Engage ESL students to speak / in speaking

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sunyaer

Senior Member
Chinese
This is a sentence I made up myself.

"It's hard to engage ESL students to speak."

Is "to speak" correct in the above sentence or should it be "in speaking"?
 
  • Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    If you engage someone to speak, you are commissioning them to give an address, say, as an after-dinner speaker, or a lecturer. I don't think that's your intended meaning here, is it?

    I expect you mean that it's hard to get ESL students to speak. Though perhaps you mean that it's hard to engage them in conversation.
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    Is "speaking" an alternative of "conversation in "it's hard to engage them in conversation"?
    I've a sense that some people do use it in that way, but I don't.
    I tend to think of speaking as uni-directional. You speak; others may, or may not, listen or respond. Conversation is, by definition, reciprocal.
     

    sunyaer

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    If you engage someone to speak, you are commissioning them to give an address, say, as an after-dinner speaker, or a lecturer.

    ...
    What are you actually doing when "you are commissioning them to give an address, say, as an after-dinner speaker, or a lecturer" for the meaning that "you engage someone to speak"?
     
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