WHY, after struggling for 11 years in school, many of us are still not able to communicate well in English?
Interested to know? Okay, I'll tell you why...
It is because, in school, we did not learn English, but instead we studied English. That's the problem.
Confused? Let me explain the difference between "learn" and "study".
When we learn something, we will be able to use it to perform a certain task. For example, if we learn to play badminton, we will learn its rules and skills. After some practice, we will be able to play badminton. The more we play the better we become.
On the other hand, when we study something, we will gain knowledge which is not necessarily usable. For instance, if we study history, we will gain knowledge regarding historical events, places, people and so on. However, it does not make us good at anything (accept writing answers for exams).
Now, let's get to my point. What we did in school was, we studied English grammar, poems, novels and so on, only for one reason which was to sit for exam. Of course, we gained knowledge of the grammar which was crucial in answering rational cloze (filling in the blanks). We also gained knowledge of the poems and the novels which allow us to write responses to the given questions. However, none of these actually helped us to become a good communicator in English.
To communicate well in a particular language, we need to:
1) understand the message that we receive
2) make sure that people understand our message
For example, if we talk to someone, we can understand what he/she is saying by identifying the sounds produced by him/her. It is easier if we are familiar with the sounds of the words used. Then, when it is our turn to speak, make sure that the sounds we make actually represent the words that we intend to say. This is how conversations take place.
Have you ever wondered how people learned Korean in a short time, only by watching K-Drama? I'll discuss this next time, and of course make relation to the learning of English as 2nd Language.
Madam Fatimi Estar
English as 2nd Language Learning Guru