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Sunday, July 31, 2016

EwR Speaking - The Role of Intuition Used by Second Language Learners

INTUITION PLAYS AN IMPORTANT ROLE
IN SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING

Second language learners should not neglect using "intuition" whenever they are speaking in English.  Grammar rules give you a set of conditions and general knowledge about how the language works, but is not the solution to all problems when speaking a language. Furthermore, an awareness of both correct pronunciation and practice understanding relaxed pronunciation are also needed in order to dominate English language speaking and listening skills.  And, of course, vocabulary building is essential for all of the learning skills, including reading and writing as well.  However, if you really want to learn how to control your usage of English while communicating with others, it is necessary to understand how "intuition" plays a very important role in this overall process.


Therefore, we are going to go over the following three topics for the purpose of discovering the importance for second language learners of English to learn how to use "intuition" during the four skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) in order to carry out fluent and coherent communication.

Firstly, we are going to look at the meaning of "intuition", and describe the important aspects of it as related to second language learning.  Second of all, we are going to explore why intuition should be used by second language learners of English, and discover if there is evidence that supports this presumption.  Thirdly, we will examine how intuition can be developed and effectively used for second language communication.

On the subject of the first topic above, when you have the feeling of knowing something without using reasoning or proof, then you are using "intuition".  As related to second language learning, it's not a mystical sense, rather it is instinct based on past experiences using the English language and recollection of what you have heard and read from native language sources.

The important aspects of "intuition" as related to second language learning include the following.  Language is full of daily living experiences that are constantly changing, and intuition is a means to combat and deal with them.  A second language learner generally knows more about a language than they claim based on their intuitive instincts, but many times they don't give credit to this intuition.  Traditional grammar instruction combined with popular colloquial language usage build a library of reasoning in a second language learner's mind, but do not include intuition.  The different aspects of intuition need to be cultivated by a second language user of English in order to learn how to develop their intuitive input.

With regard to the second aforementioned topic, "intuition" should be used by second language learners of English because it can help to adjust broken communication used during normal active speech.  Intuition helps to relax a speaker in order to avoid using artificial pauses, fillers words like "uh", and confusing and erroneous conversational beginnings and connections.  The second language speaker builds more self-confidence using intuition and hesitates less to interrupt, and possibly even destroy, the flow of a conversation.

Evidence that supports this presumption can be found in the testimonials of some very famous people.  Albert Einstein said, "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.  We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."  

All of the following successful and well-known people have reinforced the fact that their success is partly due to their usage of "intuition"; namely, Bill Gates, Ingrid Bergman, Pablo Picasso, and Carl Jung, to name a few.

Most high-level second language users of English would agree that a large part of their success with the different language skill areas stems from having trusted their own instinct when listening, speaking, reading, and writing.


As to the third topic mentioned above, a second language learner can develop and use "intuition" by diligently practicing the following steps.  Learn to quiet your thoughts and not dwell on your perceptions.  Use less head-talk and open your mind to listening better not only to others, but also to yourself.  Be an observer with your eyes and ears.  Sylvia Clare makes the following observation,Intuition is the highest form of intelligence, transcending all individual abilities and skills.

We use "intuition" in order to interpret the world around us. When you begin to trust your instincts, then the world begins to make more sense to you.  This is when your intuition is actively working.  It takes you less time to interpret oral and written communication if you connect them with your intuitive thoughts.  In order to develop the usage of intuition in your communication, you have to make yourself aware of using it.  For example, if you want to contemplate and carefully listen to the words of your favorite song, you are not going to play it while the television is turned on in the background.  Make yourself aware of your surroundings.  Pay attention and listen.  Quiet your thoughts.  Trust your instinct.  Personal awareness will help you activate the use of intuition, and eventually your insights will become an important vehicle that you can use for your oral and written communication skills in English.  The sooner you learn how to develop intuition, the earlier you will become more successful with your second language communication.

Now let's recapitulate the importance of second language learners using "intuition" during English language communication.  You can give power to both your second language learning and your language usage if you employ "intuition" in all four language skill areas.  Compare the difference of a language learning experience between that of a native child learner and that of a second language adult learner.  Small children use intuition in order to experiment and find meaning in what happens in the world around them.  They also use their instincts when learning their own native language.  They actively listen in order to interpret what is being said.

On the other hand, adult learners are more limited with their second language experience because they have already formulated opinions, experienced many years of emotions, and have adopted fears.  All of these factors hinder their language learning experience.  A child's naiveness helps them use "intuition" naturally, but adults have to learn how to develop second language instincts since they are no longer naive about the world around them.

"Intuition" is not just for children.  It's also for adults, but it has to be developed and practiced for second language usage.  Instinct is not innate in an adult learner's second language experience like it is in a child learner's native language experience.  The role of intuition is an important one for second language learners.  "Intuition" gives power and meaning to the second language learning experience.  Learning a second language is not just about using classical textbook knowledge and memorizing language rules and procedures.  Language learning also needs to actively include "intuition".

Sunday, July 24, 2016

EwR Vocabulary - Word Comparison - SAY versus TELL

(SAY versus TELL)

The verbs "say" and "tell" are often confused by second language learners and non-native speakers of English.  If you have this same trouble, don't worry.  This article will help to clear up any confusion you might have about when and how to use these two verbs.  Before that, let's take a look at the following two conversations between Persons A and B, and between Persons B and C.  The verbs "say" and "tell" are constantly being interchanged during both of these conversations.  While reading the following conversations, decide if the usage of these two verbs is obvious to you or not.

CONVERSATION 1: (Persons A (man) and B (woman) are talking in the office.)

A: If I tell you something, will you promise me that you won't tell anyone else?
B: Of course!  What do you want to tell me?
A: I want to tell you that I need to say something important to our boss.
B: What do you need to say?
A : I can't tell you right now.
B: Will you tell me later?
A: I might tell you later, but I'm not making any promises.
B: Okay, but I hope you aren't going to say anything about what happened yesterday.

A: No, I'm not going to say anything about that.
B: Really?  I hope not.
A: I promise.  I want to tell him something else.
B: Can't you tell me a little bit about what it is you want to say to him?
A: No, I'm sorry, but I shouldn't tell you now.
B: Okay, well I hope you tell me about it later.
A: Remember that you promised me that you won't say anything about this to anyone else.
B: I promise.  My lips are sealed.  I won't say anything to anyone.  Don't worry!
A: Thanks!  I might tell you about it later. I got to go now.
B: Okay, see you later.  Good luck with whatever it is you're going to say to the boss.

CONVERSATION 2: 

(Person A (man) leaves the room, and Person C (man) approaches Person B (woman).)


C Hi!  What was that all about?  What was "A" saying to you?
B: Sorry, but I can't tell you.
C: Come on!  Tell me!  Please?
B: I promised "A" that I wouldn't say anything to anyone.
C: You know that I'm good at keeping secrets.  Come on!  Just come out and say it.





B: No!  I can't tell you now.  Maybe later.
C: It must really be important if you can't say anything about it to anyone, not even me. 
B: Forget about it!  Don't ask me to say anything more about this. 
C: Okay, sorry.  Maybe you will tell me something later. 
B: Maybe.


If you found this exercise to be a little confusing, and didn't have a clear idea about using the two verbs "say" and "tell" in these two conversations, then do the following.  Re-read the two conversations above, but replace "say" with "tell", and vice versa.  Determine if the use of these two verbs makes sense to you now.  Afterward, you will find out why you can't replace "say" for "tell" and "tell" for "say" in each line of the two conversations above.

Now let's clear up the confusion.  In order to distinguish a clear difference between the verbs "say" and "tell", let's explore the following aspects about each of these two verbs: (1) the meaning; (2) the common use; (3) a grammatical explanation; and (4) the essence or fundamental nature of the word.

Let's begin with the meaning of these two verbs. The verb "say" means to utter or vocalize words.  What is being spoken is more important in this case than who is receiving the articulated statement.  For example, in the first conversation above, Person B makes the following pronouncement to Person A.  He states, "I hope you aren't going to say anything about what happened yesterday". In this case, the importance of this communication is to declare that something isn't stated, and not to identify who will not receive this declaration. In other words, Person B wants to make sure that Person A doesn't mention anything to their boss about what happened yesterday.  Therefore, she emphasizes what shouldn't be "said" (or uttered), and doesn't give importance to who shouldn't receive this utterance; which in this case, is the boss.  Thus, the information itself is more important than who receives it.

The contrary is true for the verb "tell".  In this case, it's just the opposite.  The person who receives the information is more important than the information itself.  An example of this can be found in the second conversation when Person C asks Person B to reveal what Person A's conversation was all about. Person B replies to Person C, "Sorry, but I can't tell you".  What's more important here is not the information that was stated, rather "who" cannot be told about this information.  In this case, Person B is emphasizing that "Person C" is the one who cannot be told about the first conversation.


Next, let's turn our attention to the common use of the two verbs "say" and "tell"The word "say" is usually used in reported speech when someone wants to report what someone else has uttered For example, imagine that you want to repeat your friend's words "I will call you later" to your sister during a conversation with her.  You inform your sister of the following.  My friend said, "I will call you later".  Reported speech is usually highlighted with an opening and closing quote mark when it's in written form.  This format is used to emphasize the wording of the reported speech, and highlight "what" is being conveyed.

The verb "tell" doesn't have any special usage like that of the verb "say".  Its use is not restricted to "what" is being uttered, rather "to whom" it is being uttered.  In the example in the above paragraph, you could have stated the following to your sister, "my friend told me that he will call me later".  Here the emphasis is placed on "who" receives this message, and in this case the "who" is "me".

Thirdly, there is a grammatical explanation about when to use "say", and when to use "tell".  Both of these verbs mean to verbally communicate with another person, but they are used differently.  One of the easiest ways to remember the difference between them is to think of the following.  You "say" something (to someone), and you "tell someone somethingThe difference is the usage of a personal object (e.g., someone, somebody, anyone, anybody, it, him, her, them).  The verb "tell" is almost always followed by a personal object which identifies to whom you are speaking.  For example, in the following statement "I can't tell you right now, the personal object "you" is followed by the verb "tell".  You cannot make this statement without the personal objectIn other words, it's impossible to remark "I can't tell right now".  You always need the personal object with the verb "tell".

However, the contrary is true for the verb "say"; and, in this case, the personal object is not used unless you want to emphasize "who" is receiving the utterance. For example, in the statement "I won't say anything", it is not necessary to include a personal object because it is automatically assumed that someone is the recipient of this action. However, if you want to emphasize "who" the receiver is, then you can include a personal object preceded by the word "to". In this case, the above example might be "I won't say anything to anyone". The personal object "anyone" is used to make an emphasis about "who" is receiving the action.
 
Lastly, but of much interest, is the essence or fundamental nature of the words "say" and "tell".  This is a very interesting aspect about how these two verbs function.  With the verb "say", think of the communication as going one way.  The words that you utter when you "say" something, go in one direction.

If you are in a conversation with another person, they may or may not respond to your words.  Even more, the words that are spoken may be heard by other people around you.  They are only recipients of the sound of the words, and are not active participants in a mutual conversation.  The importance of this type of communication is the utterance of the words that are being stated, and not the person uttering them, nor the other person who receives them.
   
In the case of the verb "tell", the communication is two-directional.  That means that both people involved in a conversation are actively participating by listening and speaking to each other.  The person who is listening to the words of their conversation partner is paying attention to what is being uttered, and generally responds back with their own words.  The conversation partner, in turn, will follow the same procedure.  Therefore, the conversation is continuous and goes back and forth between them.

To sum up, the meanings of the two verbs "say" and "tell" are similar, but they are not perfect synonyms of one another.  The common usage of "say" in reported speech distinguishes one main difference between these two verbs.  The grammatical explanation that discriminates between them is identified by the required usage of a personal object for the word "tell", but an optional usage for the word "say".  An intuitive motive can also be used to make a distinction between the one-way direction of communication that is implied when you "say something (to someone)" versus the two-way communication that is inferred when you "tell someone something".

Sunday, July 17, 2016

EwR Speaking - Keeping a Conversation Topic Alive


HOW A SECOND LANGUAGE
SPEAKER OF ENGLISH CAN KEEP
A CONVERSATION "TOPIC" ALIVE

Second language speakers of English have a disadvantage over native speakers when they are in a conversation together.  The problem is that the native speaker usually dominates and controls the conversation between the two of them.  They know how to extend the main topic of a conversation for a certain amount of time until both speakers get tired of the subject.  Even though the topic is stimulating for both of them, the native speaker is usually the one who has control over the situation and knows how to keep the conversation about that topic alive and interesting.


However, there is hope for the non-native speaker who wants to "take the reins" and continue talking about a topic during a conversation, but in an interesting and stimulating way.  There are techniques that a second language speaker can use just like a native speaker, so that the topic of the conversation doesn't get lost in uninteresting side-comments that are not even related to the original topic at all.

This is what today's featured article is all about.  Let's examine four techniques that a non-native speaker can use in order to extend the topic of an interesting conversation and keep it alive.  All of these techniques take practice, so don't expect instant results in the beginning.  Little by little you will be able to (1) identify the main topic word of an interesting conversation in order to stay on track with the topic, (2) keep your feet on the ground and determine when a topic is no longer of interest to the other person, (3) endure moments of silence during the conversation about the topic, and (4) offer sincere and genuine compliments to your listening partner when it is appropriate.

First and foremost, when you are talking with someone about an interesting topic, you need to be able to distinguish the general overall subject of the conversation.  It is important to know what the main topic is, and identify it using "one" only word, so that you don't get off track and talk about something different.  If the subject is interesting to both of you, then you don't want to lose this conversation with the other person.

In order to identify the main topic word of an interesting conversation, you need to pay attention to the group of words that are related to the main topic. For example, imagine that your conversation with someone else includes the following group of words:  beach, vacation, picnic, park, August, heat, and swimsuit All of these words are related to just one main topic.  Quickly determine what the main topic of your conversation is.  Find one word that easily identifies the subject of your conversation.

Maybe you are thinking of "summertime" as the main topic.  The aforementioned group of words are all "specific" examples of the "general" idea, or the topic word "summertime".

Now that you have identified the main topic word of your interesting conversation, remember to stick to it until both of you begin to lose interest in this subject.  If you start talking about something else that is not related to "summertime", then you will probably kill this topic, and possibly even lose the interest of your listening partner.

Of second importance, don't forget to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, and pay attention to your listening partner's reactions during the discussion about the topic.  If they are getting disinterested in the subject, you can tell by observing changes in their behavior, or by witnessing defensive body gestures.  For example, listen to the tone of their voice, and observe how they move their body.  If your listener is getting tired of the main topic, they might start crossing their arms, or lowering their tone of voice.

It's important to keep the conversation about the subject interesting for both of you.  Don't try and push your listening partner to give you information they don't want to reveal.  Avoid asking questions that are too personal.  Be polite and maintain a carefree attitude when talking about the topic.  Above all, avoid negative statements that could kill the subject of your talk.

If you discover common interests that you both have, which are related to the main topic, talk briefly about them.  But don't forget to pay attention to your listening partner in order to know when to stop talking too much about the interests that you both have in common.

Thirdly, an important aspect of keeping a conversation topic alive is something that you probably haven't ever considered.  Don't forget to use "silence" once in a while.  Yes, "silence".  Most people feel uncomfortable when no one is talking, especially when both of you are enjoying a conversation together.  But it's absolutely normal, and sometimes is necessary.  If you find yourself rambling on too much and dominating the conversation, then it's a good idea to learn to stop and use silence.  Listen to the other person, and sometimes even listen to neither of you talking.

Silence gives both of you the chance to pause briefly and have the opportunity to think about something more that you want to say related to the subject of your conversation.  It allows you time to form your opinion, and to think of questions that you might ask the other person in order to keep the conversation alive and stimulating.  When you need time to think, try using a couple of seconds of silence, and smile at your listener.  Use body language and facial gestures that make the other person feel comfortable and relaxed with you during these quiet moments.  Learn to endure moments of silence during the conversation about the main topic.

In addition to all the foregoing, if there is an opportunity to offer a sincere and genuine compliment to your listening partner, and the moment is right, then try giving them one.  However, make sure that your compliment addresses something that the other person "did", and not something about how that person "is".  Compliment actions, not a person's physical characteristics or attributes.  For example, if you compliment the other person for their nice glasses, they will probably say "thank you", and that will be the end of this part of the conversation.  However, if you compliment them for something that they did well (e.g., "I really enjoyed your presentation that you gave last week."), then they will probably continue talking about that experience with you.

It's best to use few compliments because too many of them will appear to be insincere.  When you give someone a compliment during an interesting conversation, be sure to appear sincere.  Use authentic words of enthusiasm in order to keep your listener motivated and interested in what you have to say.

In summary, practice the four techniques mentioned above in order to learn how to maintain a conversation about an interesting topic with someone else.  Don't leave the responsibility of maintaining an interesting conversation to the other speaker.  Remember to determine what the main topic of your conversation is, and stay focused on it.  Pay attention to your listening partner's interest in the topic, and learn to enjoy short moments of silence between the two of you.  Only offer a compliment related to the other person's actions, which is not based on their character.  On top of everything, be sincere and demonstrate that you are enjoying the conversation about the subject with the other person.

Don't forget to give yourself time to practice these four techniques, and eventually you will be able to extend the main topic of a conversation, and keep it alive for a certain amount of time until both of you get tired of the subject.  After a lot of practice, it will seem natural for you to keep your interesting conversations with others lively and stimulating.