What do driving a car and speaking a language have in common?

An experienced driver drives smoothly.

A language learner with experience will speak fluently.

Neither of the two are born with the skill.

Driving and speaking are skills that can be developed through practice.

Before the first actual driving lesson, we study the theory and the highway code.

Then we start the driving lessons.

There again, we have to learn a set of new things to coordinate: pedals, gears, mirrors, the steering wheel etc.

First we try them individually and understand how they work. Then we gradually learn to build them into a routine of combined actions.

In learning how to speak a foreign language we can name similar components (though they are not ordered in a linear fashion like in driving).

For instance, for language learning we need things like vocabulary, grammar, writing etc.

Let’s say, this is like becoming familiar with the highway code.

We can learn most of this on our own, from books and other resources. We don’t need a a driving instructor to teach us the highway code.

Similarly, we can learn a great deal of vocabulary and grammar by ourselves, with the help of widely available resources offline and online. We do not need a teacher to teach us this.

When we decide to find a teacher or we enrol in a language course is because we want to learn more and get a chance to practise speaking.

Let’s say, this is kind of like doing our driving lessons.

They are still quite controlled environments, but things here are getting more practical …

However, we are not real drivers yet. An we are not speakers yet.

Knowing how to use the pedals, the wheel, the gear, the mirrors etc alone does not make you into a driver.

Similarly, knowing grammar, vocabulary etc and practising language school-style conversations alone won’t not make us into speakers.

We need more real stuff.

Only driving will turn you into a “fluent” driver. A driver who is familiar with feeling the car in motion.

Only speaking will turn you into a speaker. A speaker who is able to manage the elements of language in “motion”. That is: in real conversations.

How do you practise speaking outside class? Do you prefer to practise alone with AI based applications, or do you like to go out and find people to speak to and practise that way?

This content is authentic and it is not AI generated.

I write these weekly tips for you because I enjoy sharing techniques that I have seen work for my students through my 20+ years of teaching experience.


👋 Hi, I’m Gábor

I am an English speech fluency trainer, specialized in pronunciation training.

Connect | Gábor Légrádi | MA, RSA/CTEFLA

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