learning-a-language1

    Contents

  • English business in Korea
  • Getting tired of learning?
  • Practice yourself
  • How to speak with her
  • It’s all about…
  • Summary

One of the fascinating about human civilisation is that we have many different types of languages. From Sweden to Vietnam, it’s always fun to learning new languages. However, one of the tragic about language is that all makes us quite difficult to communicate each other.

Of course, there are thousands of new books coming up to practice languages all over the world. The practice material is even getting better. Quite surprisingly, You could even download a language app and practice your target language right now.

But we were all struggling to understand each other. Even in myself, I used to only practising English by a couple of years. Luckily I made good friends from many English speaking countries and learning about the cultural experiences.

But You still end up to have a misunderstanding of communications eventually. Why is still happening? Why all we had tonnes of materials to practice ‘any languages’, but we were still failing to do so?

English business in Korea

Every time when I am thinking about learning English before, South Korea’s ‘unique’ education system always comes to my mind. Not because they spent a tremendous amount of money for improving English skills, but they all seems miserable to enjoy how to use the language. Their system doesn’t make students happier. Rather, they all stressed out to learning English, and some of them give up and not bothered to look at textbooks again.

Unfortunately, it’s all about money sucking business for System Builders. Their public school, private institution and even their parents doesn’t really look carefully on real purpose to learning English. Rather, they are promoting their business for getting fancy certifications and scoring better on university exams.

It’s all about artificial showing off competition without any human interaction. You would probably understand better what am I trying to say if you are currently teaching English in Korean schools (or institutions). You all need to follow their curriculum, teach some pieces of grammars or tricks to pass exams, or, just watch some movies or playing some silly games(if you teach young kids). Very fascinating, isn’t it?

How could you really expect everyone to enjoy learning languages and practice for interaction in real life situation? In this system, Why would everyone seems a burden and built up hatred towards meaningless textbooks and English language?

Although, not everyone would love to learn languages passionately. But the social conditions and their narratives keep pushing everyone to learn English with this falsehood system. These exam-based teaching methods are not working for many innocent students to having a ‘real’ conversational skills. Nor, intellectually made them able to debate, write and create academic articles by themselves.

It’s no surprise to see that their unrealistic narratives and goals towards language learning create huge bubbles on English industry. It secures stresses, failure to me that sucks out of energy most of the times. But It’s time to find out my way to learning languages the best way of possible. I started to learning English by myself.

Getting tired of learning?

One of the frequent questions I received from my English speaking friends is “How did you learn English?”. And my answer always goes to same: “I just learn by myself!”. It’s very easy to respond that way for everyone. But This answer, just learning by yourself.. could be the most difficult, challenging way to make your language journey. At the same time, it is the most effective, cheapest way to practice as well. But How does actually work for you?

Before I started to learning English by myself, I used to be getting tired of learning any subjects. The school subjects, textbooks and teachers always being ineffective for many students. It’s fascinating to see how easily people get bored with their lectures. So It’s no surprise to see that I had terrible scores on language exams. It was happened to me for getting F-score in the Chinese language. Yes, It sounds like a total disaster.

However, I realised that it’s not the end of the world. With my little ego and hard work, I do believe that It could be possible to learn any languages by myself. Rather than being judged and freaking out with a horrible test score, It’s time to make a learning a bit more fun for me.

That’s the moment when I started to learning English at 16. I quickly open my laptop and look at the English-material websites as much as possible. Although I only knew that few conversational words and alphabets, It’s too early to give up everything yet. It’s the only matter of hard work and building a system for me.

I looked at BBC News, some of the entertaining programmes from Channel 4 and any other British dramas on the internet. Of course, It was overwhelmed to watch those videos without any subtitles. It made me frustrated to catch up their conversations. But I downloaded subtitles and watch each episode with subtitles and dictionary. Every single day, whenever I have a free with after school, I’m building up the system to be able to practice English every single day.

It’s not all about making mistakes and being ridiculous on your Korean accent. But if you could able to practice languages by yourself, just imagine what the new knowledge and experiences you could have. During my high school period, Thanks to the glorious internet services, My understanding skills slowly improved. But also, I was able to learn a bit about British Culture, the differences between American / British / Australian Accents, foods, sports and society they look like.

Just imagine what else you could learn if you are learning a Russian, Vietnamese or any other languages. You could never get tired of learning their languages. The more practice myself with cultural understanding, The better my performance, experiences you could achieve in the long run.

Practice yourself

Of course, you can’t just look at the monitor screen and keep practice all the time. It’s good to practice this outside of the screen and testify on the reality. If you can’t use a tool (languages) properly for communicating with people, what’s the point of having it? So It’s time to have a human interaction for me. After practising myself for 3 years, I decided to find an environment to practice my English skills. Where can I find places? Should I have to keep travel English speaking countries for many years? Or should I have to go back to language school? Probably not.

Backpacking myself in Scandinavian Europe and Japan improved my sense of human interaction with people quite a lot. But it could be an option for a long term. Rather, you have to be smart to figure it out if you could find an environment to make new friends and practice near your city.

If you live in big city, you could probably found a couple of places. Where you could meet people from all over the world. Their language café concept was brilliant for me. I met loads of people from English-speaking countries, non-English speaking countries too. It doesn’t matter if their accent was terrible or not fluent in English yet. I could make lots of mistakes to improve my speaking skills. Even if I got nervous and scared to make the first step, I really enjoyed to speaking with them.

Yes, It was one of the interesting moment of my life. How enjoyable could be if you make new friends, having an interesting conversation, and know about differences from each other? It’s not really about fixing your mistakes and being perfect to speaking on a first sight. It’s about making a process and continuing to enjoy your moment.

From a couple of my hardworking moments to exploring a language environment for practising in real, These are the things that you couldn’t figure it out on your old textbook or classroom. It made me delightful for me. It’s time to celebrate enjoyment with my foreign friends.

international flags

How to talk with her

But It’s not just about keep practising and making mistakes with friends. The more you spent time with friends who has different environment and languages, you will realise that you should understand and catch up the cultural differences carefully. During a time to have a gap year in Korea, I had an opportunity to go out and visit many western style bars and parties in the city. Yes, once you look at the inside of these places, the whole atmosphere has changed to their cultural, social environment and the reality. It’s like the another chapter of reality exists inside the city. It made me curious how English speaking people interacts and enjoys their party on their culture. So I have to go there and observe how it looks.

Quite interestingly, since Koreans would not talk with strangers easily at the bar or the party. I’m not really used to talk with someone randomly at the bar. For first few moments to drinking at American Style bar was scary to me. My mind kept goes ‘How is even possible to talk with strangers for a long time?’. I asked my friends about it, and their response is simple ‘No worries, It’s just for fun. You could just talk to her and see what happens.’

I still remember that first moment when I talk with random English girl at the bar. I have no idea what to say first. Rather, it makes me shy and stupid to talk with strangers. But I smiled and said ‘Hello.’ Thankfully, she smiles me back ‘Hello.’ And initiates conversations. The rest of part was similar as I practised in language café. Yes, Nothing bad happens usually, rather I found out that sometimes you could even make good friends and hanging out with them in the future too.

I have no idea how to small-talk culture creates, but this was another way to practice my conversational skills and having a little more fun at the party. Yes, their body language looks different. I have to maintain steady eye contact with them. And I wasn’t able to understand their sarcastic slangs. But It’s also the part of new learning experiences.

It doesn’t matter if she interested in me or not. As long as I could keep talk and asking some questions of them. As a result, my social life has been active. Thanks to speaking confidently at the party, I was able to attend social events and language exchange events. Whether you are good at pick up girls or boys in this situation, you could see the whole point here.

Even small-talk, the meaningless party-based conversation will help you to gain a confidence and boosting your speaking, listening skills. You could easily sensor the cultural differences from your target language culture. If possible, you could see and read their different body gestures and socially acceptable(unacceptable) behaviours on their culture. It’s all about capturing reality and understanding their communication system.

It’s all about…

My journey to learning English has been life changers for me. I’ve had different social experiences with all of my foreign friends in Korea. It made me constantly engage with social events, travelling, language exchange and drinking party. You would probably not having these unusual dynamics if you kept following your textbooks and classroom curriculums. I knew that some of you probably not like going out to party or drink.

But What if everyone would able to practice their target languages like me and have the courage to speak out into the reality? Or What if everyone eventually thinking outside of boxes and developing their own way to learning languages, make new language practice friends? The real problem of language industry is not about ‘bilingual difficulties.’ Or language structure itself. It’s all about having an academic-oriented system that leads you extremely bored, stressed and scared out of your soul.

Unlike science or mathematics, human language does not have a perfect answer or methodology for getting used to it. Our language has been keeping developing, upgrading and preserving with people, culture, traditions and their society. Learning language is not something that should stay in the classroom and read same textbooks for a whole semester. Learning language should be focused on real human interaction from culture to culture. It should be encouraged with social activity, language exchange, cultural understanding and human communication.

What would it be if you could only pass Korean language exam, but cannot able to make Korean friends or to buy foods in Korean supermarket? Your certification does not mean anything. You could see a lot this happening in Korean English students who cannot be able to talk with English speakers well, even with small talks. Not everyone would love to face this communication crisis.

So far, the only best way to improve your language skills naturally is learning all these differences by yourself. Not just language structures, but you could learn how their culture, traditions, communication style, business culture works on the internet. It’s getting easier to watch those videos on Youtube. Our time of being stressed of language is over. But How exactly would you able to do this?

At the next chapter, I’m going to write you some of my tools for using specifically.

Summary

  • Language learning can be extremely challenging for everyone if you keep following with academic – oriented systems. Especially in South Korea, their huge investment in the false learning English systems led failure to many students, teachers. They all getting tired of learning new languages.
  • If their system doesn’t work properly, you could develop your own language learning patterns and experiences while you must work hard to improving your language performances. Whether it takes 2 years or 10 years, you have to be passionate and enjoyable about making a process.
  • It’s somehow important to find out the new environments for practice your target languages and make new friends. If you are living in a big city, you could found a language café or international social events easily. It’s essential because you all need to practice in a real.
  • If you open your heart towards strangers at the bar, you could have an opportunity to improve your conversational skills as well. Even if you living in a culture where small-talk doesn’t exist, you could ask local friends to meet their new friends and keep the conversation.
  • Most of Traditional Academic-oriented language learning does not work for everyone. Since it keeps disconnects with reality, how could you able to enjoy to using your target language? You all need a system to bridges for practice and learning by yourself.

Further Readings

  1. Korea’s Unhealthy obsession with English – http://blogs.wsj.com/korearealtime/2014/07/09/south-koreas-costly-obsession-with-english/
  1. How to create an Abundance Mindset in Your language learning – https://www.fluentin3months.com/abundance-mindset/
  1. How to Organise a working holiday abroad – https://www.fluentin3months.com/working-holiday-abroad/
  1. Why learn a foreign language? Benefits of bilingualism – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationopinion/10126883/Why-learn-a-foreign-language-Benefits-of-bilingualism.html
  1. Hacking language learning: Benny Lewis at TEDtalk – https://youtu.be/0x2_kWRB8-A

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