Monday, March 7, 2011

Teach SPEECH on the college level


By Dr. Jenny Weil

Open any Israeli newspaper and the employment ads are likely to read :”Fluency in English and Hebrew required.”  Most EFL (English as a foreign language) courses at university level unfortunately do not stress public speaking.  Most classroom sessions are spent on reading comprehension and on some writing.  These are, of course, two very important aspects of language learning.  But, in my opinion, these two pale when comparing them to the ability to express oneself in the target language.  In addition to my college teaching, I taught at INTEL and at every session some engineers were absent.  I thought that perhaps my teaching lacked brilliance, but, no.  After inquiring about these absences I was told that they were overseas, England, America, South Africa, France, etc… giving lectures on their new technical advancements.

Bryden and Scott  state in their book”The Art and Science of Public Speaking” that taking a speech course  encourages students to think of their speeches as opportunities to become opinion leaders.  These are people who influence others to adopt innovative ideas, products or processes.  Let’s be honest, some of the most successful entrepreneurs got to the top, merely by their power of speech.

Not all college students will end their education after their B. A.   Hopefully, many will continue their studies for an M.A. or a Ph.D.  Here in Israel, many of the students need to work while continuing their studies. To facilitate this process, they will have to get all kinds of jobs.  So, as I mentioned in my first sentence, fluency in English is a must.

A few years ago, I was lucky to be able to teach a speech class in my college program.  The students were elated and felt confident when speaking in the target language.When one of my students, Amikam Levy, was chosen to become the ambassador to Vietnam, I realized even more than ever before that putting an  English oral communication class into a university curriculum was crucial.

Over 2500 years ago King Solomon understood the power of speech by stating his famous quote from proverbs 18:21. “The tongue  has the power of life and death.”  Throughout history  this sentence has proven to be true.  I think that the most recent example is the meteoric rise of Barack Obama, mainly on his exceptional rhetoric skills.

I am calling the Council For Higher Education in Israel to reprioritize and to make an English communication class mandatory to receiving  a B.A.  Let my people speak (in English)!

8 comments:

  1. This is wise advice indeed!! I'd be available to teach such a course!
    Just contact me:
    Dr. Ilana Rosansky
    ilana.rosansky@post.harvard.edu

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  2. Thank you so much for that nicely written piece of text.
    http://www.collegetutors.co.uk/

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  3. Isn't it a shame that in the year 2012 Speaking English isn't the ministry's formost goal! I'm an el. school teacher and i see how schools begin teaching English with the ABC. I believe this not only unmotivates language learning but is also much harder for LD students who could have had a less frustrating chance if talking came before reading and writing. But you know the ministry gives ESL hours only from 4th grade and then gives a meitzav in the 5th. Therefore until alot of policies change the situation will stay the same sadly not in the right direction.

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  4. Inbal is correct. Speaking comes before reading and writing; while reading and writing are much easier when the students have a reasonable vocabulary. Decoding is not our goal. Reading leads to comprehension.

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  5. Its now 2016 and I couldnt agree more. It is awful when you see students who are required to complete an unseen but cant understand or speak one word of English..

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  6. Completely agree! It's about the time that Israeli University graduates should be able to express freely in English. They shouldn't be taught just to pass tests or read articles. Being able to communicate is the most useful skill Colleges and Universities should provide.

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  7. Completely agree! It's about the time that Israeli University graduates should be able to express freely in English. They shouldn't be taught just to pass tests or read articles. Being able to communicate is the most useful skill Colleges and Universities should provide.

    ReplyDelete