Speaking Made Simple is a 365-page PDF curriculum for English is Stupid, Students are Not. Free teacher/learner support videos are available on the Thompson Language Center YouTube Channel.
- Problem 1. Many ESL/EFL students have studied English extensively and may have a good knowledge of grammar, but they have problems speaking English confidently. Frequently, their lack of ability embarrasses them and inhibits fluency.
- Problem 2. Non-native speakers make the same small speaking errors repeatedly. Their first language interferes with their ability to make themselves understood in ways that are not obvious. The subtle important differences between first language and English have not been identified for them.
- Problem 3. English classes frequently concentrate on writing skills including spelling, grammar and punctuation. There is an expectation that improvement in speaking will follow. This never happens. There is no cross-over from writing to speaking in English and students blame themselves when they fail to achieve the results they deserve.
Speaking Made Simple is designed to address all of these problems.
The attendance list of student names includes focus points and achievement. A class which consists only of telling the student what they have done wrong is not motivating. The data helps customize the program to individual language needs.
A typical class looks like this:
The Class begins with a casual chat about current events or shared stories of interest. Authentic listening activities provide students with a casual, optional opportunity to speak.
The Lesson teaches one of the six features of conversation that is always true. Studies show, burdening students with endless details about grammar and applied linguistics doesn’t help them become fluent speakers. Teaching the patterns that define how conversations work does. The model or ‘big picture’ is information students apply instantly to validate and expand their experiences of English inside and outside the classroom. The rules of spoken English in Speaking Made Simple are straightforward and suitable for every learner level. The sequence of lessons outlined in the program is important.
The Practice exercises for each of the six aspects are designed to strengthen awareness and skill. Practice is undertaken with a speaking buddy from a different language background if possible. Encouragement is paramount.
The Experience of success in real-world exercises is the last step in this innovative program. After learning about some simple aspect of conversation, students must use their new skill in an authentic way. Here is where the shift in student ability lies. Lessons are great but don’t automatically translate into new behavior. The experience of successful interaction is the moment when ability shifts and the world becomes their classroom.
Separating writing from speaking frees students from their previous frustrations with speaking without invalidating the grammar and information about English they studied before.
The patterns of how speaking English works provides students with a yardstick with which to measure English against all other languages including their first language. They can make ‘English choices’ they couldn’t make before.
By relegating grammar to its proper place as a writing tool and providing the real tools for successful conversation students immediately begin to express themselves freely, confident that they will be understood in spite of mistakes they may make.
The classroom is a safe space that concentrates only on the most essential tools for speaking English. The technique of creating successful real-world conversation experiences makes the biggest difference for individuals and sets Speaking Made Simple apart. Customized attention on first language interference accelerates learning. Students are transformed into competent speakers in a record time. Learners graduate with the tools to continue to improve their English independently.