A client of mine once said, 'Just because you watch a Bruce Lee movie, doesn't mean you'll know how to fight like him.'
I feel this also applies to language learning - just because you passed your Cambridge Exam or studied English in a classroom doesn't mean you'll be able to go out into the real world and start using your English freely.
If you've ever learned English in a language classroom, you'll likely have felt frustrated at some point because even though you understand most of what you're learning, you'll still feel insecure when it comes to actually using your English.
And rightly so.
I experience the same frustration when I play guitar.
Even if I know the song inside and out, and even if I watch a tutorial on how to play the song, without practice, I will never be able to play it for anyone.
However, luckily for me, I do practice, and now my children enjoy it when I play.
The language classroom offers beginners to intermediate level learners a great opportunity to learn the basics of how to communicate in English in a structured and well-planned environment.
But once you reach an upper-intermediate B2 level, most people will decide to continue learning thinking it will increase their level of confidence so that they can feel comfortable speaking English outside the classroom.
I can tell you, I had many frustrated students leave my CAE Advanced Level classes, not because I was a bad teacher, but because of the lack of confidence, they still had even after spending 9 months learning English.
The best advice I gave all my students who were learning English in my classroom and wanted to feel confident enough to speak English was to find ways to practice.
Now, this is easier said than done.
Some students might consider going abroad for a month to England, Australia, or even the US to get practice. But even then, the euphoria one has after the trip usually doesn't last long since they lack any opportunity to speak back home.
After all the discussions I've had with students about how to maintain or improve their English, it all came down to the same advice - find a way to practice using your English.
And after giving this advice for three years, I finally decided to be part of the solution and try to offer the best kind of practice I could think of.
Phil's Conversation was born in the language classroom as I would try and challenge people's comfort zone by getting them to speak more during lessons. However, we often spoke about topics that weren't relevant to everyone in the room.
While coursebooks do a good job providing a clear and structured way to develop basic English language skills, they don't leave a lot of room and time to explore more personal topics which makes the English they learn more relevant.
On top of that, when you're sharing a teacher between 5 - 10 students, there just isn't enough time to explore everyone's interest.
Because of these above-mentioned points, I felt I could have more of an impact on improving the English that was most relevant to my students outside the classroom, in a one-on-one conversation session.
Now that I am not longer in the classroom, and because I rarely work with groups bigger than three people, I have the time to focus entirely on providing the best practice I can to make my student's English more authentic, clear, and full of feeling.
Phil's Conversation has become a place where English language learners can start speaking English and express themselves authentically.
When I say 'authentically', I mean that the English my students speak is not perfect, but instead, flows freely and is strong enough to express emotion and feeling.
If you feel that you'd like to get better at the English you speak, while at the same, improving and developing your English communication skills, then get in touch and book your trial conversation with Phil here.
View my services and see which option best suits your needs.