These are just some random thoughts I scribbled down this morning. Might not be very coherent, but I thought others might find it interesting.
I’ve been teaching English as a second language for almost five years. I’ve taught at a variety of levels: university, high school, middle schools, etc.
Learning a language is much like learning how to train. Why? No one can say what the best way to learn a language is. Of course, there are some general principals of language learning that have proven to be successful over time. But most of these are just basic concepts and don’t form a complete program. There is still no clear reason as to why methods work for some, but not others. As a result of the search for the ideal language program, we have a plethora of specialized programs, each targeted at developing particular aspects of language. But no one can identify what makes one person succeed whereas others fail. As a result, there are TONS of language teachers who focus only on a single method, e.g. “the direct method works better than any other method for building fluency,” or “Communicative language teaching is the only effective way to teach.” Learners can easily get caught up in the mix, get quickly discouraged when they fail to see results, and drop out. Only the ones who make long term commitments and study hard using basic principals make progress, and even then it takes years. After making noticeable improvements in the first year or two of language study, many learners plateau unless they find new ways to push themselves.
In the end, you get lots of trendy language teachers who think they know what they’re doing, and one or two really dedicated students who work their asses off. The rare student that studies hard often hears comments like, “Wow, I wish I had your gift for language! I just don’t have the talent…..”
See any parallels?
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