If You Edit Your Writing, You Should Edit Your Speaking Too

Before you submit an essay to your teacher, or send that email to a business partner, you would proofread your writing to make sure the sentences flow well.

The reason we edit and proofread our writing is because we want to make sure our ideas and intent are communicated clearly.
We need this editing process because the way in which ideas come to our mind is not the same as the order in which the reader digests information.

Speaking does not require as much “editing” as writing, because there are other cues, other than what has actually been said (such as gestures, tone of the voice, and facial expression), that help us understand the speaker.

But what if we edit our speaking with the same seriousness as we do in writing? 

“But if I repeat the same sentence many times until I say in a perfect grammar, the person listening to me will get annoyed!”

Sure, if you do that in an actual conversation, it can be annoying. But how often do you practice speaking English at home the same way you rewrite and revise your writing?

Repetition and revision are necessary even for speaking skills. That is why you practice them in the comfort of your own house or classroom, where it's safe to make mistakes.

Sometimes in a private lesson, a student would say something in English incorrectly and I would correct her. Then she would just nod and go on to talk about something else. STOP! If you misspoke and got corrected, you shouldn't just nod and let it slide. You should REPEAT and say exactly the same way your teacher has told you.

Why?

Because you need to practice saying it. “Oh yea, I should have said it like that. I understand now” is NOT ENOUGH. The curse of having a high score on a TOEIC test and the ability to understand most of spoken English is that sometimes you think you understand the sentence, but you can't replicate and use the same sentence when it's your turn to speak!

That is what you need to repeat after your teacher, or imitate a great speaker. Not just the words they use, but also imitate the emotion, tension, pitch inflection and body language as well. That is what I mean by “editing” your speaking. It means the ability to reproduce the same sentence in the appropriate social context as a native speaker would do.

Don't be satisfied with repeating the sentence you just learned once or twice. Repeat many times. Say it in a different situation or context. Change the speed, rhythm and inflection of your speech and see if it feels different. The reason why Steve Jobs is a great speaker is not just because of his raw talents, but because he has done it so many times. The same goes for your English speaking skills.

Practice, revise, and edit. Repeat.

About Josh

뉴욕 출신 일본계 미국인. 현재: 비즈니스 영어 강사로서 활동. 전: 서울교육대학교, 파고다 어학원, 현대백화점, 인천도시공사, 동시통역사. 출연: EBSe, JEI 재능, 한국일보. 영어, 한국어, 일본어 가능. 좋아하는 음식은 타코스. Read more »

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