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The English Speaking Lesson that changed my Life

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The English Speaking Lesson that changed my Life

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In the spring of the year 2000 I decided to go to London to follow a course of "Academic English": the main objective of that course was to prepare students to take the IELTS Test. I chose the South Thames College.

I wasn't confident at all about my ability in understanding and using English. I used a very simple vocabulary and even simpler expressions. In particular, I really felt shy in speaking using that not well known foreign language.

During the course I really understood what speaking in English means. I finally realized that written and spoken English are two different languages. I have to thank Helen, my teacher at the College, and a fantasctic lesson she held during the course.

She arrived in class and asked us to write down what she was going to say. We were supposed to write everything we could understand coming from her mouth. She pronounced very strange words that didn't seem to have any sense for most (if not all) the students of the class. Unfortunately many months are passed since that lesson and I don't remember all the expression she used. However, I remember one which expains well what I mean. She said something like DJUDU. It is difficult to expain the precise sound of her word without using phonetic letters. It sounded like DJUDU. The meaning? Nobody knew. There was a Korean student close to me in the class: he wrote "judo", meaning the Japanese sport. Was he right?

When she finished reading those strange expressions she explained us that DJUDU was actually DID YOU DO. It was one of the easiest expression of English; one that everyone in that class had used more than once in his life. But nobody regognized that expression that day. Our mistake was that we made confusion between the written and the spoken English. Nobody in England would say DID YOU DO pronouncing the words one by one. If you do so you are immediately regognized as a foreign student at his first English lessons. They simplify the expressions. They say something similar to DJUDU.

Many English students (like me before that lesson) think that pronuncing the words one by one is not a mistake because otherwise you can run the risk the others don't understand you. This is absolutely false! You should try to be fluent! Don't say DO YOU THINK, but say DU THINK. Don't say ARE YOU SAD?, but say RU SAD?. And so on. These would be terrible mistakes if used in written English, but are the correct pronunciation.

Our teacher concluded that she didn't want us to speak as american rappers. She simply wanted our fluency in speaking to be improved. That lesson was really the turning point of my life as English student.

Written by : Luca Ferrini
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