"Your English is so beautiful.” – I sometimes hear, and I promise you I have a point in writing this, which is not that I’m a Leo (although I am). In fact, I’ve always been a bit reticent about those compliments about my English language proficiency, especially when they come from laypeople. I mean, we language teachers/researchers study language proficiency to vertiginous depths and still struggle to design a proficiency test and validate it, how can anyone assess another person’s language proficiency, as they often do, at hello? A...

Scarcella and Oxford (1992) mention that ‘a learner will basically need to develop competences in order to become proficient in an L2 – grammatical competence, socialinguistic competence, discourse competence and strategic competence.’ I bet that at the some point of your teaching career you have come across that student who wants to learn only to speak English. Little do they know that there is a lot more to it than meet the eyes. By the same token, some teachers might consider developing Speaking Skills a challenge, especially if they are...

Although attempts to define ‘fluency’ and ‘accuracy’ when speaking a foreign language abound in the specialized literature, there still does not seem to exist a consensus regarding a single, ultimate definition of either one of the terms. One of the reasons which could partly explain the lack of common ground among authors is the very subjective nature of the two words in the context of learning/mastering a foreign language. Any given language is a complex structural system whose components include, but are not limited to, rules, vocabulary and pronunciation....

Collocation Competence – fluency and accuracy hand in hand There is a number of reasons why a sound knowledge of collocations is desirable, especially for more advanced learners. Hill (2000) relies on collocations to explain that language consists largely of pre-fabricate chunks of lexis. Therefore, not only is the accurate and appropriate use of collocations one distinguishing mark of a native-like command of the language but it is also a reliable measure of the proficiency level of a non-native speaker. To begin with, the way words combine in collocations...

Three private students of mine recently proclaimed that they believed they had become less fluent since the beginning of our lessons a little over two months ago. They were naturally preoccupied given that they were paying good money to improve their English. Needless to say, I had to put their minds at ease, and it got me thinking. Both of these learners are Brazilian, and I think that their nationality does play a role in what I am about to describe. They were both also very fluent when I...

This is the second of my posts which focus on drawing big conclusions from small details of language use. In the previous one we saw how the minimum of text, when combined with the right kinds of images, can generate a lot of different activities. This time round, we’re going to look at the intense, perhaps disproportionate, public reaction to a speech and a particular phrase used in that speech. The speech in question was given by the Mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella, at the 2020 International Olympic Committee...