As a teacher, I sit on one side of the table. Students sit across from me with the hopes that I’ll be able to crack the code for them. What code am I talking about? The code to improving your English.
What some people don’t realize is that language is much more than a bunch of words strung together to make sentences. Language is a way of thinking, of how we make sense of the world around us.
Each of sees the world through our own eyes. Which is why I think it’s important for students to see the world through the eye of people like them who have cracked the code. I reached out to seven of my best students to get their secrets on how they were able to improve quickly.
“Memorize lots of basic words” – Goto, S.
There is always a big gap when we learning a foreign language. We just can’t expect to speak like an adult quickly. Instead, we need to focus on learning lots of basic words and creating basic sentences. Basic sentences are the foundation of any language. Master them first and you’ll have the confidence to learn the tougher stuff.
“No hesitation” – Yamasaki, M.
A lot of Japanese people are hesitant to speak to foreigners because they are afraid of making mistakes. I see it differently. I see it as an opportunity to learn. If I could give one piece of advice to students, it would be not to hesitate. As Nike says, “Just do it.”
“Travel” – Ito, H.
I went to Hawaii for a short homestay before Junior High School and while I could only speak very little English at the time, I loved it. That had a huge impact on my life. I couldn’t wait to learn more in school. For me, studying English was never “obenkyo.”
“Use it” – Ando, T.
While learning vocabulary or grammar is important, if you don’t use it, it has no meaning. Find a good teacher you like, and keep studying with them. That weekly practice is critical in Japan because there isn’t much chance to talk to foreigners in our daily lives.
“Sing along” – Imaki, M.
Try singing songs from the Beatles or Carpenters. They aren’t too fast, so with a little practice you can learn to move your mouths like a native speaker. They also contain lots of useful phrases and daily words.
“Books” – Tamaru, Y.
In school, we must memorize lots of vocabulary, but the problem is we don’t know how to use them well. Books show us how to use those words in a variety of different ways because each author has their own style of writing.
“More fun, more learning” – Takemori, Y.
It has long been thought “No pain, no gain” especially in Japan where perseverance is regarded as a virtue, it’s changing. If it’s fun, people can learn more, faster.
“Movies, movies, movies” – Yamasaki, M.
Since elementary school, I have watched English movies every weekend. When I was young, I would watch them with Japanese subtitles, but over time, I changed them to English subtitles. Now, as a college student, I watch them without subtitles. They’re fun and helpful.
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