The English Tiger
A report about learning English
By John L. Brewer
© 2015 – All Rights Reserved
The Best Way To Learn English?
There is no “one size fits all” solution for learning a new language. Different people have different ways of learning that may be great for them, but not good for someone else. For some, learning a new language is quite easy, for others, quite difficult. Many are usually somewhere in the middle of that scale, and usually have more of a problem with motivation – taking action to improve their English.
However, there is a basic foundation from which every student of English can build from – reading. Anyone reading this who is a former or present student of mine is probably smiling right now because I talk about this so often.
Read, Read, Read
The importance of reading cannot be overstated and should not be understated – or underestimated. Reading is the foundation upon which language learning should be built. Yes, first comes speaking of course, because we all learn how to speak before we learn how to read or write, but reading is what takes our learning to a whole new level.
Reading is how we are exposed to the target language, in this case – English. When we read we increase our vocabulary in a major way. When we read out loud we also train our tongue as well as our ears, which helps us to remember the words or phrases better.
Where to start
When we read in order to improve our language skills we should read for pleasure. It should be fun, not work. We should also pick things that are either at or just below our reading level. If we find that we have to look up every second or third word in the dictionary then we are not having much fun – then it’s more like work.
I always suggest to my students that they start out by reading children’s books – especially fiction.
Reading is where we come into contact with what I like to call the “English Tiger in the Jungle.”
The English Tiger in the Zoo
You see, a tiger that lives in a zoo cannot be a “full” tiger in every sense of the word. He has a small habitat, his food is given to him and he does not have to worry about being hunted.
The type of English that we come across in course books and so on is what I call “the English Tiger in the Zoo.”The books are very limited in scope. They concentrate on a general topic – such as Business English, Therefore you may or may not come across words that you use all the time or words that are seldom used, but are important to know when needed.
Course books are excellent tools for learning English, but they are not able to cover everything we come across when communicating in English, Therefore it is like “the English Tiger in the Zoo.”
The English Tiger in the Jungle
Fiction is a combination of narration and dialog. Narration is the telling of the story and dialog is the conversational interaction between the people in the story. Reading fiction is where we come across the “English Tiger in the Jungle.”
You see, a tiger that lives in the jungle has to be a “full tiger.” He has a very large habitat, has to hunt for his food and has to keep from being hunted – becoming prey for other animals or even humans.
When we read fiction we experience the English language in it’s “natural habitat.” We come across words that are used in everyday language. Fiction contains what I like to call “glue words” – words that we need in order to put together the things we want to say, but not words that are necessarily focused on in language books. If you have ever wanted to say something in English but were missing certain words to get your point across, you were probably missing certain “glue words.”
We then usually end up saying things in a completely different way according to the words we have in our vocabulary or – even worse, we don’t say anything because we are afraid of saying something wrong. Reading can change all of that. Read anything you can get your hands on – fiction, non-fiction, whatever. So, if you are serious about improving your English conversation skills then you need to read, read, read!
Read Out Loud
Another important aspect to improving your English speaking skills is reading out loud. When we read silently we don’t necessarily concentrate on how the words sound. Reading out loud trains the ears and the tongue – which helps things to stick in our mind better.
It is great if you have someone that can listen to you read and correct your pronunciation. If that is not possible then try reading along with audio books or books that are shown and read on screen.
Listening is also an important activity to do. When we listen to native speakers – speakers who English is their mother language, our ears get used to hearing the sounds of the English language. Don’t worry about understanding everything you listen to – just listen! In time you will see that you understand more and more.
Stop Making Excuses!
What ever the case, you Must Take Action! You have to go out and get English speaking experience instead of waiting for it come to find you!
Allow this report to motivate you into taking more action in improving your English language skills! Remember – the more action you take , the better it will become!
Yours in success
John L. Brewer
Certified TEFL/TESOL Teacher