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building the “intuition” of language for speaking

If foreign input is made comprehensible, students will be able to turn it as real intake they can (subconsciously) process and work with. Overtime, this type of exposure provides the fundamental data required for building intuition (mental representation) of the language.

Once students begin to build the intuition of the language and feel “click” with the language, they can gradually tap for self-expression and naturally produce output. Another way to state this is that learner production of language is allowed to emerge on its own, as they are compelled to speak their mind.

Naturally, when we have received enough comprehensible input, and build the intuition of the target language, our brain will be able to run in reverse. Our target language will start spilling out of us.

Once we reach this point, we’re ready for output. We’ve spent all this time building a pool of latent ability through input. The next step is to convert that latent ability into output ability.

So exposing yourself to these situations that cause your brain to search through your pool of acquired language and make those words and phrases available to you for output is the way to develop output ability.

Sometimes, our brain won’t be able to find the right thing to say or write. These moments show you where you haven’t yet acquired the necessary language. Armed with this knowledge, you can target your immersion and fill in the gaps. This output/input loop allows you to quickly achieve basic fluency.

Therefore, we need to spend more time on student comprehension (through listening and reading) in order to build their intuition of the language, rather than immediately embark on the drilling of the language production (speaking and writing) itself.


is error correction helpful for developing fluency?

“The major, who had been the great fencer, did not believe in bravery, and spent much time while we sat in the machines correcting my grammar. He had complimented me on how I spoke Italian, and we talked together very easily. One day I had said that Italian seemed like such an easy language to me that I could not take a great interest in it; everything was so easy to say. “Ah yes,” the major said, “Why then, do you not take up the use of grammar?” So we took up the use of grammar, and soon Italian was such a difficult language that I was afraid to talk to him until I had the grammar straight in my mind.”

(E. Hemmingway, In Another Country)

Some research shows that when we focus on rules when speaking, we produce less information, and we slow down. This can seriously disrupt conversation. Some people “over-monitor” and are so concerned with grammar and accuracy that speech is slow and even painful to produce as well as to listen to.

So if we want to speak fluently, then over-actively checking everything for grammar before it gets out of our mouth is going to be a hindrance rather than a help. It makes us anxious and it slows down our language production.

One of the primary functions of student output is to let the teacher know where students are in terms of their acquisition. If the teacher notices students having difficulty in speaking with fluency, then the first thing to consider might be to provide them more input so they may acquire and develop greater intuition of the language. Once they begin to feel click with language, they will be able to tap for fluent self-expression.