By Song Hye-won
Beginning in September, TOEFL changed its testing criteria by removing the structure part and adding the speaking part instead. Also, in the business field, many companies prefer candidates who can give presentations, debate with colleagues, and give briefings to the group. It seems, therefore, that society is calling for competent and effective speakers than ever. However, people often seem to overlook speech due to its casual use from day to night. Before contemplating a method to change your speech, understanding how your speech character formed is an important thing to do.
A person? way of speaking is a linguistic behavior and behavior is an active learning process. According to Language and Development (1997) written by Erika Hoff-Ginsberg, development of communicative competence has multiple sources of influence. Children observe the communicative behaviors of those around them, such as mothers or peer groups, and reproduce those behaviors. Sometimes communicative skills are explicitly taught. Thus, one thing that is for sure, is that a person? way of speaking is not an inherited characteristic, and it is possible to change one? speaking habit.
What makes someone a good conversationalist? According to Herbert Paul Grice, a scholar in the philosophy of language, there are two basic rules of conversation. The first rule is to take turns, while the second rule is to be cooperative. This cooperative principle of conversational participation includes four specific rules, having to do with quantity, quality, relation, and manner of conversational contributions.
Professor Na Eun-jin (Korean Lang. & Lit.) who is teaching Korean Language and Writing says that unfortunately most of us do not acknowledge that our speech is imperfect. To fix the style of our speaking, getting feedbacks from people around us is necessary. She points out some erroneous speaking attitudes which are not easily recognized: murmuring, repeating the same words, and speaking too fast or too slow. She says that we can learn lessons from others?fault, and also find a good role model to stimulate improvement in our speech.
Professor Na shares her secret to speaking articulately. She says, ? caption flows across my head when I am speaking. This is because I start speaking only after I organize my thought and put it into a complete sentence.?The magic of her speech is simple: think before you speak.
Taking a speaking course taught by a professional instructor is one way to enhance speech. Ewha provides some courses which help students to be effective speakers. Korean Language and Writing, a compulsory course for Ewha students, focuses on improving logical thinking and communication abilities. Class activities consist of individual presentations and debating in groups. A similar course offered by the English Language and Literature Department is titled English Speech and Debate. This course aims to develop one? public speaking skills in English. Also, English Speech in English IV is another class that helps students develop different types of speeches.
For students who are preparing for job interviews, the Career Development Center has a professional image-making section in the Career Workshop program. The class evaluates the overall image of the applicant and works to correct the errors and instill an image appropriate for business.
It is true that how a person speaks forms a deeper impression than what the person actually says. Your voice is the sharp cutting edge of your personality. First impressions do count. As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. So, as we have learned, if it is not impossible to change your speech, why not improve it now for a better image?