The other day I was talking to a student about how things have changed over the past thirty or so years. The two biggest changes from our perspective were the Internet and mobile phones. Both have radically reshaped how we do business and live our lives. Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds since I was a child and am amazed at all the new gadgets that are appearing and how they can be used to enhance our lives. The Internet has redefined how we find information and share knowledge with others. I remember the days when I had to spend hours in the library looking for a book to help me with my report, now that can be done in seconds from the comfort of our own house. Now it’s not finding information that’s the problem but sifting through the mountains that we find.
Social media has become a new catch-phrase with sites such as Facebook and Mixi leading the way. They’re a great way to reconnect with long lost friends, classmates as well as keeping in touch with your friends and family. While I used Mixi for a while because of its popularity here in Japan I must say that these days I focus on Facebook. It’s an easy way to let people know what’s going on in your life as well as share videos and photos not to mention play games. In many ways it’s a one-stop entertainment site. For anyone who’s serious about learning English I encourage that they get online and use all the tools available to them.
Mobile phones on the other hand have become so much more than phones. The iPhone is the best example as it is a learning machine and new applications are added daily to help save us time and keep track of our appointments and important dates. In many ways it’s a portable computer and highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a new phone.
At Smith’s 英会話 Hirakata I encourage my students to take advantage of all the tools we have for learning. TV, books, the Internet and the list goes on and on. However, no matter what the latest fad might be we must never forget that the key to mastering any language or matter is hard work. Tools are just things that help make our lives easier but to learn new skills we must never forget that the final ingredient is us. So while the world around us may have dramatically changed the key to success in any field hasn’t – hard work, perseverance and courage. In the end it’s up to us.