Monday, November 19, 2007

Learning English: Is exposure enough?

Having taught ESL/EFL for the past 20 years, I have come to realize that mere exposure to the target language isn't enough to learn English. In other words, thousands and thousands of students come to the United States with the hope of learning the language, and their parents often think that by just being in the country, their children will pick up the language. Unfortunately, the reality is that many students come to the US, attend ESL classes, and then tend to speak their native language with their friends the rest of the day, only to return to the class the next day for a sprinkling of English. In fact, some ESL students complain that there are too many other students from their country in their class, and therefore, they can't learn English. However, these same students just speak their native language once they walk out the classroom door.

For many of these students, they end up being able to carry on basic day-to-day conversations and order a hamburger at a restaurant, but they never reach a higher level of communication skills that leads to interesting conversation. What do you think about this?



  1. That's a big problem of international students. And exactly they tend to speak their nature language everytime. I think the ESL classes are good at the lectures, the books, the videos...But in class, all the student is international students, so in fact, I couldn't learn so much when I was talking to them because it's difficult to understand each other, some people speak so badly and the grammar ussually is unacceptable.

  2. I have not attended any ESL class but, gone through this ESL site. Looking at Randall's work in creating this site seems, I conjecture that classes must be worth of joining.
    Other way to learn the language is only Practice.

  3. I agree that being just exposed to the English language won't help learners master it. It takes much more than that... In reality, there are many other factors involved which affect the learning process of the language such as learners' attitude towards it and the cultural aspects of the target language. It seems that those who travel to any English-speaking country and do not really like the culture of it, have difficulty in learning the language.


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



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.