Van Deventer-Maas Indonesia committed to creating a capacity building project, based on the needs of grantees. As the commitment, VDMI held a Series of English Skill with the theme “Talk it Out: Interactive English Conversation” on October 19, October 26, November 2, November 9 2023. This activity aims to allow VDMI Families to be able to confidently speak English fluently. Ersa Izmi Safitri (VDMI Alumna from UNSWAGATI, English Teacher from English’s Friend) as the facilitator, this series starts from 01:00 PM to 03:00 PM.
In the 1st week, there was an intro to conversation, greeting, introductions, and responding. English is the first language of international communication. Speaking in English is a basic skill that can be trained and requires fluency. Fluency is related to our physical and mental readiness. Physically, our mouths can produce and connect to English tones and sentences in a fast, smooth way. Mentally, our brain needs to find the right words and build sentences quickly and smoothly for speaking. The best practice is to try talking to yourself, or try to read something aloud to train the pronunciations. Speaking in English is a basic skill that can be edify and requires fluency. Fluency is correlated with our physical and mental. Physically, our mouths can produce and connect to English tones and sentences in a fast and smooth way to have great pronunciation. Mentally, our brain needs to find the right words and build sentences quickly and be confident to speak. Physically and mentally have to be connected, therefore the best practice is to try talking to yourself, or try to read something aloud to practice the pronunciations.
In the 2nd week (October 26, 2023) participants discussed about opinion verbally. In this session, participants will be more active speaking about like and dislike things and making a memorable conversation. To make a comparison, we should know the conversation context, whether it is formal or not. Before we talk to the other people, we have to choose the topic of conversation first. When talking to other people, we also need to pay attention to the three rules to not to be a dry speaker. Those are: 1). initiate; 2). elaborate; and 3). reciprocate. Initiate is a prefix to start a conversation. Sometimes people are hesitant to start a conversation, so we could commence the dialogue first then we can exchange the information from our interlocutor. On the other hand, don’t ask about sensitive matters such as political views, religions, age or marital status. Thenceforth, we can elaborate the conversation by explaining the meaning of what we discussed. At the end, we can reciprocate by giving an ingenuous response or by giving a follow up feedback. The sample of doing a small talk we can ask a small question like “The weather isn’t so great, is it?”, then the other may give a response “yes, it’s so hot.” It is not a real question, when you guess something about the other person such as, “you seem like you’re the only child, am I right?” The other can give a response: “Oh yes I am, how do you know that?”. When you guess correctly, people feel that you pay close attention to them and they will start to open up with us.
The Series of English Skill week 3 (November 2, 2023) VDMI family continue to discuss daily routines and how-to telling time. In this session participants were more focused on speaking frequently and trained to make daily conversation with each other. Asking and giving opinions can be the alternative of a starter of chit chat with somebody else. Common expressions are ways of expressing that are commonly used in dialogue or everyday conversation. Common means general, and expression means expression. Asking and giving opinions is a way for someone to ask for and give opinions to other people. When carrying out daily activities like sharing the taste of music, food menu, or movie genres, we usually cannot escape this kind of expression. Asking opinions can be used such as “What do you think of..”, “How do you feel about…”, “Would you try..”, or “Do you think (common activity) looks fun?”. Giving opinions can be used like “how do you feel about…”, “it sounds…”. Furthermore, there is to define two or more similarities and differences between two or more things or people. It is divided into 1) like it better “I like Italian food better than Chinese.” ; 2) prefer “I prefer Italian food to Chinese.” ; 3) also “I like this and also that.” ; 4) different from “My aunt is different from my uncle, because..” ; 5) unlike “Unlike going to the gym, going for a run is healthier because you take fresh air.” Linking words can be used such as 1) Though, although, even though “It’s important to remember that time is money even though many believe that money is more important.”; 2) However “We need to improve the local infrastructure. However, we must also respect nature.”; 3) Despite, in spite of… “Despite the difficulty, students will soon see the benefit of this topic of study. ”Asking about time in english to other people, sometimes it is still a convoluted thing to us. In this chance, facilitator instructed the participant to tell the time in a different way. She uses a method of whiteboard with a pre-test and answers quickly one by one. The sentence asking about time can be tried using “What time is it?”, “Do you have the time?”, “What time is the concert?”, “When is the concert?”.
On November 9, 2023, VDMI continued the Series of English Skill (Final week). This final session participants were discussed about each personality. At the beginning each participant described themselves by identifying their personalities. Our brain is very good when extremely good at identifying patterns of social activity. One of the tips that facilitator gave to the participants about learning English or making conversation better, we have to be surrounded by people who talk in that language. In fact, we are currently in the era of using gadgets too much, and it could be a trigger for limiting your social skills. Modern reliance on texting and screens, as vital cues like body language are absent. The reason your conversation skills aren’t that great is simply because you haven’t given your brain enough time to observe interactions and become fluent in all of the patterns and rules. In short, usually we lacked practice. The main purpose of learning the characters and personalities, was about how to refer to positive and negative traits like describe behaviours of person. There were many types of positive traits such as: Confident, Friendly, Honest, Loyal, Optimistic, Patient, Reliable, Responsible, Adventurous, Empathetic, Generous, Sensitive, Creative, Ambitious, Charismatic, Sympathetic, Outgoing, Punctual, Adaptable, Tolerant. On the other hand, for the negative traits like: Arrogant, Manipulative, Stubborn, Impulsive, Jealous, Lazy, Pessimistic, Rude, Self-centered, Unreliable, Impatient, Insensitive, Cynical, Disorganized, Stubborn. In this final part all the participants were given the opportunity to practice speaking about other’s personalities. Participants have to determine one character of their neighbour from their experience, write it into a dialogue, and read it. Then the facilitator gave feedback on their conversation. See you in the next Online Capacity Building VDMI.