It’s not unusual for me to get questions from my friends about how to learn English. The most common question I get is, “What should I do?” This is not an easy question for me to answer because there are many factors that come into play when deciding how best to learn english. Yet, I always try my best to answer the questions asked of me. It’s nice when someone takes interest in your passions.
I was recently reminded of this when one of my good friend (who happens to be Indian) came up and told me his news. He exclaimed that he had finally passed his TOEFL! To be honest, it was quite surprising because he wasn’t very good at listening in class… But it got better! His plan was now set: he wanted to study overseas! The particular country he chose? Canada! After seeing the positive response on my face, he quickly added that if Canada didn’t work out then perhaps America would be a better option… Then there was silence as we both thought about what it would mean if our paths crossed again in the future….(Then came back down into reality. There are some trends in language study that all people should be aware of before embarking on a journey into English learning.
Over the past few years there has been a shift in the way that people learn English, and it’s for this reason that I feel compelled to share my experiences. Many people think that studying abroad is the only way to learn english. Yet, many other pathways exist which can get you just as far. In fact, if you study hard enough you could even study abroad without speaking a single word of english!… But I digress…As an ESL instructor in China, I have seen firsthand how one can go from being completely lost with no idea what is going on to speaking english fluently within a few short months. There are several factors that contribute to this quick progression:
Communication: Communication is key! If your plan is to go out and meet new people every day then you will have little problem meeting new friends who speak english well. By being friendly and actually talking with your peers (and strangers!) it will increase your chances of meeting someone with whom you can practice english conversation skills with – which leads me right into my next point….
Practice / Use it or Lose it!: Practice makes perfect! You need to use your skills with others or else they will quickly fade away… But where do we find partners for our language exchange? This leads me right into practicing in class.
Classes: English classes are great for meeting new people, but it’s important to learn the underlying principles of the language. Without this foundation you will have difficulty understanding everyday conversations outside of class. Not only that, but it will also be difficult for you to communicate your ideas effectively in writing or speech without a proper understanding of english structure. A good teacher will not only help you practice communicating with others, they’ll also help you understand the principles behind english grammar and how these principles can be used to communicate more effectively!
Books: The internet is filled with information on just about anything – including learning English! If you’re interested in learning more about a subject then look no further than your local library… But not just any library – try looking for one which hosts ESL events and lectures… These events can take place before or after normal business hours at bookstores and universities across China. It’s amazing what kind of knowledge we can gain from attending such events!
Teachers: Your teachers may seem like nothing more than an annoying person who spends half your day telling useless stories (which is true) yet they know much about teaching and learning (and useless stories). You should listen carefully when they talk because often times there may be something that catches their attention which would otherwise go over your head if missed. If someone has spent many years studying a certain subject then I would respect them enough to listen closely and ask questions if confused. I am learning english for a lifetime – not just to pass a class. Don’t believe everything you hear, but don’t doubt everything either.
Professional English Teachers: When it comes time for students to learn a new language they often turn to teachers who have little experience in the field of teaching english as a second language. Unfortunately, this leads many students down the wrong path and into “teach-yourself-english” programs that lead to nothing but confusion and self-doubt… If you’re going into an english class then make sure you find out if the teacher has experience with ESL before signing up! It’s also important to know what type of material they will be using during your study time with them!
In conclusion, there are several ways for one to go about learning english effectively without studying abroad or moving from their homeland. I personally feel that there is no better way than practicing what we learn on a daily basis by talking with others on topics which interest us.
I hope that I have helped you in some way to understand the language learning process better. I believe that by sharing my experiences with others, I can help them learn english more effectively while saving time and money! The most important thing to remember is that if it’s your goal to learn english then you’ll get there eventually… It just takes time!