I was born and grew up in mainland China where English was not spoken in daily life. As a matter of fact, it seems English only existed in schools simply as a language class. Funny though, it was the one and only required foreign language for Chinese students and I believe it still is at least in junior high and high school.
I started to learn English in junior high. Maybe because this language is completely different than Mandarin which is my mother tongue, I fell in love with it right away. Since then, learning English has always been my passion.
I was considered a good student as in I did all the homework such us memorizing the new vocabulary and reciting the articles in textbook. Outside of the classroom I didn’t use it all. Hence, with the time passing, the input was way more than the output. I had a good level of listening and reading while writing and speaking were very weak.
When I realized that, I started to think what I should do to balance the situation. The answer is obviously very simple: I need to increase output, especially speaking, since language is basically a tool for people to communicate with each other.
I didn’t have a methodical approach at all. Instead, I combined my two interests together. TV shows & English. I’ve heard of others learning foreign languages by singing songs but I am more like a movie lover so I decided to try TV shows. The first show I picked is a classic American comedy, “Friends”. I just love all six of the characters! So what I did was to imitate each one of them. I kept playing and pausing the episode over and over again just to imitate their accent. Over time, not only did I memorize new words but I also experienced American humor. I never got bored and I can still do things like this all day long until I am out of breath.
The other thing I did was to talk to native English speakers. Before I left China, I used internet very often to find English speakers to practice with. Now that I am already in US, the environment makes it even easier. I learned all kinds of English sayings, idioms, and slang.
I have been through bottlenecks too when I was just stuck in the current level and couldn’t improve. I can’t just be patient and persistent like what other people would force themselves to think. What I would do is just to distract myself with other interests and over time, I would become an English lover again.
These are just two ways that work for me in my English learning path. I still think of myself as a beginner as my language skill is not advanced yet. But practice makes perfect. I look forward to one day being totally fluent in English and by then, it’s time to study a new language. Thank you.
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