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The importance of speaking English in class is that it is the only way that a foreign student is going to become truly proficient in the language. It can be really intimidating to speak a foreign language, especially in front of native speakers, but it has to be done to become fluent.
The best way to learn any language is to practice. When students are learning English, it can be stressful and embarrassing. However, it is important to accept mistakes and be willing to make them. It is also the teacher's responsibility to create an environment where students feel comfortable speaking in the new language.
Speaking conversationally is the best way to integrate into a new community or culture. Mastering conversational English will help improve a non-English speaker's ability to read and write this language as well. If the student plans to remain in an English speaking country for any length of time (or to further his or her education or one day have a career), it is essential to master the English language, both technically and conversationally.
The key word here is PRACTICE, and what better way to utilize it than at school. In many cases, the student's parents may not speak English, so there may not be a chance to practice English at home. Second-language students can benefit greatly by becoming friendly with English-speaking students and using their assistance to better their own speech.
Having had foreign students live in our home while attending school, practice truly is the only way to become more fluent in a language. Teachers must create an accepting atmosphere where all students may make mistakes and learn from them including the foreign students. College bulletin boards offer conversational partners to practice the language needed. Writing notes to native speakers helps with the written language which helps with the spoken language. As the students who lived in our home tried to teach their language to us, I understood how difficult it was, and how much practice is required. The other requirement is to hear what is said exactly, as one of the Spanish speakers could not hear the difference among boss, bass and bus. I found the same difficulty when trying to hear the exact word spoken in Spanish. This requires seeing, hearing and speaking the word to truly understand the word. One of the easiest ways to do that is to watch English movies with Spanish subtitles or the other way around. With the acquisition of more vocabulary, students must continue to speak English in class as practice makes perfect.
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