Monday, January 21, 2008

Language Learning: How can it be done?

Someone once said the following:

  • "Learning is not a spectator sport."
My question is how is this related to learning a language, and what have been your own personal experiences in relation to it? Personally, I feel that a student can not sit in the back of the class, passively, and expect wonderful things to happen. Furthermore, what I find is that many parents who send their children to the US or other countries mistakenly assume that their children will just naturally learn the language by simply being in the vicinity of where the language is spoken. Sadly, all too often, I have students who have spent a year or more in the US and know very little because they seldom mingle and interact with native speakers, and tend to shelter themselves with other speakers of their native language.

So, what is your interpretation of the saying above? Share your ideas and experiences.

Randall

12 comments:

morindi said...

I definitely agree with that saying. I often tell my students that they have to keep in touch with the language, that they have to practice outside of the classroom if they want to make progress. Just as when they stop playing golf during the winter months, they know they'll feel rusty once summer kicks in. Same thing with language learning.

Interaction can take many different forms. Here in Québec, it's difficult to mingle with native speakers outside Montreal. Internet is a wonderful place to practice English.

And thanks to dedicated teachers like Randall, they have a place to hone their listening, reading, and writing skills.

Bruno said...

Learning a language is just like learning how to drive a car. You cannot just sit in the back and watch your instructor do it. You must experience it yourself. It doesn't matter if you have the best car on the market, if you do not practice (learning by doing it), you'll never ever learn how to drive it and feel confident enough to face traffic and long trips.
Furthermore, don't you ever let your fear of making mistakes prevent you from practicing. You have no idea how much you can learn from them.
That's pretty much it!
All the best!
BC

Lucía Pinilla said...

Obviously, the Ss who do not participate in classes are not really interested in their own learning process. The purpose of going abroad is to get to know a new culture as well as its language, but perhaps they feel theratened by the whole experience and they try to make themselves comfortable by keeping close to those ones who are more alike to them and probably will not feel rejected by the native speakers. What Ss could do is going with small groups tand try to make as many different friends as they can as well as to avoid spending almost all their time with partners form their native speakers at least in order to mingle others and practice what they are learning.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you! In my opinion, one reason why international students tend to shelter themselves with other speakers of their native language is their misunderstanding the culture shock. They seem to believe that if I stay too much with foreiners, I shall loose my own culture.

rafael said...

RAFAEL CHAVEZ PARADA MATRICULA 210047
WELL I THINK THAT MANY PEOPLE THINK THAT IF YOU GO TO SCHOOL O ANYOTHER PLACES WHERE IS SPOKEN INGLISH YOU WILL LEARN. BUT I THINK THAT THE IS WRONG BECAUSE I KNEW PEOPLE THAT LIVED IN THE US FOR MANY YEARS AND THEY DIDN'T LEARN MUCH INGLISH BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T WANT TO LEARN SO I BELIEVED THAT IF PARENTS TELL TO THEIR CHILDREN ABOUT KNOWING OTHER LANGUAGE WILL OPEN MANY OPORTUNITIES IN LIFE.WILL HELP TO LEARN IT FASTER.

Jennifer said...

It is my subjective opinion and experience. Your writing reminds me of my working experience. When I worked at some school organization a few years ago, I was attending study fair like English study abroad. I met several parents who really wanted their children to study in US or Canada.
They thought it helped them speak English very well. I was surprised because the chlidren didn't want. I felt like it was only for parents (maybe their satisfaction) but not for their children. I couldn't judge them but at least I could tell that it will be possible to be spectator if they have been sent by parents and are not ready for studying.
There are lots of ways to learn language if we are eager to do. I am sure that we need to be more aggresive if we want to improve a lot. Being confident is also important to learn language.

Anonymous said...

Fist of all, let me introduce myself. I am Jaime, a university student from Spain. I study computer science, so english is very important for my future.

I discovered your website two weeks ago, and I am really impressed with the effort you have made, it is a wonderful place to practice listening, which is the most difficult part for, me as well as for spanish students in general. In Spain we study mainly grammar, what could be a good thing if only were followed with conversation. But our classes are in spanish, so you can get an idea about how utterly wrong we are.

So I want to thank you for the listenings, they are really good. Every day I choose one from www.esl.lab.com and another from
www.dailyesl.com. I just wanted to make I suggestion. I don't know why, but I cannot reproduce the listenings in real media, and some of them only have this option. Windows media works better for me.

Ok, now, let's go to the topic. I think you are right, one needs to make an effort in order to improve its language skills. Last summer, I worked for a month in Ireland, monitoring a group of spanish students. They lived with families in pairs, and almost every family complained about them, not only because they were not very polite, but also they were every time speaking among them, in spanish, spoiling the opportunity they had. So this is a real problem.

I think the most important thing is to be interested in learning. If your parents want you to learn but you don't, taking you to a foreign country it is just a waste of time and money.

By the way, I am also reading english books to improve my vocabulary, and I wanted to recommend to the students Oscar Wilde's plays, such as "The importance of being Earnest", because the are easy to read and very funny.

Just one more thing, Randall, your helpful tips in the listenings are really kind, you seem a very nice person!

Thank you very much, Randall.

Jaime

Anonymous said...

I think that all learning process requires dedication and off course a lot of practice. Many people have afraid to be exposured an uncomfortable public situation but they can loose opportunities to apply their knolowdges. It doens't matter if we have mistakes. The underlying reason is communicate our ideas.

Anonymous said...

I think that many people is worried for being seen like a dummy for don't dominate english. The underlying reason is communicate our ideas and if we don't practice we wouldn't correct our mistakes.
When I'd known persons who are from countries where they don't speak spanish, they focus in use the language as a communication tool. They doesn't matter if their expressions are grammatically right.

Anonymous said...

Ever since I finished school I didn’t think I would want to have anymore lessons ever again, however recently I have wanted to learn a foreign language, maybe become fluent in one and basic in a couple of others. I did a bit of research and found there were loads of different packages available I went with one that claims you teach yourself French and I was impressed it was a computer program that helped with pronunciation and speaks back to you so you can hear it too.

Anonymous said...

I think the way to improve english language is speaking with native people in their native country not just living in that place.
I always study english here where I´m from, but only understand a minimum because I don´t interact with others.

Anonymous said...

I think that students speak as much as possible weather they are abroad or in their native country. Speaking with the native speaker helps a lot, of course.

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