USC speech

April 30, 2008

Expert opinions about learning English

Filed under: Uncategorized — minimax @ 6:01 am

 

Have you ever received any especially good advice about learning English? If so, what? If not, how did you come to have your current approach for learning English? When you have a question about learning English who, if anyone, do you ask?

 

 

accurate : correct, exact and without any mistakes  • attitude : a feeling or opinion about something or someone, or a way of behaving that is caused by this  • communicate : to share information with others by speaking, writing, moving your body or using other signals  • comprehension : the ability to understand completely and be aware of a situation, facts, etc  • consultant : someone who advises people on a particular subject  • contrasting : very different  • demand : to ask for something forcefully, in a way that shows that a refusal is not expected  • distinguish : to notice or understand the difference between two things  • encourage : to make someone more likely to do something, or to make something more likely to happen  • environment : the conditions that you live or work in and the way that they influence how you feel or how effectively you can work  • expert : a person with a high level of knowledge or skill; a specialist  • express : to show a feeling, opinion or fact  • factor : a fact or situation which influences the result of something  • focus : the main or central point of something, especially of attention or interest  • force : to make something happen or make someone do something difficult, unpleasant or unusual, especially by threatening or not offering the possibility of choice  • goal : an aim or purpose  • ideal : without fault; perfect, or the best possible  • infant : a very young child (birth to 1 year) who has not yet begun to walk or talk  • influence : to affect or change how someone or something develops, behaves or thinks  • long-term : a long period of time  • minimize : to reduce something to the least possible level or amount  • native speaker : someone who has spoken a particular language since they were a baby, rather than having learned it as a child or adult  • predict : to say that an event or action will happen in the future, especially as a result of knowledge or experience  • proficient : skilled and experienced  • source : the place something comes from or starts at  • unpleasant : not enjoyable

 

 

 

 

1 It’s a good idea for Taiwanese mothers to speak only English to their infants.

 

If you have a baby, how and when will you teach him or her English, if at all? If you were living in an English-speaking country and had children, would you teach your children Chinese? Why or why not? How about Taiwanese (if you yourself can speak it)? When and how did you begin learning English? How were your first experiences with English? What was your parents’ attitude about your learning English when you were growing up? Did they encourage you to do it, force you to do it, or not really care? Do you think this was the right attitude?

 

 

 

 

2 When listening to English, you should try to distinguish each word that is used.

 

When listening to English, do you try to distinguish each word that is used? What types of things in English do you listen to on your own? What do you do when you hear words whose meaning you don’t know? Can you think of any other good advice for improving English listening comprehension?

 

 

 

 

3 A high-pressure classroom environment, while unpleasant, is better for improving students’ English over the long term.

 

Do you think you learn better in a high-pressure classroom environment? If so, would you like this class to be more highly pressured? Were the English classes you have taken before this one very high-pressure? Could you describe what you think is the ideal classroom environment for learning English?

 

 

 

4 A language teacher’s focus should be on encouraging communication rather than demanding accuracy.

 

Were most of the English classes you have taken before this one focused on communication or accuracy? Is there anything else that you think English classes should be focused on?

 

 

 

 

5 Public schools in Taiwan should use American-style teaching methods and more foreign teachers for their English classes.

 

What do you think are the biggest differences between American-style teaching methods and Taiwanese-style teaching methods? What other ideas do you have for improving English education in Taiwan?

 

 

 

 

6 You can’t improve your writing unless someone corrects your mistakes.

 

Is writing well in English very important to you? Why or why not? How about writing well in Chinese? What sorts of things do you write in English? How much reading do you do in English? What do you usually read? Do you have any other suggestions for improving writing in English?

 

 

 

 

7 The main reason grammar is taught is that it’s the most important factor in how well you can communicate in English.

 

What do you think is the best way to improve your grammar in English? How good is your grammar in Chinese? How did you learn to use correct grammar in Chinese? How important do you think correct grammar is for communicating in English? Do you think there are any other things that are more important—for example, pronunciation, vocabulary, etc?

 

 

 

 

8 Women generally learn foreign languages more quickly and to a higher level of proficiency than men do.

 

Is your opinion different from what you predict the expert’s opinion is? If so, why? Do you know anybody who is good at learning foreign languages very quickly? If so, why do you think this person is able to do this? How good do you think you are learning foreign languages? Besides English, what foreign languages have you studied? Could you compare your experience with learning them and learning English?

 

 

 

 

9 With the right study methods, it is possible for adult learners to learn to speak English exactly like native speakers.

 

Is your opinion different from what you predict the expert’s opinion is? If so, why? If you could never speak or write English like a native speaker, would it make you upset? Why or why not? When you speak English, are you generally “translating from Chinese”? What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break such a habit? Do you have any suggestions for minimizing the influence of Chinese when you speak English? Do you have a final goal for how good you would like your English to become?

 

 

 

 

1 : LG Alexander disagrees : Mothers communicating naturally is more important than teaching English to their infants.  • 2 : LG Alexander disagrees : When listening to English, you should try to listen for meaning as a whole, not individual words.  • 3 : Stephen Krashen disagrees : A high-pressure classroom environment is only good for short-term learning, and then only for tests.  • 4 : Stephen Krashen agrees : A language teacher’s focus should be on encouraging communication rather than demanding accuracy.  • 5 : Japanese consultant agrees : Public schools in Taiwan should use American-style teaching methods and more foreign teachers for their English classes.  • 6 : LG Alexander disagrees : You can improve your writing through reading.  • 7 : LG Alexander disagrees : The main reason that grammar is taught is that students want to know about it.  • 8 : Paul Meara agrees : Women generally learn foreign languages more quickly and to a higher level of proficiency than do men.  • 9 : LG Alexander disagrees : To learn to speak English exactly like native speakers, you must be in effect a native speaker, mastering the language at an early age. 

 

Experts : LG Alexander, author of many books for learners of English  • Stephen Krashen, foreign language education researcher  • Japanese consultant to the government on English education  • Paul Meara, second-language acquisition researcher

 

 

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