Jumat, 07 Maret 2014
Rabu, 26 Februari 2014
Selasa, 14 Januari 2014
English classes are the most popular way in which people study English. They are so amazingly popular that most people do not even think about how to learn English. The process is automatic: I want to learn English, so I sign up for an English course. I will pay some money, sit in class for a few hours a week, and I will get good English.
This is very surprising, because English classes are a very poor way of learning English. We have spent a large part of our lives in English classes (in high school, college, and at language schools), and we know what they are like. With all our knowledge of English classes and courses, we would be surprised if we met a person who has learned to speak English very well by going to English classes.
If you attend English classes, you spend many hours a week on them. Often, you also spend lots of your money. What do you get for your time and money? Here is what you can do at an English class:
- Listen to some bad English. The pronunciation, grammar, andvocabulary of other students (and sometimes the teacher, too) will be bad. Sometimes as bad as this, or worse. Surely listening to these people will not make your English better.
- Say five sentences in English. There are usually 10-20 students in the class, so there is little time for you to speak English. Normal English classes are very poor speaking practice. (Conversation classes are better.)
- Read a boring textbook. Almost all English teachers use textbooks. Want to know why? Because it makes their work easier. They don’t have to prepare for every class. They just do the next unit in the book. Textbooksmake teaching easy. And they make learning boring and ineffective. You have to read stupid stories about Michael Jackson or a woman who lived in African jungle for two years. Then you have to answer questions about them and talk about them with other students. This is madness! All this nonsense that you don’t care about. It makes you think that learning English is boring.
- Listen to a few grammar rules, such as “the present continuous tense is used for talking about developing and changing situations”. Learning grammar rules is the stupidest thing you can do. The two main reasons: 1) It is impossible to memorize all those hundreds of grammar rules anyway, 2) When speaking English, you don’t have time to think: “What tense should I use? Let’s see... I want to present the idea of action continuing up to the present time, so I should use the present perfect tense.” You want to use your English naturally. Grammar rules may improve your scores in tests, but they do not improve your English.
- Do some grammar exercises. After talking about grammar rules, teachers usually give you some exercises, such as multiple choice or gap filling tests. Grammar exercises have two functions: 1) they make you review the grammar rules, 2) they test your English. The first function is useless because grammar rules are useless (see previous section). The second function, testing, is okay if you want to compare your knowledge with other people. But testing does not teach you any English.
- Get a homework assignment. The homework is usually a grammar exercise (see previous section) or a composition. The subject of thecomposition will usually be something that you don’t care about. Examples:Your opinion on the proverb “Blood is thicker than water”, Is it good to be famous?. What nonsense. Doing boring things is not going to help your English. It will only decrease your motivation.
English classes will not teach you good pronunciation (which is simply necessary for communication!). Most teachers completely ignore it, sometimes because their own pronunciation is bad. Some teachers will correct your mistakes when you speak. But very few teachers will tell you how you can avoid making the same mistakes again. Very few teachers will tell you about the sounds of English and how to use a dictionary to learn about the pronunciation of words.
Most teachers will not encourage you to read in English, to buy a good English-English dictionary, to listen to English-language recordings on your own. They will just do their textbook and the exercises in it. If your teacher is different, you are lucky.
This is what most English classes look like. Think about your classes. If they are like that — boring and ineffective — then you are simply wasting your time. (Don’t worry: you are not alone. Millions of people around the world waste their time by going to English classes, even though they do not improve their English.)
You can replace ineffective and boring classes with interesting things which will really improve your English:
- Instead of listening to bad English in the classroom, turn on your TV and watch CNN International or another English-language channel. You will get lots of perfect sentences in excellent English.
- Instead of sitting for two hours to say five sentences in English, sign up for a conversation class with a native speaker. Or start speaking English with your best friend.
- Instead of working with a boring textbook, read something interesting. There are so many interesting texts in English! Surf to English-language sites on the Web. Read a good book in English. Simply, read something that interests you. Something that won’t bore you to death.
- Instead of memorizing grammar rules and doing grammar exercises, read and listen to English. Input is the only way to learn impressive, natural English.
- Instead of writing compositions about the subject that your teacher gave you, write about something that you care about. For example, write some e-mail in English. Don’t write for your teacher — write for yourself!
1. Developing a passion for learning English
All English learners would like to speak English well. They are excited at the idea of being able to communicate in English fluently. However, they usually don’t care about the learning process itself. For most learners, learning English is a duty — something that they have to, but don’t want to do. They don’t see pleasure in learning English.
In short, most learners would like to speak English well but don’t like to be learning English. This is the first and biggest problem facing an English learner, because a person who doesn’t like to learn English will not learn it well. If you don’t love English, English won’t love you back!
If you want to become a successful learner, you need to like the learning process itself. You need to treat time spent on English as time for pleasure and relaxation. For example, you need to enjoy:
- reading English sentences and thinking about their structure
- learning new words from a dictionary
- writing a correct English sentence by consulting dictionaries, grammar guides, and the Web
- practicing the pronunciation of English sounds and words
Ideally, learning English should be your hobby. You should think of yourself as an English Learner — a person who has chosen learning English as one of their favorite activities.
2. Making the first change to one’s life
The decision to learn English requires changes in your life. For example, deciding that one will read a book in English for 30 minutes every day and keeping to that decision. It’s very difficult to make a small, but permanent change to your life, especially if learning English doesn’t seem “fun”. However, learners should remember that studying English for 15 minutes every day gives you much better results than studying for a whole day once a month.
3. Making further changes to one’s life
While the first change is the most difficult, each subsequent one is hard, too. A lot of learners take the first step (e.g. they start reading a book in English every day) and stop there. They do not engage in other English-building activities.
A good learner will have a set of activities (reading, watching TV, practicing pronunciation, listening to recordings, etc.) and choose from that set according to his or her mood. One activity is not good enough, because (1) you get bored more quickly, and (2) it gives you a range of language skills that is typically too narrow. For example, reading in English can’t improve your pronunciation, although it can improve your grammar, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and writing skills.)
Improve your English
All English learners want to improve their English, but as you know, it can be difficult! For you to learn, you need to work on all areas.
The four main areas for you to focus on are: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening. Our English courses promote these 'core skills' because all need to be worked on for you to learn English well.
Here are some proven ways to help you learn. Good Luck!
Speak as often and as much as possible! This is the best way to learn English! There is nothing better than conversation to help you improve. Whereas, you can practise reading, writing, and listening on your own, it’s obviously better to speak English with someone. The best way to do this is to be in an English speaking environment. Take an English course in an English language school, or better still, learn English in an English-speaking country.
The quickest way to learn English is to surround yourself with English speakers. Also, get into the habit of thinking in English, don’t translate from your own language into English, it will slow you down. When you talk, use the sentences which instantly and naturally feel right to you, these are often the correct ones. Many students learn to develop an ‘intuition’ about English, use yours and trust it.
This might sound a little strange and embarrassing at first, but record yourself talking and listen to your own pronunciation, talking speed and the flow of your speaking. It will give you a great chance to see the areas you need to work on. Finally, it’s fun to sing in English, so learn some English songs and sing your heart out!
This really is a skill that needs to be worked on everyday. Like speaking, it’s better for you to be in a totally English speaking environment. Full immersion is the best way for you to improve your level. Again, nothing can beat learning at an English language school abroad.
It’s also good to watch TV shows, or movies in English. The news can be difficult to learn from for level students, but the more you listen the more you’ll pick up. As an exercise, it’s good to have something you can listen to over and over again. For example, a DVD can be repeated whereas a news report can only be heard once. When listening to something more than once; first, try to catch the general meaning, then, listen a second time for more in-depth information.
Learn to ’shadow’ using a DVD or CD, listen and repeat what you hear said. It’s important to remember that a native English speaker is not going to repeat something 10 times for you to understand, so as a long to term goal, you must focus on learning to get your listening right first time.
Here are another couple of important things to think about.
Reading English is something you can do to help you learn on your own, outside of the classroom. Have a dictionary with you (English/English is best.) to look up new words and then write them down in a notebook. Try to use these new words in conversation,it's a great way to learn.
Newspapers are good for higher level students, so for lower levels try reading children’s stories or books which have been especially written for English learners. You won’t learn much if you choose a book that is too difficult or too easy. You should find something that will be challenging,fun,and you can learn well from.
When you read don’t worry about trying to understand every world, don’t keep reaching for the dictionary every few seconds! Instead, try and understand the general meaning of the text first and then re-read it for more detail. For words you don’t understand, try learning how to guess the meaning from the context. Look at the other words in the sentence; they will give you clues as to its meaning. Check to see if the English word is a verb, a noun or an adjective. The internet is full of stuff you can read and learn from.
Try keeping a diary; write something in English in it every day, even if it’s very simple. Start with small sentences and make them longer. Again, the internet is a great way to help. Try to make friends online, visit chat rooms, forums, or post comments on blogs. These are all useful tools for you to learn well from.
Writing gives you a good chance to review words you have learned in the past, and allows you the time to think about grammar as you write. Go back and review anything you might have written in the past,when your English was at a lower level, and try to find any mistakes you made.
Think about writing a short story or even a poem; if you have a teacher, he or she, will be happy to check it for you.
None of us want to make mistakes in front of others; however, your mistakes are very important and will actually help you learn English. The key is, not to be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t waste a chance to speak English because you were too nervous about making a mistake. This is especially true if you study in an English language school, teachers want to hear your mistakes, so they can correct them for you. Don’t be shy; be confident, having an ‘I can do it’ attitude will help you learn. Above all, try not to worry, learning English should be fun! The more fun you have, the easier you will learn!
Set yourself a goal and keep it in mind, it will motivate you to learn. For example, think about why you started to learn English. Do you need to learn English, to pass a test, for business, to travel or to watch movies? Whatever the reason, you’ll find that you work harder when you focus on a target. Choose a goal that you want to achieve and then create a time-frame to achieve it by. Plan what you want to be able to do with your English ability by this time next year or in six months. Make sure that your goal is realistic and that you keep working towards it. It’s worth making plans to take an English test, so you have something very real you need to learn English for. Whatever you decide to do, don't give up!