You want to speak English well, with ease and confidently.
In short, you want to improve your fluency in English.
You see a free conversation session advertised.
You know it’s a good idea (although you might not know just how good an idea it is!)
But you don’t go.
You’re too shy.
You’re not alone.
If this is you, you should definitely read this!
And if this is not you, read on all the same, Michelle Daniel from @heartofenglish had some very interesting things to tell me…
Michelle and I had our very own conversation session to talk about why conversation sessions are so good and why English learners should join one.
Michelle is an English coach based in Montreal who has a free conversation club to help adult learners develop confidence and fluency in English through stimulating conversations. As conversation sessions are an important part of my 12 week programme YES to Fluency I was very interested to get together with Michelle and find out her opinion about them.
Michelle first started having structured conversations with her 1-to-1 students on her “Speak with Confidence” programmes. When she saw how much they helped her students improve their fluency, she started her free conversation club to reach more people. Now she is helping students from all around the world improve their fluency through stimulating conversations.
If conversation sessions are so great (and in Michelle’s case, free) why are some students reluctant to join one?
Both Michelle and I agreed that often lower level students worry that their level is not good enough. But you might be surprised to hear that it’s not only lower level students that don’t join conversation sessions. Sometimes students with a higher level also feel shy as they are used to listening to English, for example watching Netflix, but not using their English for communication.
So what can students who feel shy do?
Michelle says that we should focus on communicating and not making mistakes. Nobody will judge you because they’re thinking about what they’re doing, not anybody else! “Relax, have fun and enjoy yourself… Everyone feels shy at first. ” says Michelle.
Our role as teachers or coaches at a conversation session is to make people feel at ease as Michelle points out. Fluency improves when people feel calm, relaxed and are enjoying themselves.
One way both Michelle and I help our students feel at ease is by giving them the material and questions to think about before the session.
Apart from developing fluency, what else are conversation sessions good for?
Conversation sessions are great for meeting other English learners from all around the world.
It’s an opportunity to hear different accents (so important, as now more than ever, we are communicating with people in English from all over the world)
It’s also an opportunity to explore other cultures as well as practising our language skills. An opportunity to see and hear different ways of thinking and doing and learning lots of interesting things about other cultures!
A big thanks to Michelle, It was really interesting to hear her opinions. Check out the full interview here:
I think we both agree that conversation sessions are a great way to:
- Practise using the vocabulary and grammar that we learn in an informal, stress-free environment
- Experiment with language and happily make mistakes (because they lead to better fluency)
- Rehearse for real world communication (including with people from other cultures)
- Practise using strategies for communication in a natural way; asking for clarification, repetition etc.
- Build friendly, supportive communities where we can learn from and with each other.
- Have fun with English!
We definitely learn by doing so I recommend you take Michelle’s advice and find yourself a conversation group.
Here’s the link to Michelle’s conversation club web page: http://theheartofenglish.ca/conversation-club/
It’s for adult learners who are at intermediate level in English or higher.
You can follow her on Instagram @theheartofenglish.ca and on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-heart-of-english
You can also check out my fluency programme YES to Fluency. A community-based programme for learners with intermediate level and above to improve fluency.
And of course let’s keep the conversation going over at The YES Crowd on Facebook.