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Friday, May 1, 2009

How to Learn English - Two Myths About Learning English

Hi, this is English Teacher Fred. Welcome to my online classroom. I'm sitting here in Vietnam, where I've been living and teaching English since 2001- that's over eight years now!

I had an idea about something that I wanted to talk with you about. You are language learners and I want to talk about two myths about learning a language.

A "myth" is something that people believe but is not really true. People often ask me, "How do I learn English?" I'm a language learner also. I study Vietnamese, because I live here, my wife is Vietnamese. So I also study a language.

There are a couple of myths about learning a language that, maybe I also used to believe but now I realize are not true.

The first myth is that people believe that if you live in the country... If you live in a country different than your own, in a country of the language that you're trying to learn, for example you go to live in America where they speak English but you are from Vietnam or Korea or Japan. People believe the myth that, if you go to live in that country, that you will learn English. That you will learn that country's language.

But I've discovered that it's not true, both from my own experience and also from the experience of students. I've met many students that came from Vietnam here and then they went to live in America and they live in America for five years, ten years, twenty years, and they don't learn English.

You don't automatically learn the language when you live in the country.

And it's also true with me. I've been living here for eight years, here in Vietnam. And my Vietnamese is not bad, but it's not really that good, you know? Not really good! My vocabulary is very small. I'm comfortable with very basic conversations. I can get around the city, go where I want to go, buy what I want to buy, go shopping, whatever. I can function okay, no problem.

But as soon as people start to talk about some topic that is a little more difficult, or when two Vietnamese speakers talk together- I'm lost! Even living here for eight years, I don't really know the language very well. And the reason is because I just haven't worked that hard. I don't really study very much.

So that's the first myth: that if you live in the country to speak a different language, then you will learn that language. It's not true! You won't. You have to do the work. Okay?

And here's another one: myth number two. People say that if you have a spouse, a boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife, that speaks the other language, then you will learn the language. But I know that it's also a myth; it's not true.

My wife is Vietnamese. She doesn't speak English! We only speak Vietnamese together. Which helps a lot. I have learned a lot from her. It does help to have the spouse that speaks the other language. But it's not true that you will learn the language just because your spouse speaks the other language. Even if they don't even speak the first language.

Because the only way that you will learn another language is if you do the work. If you work. And a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife- they can study together. Obviously, it's possible. But in my experience, it doesn't really happen that much. I mean, it's a different kind of relationship, you know? A teacher-student relationship is different than a husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.

Sometimes, sometimes, we help each other. I help her study English, she helps me study Vietnamese, but it's just not something that really comes naturally or that you really do every day with your spouse unless you really work at it.

So the only way that you really learn a language, whether it's from your spouse or a teacher or a class or by yourself, is: if you do the work. You have to work, in your own mind.

Having a boyfriend or girlfriend will help but you won't just automatically learn the language, like some people believe.

So that's two myths: living in a different country won't teach you another language just by itself, and having a spouse who speaks the other language won't teach you another language just by itself. Those things may help, they may make it easier for you to learn. But just by themselves, it's not enough: you have to do the work.

Unfortunately, it takes work! Your mind has to work. You have to study, study, practice, try, try, try. Then you will learn another language.

Okay? I hope that's helpful for you. There's probably some other myths also that people have about learning a language, but two is enough for now.

Hope to see you soon! Come by my website. It's called Learn English With Fred dot Blogspot dot com.

Okay? Have a nice day! Bye-bye.
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