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BlogWhy Speaking, Not Studying, is the Best Path to Fluency in Your Target Language

Why Speaking, Not Studying, is the Best Path to Fluency in Your Target Language

Written by E-QIP on July 30, 2020

At E-QIP, we often like to tell students that they'll be speaking, not "studying", as students at our school. By that, we don’t just mean that human interaction trumps studying, but specifically that we want you, our students, to be doing most of the speaking. Our teachers are trained to act as mere guides, and an ideal lesson is one in which the teacher struggles to get a word in edgewise.

That’s because studies have shown that speaking practice is one of the best thing you can do to improve in a language—even more so than comprehension activities.

Many of our students come to us with nightmarish memories of languages classes past, in which a teacher did most of the speaking: reciting vocabulary and conjugating verbs at the front of the room, much to the confusion (and boredom) of the class. But that kind of teaching doesn’t reflect the realities of human memory.

A study published in Psychological Science looked at the difference in outcomes of students who focused on comprehension practice vs those who focused on production practice (that is, requiring students to produce language themselves) for a made up language, and found that the production-focused students outperformed the comprehension-focused crew in a series of tests.

Why Speaking, Not Studying, is the Best Path to Fluency in Your Target Language

It’s not uncommon for us to witness students climbs the ranks from hesitant beginners to confident (and chatty) intermediate speakers in a matter of months, and that’s because they’re given the space to try out their target language, get comfortable using it and learn from their mistakes—all of which helps the language stick in their minds better than any grammar lesson ever could.

You might also enjoy reading...  Understanding The Critical Window For Language Learning

Speaking practice alone isn’t going to make you a master of a language, but neither will comprehension activities that aren’t built on a strong foundation; you need to walk before you can run.

To foster an environment in which chatterboxes can thrive, we prioritize conversation in our classes, whether they're virtual or in-person, in small groups or one-on-one. Students are asked to discuss topics they’re passionate about; topics that challenge and confuse them, and topics that spark debate. The result is a school full of students who aren’t just able to remember exceptions and move swiftly between tenses, but who can also express detailed and complex thoughts, desires and opinions. If our students are able to talk our ears off, we know we’ve done our job. 

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