Beyond My Dreams, Within My Reach

  作者: 聂立鑫   2010-07-13 17:22  字体:

Why do I learn English? Why should anyone learn a second language?

 

Learning a foreign language takes a lot of effort and time, but languages offer something to each of us. My ability to speak and use a foreign language could be very valuable to me in the future. To know and appreciate another culture, and making connections with people speaking a different language, coming from a different culture, and a country or region with a different history could expand my view of the world, with a second language I’m  able to reach out to other people, and they are able to reach out to me. I feel more comfortable knowing a second language.

 

Today building a successful and interesting career is almost unimaginable without speaking a foreign language. Learning a language can open up career opportunities, improve communication skills and understanding a culture brings a more critical view of the world, and it even helps to better understand our own native language, our own culture. Knowledge of foreign languages may also increase my chances of finding an innovative job, getting promotion.

 

In today’s  society there’s  stronger and stronger competition, and in order to build a successful life, career language study is a must. Almost any job could benefit from speaking a second language.

 

English-speaking business people may have the advantage of speaking a universally used language, the global language of communication, business and internet, and may not feel the need to learn a language. But for us Chinese the lack of foreign language knowledge puts us at a disadvantage.

 

My motivation to learn another language is to have a better chance at succeeding in life, or to put it simply: to have a happier life.

 

There are many jobs that require that you speak a second language. These include working in the Foreign Service, serving as a translator or interpreter for the government or the private sector, working at international institutions, and working for multinational business corporations. I’m  confident that by studying at Beijing Foreign Studies University (Beiwai) I will be able to achieve my goals. I’m  confident that Beijing Foreign Studies University will give me a greater level of practical skills, competence, and will also improve my chances for success in my career. What I have learned at the university is a good basis for further study, improvement.

 

I feel that the most important factor that I need to be aware of is that learning a language takes time. The more time I spend on the language, the faster I learn. Languages are something very complex, so only listening, or only being able to understand the logic of a language may not be enough to fully learn the language. Writing, reading, speaking, listening and studying vocabulary are all essential part of language study. Ignoring, not paying attention to any of these would mean that we抣l have more and more difficulties with learning the language as time goes by. Learning a language is more than learning grammar and vocabulary, it is learning new sounds, expressions, and ways of seeing, it is learning how to behave in a different culture, how to get to know a new community from the inside. You also need to want to learn the language. You need to want to improve. You have to try to make learning enjoyable, to find ways to make learning fun. Dedication is the key to success in language study.

 

Today life without internet is unimaginable. The internet provides communications to basically everyone from governments to homes. Computers can be used in a way that can help people think better, so to say, more creatively, the world wide web encourages critical reflection. We can learn from computers and also learn with computers. The internet is a great tool in creating knowledge. Receiving knowledge can be passive, while building it up, creating knowledge gives meaning to the sum of all.

 

There seem to be an unlimited number of internet sites offering online language courses, a wealth of materials, and the strong competition has given students great new options in taking up the challenge of learning a second language. Considering that time constraints make it almost impossible to have adequate amount of learner-teacher contact hours in a classroom setting and the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult to afford language learning online learning is more and more accepted.

 

Internet is supportive of individualization of language learning. This provides independence from others, which might be useful finding your own language learning pace. With the internet students teach themselves, and ask a teacher if they need help. This gives students more choice about what, when and how fast to study. It also prepares students to learn on their own. In a class it is the teacher who decides what to teach based on the needs of a class as a whole, not the individual. This necessarily means that there will be higher level students who will find the task too easy, while others may be left behind the rest of the class and do not get as much attention as they need to step forward. There’s nothing more discouraging than being left out for the simple reason that you can’t keep up the “elite” of the class! With the internet and with self-managing no one has to face such difficulties. Learners need to assume responsibility for their own learning online language materials. Listening and reading skills are vital to any language improvement. Internet can be a big help with listening and reading. Online materials provide interesting topics and an endless variety of activities with useful tools such as a built-in glossary, highlighting of keywords, hypertext links, sophisticated listening aids. With self-managed learning, learners can choose what they want to study, and can change it any time they feel like.

 

With self-management the learner chooses when he or she wants to learn. Using the internet, learning can be done at any time. Self-managing is vital in using internet for language learning, and so is experimental learning, which is a key idea of integrating internet into language learning. With the help of internet one might be able to learn procedures and through that access knowledge. Internet is a great help in developing self-management, but we should never forget it is no substitution for a teacher’s input. It is best when the two go hand in hand. Objectives and outcomes are still needed to be negotiated. Assistance with developing self-management can be provided and then learners can work on their own with the help of internet.

 

Can learning through an online medium be as useful as classroom learning?

 

Supporters believe that online classes make learning flexible, make use of essential technical tools and offer a great selection of courses. Online classroom is ideal because it increases cooperative learning, encourages involvement and interaction and it is convenient (saving time). Others say that it’s not as effective as face-to-face classroom learning. Students need real-time talk, face-to-face, personal contact to learn. I’d say that it all depends on the teacher and the method. It is definitely not to get rid of traditional teachers as some fear! In my opinion teaching could use a fresh approach that gives professionals more options. I feel that online and face-to-face learning should be used simultaneously. Without young students feeling comfortable with learning and without making it fun for them, the teacher might never succeed. Online classrooms are becoming more popular among adult learners as well.

 

I believe that most of the English learners with Chinese as their first language struggle the most with pronunciation. Probably the most common problem is that learners may feel overwhelmed by the authentic language. I solve this problem by focusing on the general idea rather than the details. For me it is important to incorporate into my studies a great deal of speaking practice, new vocabulary and expressions, cultural information, and other challenging tasks. You can repeat a word out loud or silently to practice pronunciation. But you have to pay close attention to the model to make sure that you pronunciation is correct. There are occasions when I try to remember English sounds by using sounds in Chinese. For example, the English sound /i:/ is similar to the Chinese sound of the word “yi” meaning “one”. But that practice might slow me down a bit sometimes.

 

The first rule of improving speaking skills is to speak, converse, talk, gab as much as you can!

 

 

I have friends who have learnt English by watching DVD’s. And some learnt it for a very good effect! I think their success lies in the fact that they become more motivated to learn and communicate in the target language by trying to understand a movie that interests them. The only problem is that this not always helps to develop communication skills. Many English students among my friends and classmates complain that they understand English, but don’t feel confident enough to join a conversation. Once learners gain confidence through understanding and enjoying authentic film, they might feel prepared to start a conversation. Eliminating production “blocking” occurring due to nervousness, lack of confidence is essential. Also there aren’t enough conversation opportunities in or outside of class. This doesn’t help the strengthening of learners’ confidence. So forming a group situation and watching a DVD together might clarify blank spots, help understanding.

 

Another common problem is that students are trying to translate from their native language into English. This not only causes serious misunderstandings, but takes too much time and gives way to the so called Chinglish, word by word and not meaning by meaning type of translation. The speaker usually looks for a specific word, rather than using simple language to describe what it means.

 

 

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