Learning to communicate with the world
In this day and age, knowing how to speak more than one language is becoming increasingly important and English is regarded as an essential tool for communicating with the international community. tbjkids sat down with four students from Limai School to talk about the rewards and challenges of learning English in a non-English environment.
Kevin Lu is from China and in Grade 11
Wiphawee Kooaroon is from Thailand and in Grade 10
Pae Yun Ha is from Korea and in Grade 10
Pamela Yang is from Hong Kong and in Grade 10
When did you first start learning a foreign language?
Pamela: I started learning English when I was very young. At 14, I started learning Spanish. I go to a summer school for Spanish every year. I think it’s useful to learn more than one foreign language.
Pae Yun Ha: I started learning English when I was 7 or 8 years old. When I was 13 years old I studied Japanese for two years. But now I’ve almost forgotten it all. I began studying Chinese the year before last. Now I like speaking Chinese.
Kevin: I started learning English in first grade. English classes were fun. It didn’t seem like a burden at all.
Wiphawee: I started learning Chinese when I was a kid, but back in Thailand I didn’t have many chances to practice it. When I first came to China, it felt like I was learning it from the beginning again.
What is the most efficient method for learning a language?
Pae Yun Ha: Memorizing new words.
Wiphawee: Practicing a lot.
Kevin: I think the most important thing is the linguistic environment. Chinese students usually speak Chinese to each other and only speak English in classes. This doesn’t help them improve their oral English much. But if you are in an environment where everybody speaks English, you’ll improve your language skills fast.
Pamela: Environment is essential, especially with oral English. A good teacher is important, too.
Wiphawee: I learn the most through watching TV and listening to music, and hanging out with my fellow students. It helps a lot with my listening and speaking.
Is it hard to memorize new words?
Pamela: I don’t find it hard because I like to read a lot of stories and novels. Even if I come across a word that I don’t know, I’d guess what it means according to its context. If a word appears many times in the story, by the end of the book you’ll know what it means and will remember it.
Pae Yun Ha: I don’t have a special way to memorize new words other than writing them many times on paper and reading them out loud, although I think the most efficient way to remember a new word is to use it in a context.
Do you find English useful in daily life?
Pamela: I speak English with my parents at home sometimes. And I have many American friends too, so it’s useful for me.
Kevin: Definitely. I’ve always liked computer games and digital products since I was a kid, and a lot of the software and websites are in English. I’m applying for a university abroad so I need to view many foreign schools’ websites, and they’re all in English. So it’s very useful.