Maybe self-study aids for learning English for all levels can serve as good effective English courses. As the name self-study implies learners can master English phonetics, grammar, vocabulary, conversation (listening and speaking), reading and writing on their own through clear easily understandable explanations and exercises. Can English self-study aids (books, software, websites, audio and video aids) be equally suitable for classroom teaching and learning of English? As you know there are English grammar practice books suitable for both self-study and classroom use with grammar rule explanations and exercises in English only for any level from total beginners to advanced students. What especially matters in effective teaching and learning English is how clearly and easily understandable all material is explained and what exercises (and with what content) are practised to master that material (to develop certain skills efficiently). I’ve prepared a list of English self-study aids. Maybe we can share information on English self-study aids and courses for all levels. The issue of learners’ level must always be taken into account.
In my view there should be the following sequence of teaching and learning English: phonetics, grammar with communicative exercises, conversation practice (that includes listening and subsequent speaking), extensive thematic reading, and writing. Vocabulary is learned while practising grammar, conversation on various topics, and extensive thematic reading and lexical exercises.
Conversation practice should be be based on known grammar material (already learned) to reduce making grammatical mistakes by learners and can proceed alongside grammar study. In my view it’s not expedient to master all grammar thoroughly first and then to proceed to conversation practice. I believe it is more effective to combine grammar practice and conversation practice that is based on known grammar material. Communicative grammar exercises serve that purpose. After all major grammar is mastered additional extensive in-depth conversation practice on all relevant topics for potential practical use in daily life is expedient and necessary to develop good communication skills.
Let me know what you think about my ideas. What English four skill courses for each level are the most effective in your view?
All the best,
On Mon, Oct 10, 2011 at 2:44 PM, Mike Shelby
I’d like to discuss with you the following issues:
1. Is it easier for foreign learners to study English through their native language explanations of English pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary?
2. Do you support the method of intuitive English immersion for teaching and learning English?
3. Do you think a foreign language (English) should be learned the same way as a native language is acquired by a pre-school child? Are there substantial differences in this regard?
Below I’ve prepared just a draft of my thoughts on those issues. I want to develop my draft into a good article. Can you express your thoughts on those issues?
CAN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE (ENGLISH) BE LEARNED EFFECTIVELY THE SAME WAY AS A NATIVE LANGUAGE IS ACQUIRED?
Foreign learners especially adults need to learn English in realistic communicative oral and written exercises (that is to practise with real life content).
Some English language courses, schools and teachers advocate the “natural” or intuitive immersion method of learning English. This method excludes the use of a native language in learning English, and concentrates on listening to English conversations and texts and later speaking in English, but grammar is dealt with superficially through brief explanations of grammar points that occur in listening material.
There is no adequate grammar practice in exercises with communicative content to develop solid grammar skills to reduce grammatical mistakes by learners. Grammar is the weak point with this method. Followers of this method claim that pre-school children learn to speak their mother tongue this natural way through constant listening to their native speech and speaking practice, without learning grammar rules and without practising grammar exercises. By that logic a foreign language can be learned even by adults effectively the same way as a mother tongue by little kids. I do not share this view because there are substantial differences between learning a foreign language and native language acquisition, and between kids’ and adults’ learning processes. It’s worth noting that little kids learning to speak their mother tongue are exposed to hearing only their native speech constantly every day and do not hear any foreign language and there is no other language interference as they think in their mother tongue only.
It takes them several years even under ideal conditions to speak their native everyday language fluently although their advanced grammar and vocabulary knowledge may be limited.
At school children still have to learn the grammar of their native language to master it proficiently.
Learning a foreign language, especially by adults is a totally different matter. Everyday listening and speaking in a foreign language by adults living in their native countries are quite limited at best and often absent for some periods of time, and they think in their native language and there is a native language interference in learning a foreign language (in terms of pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary). A person can think only in the language that a person knows best.
I believe without knowledge of grammar rules and adequate grammar practice in exercises with communicative content it is impossible to speak, understand and write in a foreign language correctly. Therefore learning a foreign language must include adequate grammar learning as well.
In my view it is easier for foreign learners to study English through their native language explanations of English pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.