Written by: Ed Pope, US Peace Corps, Community Economic Development, Romania
Co-Author: Desdemona Nagy, English Teacher, Vasile Goldis University/Arad Practicum for Mastering Spoken English
The development of this Practicum for mastering Spoken English was a joint venture with Peace Corps/ Romania, Vasile Goldis University/Arad, CHF – Cooperative Housing Foundation/Arad, CARA – CASA de AJUTOR RECIPROC a ASOCIAŢIILOR/Arad, Romania, Modular Construction S.R.L./Arad, and Club-52 Toastmasters International, Phoenix, Arizona, United States of America. Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational institution whose mission is to make effective oral communication a worldwide reality.

SUCCESS AND LEADERSHIP SEMINAR was developed from the well-established oral communication educational program of Toastmasters International. In the United States and around the world, this oral communication educational program has several variations:

  • Toastmasters Club: Regular two hour weekly meetings of professionals interested in mastering the art of effective oral communications and gaining professional confidence and decorum.
  • Speechcraft: Ten week educational program conducted by Toastmasters Clubs to meet the short-term needs of professionals interested in mastering the art of effective oral communications and gaining professional confidence and decorum.
  • Youth Leadership: Ten week educational program conducted by Toastmasters Clubs to meet the short-term needs of students of all ages interested in mastering the art of effective oral communications and gaining self-confidence.
  • Special Success & Leadership Educational Programs: Toastmasters Clubs create and sponsor an endless variety of educational program for business and professional organizations to meet their specific oral communications needs.

The author, Ed Pope who is currently on Sabbatical as a Senior Management Consultant with the United States Peace Corps, has been an active member of Toastmasters International and has achieved their highest professional and oral communications Award, the Distinguished Toastmaster. Drawing upon his 35 years of engineering and management experience, years as a public speaker, education, and teaching in a broad range of disciplines, the author collaborated with Desdemona Nagy of Vasile Goldis University to design and develop this Practicum for Mastering Spoken English, SUCCESS AND LEADERSHIP SEMINAR. This seminar was specifically designed to offer students, teachers, and professionals a Practicum for Mastering Spoken English.
Seminar Methodology follows the Toastmaster Club seminar format methodology designed to support the Toastmaster’s Club Mission:
“The mission of a Toastmasters Club is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.”
Inherent to all American institutions and especially educational programs like Toastmasters, is a methodology and format created to promote a democratic learning experience. This learning experience is applicable not only to students, but to teachers and other business and professional as well. For the University curriculum, SUCCESS AND LEADERSHIP SEMINAR is intended to be a fixable a ten-week two-hour module experiential learning module, either to be used as part of the normal curriculum or as an optional addition. Being tailored specifically for this region, the democratic process and experience is supported with a brief introduction to basic parliamentary procedures following Robert’s Rules of Order: Motions, Nominations, Voting and Election of Officers. The seminar participants elect officers and form a Success & Leadership Club. The Club Officers then conduct the weekly Seminar (class). All seminar activities are conducted exclusively in spoken English.
Learning Environment features the physical layout of a professional seminar. It is this face-to-face oral communication experience that is essential for mastering spoken English. Effective spoken English communication requires not only mastering the spoken word, but being able to reflect and incorporate the listener’s responses as well. Students are responsible for arranging and rearranging classroom for each Seminar session. Student Officers & students coordinate all set-up, handout issues, conduct Seminar.
This practicum, like it’s American counter-part, is designed to inspire a whole new generation of leaders through mastering the art of effective communication with spoken English. To quote Les Brown, author of Live Your Dreams, “If you want your dreams to come true, you must have confidence in your-self and your abilities.” The long-term goal of this practicum is to create a new generation of young leaders for business, industry, civic, government, and education who have a positive life view and share an exciting vision for the future of their Communities. The ultimate rewards will be to “Build a New Community, one Leader at a Time”, to inspire hope and confidence by sharing a positive experience of life, and to renew the belief that “Hope Exist Because we have Seen the Future”.

Role of The Teacher may be the most challenging of all. The Toastmaster methodology is based on the proven belief that people learn best by doing. Beyond understanding and remembering the basic linguistic tools of English, mastering the spoken word can only come from personally speaking. It is the role of the teacher to become the mentor, facilitator and coach for each participant and the learning environment itself. The learning environment is the catalysis that embodies Pygmalion and Demosthene’s effects that produce the catharsis and transform the novice into the master. Positive reinforcement, group acceptance, pear feedback and recognizing and rewarding excellence set the stage for personal challenge and growth. The students do the work while the teacher points the way. This practicum builds on already established Basic English Language fluency. These basic language skills are enhanced with a positive democratic experience, new communication skills and an optimistic perspective and courage for change.

Student’s Participation: This Practicum can be part of the normal English Language Course. Each student is given an opportunity to speak at every class meeting. A Communication and Leadership Manual guides the students through ten basic Mastering Spoken English skill experiences. A formal Art of Effective Evaluation text guides the students through giving both written as well as oral peer feedback. It is this peer feedback, which encourages students to raise their level of expectations. A positive and supportive peer environment is encouraged. The positive influence of the Pygmalion’s Effect for growth and learning is evident, because it is part of the methodological magic of this Practicum for Mastering Spoken English.
Student’s Speak for Themselves: At the final class, students were asked to complete a seminar evaluation feedback form. This is what they had to say:

“I liked the fact that everything was introduced before it was applied.”
“I learned to speak openly in front of the class without fear.”
“I learned to organize my ideas.”
“I liked very much that we grew together as a family.”
“I liked that we could see each other and the person in front of the class.”
“I gained more confidence in my speaking skills.”
“I was afraid to speak in English, now I’m more confident.”
“It helped me boost my self-esteem.”
“It helped me be more confident speaking English in front of others”.
“I gained more confidence in myself and to express better my ideas an dinner thoughts.”
“I’m more confident then I was with the language (English).”
“It helped to open myself more then I did before. To listen to other’s opinions, ideas, experiences and share my life with the class.”
“I improved my way of speaking English.”
“I learned to improve my English and be more confident in myself.”
“It helps people be more confident in their own abilities.”
“It gave me more reasons to teach English.”
“As young people we were used to let somebody else talk for us. But here like this class people will learn to speak for themselves.”
“Yes, it helped me be more confident about my future.”

This Practicum for Mastering Spoken English can be that special lift that brings both challenge and creative learning to every classroom. Yesterday is was just one more undiscovered American success story. Today it is now a living tool available for every searching and dedicated English language teacher. Enjoy it; it will be a very rewarding and worthwhile experience for you and your students.