Advanced Conversational English PDF

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Advanced Conversational English By David Crystal And Derek Davy PDF Free Download

Advanced Conversational English

Advanced Conversational English PDF

The idea for this book arose out of an awareness that currently available English language teaching materials have not as yet bridged the gap between classroom English and English in use.

It is clear that there are many excellent courses which help students to get through the introductory stages of learning the language; but there are few which have attempted to go beyond this point, and those which do so fall far short, in our opinion, of the goal of making students encounter and participate in the normal language of conversational English.

Intermediate or advanced learners, typically, are aware that their English differs from the norms adopted by native speakers, but they find little guidance as to how they can achieve a closer approximation to these norms.

Often, indeed they find it extremely difficult to obtain any samples of conversational English at all to study, and even if they do, they will be unlikely to have accompanying analyses, commentary, or drills.

This state of affairs is not the learner’s fault. The reasons for it are bound up with the stage which language study has reached at the present time, and are part of a more general neglect of conversational norms in English language studies. There are, after all, two main difficulties over obtaining information about these norms.

The first of these is that accumulating usable and reliable samples of natural, everyday, informal conversation is by no means easy.

The problems embrace the technical (ensuring satisfactory recordings), the linguistic-psychological (for instance, ensuring that the speech is natural), and the legal (avoiding the many problems involved in publishing such material). Secondly, once one has accumulated such samples, there arise the difficulties of analysing them.

The kind of English found in these samples is in many respects quite different from the kind confidently analysed in the standard textbooks and manuals (as we shall see); consequently, a great deal of analysis has to be carried out before pedagogically useful generalizations can be made.

As a result, it takes many years of experience in collecting and analysing material of this kind before one can speak confidently about informal conversation; and it is for this reason that little has been done. In this book, we are relying very much on our experience of analysing English in connection with the Survey of English Usage at University College London, and related projects; and we hope that we have therefore been able to make some headway into these problems.

But it is only a beginning. There are a number of general comments which have to be made by way of introduction to the data and approach of this book.

The main aim, as already suggested, is to provide samples and analyses for ‘natural, everyday, informal conversation’, and to make suggestions as to how this material might be pedagogically used.

But what is meant by this label? We might simply have talked about ‘conversation’ throughout; but we feel that this term, on its own, is too vague and broad to be helpful.

After all, it may be used to refer to almost any verbal interchange, from casual chat to formal discussion; hence we have used the term ‘informal conversation’, to emphasize which end of the conversational spectrum we are concerned with – conversation on informal occasions, between people who know each other, where there is no pressure from outside for them to be self-conscious about how they are speaking.

What happens when people want to talk in a friendly relaxed way? The result is very different from what introductory textbooks about conversation usually lead one to expect, both in subject-matter and construction.

And, for the foreign learners who find themselves participants in such informal situations, there are immediately problems of comprehension and oral fluency.

Let us look in a little greater detail at the kinds of difference which distinguish what we see as the average textbook situation from what we find in our recorded conversations.

We do not wish to be gratuitously critical of available teaching materials, from whose study we have profited a great deal.

We simply wish to underline the important fact, often overlooked by students of English, that even the best materials we have seen are far away from that real, informal kind of English which is used very much more than any other during a normal speaking lifetime; and if one aim of the language-teaching exercise is to provide students with the linguistic expertise to be able to participate confidently and fluently in situations involving this kind of English, then it would generally be agreed that this aim is not being achieved at the present time.

The extent of the difference may be informally appreciated by observing the reactions of many foreign students when they first step off the boat or plane in an English-speaking country, and find that acclimatization applies as much to language as to weather! It surprises many to realize that most people do not speak like their teacher, or their local British Council officers at cocktail parties, and that there is far more variation in the standard forms of the language than their textbooks would lead them to expect.

If one thinks for a moment of the specimens of English which the learner is often presented with under the heading of ‘conversation’, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that they are highly stylized – stiff imitations of the dynamic spontaneity of real life.

With few exceptions, the language of recorded dialogues is controlled, relatively formal, and articulated clearly by fluent professionals, either phoneticians or actors, reading from scripts, The characters which are developed in textbook families are nice, decent, and characterless; the situations in which they find themselves are generally unreal or dull.

People in textbooks, it seems, are not allowed to tell long and unfunny jokes, to get irritable or to lose their temper, to gossip (especially about other people), to speak with their mouths full, to talk nonsense, or swear (even mildly).

They do not get all mixed up while they are speaking, forget what they wanted to say, hesitate, make grammatical mistakes, argue erratically or illogically, use words vaguely, get interrupted, talk at the same time, switch speed styles, manipulate the rules of the language to suit themselves, or fail to understand. In a word, they are not real.

Real people, as everybody knows, do all these things, and it is this which is part of the essence of informal conversation.

Foreign learners will of course be quite conversant with these features from their native language already; it is part of our purpose to extend their feel for such matters in English.

Of course, it is not easy to make classroom dialogues real in the early years of learning a language.

If you have learned but a few hundred words, and a small number of grammatical structures, then naturally dialogues are likely to be pale reflections of conversational reality – though even here something can be done to improve things, as we shall later suggest.

This is not the range of language learning that we are primarily talking about. We are more concerned with those students who would have become advanced practitioners of English if they had had any advanced materials to assist them – students who have already completed the half-dozen books or so of a published course, and who may have passed a basic examination in English language use.

These are students who want to bridge the gap between the relatively measured, synthetic utterances of the classroom and the spontaneous exchanges of everyday conversational life.

Often, learners are given the impression that all they have to do to achieve the goal of fluent connected speech is simply increase the quantity and speed of production of the structures already learned.

But fluency here involves far more than merely stringing together the sentence structures and patterns of pitch movement that have been picked up during the previous years of learning the language.

A qualitative difference is involved, as we shall see.

The point is one which many learners of English come to appreciate through bitter experience. What we mean by qualitative differences can be illustrated very easily.

The many kinds of linkage which sentences display – using pronouns, articles, adverbials, lexical repetitions, and so on – which are not relevant to the study of a sentence seen in isolation: this is one kind of structural modification which has to be considered. Another involves intonation.

Having learned of the existence of six or so major types of tone-unit in English, students must now learn that putting them together into acceptable sequences – to express parenthesis, or emphasis, for instance – involves using a quite separate range of pronunciation features.

A third example would be the need to develop the skill of knowing what to leave out of a sentence, or what can be taken for granted in a dialogue.

To take a simple case, one should be aware that permissible answers to the question ‘Where are you going tomorrow?’ include the following: ‘I’m going to the library’, ‘To the library’, and ‘Library’.

Sometimes it does not particularly matter which answer is chosen; but at other times a careless choice can produce an unintentional and embarrassing stylistic effect – as when the last of these is used with a clipped intonation pattern, giving an impression of impatience, and perhaps leading to the interpretation ‘Mind your own business’.

We do not wish to over-rate the nature of the problems involved in these examples of speech; but we do want to avoid the opposite impression, that there are no problems at all.

Language English
No. of Pages82
PDF Size3.3 MB

Advanced Conversational English by David Crystal and Derek Davy PDF Free Download

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