In this article, I will argue that English classes simply do not give you enough input to speak English fluently, and that you need to get English input outside of the classroom if you want to be fluent. I will also give two other reasons to take things into your own hands and get English input on your own.
From my new article “Why you need to take charge of your English learning”.
Mateusz Mar 29, 2010 at 8:46 pm
Another great article, Tom!
I totally agree that learning for fun is not only enjoyable but beneficial, too. For example, after watching “Inglorious Basterds”, I spent the next few days imitating Brad Pitt’s awesome accent, which made me eager to work on my intonation. I even learned by heart the scene in which he gave a speech to the soldiers under his command. Generally, the more videos I watch, the better my active vocabulary gets.
Tom Mar 30, 2010 at 11:03 pm
Frankly, my impression was that Pitt overdid the hillbilly accent (on purpose?). It didn’t sound natural to me (of course, IANANS), although it may be good for practicing pronunciation because it is so exaggerated.
Melissa Mar 30, 2010 at 10:48 am
Great article! I agree about the unfortunate prevalence of the idea that learners should spend most of their time talking to each other– I think it tends to allow students to learn mistakes that they then have a really hard time unlearning! I also like your comments about British English. I’m a teacher and a native speaker of American English and my employers (non-native speakers who got into their positions by virtue of who they know) insisted that “it’s easier to learn American English after you learn British English.” Of course, that’s the way they learned. I wanted to tell them that it’s easier to learn Spanish after you learn French– the way I learned –but I knew the point would be lost on them, and I would probably be considered insubordinate.
Tom Mar 30, 2010 at 10:57 pm
I didn’t mention mistakes and other bad things that occur in classrooms because I wanted to focus on the most important arguments to get input on your own, but of course I agree. I have written more about English classes here (I will be re-writing this article soon because I think it is a bit too one-sided and infantile, but it does provide some good arguments against English classes.)
By the way, you are a rarity. Most native speakers who come to Europe to teach English have never learned a foreign language successfully. No wonder they’re so clueless about what it takes to pull it off…
Allen Apr 15, 2010 at 8:30 am
Wow! Do you work in East Asia, for example, Taiwan? lol
visitor Dec 16, 2017 at 1:54 pm
“English teaching is dominated by British English” in China,too.