English in classrooms

On Steve’s Blog there was an interesting discussion about how English is taught in the classroom. I know that Steve’s has the opinion that language learning in schools is very inefficient. On his Blog he often refers to a lot of statistics, which show that the results of language learning are often very bad. He criticizes the way English is taught.

I’m not convinced if this is the main reason for having no success in learning languages. When I first came to LingQ I agreed. It was easy to agree. But now I have developed a different opinion.

First I think that in Germany the result of learning English is much better than the result of learning French in the English-speaking parts of Canada or in Britain. One reason is that we come across with a lot of English in our daily lives. Another very important reason is that it is a common point of view that speaking English or other foreign languages is important. I think most Germans and other European countries, which are successful in learning foreign languages, acquired the attitude that language learning is of great importance. If parents feel that English is important this attitude will influence their children. If parents think that learning languages is not important the children get this impression.

As always the exception proves the rule.

Another person from Germany complained about colleagues and their abilities to communicate in English. I assume that compared with the abilities of the native English speakers their abilities are pretty good.

My abilities to communicate in English were low when I came to LingQ. But I think they were better than I thought. Even when I very first started with LingQ I could understand most of the explanations, and forum posts. My reading abilities weren’t so bad. But I needed to brush up on my vocabulary. In particular, I had no practise in speaking English, and some trouble understanding spoken English.

I think there are two points why I now have more success with English:
1. I am much more motivated.
2. I enjoy the new technologies and the opportunities that they offer like MP3 players and learning on the internet, especially with LingQ! If I had had these possibilities during my school time I would have learned more.

This was a writing submission from September 2009. Today, I came across it, and I think it is worthwhile to post it on the blog.

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