Stop Studying English -- Use It!

Yes, that's right....

My advice is that you stop studying English and use it!

During my time as an English language teacher (14 years) I have encountered too many classrooms, too many teachers, and too many students who believe language is obtained through hours of studying about it. A lot of time, energy, and money are spent when it doesn't have to be that way.

Memorization of up to 100 English words a day

Oh no! That's a lot of work for words that you may NEVER use in your interactions with people speaking English. You are cluttering your mind and creating interference for those words that you really do need when you need them.

Conversation classes have become interview classes

Where teachers ask you multiple questions about a certain topic. However, to what end are all of those questions? If you want to engage an English speaker while on a flight for example, you have only been prepared to answer questions but NOT how to engage in a conversation with someone. That's only a one way conversation.

Questioning and answering from both sides are how a friendly conversation works. Yet, you have not been prepared for a conversation when you are asked only questions. You have been taught only how to answer. That's why it is so difficult sometimes for you to talk with someone using English -- because you have been studying about it rather than using it.

What is the purpose of an (English) language classroom?

The purpose of an English language classroom is to provide students with opportunities to use the language in settings or situations they may encounter within their individual target English environment. I know that sounds kind of technical but what it means simply is this: take advantage of your classroom environment to practice using English with your teacher for the reason you are trying to improve it.

For example, if you are studying English so that you can do better on the IELTS speaking test -- develop your conversational skills.

For example, if you want to improve your fluency -- try not only answering in one- or two-word answers but try to elaborate and add more detail in your answers as is the case in a friendly conversation between people.

For example, if you want to improve your grammar skills -- don't just study the rules, experiment with them in a conversation with your teacher.

For example, if you want to improve your pronunciation -- interact more with your teacher in order to get a wider variety of speech sounds and repetition of them.

For example, if you want to improve your conversation skills -- stop answering your teacher's questions only but start asking him/her questions as well, so that you can be more able to interact with others using English AND start hearing possible answers from your teacher.

One more thing

English (or any) language class should be an enjoyable experience for both students and teachers. If we can all just learn to break out of the "student - teacher" paradigm and view the class as a way for one person (the teacher) to facilitate another person's (student's) development of the language (a facilitator-people paradigm) classes would be so much more practical.

So remember...

The next time you are in class: Don't just be a student of English, be a USER of English and interact with your teacher!

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