Oct 172012

Hi, I’m Angelia. A lot of my students often ask me how I learned English well to become an English teacher, then I have to tell the same story to different students over and over again, so I thought I could share my learning experience in this film for those curious about my learning history. Hopefully, they can figure out a way to achieve their learning goals.

I first had English classes in junior high. Then all the way to high school, I just learned whatever my English teachers taught, did homework, and took tests, just like everybody else. At that time, all our school English education focused too much on grammar, reading and translation. So, although I always got good grades on English tests, I could only speak some simple English, and I couldn’t even write an essay. That was really frustrating because I wanted to be excellent in English, so I made a plan to improve my English to reach advanced levels. Here’s the plan.
For listening, I watched an American soap opera weekly, watched an American movie monthly, listened to an English radio program every day, and I took notes while listening to them.
For speaking, whenever I learned a new word, I made sentences with the word orally. When I watched an American movie, I tried to mimic what the characters said, and when I had chances to talk to English speakers, I was very active to talk to them as much as possible. I also bought some conversation books with tapes to practice speaking at home. Before going to bed, I would talk to my tape recorder to keep track of what I had done every day. After I finished the tape recording, I would listen to it to see if I made mistakes, then I corrected the mistakes and took my voice again until I thought it’s correct. However, if I didn’t know how to say something in English, I would look up the dictionary to get the answer.
For vocabulary, I had never made a list of new words to memorize them because I wanted to make sure the usage of each word, so I learned vocabulary from reading different kinds of articles, books, magazines, newspaper, and so on. In this way, I could understand its usage in a sentence or context. However, for anything in my house I didn’t know how to say in English, I made word cards and attached them to the real objects to remember them
For grammar, reading and writing, I attended a language program at a local university. The program was for outsiders interested in English Literature. It offered English classes lectured by the professors at the English Literature Department. The classes were very challenging and I learned quite a lot there.
Two years later, I decided to study in the USA, so I I took TOEFL preparation courses in a private language center, where I learned the test taking techniques and took many practice tests to be ready for the TOEFL exam. Three months later, I took the TOEFL exam, then fortunately I passed it and had an opportunity to apply for the universities in the USA.
When I studied in the USA, I learned even more because I was totally immersed in the real English environment, where I had to use English all the time. Even though I had studied there for years and got my bachelor and master degrees, now I still keep polishing my English because I know if I didn’t, my English would get worse. After all, English is not my mother tongue, and I don’t live in America anymore.
So, you can tell from my learning history. There weren’t any tips or short cuts to my learning goals, but I had a plan with strong ambition, carried it out with all my heart, and never stopped. I believe many successful learners do the same thing. By the way, I read the stories of some perfect TOEFL score holders. They shared their learning experience. I found out they have some things in common, and I thought you might want to know. First of all, they all love English and they make plans to advance their English abilities. Secondly, they all work very hard on vocabulary learning, so they know lots of words, and they read a lot. Thirdly, they all think it’s better to start learning English from childhood. Finally, they are very active to create English environment by themselves.
On the whole, I just want to say, a language is just a communicative tool. It’s not a subject. The more you use it, the more you master it, so there are so many different ways to learn English successfully. You just have to figure out the most suitable way for yourself to use English frequently. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We all learn from mistakes. Above all, be patient and never stop learning it. That’s it.


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