English is well established as the most useful world language. The largest demand for second language instruction in the world is for English. Whether we like it or not, English dominates in business, science, travel and popular culture, not to mention the Internet.
It takes forever for Chinese to learn English. A lot of Chinese have learnt it for over 15 years, throughout their whole education process, while they still can not use it as a tool to communicate. I am not saying that I speak perfect English, but at least I don’t have many problems to engage in a daily life conversation in English. Here I want to share my experiences of learning English.
Some people claim that speaking is the most important element in language learning. I am afraid I don’t agree. Of course being able to speak in a language is the essential of learning that language. But it should not go prior to other factors. You can never speak unless you are ready to speak. It means that a lot of input is needed before you can actually output. Input includes reading and listening. Learning language is a memorizing process. You have to memorize the way to express ideas before you can actually speak naturally in that language. If you think about it, that’s the way how babies learn to speak, too. At first, they would get a lot of new words and expressions everyday. After they accumulate enough information, they would utter the first word.
For adults, the language learning process would be longer and harder, but the principle is more or less the same: Input before output. You have to read and listen a lot before you speak. For our Chinese, most of us had to do a lot of reading comprehension when we were struggling to pass the CET 4 and CET 6. That’s not enough, though. Listening is more important to me. Not just listen to it for only once, you have to listen to the same material again and again, until it has strong impression in your mind and imbed it to your subconscious. Only to that extent can you master the way to express something profoundly. And you can say the same thing like a native speaker when it comes to the similar circumstance.
As we all know, learning a language is not an easy job, especially a language like English, which has an unbelievable large vocabulary. So passion and motivation are necessities for us to keep up with constantly learning. Interest is the mother of passion. However, too much boring scientific reading and exams made our interest to English descend to zero. If we continue to use that kind of method, few people can stick to English learning after they graduated school and finally got rid of various exams related to English. To keep our passion, we need more interesting learning materials. Just pick up some interesting English movies that you love most. Watch them, read the caption and listen to audio version. Since they are your favorite movies, you would not get bored of them easily and it is much easier to keep the habit. In this way, you can learn English consciously and with ease.
Of course, learning English is much more complicated than that. After enough of input, you have to output and apply the information you learnt to different situation and real life. When you come to that stage, both input and output are necessary. And there is vocabulary accumulation and grammar refined all the time.
Even after all those years of English learning, we still are feeling frustrated when we read those English materials which are full of new words we don’t know, and are in bewilderment when the native speakers speak too fast. Even though, with our passion and everyday learning, I believe we can make progress little by little.