Many students have excellent comprehension; however, some struggle when delivering comments when it's time to convey their message. Why is that?
To answer this dilemma that is often seen, first, we need to understand the answer to the following questions: Can we learn a language only by listening to podcasts? Is it enough? On the other hand, we might ask: Can I learn English just by conversing with native speakers?
In other words, is it sufficient to have enough “data” to learn a new language? Or do we need to put it into practice?
By the end of the article, you will get my opinion on the ultimate question: what do we really need to learn English? (or any other languages)
Do you have enough “data”?
Many learners focus their teaching path on podcasts, books, magazines, newspapers, etc.
At the same time, this will only produce the desired outcome if they understand what is being considered. If you have, let’s say a student who is a total beginner, and asks you: “hey, I want to learn how to speak English, because I need to communicate with others around me; I want to go shopping and be able to have some basic conversations with someone.” Or another example would be someone, who is learning Japanese. If one is a total beginner and starts listening to a podcast, it will likely be ineffective and unproductive, right? We have to understand what is being considered. My experience in this field is that some students, even if they appreciate lesson worksheets, don't want to focus too much on that. Most of the time, since time is short, and there isn't enough time to devote to language learning every day, things learned and absorbed don't produce the necessary outcome, which is relatable to the student's progress.
Do you really need to speak to improve as a language learner?
Based on what was mentioned previously, how can you speak if you don't know or understand what is being said?
Is it possible to get the message – without analytical consideration of “data”?
As you probably know, many students claim that they want to speak and feel pretty comfortable with their language level, so they just want to focus on their speaking skills. That's where they feel that they can improve! Maybe they're thinking in their long and challenging language classes back in school, where all they had to do was listen.
What's the secret?
So, should students continue taking classes on italki, and if so, will they continue improving? Isn't it enough to study lesson worksheets, listen to podcasts, or even read books?
Well, I think that progress happens when you blend both “data” and production. Speaking skills will be affected. I mean that language learners can't progress without sufficient “data” that is understandable and accessible to them; however, they can't improve their pronunciation and communicate effectively if they don't produce the language.
There are no hard-and-fast rules in here. For the time being, I would recommend having a meaningful class with some activities (e.g., lesson worksheets, materials that were prepared by the teacher beforehand and sent to the student; you could also provide a reading activity during class), and at the same time give enough speaking opportunities by means of questions and sufficient talking time.
In my opinion, we can't disregard the extreme importance of books, lesson worksheets, etc. However, we should also focus on student talk to progress their language skills.
I wish you well in your endeavors!