Just before the deadline?!
I'm not sure if I can sneak this post in before midnight on the final day for the open blog - but it's worth a try!
January should be a quiet month for me: dark nights; not much teaching, staying at home and marking my students' assessments; recovering from the over-spending and over-eating of Christmas and New Year..... But I've realised that the month has rushed to an end and tomorrow is already February.
The best thing I did this month, apart from reading all the great BBC Learning English blogs, was prepare for a conference presentation on 'English as an International Language'. Last semester, I recorded British students talking to International students at my university in York. I listened to the recordings to find out how the students worked together to create meaning. One thing I found was that the International students often helped the conversation along by saying (for example) 'could you repeat that?', 'do you mean....?' and so on. One possible conclusion of the study is that speaking English as a first, and perhaps ONLY, language makes it MORE difficult for British students to communicate in an 'international' situation. In my conference presentation I suggested that the British students and staff should have 'English as an International Language' lessons!
This is perhaps NOT what the mainly British audience at the conference wanted to hear! We probably assume that we are expert communicators in our first language in ALL situations.
Anyway, my findings should be encouraging for language learners everywhere! Language learners do not expect perfect communication and are willing to 'negotiate' meaning. This can mean that they make BETTER communicators in a mixed language situation. So it's better to be a learner than an 'expert'!
And that's my final message for the end of this brilliant open blog month......keep on being a learner!
Rachel W xx
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