Spoken English: Challenge for College Students

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– Durga Bahadur Pun

Needless to say, the importance of English is surprisingly increasing day by day. People all over the world are investing a lot of money and efforts to English Language. However, college students in Nepal, who have already invested money, time and efforts, for learning English, are yet to succeed. Migrant Nepalis working abroad, who hold academic degrees, cannot speak even simple sentences in English. As a result, they have become the subject of mockery. In this blog post, I will make an attempt to discuss on spoken English as challenge for college students.

Let me share with you an anecdote. One day one of the students came to me and asked, “I can write grammatically correct sentences in English. But why can’t I speak?”

The student is the representative of many others who frequently asks me the similar questions. I did not have any ready-made answers for the curious students’ question that time, however, I discussed with them citing some reasons for lack of proficiency in spoken English.

Some time later, I pondered over the issue. I came up with a very simple and amazing answer. Having grammar in spoken English is useless. Non-native speakers of English facing the problem for speaking English is just due to grammar. This is the fact shown by researches as well. As educated persons or college level students, they always want to use grammar properly, they never can speak English.

Importantly, we can make brief statement, questions and answers in spoken English. For instance, to make the question, auxiliary verbs and WH words are used at the beginning of the interrogative/question sentences as per grammar. Such a complexity to form question or interrogative sentences makes students unable to ask any questions to the teacher or anyone.

Here, one question may arise in your mind, what type of shortcut English is there without grammar? English without grammar can be said to be shortcut or real English. No doubt, there is no language without grammar in the world. Grammar is a science of language. Even if grammar is missing, it is hidden in spoken English.

We mostly use shortcut sentences and we simply prefer to call it “Spoken English”. According to grammarian, I. Jaykaran, who published the book “Master your English Grammar”, we make several shortcut sentences during conversation. It is not a grammatical mistake, but an accepted shortcut.(page 414)

Let’s consider how we speak our Nepali language. As you know, a baby and our grandfather or grandmother do speak Nepali so well without Nepali grammar even they have not learnt in the school. We, educated persons or students, never use Nepali grammar while talking with people. Can’t this be similar case in English. It is vivid that speaking a language does not necessarily use proper grammar, right?

Practical or Real English is informal language. It is also called spoken English. In our daily conversation, we simply use this language in family, with friends, relatives and other people. In Real English, we do not care grammatical rules which frustrate the beginners to speak English.

On the other hand, grammatical (proper) English is formal Language. It is standard and specific language used in academic organization, official purposes and formal programs. We mostly use proper grammar while talking to seniors or strangers too.

STRUCTURE OF SPOKEN ENGLISH

There are two parts in spoken English;missing words and speaking words.

In case of missing words, it is not good to speak frequently the same words or matter in talking, which is already known or spoken out. That is to say, we don’t need to speak again which is clear and can be understood easily.

See the examples below;

 Are you watching the TV? (Grammar)
1. You watching the TV? (Spoken)
2. Wathing the TV? (Spoken)
We have to stop the car here. (Grammar)
3. Have to stop here. (Spoken)
4. Stop here. (Spoken)

In example 1 and 2 above, are and you are missing, in example 3 and 4 we and the car, and we have to and the car are missing . It is, of course, considered best in spoken English.

According to grammar, In above example (4), ‘stop here’ is the imperative sentence. But in spoken, it makes a same meaning like other two utterances.

Speaking Words – We simply talk about a person or a thing in normal conversation. To make it short and sweet, we need to speak as Spoken English which is the best way of speaking in every language.

Above example (2), (3) and (4) are  as Practical English without subject and object as the grammatical sentences.

The words are missing in Spoken English in such a way. So if we do not know the situation or circumstances, sometimes it becomes unclear or gets different meaning.

To conclude my opinion, I would like to urge the college students to once try to follow the above mentioned way if they really want to speak English fluently. I hope this will help them get success very soon. I am teaching spoken English in such a way mentioned above. I have found the fruitful result. Most of the students are wonderfully satisfied with my teaching.

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The author teaches English language in Kathmandu valley.

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