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English is Stupid, Students are Not – The 6-Point Guide to Spoken English Reviewed by: Julia Chemali, Program & Resource Material Consultant, TCDSB Adult ESL
Recommended for all Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) Levels
English is Stupid, Students are Not is a must for every teacher who needs to help students speak English confidently. By learning the elements of spoken English outlined in this book and the six secrets to how speaking English really works, students will be able to set out, without hesitation, on a successful path to speaking.
In her book English is Stupid, Students are Not, Judy Thompson describes a special approach for teaching spoken English. It is the approach of unlocking the unconscious aspects of oral English in order to effectively teach or learn English as a second language. Judy says: “Speaking is not simply writing spoken out loud. Speaking and writing are completely different skills that use different sets of rules…A clear understanding of the distinctions between writing and speaking provides a powerful place for learners to start.”
The rational behind writing the book is explained in the Student and the Teacher Introductions. The Student Introduction provides a Guide for Spoken English which defines the six very simple principles that will help students speak fluently. These are Phonetic Alphabet, Stress-based Language, Important Words, Linking, Collocations, and Body Language. The Teacher Introduction explains about a special method of teaching spoken English as compared to teaching writing. In order to learn to speak, we need to teach students to Listen to English outside the classroom, to Learn the six rules of oral communication, to Think about the differences between writing and speaking, and to Practice their English without being embarrassed. The more students understand that English is imprecise, and sometimes stupid, because it has no rules the more confident they will feel in speaking outside the classroom.
English is Stupid, Students are Not is divided into two parts. Part one, chapters one to three, is for basic stage learners and separates speaking from writing. It focuses on teaching sounds of letters, words and sentences. Part two, chapters four to six, is for advanced stage learners. It addresses the leap from the elementary to the abstract elements of the English language. It includes linking, expressions and non-verbal communication.
Each chapter in the book has one lesson on one principle of speaking. It has exercises on the students’ pages to practice the point. These exercises increase in difficulty as the chapter progresses. Finally the chapter has some perspective with regards to the significance of the speaking point on everyday interactions with a chapter summary.
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