To be totally honest with you, during the last few years while I’m actively running this blog and also the Accent Adventure website, I haven’t been doing a lot of research into other English language teaching and learning websites.
I have a fair idea as to what’s happening in the industry anyway because I’m actively participating on YouTube and I get to see plenty of English teaching videos published on other channels. I also take part in the YearOfEnglish.com project so I know who the other participants are and what their approach towards English teaching and learning is.
A few years ago I did scour the Web and tried to find other websites to partner up with and to write content for, but soon enough I figured that quite honestly there weren’t that many people out there having figured out that spoken English is the most important aspect of the English language and focus on phraseology acquisition is pretty much the only way forward.
Here are the websites which have embraced the importance of learning phraseology instead of cramming English grammar:
PhraseMix.com is run by Aaron Knight, and his philosophy is pretty much the same as mine – fluent English can be learned most effectively through real-life phrases and word combinations. Aaron is creating engaging lessons for those who want to learn to use that phraseology, and they’re all illustrated by himself (I often wondered how he does that!).
TweetSpeakEnglish.com was created by Nate Hill and the idea behind it quite an interesting one – tweets shared by millions of people are a fairly good representation of real-life spoken English, so phraseology taken from those tweets is used as a source for lessons where you can learn how to use those speech patterns in your English conversations.
Fluentzy.com where you can buy plenty of books written by Professor Kev Nair and they’re all focused on developing your spoken English fluency – Prof. Kev Nair seems to be one of the few academics having grasped the concept behind true fluency and having realized why a large percentage of advanced English students still struggle to speak fluently. By the way – I found this rare website back in 2008, here’s a blog post I published in relation to that!
And that’s all ❗
There are no more websites out there (at least none that I could find) focusing on SPOKEN English development and telling their audience that they have to listen to real-life English and REPEAT what they hear in order to be able to USE such language in their own conversations.
But what about all those countless websites that come up when you type “learn English” or “improve English” into the Google search bar?
Well, believe it or not but…
99% of the English Teaching Websites Are Academically Minded!
The more I was browsing the Web, the more depressed I got.
English colleges, universities and night classes, learn English in London, New York and Toronto, teach English abroad and learn English abroad, learn English grammar, vocabulary and all those crazy English tenses, and all that geared towards one big life-changing event: PASSING A TEST OR EXAM!
If you’re not familiar with my blog and what I’m doing here, then you probably won’t understand why I’m so upset about it.
Well, it won’t take me too long to explain it to you then:
It’s the academic approach towards English learning that ruins millions of foreigners’ English fluency!
When you’re focused on grammar drills and textbook-based English studies with the main goal being your test or exam, pretty much the only thing that’s being facilitated is the ‘writing mode’ of your mind and your ability to speak in English is pretty much ignored.
The main goal of your studies becomes the test or the exam, and the situation on the Internet doesn’t really help my fellow foreigners to understand that an exam is ONLY a way for an academic body to evaluate your ability to perform well in a classroom environment.
Real life English is an entirely different story altogether, but how is 99% of the Internet telling you to prepare for tests going to prepare you for speaking in English with other English speaking people in real life?
But that’s not all.
Here’s another shocker:
Pretty Much All Website Owners Are Native English Speakers!
You see – it’s not that I would have something against native English speakers. It’ just that majority of them (with few exceptions such as Aaron from Phrasemix.com and Nate from TweetSpeakEnglish.com) simply can’t understand the problems faced by struggling English speakers because they couldn’t have possibly been in their position!
Native English speakers have always been able to speak in English fluently so in the best case scenario they’ll be telling you to learn idioms and phrases, but 99% of them still miss the point of true English fluency by telling you to LISTEN to real life English instead of doing plenty of spoken English practice.
Yes, listening is necessary – but ONLY when paired up with SPEAKING ❗
For me it’s quite obvious because I’m a non-native English speaker myself, and I’ve achieved my own English fluency predominantly through non-stop spoken English practice with myself.
For a native English speaker (and also any foreigner for that matter) having gone through academic education and having achieved a teacher’s degree the concept of spoken practice is unheard of, and on top of that the academic education has left its imprint into the teacher’s mindset.
And that’s the worst thing in my opinion:
The academic environment literally molds people’s minds into believing that textbook-based education is what all English students need.
Education is good, education helps eradicate illiteracy and poverty, so how could anyone speak up against academic English studies which is supposedly representing the entire educational system?
It would be viewed as heresy! 😡
And so the old-school approach goes on and on:
- native English speaking teachers are teaching non-native students by focusing on analyzing the English language because that’s how they’ve been taught to teach the English language;
- non-native English speaking teachers are promoting the values of traditional education because it’s the right thing to do and they simply don’t realize they’ve been able to achieve English fluency NOT because of the traditional studies but simply because they’ve been speaking an awful lot!
So what is a typical foreign English speaker to think when he does a simple web-research into English learning related information?
Universities, colleges, language schools, massive English leaning websites catering for the huge demand for grammar-related info, English teachers, English tutors, pronunciation and accent reduction specialists, professors and linguists have taken up 99% of the Web-space and the poor non-native speaker has no choice but to buy into the traditional English learning methods!
The small minority of native English speaking website owners who’ve realized the importance of focusing on speech and my website is pretty much everything I could find online that gives millions of wannabe fluent English speakers – A.K.A non-native English students – the chance to achieve the fluency they dream to acquire and eradicate the ‘writing mode’ syndrome whereby they construct English sentences in their head as if writing in a textbook when they’re speaking.
Not All Is Lost Though!
While my 2 hour online research paints a pretty grim picture of the industry, and I have to conclude that not much has changed during the last few years, I don’t think everything is lost.
Despite the overwhelming majority of other website owners adopting a no-tolerance policy when it comes to making mistakes (which puts a terrible strain onto you as an English learner!) and using colloquial language and slang (which is actually what the real-life English is all about!), I can see a major change looming on the horizon.
I can see more websites like Fluentzy, English Harmony, Phrase Mix and Tweet Speak English springing up in the near future, and I can tell you with the utmost honesty I can’t await for some other guy or gal having been inspired by Prof. Kev Nair, me, Aaron or Nate to start his or her website or blog and start spreading the simple message out there:
TO DEVELOP YOUR ABILITY TO SPEAK, YOU’VE GOT TO SPEAK BY MIMICKING CORRECT ENGLISH SPEECH PATTERNS ❗
Thanks for reading,
P.S. If you DO know some website that is focused on spoken English and run by an open-minded person – please let me know in the comments below! While I was doing a lot of research, I still might have missed some little-known start-up blog!