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Q&A Column
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Updated : 2012.01.31  13:44:08
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1Q) I want to talk about speech fluency.  When I meet a foreigner by chance (including English native-speaking professors), I get so confused that I can’t even complete my sentences.  I just repeat words.  What effort should I put in to improve my English Speaking?

A)You really should not be discouraged; instead, you should feel proud that you can think of English words in the course of a conversation.  Once you can say all the necessary words to express your idea, the interlocutor (the ideal speaker would be a native-speaking teacher) will likely form a proper sentence for you to clarify what they hear.  Then, you must repeat what they say to be familiarized with the correct sentences and keep practicing the expression again in a real-life context.

2Q) When I listen to English speech, I am easily affected by the speaker’s intonation or pronunciation to the degree that it is so hard to focus on what s/he says.  What should I do to overcome this situation?

A)Well, getting the gist of what people say and getting used to a variety of intonation are two very different things.  Anyway, in terms of a new accent or intonation, the best way, and possibly the only way, to overcome this problem is to be exposed with disparate accents as much as possible.  You can do this by watching various documentaries, sitcoms, and movies made in countries other than America, such as England, India, or Australia.  I believe that these days cable television provides a wide selection of international TV programs in Korea.

When I write in English, I have a hard time translating my thoughts into English.  But, if I write without thinking beforehand, the expression is too simple.  What efforts do I need put in to become familiar with English expressions?

A) When non-native speakers--especially adult learners--learn English, it is inevitable to first think in their first language.  I fully understand that everybody will tell you You’ve got to think in English, not in Korean, to master English.  Sure, it’d be great if you can pull this off but the reality is that you just can’t do that until you actually become quite fluent in English.  So my advice is First, brainstorm your essay in whatever language comes to your mind.  Then translate your ideas into English before you polish them by referring to a dictionary.  After that, make sure to have a native speaker check your writing to see if there are any unconventional expressions or odd wordings. 

Jo hyun wook professor.

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