Saturday, November 2, 2013

Crazy English - My Toastmaster CC #4 speech

I finally finished my CC#4 speech this week. It is almost been a year since my last speech, I feel a kind of awkward.
Actually last week I went to my mentor Robert Fox's club in Richmond Hill did the exact same speech, so this is my second time,
Doing a speech in the second time is a kind of weird feeling.

My speech is about my experiences of learning English, and I got many positive feedbacks, the audiences seemed like my speech, especially I put some humour.
I realized my main problem is the pace, I spoke too fast, need to slow down, need to add more pause. I am not sure if it is because I practiced too much. And when I looked my video, I realized I have so many unnecessary movements,I definitely need to work on it.

Following is the script of my CC#4 speech.

Crazy English

"If you like him, let him learn English, because it is heaven; if you hate him, let him learn English, because it is hell."
Learning English for me is more like going to the hell.

Mr toastmaster, fellow toastmaster and welcome guests, I would like to share my crazy English learning experiences.

I came from China, English is my second language. I started learning English at the age of 9, until I graduated from university when I was 22. After I graduated, I found I got an issue - we call it 'dumb English', it means I could read in English, but I couldn't speak. The reason is we focused more on 'learning' instead of 'practicing'. We had a crazy environment: on one hand, We don't have enough good English teachers, we don't have enough chance to practice speaking, we just focused on grammar, vocabulary,grammar and reading; on the other hand, the whole country is so crazy about the English, not because it is useful in daily life, but because the students have to deal with lots of English tests: when we go to university, when we get degree and when we apply for jobs. So the main reason of learning English is to pass the tests, there is no more time to improve our real English skills.

One of the craziest test I ever had is TOEFL test. TOEFL stands for 'test of English as a foreign language'. It is very popular for the Chinese students, because this is the test you have to pass if English is your second language and you want to apply for an university in North America. To prepare my TOEFL test, I went to an English school in Beijing, That schools is famous for improving your TOEFL score in a short time. they didn't teach your the real English skills, instead they gave your tips. Those tips will help you provide the correct answer even if you don't fully understand the question.For example: in listening part, when you heard a conversation between a boy student and a girl student, the correct answer would be always the girl is better than the boy, because in TOEFL test, the girls are always smarter, working harder, keep the rooms cleaner; while the boys are always silly, lazy and make their room messy.I learned lots of this kind of tips, the thing is to master those tips, I have to do large amount of exercises, I finished 30 - 40 hour audio tapes within 3 months. Unfortunately those tips are useless in reality.

TOEFL didn't help me, I have to try another way: I remembered that was one day in 2001, by chance I heard of an approach, it was so simple but really hard - I called it crazy dictation: when you listen to an article, try to write down every word you heard, leave the blank if you don't know, then repeat listening again and again, until you fill all the blanks. After I gave a try, I realize this is the right way for me, since those blanks gave me the real feedback, once I solved them, then they became my real improvements, no cheating any more. Since then I started the dictation, I listened for 2 years, everyday I spent 2 hours at least. I really enjoy the learning process, because every day I could see my listening skills improving. The dictation was really fun, since when I finally figured out a word after I listened to it for 10 times,15 times and even more, I felt like solving a puzzle game. After 2 years, I finished 20 hours audio tapes. The dictation gave me the break thorough, both my listening and speaking skills got improved, I became more confident, I felt finally I climbed out of the English hell.

This is my crazy stories of learning English, what I learned from it would be follow the basic, step by step, and be patient, working slowly will actually makes you faster. Now I face another challenge - my Toastmaster cc manual! I am going to attack this challenge by using these principles, I hope this time it will lead me to the heaven.
Mr. toastmaster.