Despite hours and hours of school, many students don’t end up speaking English very well. There are many possible reasons that revolve around poor instruction and materials: too much focus on vocabulary study, over reliance on textbooks and purely educational materials, high student affective filters, no purposeful use of the language, over emphasis on testing etc ….. However, students can become fluent despite these if only one important ingredient is there — enough practice.
Students, especially in EFL situations, simply don’t get enough time actually exposed to and using the target language, English. It is as simple as that. Would be expect Cristiano Rinaldo to be as great a footballer as he is if he didn’t practice hour upon hour but rather just once a day for a short spell in a controlled classroom? No, students need time to play and swim in the English language. Without this, no sort of progress can be expected.
While reading Jeremy Harmer’s blog the other day, I came across an excellent summary of this from a teacher named Dan (Andy is a reference to the Scottish tennis player, Andy Murray):
Here at EnglishCentral, we are providing students intensive practice. Practice where they can work on the skill that is English and then through extensive exposure in the classroom and real life, become fluent, confident English speakers. Dan continues ….
Self study is truly needed and the missing ingredient. With this added to a school program and course of study – students will make significant progress. For so many years, we just haven’t been giving students enough time on task, the task of learning English. Now with a tool like EnglishCentral students can do so. Even better, it isn’t like work, they have fun learning with interesting, current video content!