Cultural Musings

What I wish people understood about learning English

Your teacher is a guide, not a wizard. I can’t flick my marker and make you remember words. You’re the one responsible for learning! I can only show you the way. 

You can’t NOT do homework. You take lessons to learn, right? Homework helps you solidify what you did during the lesson. At least you have a chance of remembering something if you see it more than once. 

1 hour a week isn’t enough. It’s something, but it’s only a start. If you’re going to do homework, then it’s more acceptable. However, your progress will be at a snail’s pace. I know lessons are expensive, so it’s understandable you only take an hour a week, but you have to do other things in English if you want to see progress! Read, talk, listen, watch, whatever. Do as much as you can. 

Everything is useful. One of my absolute biggest pet peeves as a teacher is when a student says “Oh, but I’m never gonna use this”. You have no idea what you’re going to hear or read over the course of your life. Stop telling me that! If you know what you need to learn, go learn yourself! It’s a fact that the more language input you receive, the better your output will be! 

If you feel like you need to brush up on your grammar, check out the blog on my company’s website, TalkBack, for lots of great explanations on how to use some of the most important grammatical constructions.

If you know you need to improve your fluency, consider taking lessons with a native speaker today!

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  • Reply AsiaEm 2 June 2020 at 10:06

    Uh… Sorry to say, but: been there, done that. I hated English lessons in the second half of primary school. All the repetitive grammar exercises, not really interesting topics, pointless projects… Then I started to watch Disney Channel with its music films and translating English lyrics into Polish (and since I did not know enough tenses, the translations were awkward, like “what have you done”=”co miałeś zrobione”, but what matters is that I started researching English on my own). Later I started reading books in English (one of my first was “Twiligth”), then I discovered a whole new world of Harry Potter fanfiction in English. This kind of proves the point about 1 hour a week being not enough, but some of the other arguments you mention may unfortunately not be true for all English lessons (though probably in private schools it looks better than in public ones). What I want to say is that the student’s involvement is crucial, but sometimes lessons are truly not relevant and homework does not help.
    BTW, recently I took an on-line English course (prepared by some US university) focusing mostly on grammar, and for the first time in about 15 years of my formal education someone told me where the commas should go!

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 5 June 2020 at 09:18

      You’re totally right about not all lessons/homework being effective. Not all homework has to be boring though and same goes for lessons, right? It just needs to be something, not necessarily typical grammar exercises, unless someone enjoys grammar… like me 🙂

  • Reply Daniel 20 June 2020 at 22:09

    I think that your arguments are valid only as long as people do not encounter English in other places such as the Internet, Podcasts and Music.

    To be honest I was never the type to do my English homework or any homework at all! I have to say that the best way to learn English for me was to try to encounter it as much as I can. So it begun with my PC language – English, mobile phone language – English, Youtube content – English, newspapers – English. I continued to use English as primary language for anything I did. It was hard, I started to do this since I was like 10. I don’t really know the definitions of Present Perfect, Past Perfect etc. but I’m sure that I’ll use it right where I have to use it. I use my intuition a lot and I think it’s working out well for me. I wrote extended Matura with 98% result and received 100% for my oral English Matura.

    I’d happily take a challenge to work/study in English-only environment, I think it would benefit me greatly.

    Thanks for a good read,
    Daniel R.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 21 June 2020 at 09:13

      Hey Daniel! Honestly, I think the way you learned is actually the best way because it was more natural you enjoyed the things you did. You didn’t sit and do exercises, which can be really boring and ineffective. It clearly worked well for you! However, I do believe if someone is taking lessons, they should trust their teacher to give them interesting and useful materials. We always give our students YouTube videos to watch or articles or whatever it is that they actually like. I definitely don’t think you need to “know” the rules of grammar in order to use it correctly 🙂

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