popular English song and have the students in class write out the lyrics as they hear them. Then produce the actual lyrics, which is correct? Are the lyrics textbook English? I doubt it. Deal with slang, regionalism, mention that you cannot sometimes understand someone from another country speaking English. I mention some of the most beautiful pronunciation and vocabulary is in fact spoken by people from African countries. Most students in Japan found this hard to believe. Some students think real English is spoken by only this or that nation or people, which is wrong. Part of being in the ESL business is to break down the untruths, to open your student's eyes and ears. Let them know they are speakers of English, they will be understood.

Keep grinding away,

Thanks, Steve, for the comment.


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