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As a teacher, I am often asked the question “how can I improve my English/use of English/vocabulary?” Today’s post is all about language learning and you will find several phrases which can be used to talk about how you feel about your proficiency in English. In Mario Varga Llosa’s recent book, The Bad Girl the main character is an interpreter and translator. He knows Spanish, English and French very well but he never feels as confident with his Russian. To remedy this he reads more Russian literature and feels that once he is conversant with the novels of Dostoevsky and the like he will be a much more proficient translator.
Do I think you should all go out and buy copies of Dickens’ and Hardy’s novels and start plowing through the complete works of Shakespeare to enable you to stand tall when you speak in English in social or work contexts? Not necessarily. However, I tend to agree with the premise that you will never feel satisfied with your fluency in a language if you approach your learning purely from an instrumental outlook. What I mean by this is learning English with a specific purpose in mind and paying attention only to the language functions associated with that purpose. So, if you want to learn English so that you can work as a member of an airline’s cabin crew, learning enough English to get you by in that context is fine but it will not help you in a different context or with language presented to you in a less familiar setting. In brief, there is no short cut to widening your vocabulary and reading is probably one of the most efficient ways of increasing your exposure to new language as well as giving you the option of going back and looking up words at a later stage if you forget them/don’t want to ruin your enjoyment of reading at the time. My recommended formula for successful language learning is to do the following four ‘R’s:
Read as much as possible and as widely as possible
Record what you can in a notebook/on your lap top (anywhere that works for you)
Review regularly and update your learning with extra information as you acquire it.
Regurgitate what you have learnt and check the reaction you get when you use it.
Challenge: find the phrases in todays' post to talk about how you feel about language learning adn use them in your next post to tell me about you and language learning.
Bye for now and pics and stories about Kandy on Saturday – promise!
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