Following on from part 1 of what makes a perfect English language learner, here are a few more points.
|If she can do it, anyone can.|
Photo by Kat
Perfect students are always happy, even when they can’t master the verb to be. I know speaking in another language can change people’s personalities, I certainly come across as quite serious when I speak in Spanish, or at least I did, but there’s no reason why you can’t smile now and then while learning.
It might not actually help you remember those tricky double phrasal verb definitions, or aid you in understanding the 4th conditional, but it will make the whole learning process more enjoyable, especially for the teacher. A happy class is not a miserable class.
on the verb ‘to be.’
A perfect student means
perfect grammar. But we all know perfect grammar is hard to master, so to make
your lives easier I’d recommend focussing on the verb ‘to be,’ particularly the
third person ‘s.’ This won’t guarantee fluency, or ensure you’ll be able to
have a decent conversation with a native speaker, nor will it necessarily mean
achieving a B1 or B2 level of English. But you will get on the good side of
your teacher, and when your parents test you to check whether you ‘know English’
by reciting the verb ‘to be’ chart then you’ll impress.
The best language
learners think in the new language. When I first started to learn Spanish, in
an adult course after university, I used to recite vocabulary in my head on the
way home. I may have looked like a fool muttering to myself in
Spanish as I strolled past old ladies watering their flowers, but it helped.
Just think about it, how
much time do you actually think during the day? We are constantly talking to
ourselves, planning our day, worrying about things, preparing conversation with
people, so why can’t you train your brain to do that in English?
That’s what I did when I
first came to Sevilla, I thought a lot, effectively spoke to myself, in
Spanish. Before I met up with my girlfriend, now wife, I’d prepare questions I
wanted to ask her in my mind in Spanish, I still do. You can even record yourself and then
play it back and listen to how awful you sound (only teasing).
Unless you are like that
robot from short circuit who can read a Chinese dictionary and suddenly start
speaking the language, then buy yourself a pretty notebook and make some notes during class.
Not just notes about who you would least like to sit next to in class, or which
deadly animal you’d like to set on your English teacher, but real, useful,
colourful notes on what you’ve learnt.
My two best students last
year, one at B1 level and the other at B2 level, were constantly taking notes,
keeping their vocabulary up to date, and were interested in improving their
level. There’s only so much the teacher can help with, so make the most of it
and keep a record. If you don’t do this then there’s no way you’ll ever
improve. My grandmother once said ‘the best students are those who make a lot
of notes and memorise them,’ so there you go.
you know more than the teacher
Okay, I’ll admit it,
during my first years as an English teacher I did wing it a few times. Of
course I didn’t really know how to explain the difference between the present
perfect and past simple at times, and my knowledge about parts of speech was
shocking, but I’ve taught myself what I’ve needed to know.
We are not walking
dictionaries, we do make mistakes, we don’t know the reasoning behind the
entire English language, but 90% of the time we are right. Sometimes you just
have to accept that things are the way they are, just because.
In some cases you may
know more rules than your teacher, you may even pronounce some words better,
depending on where your teacher is from, but there is nothing worse than a
student who constantly questions their teacher. Just have some faith, believe
in your teacher’s life experience as an English speaker, and stop being a pain
in the neck, to put it politely.
So, there you go. Now you
know how to be a perfect English language learner, are you going to make some
changes? Any more advice from TEFL teachers out there?
Labels: advice for english learners, advice for teachers, New to TEFL, what makes the perfect english learner