Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Secrets and Tips to Learning English

Perhaps the most common question I am ask is how students can learn English better and faster. This is a difficult question to answer because there are many factors that affect learning. While many people thing of motivation and study skills, one perhaps overlooked factor is natural ability. To be honest, I have taught many students over my 20 years as a language teacher, and some students have a natural sense for learning and picking up a new language with relative ease as compared to others. In addition to this, what other factors affect learning? Share your opinions and experiences on this topic.

Randall

6 comments:

  1. I guess one of the factors that affects learning (negatively) is self-consciousness. It seems that everyone wants to speak flalessly when learning a second language. But what they don't realize is that we do make a lot of mistakes (both grammatical and semantic ones) even when we use our first language, on a daily basis, in different communicative events. What happens is that we manage to overcome communication problems or potential misunderstandings. I guess that's what being a competent speaker is all about: a competent and fluent speaker of a language is able to speak intelligibly and negotiate meanings in a constant effort to put his/her thoughts into words and ideas across.
    I believe that, from the very first day of class, students should learn how to be less self-concious and understand that mistakes are part of the learning process of any language or anything in life.

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  2. I don't have as much teaching experience as you, but I have definitely noticed some students just seem to get it.

    I am not just a language teacher, but also a student who now speaks four languages. I did most of my learning outside of class, seeing and hearing the language around me. I noticed that many of the people who didn't learn so quickly also didn't pay attention to the language outside of class.

    For me, paying attention to language outside of class, in signs, labels, and conversations, made a big difference in my learning. If you can force yourself to pay attention at every opportunity to experience the language, it might help your studies.

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  3. I totally agree what you said. Natural ability is a factor which will affect language learning, besides the motivation and study skills. Let me tell you my story. I graduated from university in China in 1982, and I passed the English test and immigrated to Canada in 2000. Until then I had been learning English very hard for over 30 years. Right away after I landed in Toronto, I was shocked by the cruel fact that my English is very poor. I couldn’t understand a person’s talking. I read some news papers, too much new words in it. Turning on the TV, I was like the alien from another star. The most difficult thing to me was dealing with the phone calls, I had to buy an answer machine and listen hundreds times the messages before I called back.
    I felt very frustrated and wondered what’s wrong with my English. I told myself I have worked hard enough on it. Although I was not belonging to a very smart guy, I was not dull student ether. There must be something wrong in my English learning. I had to figure it out. I worked hard to feed my family and also work hard to in evening and weekend English class. My English got better and better but still not reach a satisfying level. After years search, one day I suddenly found the problem I had before, the natural sense problem. In fact, it is not my problem only, I believe most Chinese people who try to learn English have this problem too. This problem is that we use the way we learnt our mother tongue to learn English. We, Chinese people learn our language from images or pictures since our childhood. Chinese language is original from pictograph. We always try to remember the shapes of the words which show the meaning. For example, the Chinese words of the Sun, the Moon, water, river; mountain etc. all looks like the image it means. In other words, we rely on our eye to learn Chinese. On another hand, English people learning English from the pronunciation, they rely on their ears. The English words never show any images like Chinese words do. If we learn English like we learn Chinese, we would always focus on the alphabetic structure of the words instead of their pronunciation. We would always try to remember the shapes of the words instead the sounds of the words. How can we understand people talking? How can we speak fluently? That’s impossible.
    Once I figured out my problem, I totally changed my way to learn English. I did lots listening practices, especially from free English internet websites like http://www.esl-lab.com/; I also watched lots of TV, movie DVD; I tried every possible chance to talk to people. My English learning started get on the right track. This is the secret or tips about my English learning. I hope this will help other people a little.

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  4. Thank you for wrıtıng fırstly.
    l thınk the learning English that must take very long occasıon .most of people whose try learning English but they think English learning have only grammer .when they learn the english grammer ,they suppose to know Englısh.l dont know Enlısh very well.also grammer and wrıtıng and speking.we must always study and speak Englısh .But l have been working very long hour in my job and cant speak anyone there.Only reading book or speaking musıc.
    l graduated ın a Anatolıan Busıness Hıgh School and a Unıversty (ıt is studied Englısh).but l havent already spoken or wrıten well.how do we speak or wrıte well?
    l want to speak someone Englısh but l dont have any frıends to speak Englısh .If you thınk for me,you wrıte me and sometımes (free tımes all of us) we speak Englısh.My hotmail adress is ayhantokcan@hotmail.com

    Thank you for thıs, sır.
    Wrıte back please.
    Take care .

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  5. I think that another important factor is the awareness of the goal of learning of the student since if he/she has an immediate need for learning such as a trip abroad,he/she will engage in the learning process much easier and with more commitment.

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  6. Hi, I am from Hong Kong.
    I think one of the factors is the interest in learning English. If the learner likes English, she / he would enjoy learning it. They naturally wouldn't get bored with the subject.

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Thanks for posting a comment. I appreciate your interesting in sharing your ideas.

Best,

Randall