Real Time English Practice
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Real Time English Practice

How to learn a language

Learning a foreign language, particularly the English language is an extremely prevalent pastime, passion and necessity for countless millions of people throughout the world. For many years, I have worked as an English teacher; run training sessions for other English teachers and have been a registered examiner for the Cambridge University exams. I would like to examine some common misconceptions about language learning and to mention the benefits of both real communication, as well as learning a language using books, CD's, online videos and exercises.

Common Misconceptions

Common misconceptions abound regarding learning a language:

  • "you have to live in the country to really learn the language"

Surprisingly enough, this is not necessarily the case. I have lived in several countries and have witnessed several of my fellow English speaking colleagues and friends who have failed to make real progress in the language of their new country of residence and some of them are English teachers! The truth is that, unless you make a real effort through reading, listening and speaking within the community, you are not going to progress much further than a basic command of the language. Sure, you'll make progress, but it will be slow and you are likely to stagnate.

  • "you need to communicate with speakers of the language you are learning"

Well, again it's true that you will improve. However, it's necessary to have the basics of functional language before you can do this (day to day communication such as shopping, going to bars or restaurants, travelling on public transport, etc).

  • "some people are just natural language learners"

There is very little truth in this. Very occasionally, you will meet someone who appears to be an absolute natural and they seem to just 'pick up the lingo' but more often than not, it's those that combine listening, speaking and daily reading that make the most significant progress.

Learning English with books, CD's, online videos and podcasts versus Real time English Practice.

You can effectively learn English up to a point without having an actual teacher and besides books and CD's, there are some fantastic materials like videos and podcasts that are freely available on the internet to help you achieve this. I particularly recommend short video presentations that are under 5 minutes, like this impressive provider.

In reality, you are unlikely to progress beyond a pre-intermediate (A2) level, unless you have real exposure to a live teacher. Therefore, if you have little time and want to really improve your English from the comfort of your home with a private online English tutor, then check out my site for a free lesson and links to my blog.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this article.


Street Talk

Daily communication and reading is a great way to improve language. Good read Alan!

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Cheers Chetan, glad you appreciate this material.

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Good article Alan, I like the refuting of those very common misconceptions, which I must admit I believed.

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Thanks Mike, I guess this was written from a purely personal standpoint, without any hardcore research. However, with so many years experience of witnessing the same trend, I can assert the validity of these observations. Cheers, A

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Nice work Alan :)

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Thanks Shawn, your comment is much appreciated.

Reply
  about 6 years ago
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