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I can read English but can’t speak it. Why?
15 March, 2019
Copyright Roberto De Riccardis speaking old v3

There’s nothing more frustrating (and embarrassing) than finding yourself frozen mid-conference call or meeting, helplessly searching for words. You can read and write well in English, and you’ve been studying it for years, so why does this happen? And crucially, how can you overcome this language barrier?

Language acquisition involves complex cognitive functions, so we’ve created a simplified explanation to answer both of these common questions. 

For the purpose of this explanation, imagine the brain is split into just 2 parts: 1 is memory (left side) and the other is an ‘active side’ (right side).

Active brain

Language input Language application

Mother-tongue language
This lives in the active side of your brain, and you acquire it through unconscious learning.

Foreign language
When we begin learning a foreign language, it’s stored in the memory side of the brain. Raw data is input into this space, and typically memorized through reading, writing and grammar exercises.

Second language
To truly acquire a second language and speak with confidence, you need to transfer it from the left side to the right side of your brain, so it functions more like your mother-tongue.

 

The solution 
A teaching method that promotes learning by doing to effectively facilitate this passage. That’s why The Language Grid focuses on taking what has been input as theory and helps you apply it.

What does this solution look like in a face-to-face Language Grid lesson?
No language theory, no reading or grammar exercises, and no comfortable chatter. These are all examples of activities that rely on your memory recall. 

Instead we focus on using English in the way you would in an everyday business context. Your TLG trainer might ask you to deliver a presentation, or have you chair a 3-way debate via conference call. What these activities have in common is pressure – the same pressure you face when you’re actually using your English for your job. When you’re working under pressure, it’s harder for your brain to rely on memory recall and this initiates a process called cognitive motivation, which transfers new data to the active side of your brain. Over time, this approach to learning makes it easier for you to use English confidently, more like a native speaker.

What impact does this methodology have on your results?
We guarantee you will feel a tangible difference. You’ll find that you can:

Respond faster and more fluently
Through regular, structured speaking practice focusing on real-life scenarios, you develop the ability to speak without so much conscious thinking, meaning you can respond faster and more persuasively.

Overcome panic and self-consciousness
Fear of making mistakes is prominent in adult learners, particularly those who are used to being an expert. And when you factor in the business context – where being understood has financial or career consequences – anxiety is amplified. Being challenged and put under pressure in every lesson trains your brain to continue calmly, ultimately eradicating anxiety around speaking.

Implement effective techniques for different scenarios
Grammar isn’t essential to successful communication in English – most foreign speakers actually have a better grasp of the formal rules than mother-tongue ones – and in business scenarios, speaking effectively holds far more value than using perfect grammar. By focusing on specific vocabulary, phrases and linguistic techniques related to your everyday work, you develop the tools you need to communicate effectively – achieving nuance, striking the right tone and asserting control.

Many business English students are competent enough to be passive participants in English language meetings. We want our students to get real results.
With The Language Grid, you learn the skills you need to approach challenging business conversations with the same confidence as you do in your native tongue.

Zoe Flaherty, Founding Director of The Language Grid

Learn how we give business professionals the confidence to use English effectively in their everyday working lives.  

Image: © Roberto De Riccardis

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Deloitte Consulting Italy
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