English proverb of the day

"The negative side of the American Dream comes when people pursue success at any cost, which in turn destroys the vision and the dream "

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  • Topic of this Week: "Life Mission (October 20, 2019)"

    Kindly click on the following link to see the topic this week.

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    Prepared by: Vũ Hoài

     

     

    Enjoy and have a fruitful discussion! 

    See you on Sunday at 3 P.M.!

      

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    Learning material 2

    (06:59:10 AM 04/04/2014)

     I'll assume that you're thoroughly convinced by my arguments for using real, authentic language rather than material that's been created for learners.

    But where do you find good examples of language in its natural habitat?  The good news is that there's more good learning material out there than ever before.

    The Ultimate Weapon: Immersion

    Let me go ahead and get this out there.  Immersion is the ultimate way to learn.  Immersion means that you talk with your friends in the target language, you watch TV in the language, you do your banking, buy your groceries, and get your hair cut in that language. You will get so many hours of education in without even knowing it, and what you learn in the morning will be reinforced later in the afternoon, so the problem of forgetting language that you've learned will be minimized.

    The Problem?  It's hard to find an immersive environment for yourself as an adult.  Even harder than you think. Even if you are able to pick up your life and move it to a foreign country, there are still social and economic barriers. What kind of job can you get without speaking the language well? How are you going to make friends who speak the language you want to learn? And how will you avoid using your native language with people who are trying to learn your language and see meeting you as their big opportunity to get some practice? Younger children are much better able to immerse themselves in a foreign language environment because the barrier for acceptable communication between young people is so low. It's easy for a 5-year-old to make friends with kids who speak another language and find themselves fully immersed within a half hour.  For adults, it's more of a challenge.

    For the Rest of Us: Pseudo-Immersion

    So assuming that you're trying to learn a foreign language but also maintain a life in your current langauge environment, you will have to try to immerse yourself as much as possible, using whatever language input you can find.

    Books, Movies, and Podcasts in the target language are great - if you're ready for them. But as I explained in an earlier post, trying to watch a movie in a foreign language isn't going to do you a bit of good until you've reached the point where a large percentage of what you're watching is already intelligible.  You need to build up to it.

    Textbooks can help you to build up to that basic level. But you want to make sure that the textbooks you get are authentic - that they are based on observations of real usage. For English, I've found a couple of mostly newer books, like the Collins Cobuild dictionaries, that are based on corpus analysis of the language. But as you may be able to guess by the name of my site, I'm personally partial to using phrasebooks.

    Classes - the kind taught in classrooms - are really a horrible way to learn. If your teacher is a native speaker of the language you're learning, you do get something out of it. But not enough to justify the time and money you'll sink into it. A one-on-one tutor is a much better option. They can be a lot more expensive than paying for group classes, but don't feel like you have to spring for a really professional tutor with lots of experience. Any old college student will do, as long as they're a native speaker of the language and you're resourceful about structuring sessions to get as much real language out of them as possible.

    Back to Books, Movies, and Podcasts.  Once you're at a level where you can understand a few things, it's time to start looking back at target-language media.  What's most important here is volume, so you need to find something that you are truly interested in. Along with this, it needs to be something that you mostly understand.  It will hold your attention a lot longer if you know what's going on.

    Multi-media is awesome. If you can get your hands on any material that exists in multiple forms, that is golden. Like if you can find the script for a movie, or rip the audio from a TV show that you've watched.  Getting the same information in multiple media makes it easier to gain usable information from the material, because you already have some basis of understanding from the first time around. And you start to match up spellings, meanings, and pronunciations.

    There's more.  But I've already put off posting this for long enough.  So I'm going to send this out now and come back to the topic of finding good learning material at a later time.  Let me know what you think!

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