Monday, May 8, 2017

Study Tips for the New Year

As the new year begins, students often are starting new courses of study or even trying to set new goals in their language study. As part of this, let me suggest an important idea that often students don't consider as part of their learning.

I have taught language students for more than 25 years, and the thing that often has the greatest impact on their development as a person is the extent to which students learn to interact with people, inside and outside of the classroom. In other words, some of my students only see the purpose of taking language classes as a means of learning a language and fail to understand the necessity of learning how to deal with people as part of the communication process.

What good is learning a language when a person doesn't have the cultural and social skills to build relationships?

One simple idea is that students set goals to only use English in the classroom, especially when they are in a class with students from many differnt countries. By using a common language, students build bridges instead of walls. When students only use their language, they become self-isolated from the rest of the world. Unfortunately, these same students often wonder why they can't make friends beyond their own language group. (Situations where students are studying English as a foreign language are often different.)

Furthermore, these same students often tell me one minute that they want to be in classes with students from other countries to practice their English, and then the next minute they self-isolate by speaking in their native language. I'm speaking specifically of where students are studying English as a second language.

I guarantee students that if they try to speak the target language, they will not only improve their language skills, but they will also develop new friendships and gain greater confidence in succeeding in their other goals.

What is your opinion or experience on this topic?



  1. Hello everyone
    I think that this topic is very difficult to say something on this. But I will manage to do.I think Randale is right on the point where one should study foreign languages for talking with not only students in the class but with forigners outside the class. But I am sympathetic toward those who are ashamed to talk with natives. Because I think my English is poor. Of course my English is poor, but should am I ashamed of it? I guess this is because I , am Japanese, feel somewhat unpleasant when I hear foreigners speak Japanese poorly. So I afraid to make foreigners outside the class feel unconfortable as I feel.
    I should have generosity for foreigners who speak Japanese poorly. Then I will get courage to speak English poorly.

  2. hi, I'm from Viet Nam. I have started English for 7 years, but I see that I have hardly anything in my mind.My English skills is quite bad. I don't have enough confidently to communicate English.I don't know what to improve that.
    When I talk to foreigners, I sometimes don't understand what they're saying and also don't know what I should say.It seems that I have lost all words in my brain.Moreover,maybe I am too shy to speak naturallly.That I find it difficult to improve my E during years. I wonder what I should do now. Help me!

    1. Hi hong,
      i really happy when see you here because i love this website and i hope you love this too.
      to talk about how to good at english or any language,
      you just need to focus on listening skills and speaking skills first. you know, when you start to learn a new language, the most important thing that you gotta do is not concentrating on how can you learn this, but how you can enjoy it.
      let's enjoy with the languages, you could gain more than you expectd.

  3. Hi Randall and everyone,

    I strongly agree with you that social skills and culture awareness are keys to learning to communicate successfully in a foreign language.
    After all, what's the purpose of learning a language and not be willing to interact with others in/using it?

    I think teachers are partily to blame for this kind of attitude in our students. If we only shifted our focus to the communicative/generative power of the language we teach and tried not to focus too much on the language simply as a system, we would motivate our students to use the language for communicative purposes (as a means to an end).

    What do you guys think?

  4. To hong
    I have been studying English for seventeen years,but I still have difficulty in talking with foreigners.I think it difficult for asian to speak English,because it is quite different from languages in Asia in pronunsiation and grammer.But this is because we should study english.English has something defferent from us,so it bring us divesity of view.
    Recent one year,I have been listening English News,NHK WORLD,repeatedly for at least two hours a day.Then I get to be able to understand spoken English.And I prepare what I should say.When I have spare time I deside some themes,and write compositions on these.And I come to feel that poor English is not something shy,because my speaking English means respect for English itself and English speakers.

  5. VJ
    Hi everyone,
    I was preparing my assignment in English when I checked this website particulary this blog section. I am a Filipino,a Psychology major and currently taking my English Education in the Philippines. I'm also an EFL teacher.
    I agree with Mr.Randall's idea about culture and language. Language for me is the mirror of our culture. We should be proud of our native language and at the same time we shouldn't be shy to express ourselves in second language which is English. I have some foreign classmates in English Education class. I noticed that they are separating themselves to the majority. I guess they are not that confident and shy to express themselves. My suggestion to the teachers as well as to the students to encourage them to talk and have an initiative to approach them. From this we're building friendship and confidence.Don't think of what other people will say. We are here to study English to learn. Anyway, nobody is perfect.


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