Sarah
How Did You Learn English?

To all the non-native English speakers out there, how did you learn English?

 

Here are some questions to help you think about your experience:

-If in school or a classroom setting, at what age did you start? How did you learn the language in class (exams, books, movies, practicing dialogues in front of the class)? Did you find it effective or did you feel it was lacking?

-If on your own, why did you personally decide to start learning English? What materials did you use (self-teach books, movies/music, websites like italki, etc.)? What obstacles did you face?

 

I ask because I'm starting to see a trend in the lack of effective school teaching of foreign languages (not just in English but also in American schools as well) and want to hear more about it from people. I'd love to hear your opinions/experiences about this.

Jul 8, 2014 7:09 PM
Comments · 13

I started Spanish though, with zero knowledge as an adult. I learnt it from a very old fashioned grammar book. I think the first print was even in the fifties. At the moment I read about half the book I bought a course with some audio cassettes. This was in the nineties of the past century. When I was able to understand some Spanish I went back to high school. Here you can do an extra language as an adult, even if you are passed school age. I got to gymnasium level in two years. That is about B2 in European standarization. Doing grammar, doing writing, doing conversation, doing hearing, doing reading. Hence just all disciplines, really schoolish like. I can speak Spanish easily, though not without errors. But I dont have to think and hesitate when I speak. And I can easily understand Spanish too.

 

Now if you ask me what is the best method, I say, none. There is no best method. The main thing is hard work, self discipline and your own talent. There is no super method. No silver bullit, no magic red pill. If people repeatedly complain about grammar, ask about that method that could make them able to speak fluently overnight, I expect, and I know people are going to downvote me like hell again, that they are just lazy. If those people would use the same amount of time and energy in writing notebook entries and asking questions about the language here, then I think they would progress more, then they would desperately looking for that magic no pain fun method.

July 8, 2014

Personally I am a little tired of people who dont want to hit the books and learn the grammer. I think grammar has its use. You have to do both conversation and grammer. The one does not have to exclude the other. If you explicitly do not want to do grammar, I sooner suspect laziness then an alternative super method, or so. I know 5 languages and I did not follow the same curriculum for all. Nor do I have the same level.

 

English.

Starts probably at the moment you can read here. We have English TV programs subtitled in Dutch. Also the movies for children are in English. Only children under the age of 8 or so, go for example to the Harry Potter voiced over in Dutch. You're a bit of a looser if you cannot follow the original version here. At 13 I had my first English lessons. I remember that I knew many words if the teacher pronounced them, but English spelling just is not very consistent. I had no trouble with English, but exact science stuff was my fav at school. I studied exact science and about half the books I had to study there were in English. I work in software programming and almost all documentation is in English. I also have worked for some international companies were the lingua franca was English. I think my English is good, but school as such had less to do with that than watching television as a child, and reading study material for studying information science.

 

Now I also know French, German, and Korean, but I am not going to bore you with all that. As the opposite of English I will explain how I learnt Spanish.

 

 

July 8, 2014

"Six little Duckies that I once knew.Fat ones, skinny ones, fair ones, too

But the one little duckie with the feather in his cap

He led the others with his quack, quack, quack

.

.

Quack, quack, quack, Quack, quack, quack

He led the others with his quack, quack, quack

.

.

Down to the river they would go

Wibble, wobble, wibble, wobble, To and fro

But the one little Duckie with the feather in his cap

He led the others with his quack, quack, quack.

.

.

Quack, quack, quack, Quack, quack, quack

He led the others with his quack, quack, quack

.

.

Back from the river they would come

Wibble, wobble, wibble, wobble, Ho, hum, hum

But the one little Duckie with the feather in his cap

He led the others with his quack, quack, quack.

.

.

Quack, quack, quack, Quack, quack, quack

He led the others with his quack, quack, quack!"

.

July 10, 2014

Our Native English learning begins in the womb,  just as  learning occurs in all languages.

 

 All vibrations  are passed through the fluids of the body.

 

    For some children,  even before they ever reach school, their families will have already

taught songs and nursery rhymes.

 

 Here is one quick example of such a nursery rhyme:    "Six Little Duckies"

 

 

 

July 10, 2014

May I respond to this as an American and my foreign language experience in this country? 

I didn't start any foreign language until the age of 14 in high school, by some standards, very late.   We learned formal grammar and what we call "textbook French" and my teachers were also American.  We did a chapter or two and took a test, the same way other subjects are taught in school.  We were told to memorize prayers (a Catholic school) or some other passages and then to recite them to the teacher, using proper pronunciation and intonation.  She also taught us how to take notes on things like that so we could remember them when practicing.  Sometimes she would bring in magazines or cassettes of French music to play at the beginning of class (high school was a long time ago for me, so no computers or internet...)  I thought it was effective for me, but I may be a unique case.  I learned well in part because I enjoyed it.  I think passion is key.  If a person loves the subject, the learning process happens easier.  I went to an excellent school and we had resources, a listening lab, and other programs to that maybe public schools don't have.

 

I have also lived in Japan and taught English there where students start as early as junior high or sometimes even from the time they are babies and still some struggle to speak the language. I don't know why that is.  I feel that if I had had the opportunity to start French at 5 I would be completely bilingual and never have a problem speaking.  I really wish I had had the chance to start earlier, but I mostly made up for that with my enthusiasm to learn the language and take every opportunity to use it and to improve it. 

July 8, 2014
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