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Why is Speaking Similar to Eating?

Both speaking and eating are every day necessities. Eating is more so than speaking, but let's look at the core issue here. Conversation is like sharing a good meal with another person. We want to have these experiences because they can be very enriching and enjoyable. Alas, they can be bad experiences too! Continued...

Here's my analogy - tell me what you think

For a good meal you need to:

  1. Select some good ingredients;
  2. They mus to be the right ingredients for your meal;
  3. Use the right amount of each ingredient, depending on the strength of each of them (for example some ingredients can be more or less spicy, sweet or bitter, depending on your source);
  4. Introduce your ingredients into the cooking process at the right time, according to their nature;
  5. Then you need to cook them for the precise length of time, checking regularly that all goes well and...

You'll have the perfect meal to eat or share with your friends.

For a good conversation you need to:

  1. Select some good words/phrases;
  2. They must be the right words for your communication;
  3. Use the right number of words, depending on their strength (some words will be more powerful than others – knowing which is which is an art!);
  4. You need to know the order in which you must introduce them into your message;
  5. Then you need to link them and pronounce them correctly, with the right stress, intonation and pronunciation and that gives you...

The required message for that particular situation.

Now, here’s an extra secret ingredient for both of these processes, the need of which is ignored most of the time. What makes an effective communicator?

So, now… the question is how can you do that? How can you learn to speak English not only correctly but also effectively? I shall use an example that goes hand in hand with the above analogy, just to keep the line of thought.

The truth is that I don’t cook very well, in fact… I cook very badly! But I do want to cook well, I badly want to be able to produce a good meal and share it with my friends. I have 3 shelves full of cookery books at home and I keep copying recipes of savoury looking dishes from magazines. I also keep asking my mum and my friends for tips on how to cook certain dishes.

And then, when it comes to it, when I actually pick up one recipe, the first thing I do is consider its ingredients list, the time for cooking and the level of skill required (some recipes will indicate ‘easy’ or ‘difficult’) and then … I abandon it. I don’t even start to do my shopping list for the ingredients – what do you think of that? If I find a recipe using ingredients I actually have in my kitchen I will abandon that one at stage 3 or 4, at the moment of combining and cooking them at the right time and for the right length of time. Well, I mean I abandon the idea of having a good result – I will usually settle with a bad result, as I don’t like throwing food away when so many people die of hunger in the world.

The secret is dedicating the necessary time, over and over again

In my situation, although I badly want to do something well and thoroughly, the truth is that I don't put the necessary time in learning and applying the process. Until I get myself to learn about the ingredients, to know them inside out AND know how to cook them I can have the wish for a good result till kingdom come, but it'll be a waste of time.

Now, what’s your situation with learning conversational English? Do you know your ingredients? Do you put the time in learning them inside out and how they work together? Do you apply them in the process of reading, writing, listening and speaking? Until you do so regularly, all your wishes for achieving good English will be in vain.

Well, let me put it in a softer way - and that applies to both you and me: we just need to accept the fact that it will take time, effort and perseverence in learning these skills, including the elements we need in the process and then we need to get on with it - simple!

We need to accept the fact that this process will never stop. There will always be more to learn, more recipies, more words, more advanced levels of communicating - the beauty of it is that ... for the rest of our lives we can consider ourselves fortunate to be able to occupy our time with such inspiring activities. Persevere, and life will never be boring.

Share your comment with other members. Communicate!

How do you deal with learning/teaching English? How do you apply what you've learned in practice? What do you think your obstacle is and how can you surmount it? Fellow teachers of English, how do you help your students learn more efficiently? Share your secrets with us!

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