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Hello everyone,

The question is in the title: to improve one's B language, would joining an organization such as Toastmasters be of any use?

Thank you! Guillaume

asked 20 Aug '14, 10:31

GuillaumeF's gravatar image



+1 just for the title!

(20 Aug '14, 10:41) Vincent Buck

Can you tell us exactly what being a member of a Toastmasters' guild involves? Then we'll be able to better answer your question. In one sense the answer is yes, because joining any club (made up of native-speakers of your B language) is going to be good for your B language, be it pot-holing, needlework, football or train-spotting.

(22 Aug '14, 02:58) Andy

Hello! At the urging of one of our students (and a member of her local Toastmasters group) from this year's Cambridge Conference Interpretation Course, I attended a Toastmaster's meeting, together with other students and teachers. We were very impressed! It is a great way to get comfortable speaking in front of groups, in a safe environment. Moreover, as they take you through the program, you learn more about how (good) speeches are constructed and delivered, and you get critiqued by your peers - who are reviewed in their turn at the end of the meeting. There is also a "table topics" section, where people are chosen to speak on a topic extemporaneously for a certain amount of time - we unfortunately were unable to stay for that portion of the meeting.

In the group we attended, the reviews given were in-depth and thoughtful, and the environment was very warm and welcoming. Definitely a good place to overcome fear of public speaking, which is their main goal.

This meeting took place in England; naturally, some of the members were not English native speakers, and were treated equally, given opportunities to speak and review, be the timekeeper, or the grammarian (different roles during the meeting).

Any activity where you have to use your B language (and your A language for that matter) in front of native speakers, and where you will get reviewed afterwards, is a good thing. You will have time to craft your speech, but there is a spontaneous element as well, as the grammarian proposes a word at the beginning of the meeting, and you are supposed to use it in your speech.

As an extra help to an interpreter looking to improve a B language, I would suggest you find a particularly well-spoken member of the group who would be willing to give you an extra review on your speech, in particular on your grammar and usage, and on how native you sounded. As the different speeches you are supposed to make have different goals - a call to action, an introduction, etc. - you will get practice in different types of vocabulary.

The only caveat is that the level of language will be appropriate for some things you do in the booth, but not high enough for others - if you can choose to make speeches using different registers, this would obviate that problem. Otherwise, I would make sure that you are working on higher registers in other exercises.

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answered 25 Aug '14, 05:34

JuliaP's gravatar image



Thank you JuliaP,

This is a very thorough message. I was about to write a short description of what Toastmasters International is, but I guess it's no longer necessary.

Best! Guillaume

(25 Aug '14, 08:30) GuillaumeF
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question asked: 20 Aug '14, 10:31

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