As my favorite bloggers have already started to write their first posts for 2013, I feel extra inspired by great words of wisdom from equally great educators. This being the case, I think it is also time for me to write a post to welcome the New Year. Although I previously planned to post a reflection as a review of 2012 or about my resolutions for 2013, one post titled LEARN to “SPEAK” İngilizce…in 15 hours (maybe even 2)! http://allthingslearning.wordpress.com/2012/12/28/learn-to-speak-ingilizce-in-15-hours/ Tony Gurr has changed my mind, and this post has come into existence. I must say I first wrote it as a response in the comment box of Tony Gurr, but due to a problem with WordPress, it was not posted to his blog.
Long story short, below is an account of how I studied for English as a teenager, and I am proud to share it with you all as a teacher of English.
I started to learn English when I was 14 years old. Actually, the reason why I chose to study at the high school where I was enrolled was just to be able to learn English, which means I was intrinsically motivated to do that. With motivation came along more desire to see the learning process like a play of Legos. As I understood what was taught, I grew more interested and did more to perfect what I learnt.
First of all, I took the assignments very seriously. I even did extra work than was asked by teachers. I never saw homework as a burden.
Secondly, I was mad about speaking and writing. I always tried to write stuff in English and got my teachers to check them for me. For speaking, I had myself mostly. I mean I had to speak with the walls practicing the conversations studied at school and creating new ones. I also spoke with my mother who listened to me patiently and encouraged me more to speak although she didn’t understand much of English. All that really helped me to get fluent and I made it better getting jobs in holiday towns where thousands of tourists from the UK spent their summer holiday. When I went to university, I only had to study for vocational practices and some detailed stuff about linguistics.
Thirdly, I always had my vocabulary lists and I looked through them frequently to ensure I still remembered everything. I added new words to the list whenever I read English magazines or newspapers. I was doing that even at high school, and it certainly was a bonus for the progress I made in speaking and writing. I remember I read my first real novel (The Island of the Day Before, Umberto Eco) in English in 3 months because there was simply a lot to learn from that, but the second one from the same author took me 2 months, and the next took only 20 days to read. As I read, I improved more, and at a point I saw that I didn’t need to use a dictionary to understand novels, which showed that my knowledge had increased substantially.
Moreover, I watched movies in English with subtitles in Turkish and English. When there were no movies subtitled in English, I tried to match what was said by the actors with the way it was translated into Turkish. It was a work of comparison and contrast and doubtlessly required a lot of dictionary use. I can’t forget that one movie subtitled in Turkish took me 3-4 hours to watch. But it all worked very well for me. After going through such hard work for 5-6 movies, I could understand any movie without subtitles.
All in all, I really wanted to learn English and did all that I could on my part, which really paid off. Then I transferred those strategies into process of learning Spanish, and now I am fluent in Spanish as well. Everyone should admit that nothing comes easy, but it is in their hands to make it either enjoyable or disturbing. Personal experience reveals that I can do it when I really work for it, so I am planning to the same for French which is to be my third foreign language.