What do we mean when we say that learning to speak English is a ‘psychomotor skill’?
Driving a car, dancing, playing a musical instrument, drawing, and speaking a language are all examples of different psychomotor skills.
Psychomotor skills are a combination of cognitive functions and physical movements – meaning both your brain and your body need to work together for a psychomotor skill to be learned.
You cannot learn any psychomotor skill by studying the theory of it – just by reading about it. You can learn some things about a psychomotor skill from books and lectures, but you can only learn a psychomotor skill by practising doing it.
The more complex the skill, the more repetitive practice it takes to become proficient with it.
There are three stages of psychomotor skill development.
- In the first cognitive stage, everything is new and unfamiliar. Your performance as a beginner is awkward and slow, and you have to think about every part of what you are doing. Do you remember when you were first learning to drive how much you had to think about all the different controls, rather than thinking about where you were going and watching the road?
- In the second associative stage, the movements start to feel more comfortable and fluent, and you spend less time thinking about the details. That’s the point when you start to say to yourself “Wow, I can really DO this!” If you don’t keep practicing though, this growing skill can be forgotten and lost.
- In the third autonomic stage, temporary changes that were being made to your neural cortex when you were beginning to learn have become permanent. You can now perform the basic skill without having to think about it. Now you can refine it and use it. Once you’ve had some practise at how to ride a bike or drive a car, they are skills you never forget.
Speaking a language is a complex psychomotor skill that involves the cognitive functions of listening, understanding, memory, and recall. It also involves the physical control of breathing, sound making with your voicebox, and very precise sound shaping with your mouth.
The only way to learn to speak a new language is to overcome your initial embarrassed awkwardness and to speak it – and then to practice speaking it until it becomes comfortable, fluent, and automatic.
YES – that’s easy! has been designed to be the most effective way to develop and practice the psychomotor skills of speaking English, in a safe and private learning environment.