Thursday, April 17, 2008

Learning English: More Than Living Overseas

Currently, I teach at an intensive English program in the United States, and one of the biggest misconceptions among students is that living overseas in the US will automatically be their golden ticket (the secret) to improving their English. Unfortunately, I work with so many students that isolate themselves from the community by only spending their time with friends from their native country. Furthermore, the only real contact these students have is going to the local supermarket or ordering a cheeseburger from McDonalds. Then, these same students wonder why their English isn't improving.

On the other hand, I have worked with other students who have volunteered in the community at schools, homeless shelters, and youth groups, or who have taken music classes, joined health clubs, and visited senior citizen centers. These students really make great efforts to meet people and not only did they improve their English, but they made lasting friendships and learned more about the local culture.

Learning another language won't happen automatically without effort. It takes a lot of work, dedication, and a tolerance of your own mistakes.

So, what do you think about this topic?

Best,

Randall

7 comments:

  1. I am currently in a graduate TEFL program. Recently, one of my professors, who teaches in the Intensive English Program at my university, made a comment along the same vein. I'm sure it's not easy to 'get out there' and interact; it requires going way outside your comfort zone, but, from what I've seen and heard, it's the only way to take advantage of the opportunity to study English in an English-speaking country.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with this statement that learning English is more than living overseas, but I want to mention that being in another country gives much more opportunities to learn English in comparison with the native country.In addition to ordering hamburger or shopping, there are more situations, having emergency problems like being ill, financial affairs, communicating with neighbours and the environment and so on force us to learn English whether we want or not.because of the interacting with the environment, we have to know the language .Moreover, we have more chance to listen, read, speak and write in English everyday that we did not in our hometown.But, If we are determined to learn a language like native individuals, we should struggle for it.There is nothing but trying.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I used to envey those english learners abroad for their better language environment and more opportunity.But now I see it's not the environment but the self effort that matters the most.I won't complain anymore.Thank you ,Randall.
    Iris

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have experienced this firsthand, having studied French in France. I learned that talking with people from your own culture means being able to get any necessary information with no problem whatsoever. Still, one of my classmates and I made a special effort in France to limit our use of English, but we were the exceptions.

    As an ESL teacher, I try to prepare my students to use English outside of the classroom. We learn various communication skills in class - how to ask for information, confirm what you hear, ask for clarification, offer and accept invitations, etc. - and then role play in class. It's not easy and I don't always have time to do that now that I'm in China, but it can be done.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Im have been studying english for some years, I started by myself and I have taken some english courses My wrinting and reading have improved a lot, but the most difficult to me, It has always been the listening and speaking, my speaking is better than my listening, but I have learned by myself, that as learner of english or any language, u have to keep working every day, because if u dont do it, you will forget what u have learned, because you dont practice it, then, learning a new language should be part of your lifestyle, because it could take your whole life to learn it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. wow,how to say, i never imagine this situation. in our own conutry, we already search hard for any native speakers to practise our english and sometimes have to pay a great deal for these foreign teachers. how can i imagine living abroad but easily give up the chance to improve our english.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Here is a question for Randall and all the other english teachers which has been bothering me for quite a while.I've found that the collocation of single english words to form a more complicated noun phrase very confusing.For example,as in the phrase instability factor, here why is the noun form instability used instead of the adj. form unstable?And why isn't a construction site called a constructing site instead?When is the modifier a noun, an adj,or a verb? Is there any linguistic rules to follow or they are set phrases and we have to memorise each of them respectively?
    Looking forward to your kind replies.

    ReplyDelete

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

Best,

Randall