Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why you SHOULD speak in COMPLETE SENTENCES in the classroom

Students are often encouraged to speak in complete sentences in NYLC classes. 

If you've been studying English for awhile, you've probably noticed that teachers usually prefer that students answer in complete sentences. Students, on the other hand, would rather give short answers and don't see the importance of speaking in complete sentences in the classroom. Some may think it's unnecessary or even unnatural to answer in full sentences. Don't native speakers simply give short answers in conversation?

If someone asks, "What did you have for dinner?" Isn't it enough to simply say, "pizza"? Isn't saying, "I had pizza for dinner" completely unnecessary? Similarly, if you were asked, "Where did you go after the party," it should be enough to simply say, "Times Square" and not have to say, "We went to Times Square after the party."

If you think simply answering "pizza" and "Times Square" is enough, you're absolutely right! It's unnecessary to give a complete answer in conversation. However, you have to keep in mind that you're in the classroom to learn English and to learn to speak it properly. To accomplish this, you need to learn how to speak in complete sentences. Here are the couple of reasons why.

1. You need to speak in complete sentence in most situations. You may not need to give a full answer when answering a question, but you need to say whole sentences in the majority of your interactions in English, such as when starting a conversation, when giving your opinions, or when explaining something.

When you're at a party and you want to comment on how good the food is, it's not enough to smile and say "good food" or "food good." Neither of these is good enough. If someone asks you how you know Tom or Sarah, it's not enough to say "work" or "colleague"  or "same work" or "work same place." To communicate effectively and not have the other person politely walk away from you, you'll have to say, "The food is good, isn't it?" To say how you know someone, you should say, "We work together," or "She's my colleague." or "We work at the same place." These are complete sentences, and they are necessary in these situations.

These may be simple sentences, but English language teachers know that English learners often make little mistakes that make a huge difference in how you sound and how people perceive you. This brings us to the other main reason why you should speak in complete sentences.

2. You should speak in complete sentences in the classroom so that the teacher can correct you, allowing you to learn from your mistakes. You're in the classroom to learn. Take advantage of it. There's a teacher in the classroom. Take advantage of him or her. Speak in complete sentences, so that if you say "We working together," the teacher can correct you. If you say, "We work at same place," the teacher can teach you the right way to say the sentence.

Here are some common mistakes in answering the two questions above about what you had for dinner last night and where you went after the party.

I had for dinner pizza.
I eat pizza last night.
We went to Times Square after party.
We go to Times Square last night.
We went Times Square.

If you say any of these in the classroom, the teacher can correct you so you can improve your English. If you simple say "pizza" or "Times Square," you may or may not know how to say the full sentence correctly, and you'll never know.

Keep these two reasons in mind, and speak in complete sentences as much as you can. Your future self will thank you for it.

Did you find this learning tip useful? Share it with your English learning friends using the social media buttons below, and check out the latest at NYLC by following us on Facebook and on Twitter. Take care!

-- Joe Yu, ESL instructor

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