That’s why I start working on listening first.
When we work on something, we do it with the intention of improving it. Notice the following:
- I need to work on my writing and my vocabulary.
I found that learning vocab, and especially idioms, help me a lot.
Idioms are groups of words that together have a unique meaning. Notice the following:
- The idiom “think outside the box” means to think differently.
It was hard to sort of grasp the meaning.
When you grasp something, you understand it. Notice the following:
- His idea was hard to grasp at first, but now I get it.
You, like, tried it out in the wild.
When you try something out in the wild, you try it in the real world, or you try it in a practical situation. Notice the following:
- No theory is any good until you try it out in the wild.
You tried it out in the wild, so to speak.
The phrase so to speak refers to the use of an idiomatic expression. We use to help clarify that the phrase is figurative, and not literal. Notice the following:
- When you go to college, you should let your hair down, so to speak, meaning you should have fun and not be too serious.
And, in that sense, you can sort of understand.
Here, the phrase, in that sense means in that way , or in that manner. We use it to clarify the context of the situation. Notice the following:
- Yes, in that sense, I agree with you.
Ben: Hana, I’m currently teaching English as a Second Language, and I love for my students to get confident in producing English or increasing their listening ability. I know that you speak English as a second language, but you do such an amazing job and it’s inspiring to me, so I love my students to improve and like it, and so because you’re a perfect example, what are some strategies you have for my students so I could tell them?
Hana: Firstly, I worked on listening, and there are so many websites that are designed for English learners, like ELLLO here you’re listening to, and YouTube or any, you know, so many sites that you can check on. Yeah, like that. I’ll probably start with the listening first.
Ben: You said, firstly, listening. Why is listening so important?
Hana: It’s because when you want to communicate, of course, the English as a tool, communication tool, first, you have to understand what the speaker say, so first, I worked on listening. By listening to audio, or the sound, then you can learn vocab and also spelling, and you know the meaning, of course. Eventually, you can move on to the next English skill. That’s why I start working on listening first.
Ben: What about anything else that you … have any other strategies?
Hana: Personally, I found that learning vocab, and especially idioms, help me a lot.
Ben: Yeah, idioms are tough.
Hana: Yes, because often I found it difficult to understand what the speaker say. I could hear, I could understand what the single words they say. But sometimes it was hard to sort of grasp the meaning what they’re actually saying, so learning idioms or vocab helped me a lot, yeah.
Ben: When you learn the idioms, you can understand them. Did you ever use them yourself, when you, like, tried it out in the wild, so to speak, using the idioms you learned.
Hana: Yes, I did it gradually. I mean, when I was in high school, I started speaking … I started studying English when I was in high school. First thing I did was visiting those websites that, like, designed for English speakers, English learners. At the same time, I start watching like American TV dramas and, in that sense, you can sort of understand in what situation you can use those particular phrases or idioms. By learning the idioms and vocab and the settings or the environment, the situation you can use, then you can sort of actually try to use them. At the beginning I was so nervous, but …
Ben: I’m sure. Yeah. I mean it’s really difficult to use idioms in any language, but English has so many, I think. Another thing I wanted to ask you about production skills in English is writing. I try to give my students opportunities to write it in class, but in order to be a proficient and excellent English speaker, you need to practice outside of class. What do you recommend to improve student’s writing abilities, besides just taking it for a test or for an assignment? What do you recommend?
Hana: Yes. They are difficult. I myself have trouble still writing because I’m not a good writer in my native language.
Ben: Oh, no.
Hana: But I guess just reading will help you, at the start. Reading something, reading text or some passages will help you.
Ben: So if you know how to read, it can help you write.
Hana: Yes, definitely.
Ben: All right.
Hana: To learn sort of the template, how will things goes and how you make paragraph and stuff. Probably if you want to get better at writing, I would start reading first, reading lots of passage, different kinds of materials first.
Ben: That’s true, and I agree with that. One thing I wanted to have my students do is actually do like a journal, actually.
Ben: Did you ever keep an English journal to help with your writing?
Hana: Yes, I did.
Ben: Oh, you did?
Hana: I did, yeah.
Ben: How do you feel that helped you? Was that good, a good idea?
Hana: Yes. Because, first, when you write, unlike speaking or talking to somebody, it gives you time to really think about what you want to do, what you want to write, and you can focus on grammar more. That helps to actually talk to somebody maybe a day, right, next day, or you have to write something else in the class, that would help you. So keeping the journal will help you definitely, I think.
Ben: Okay. Thank you very much for the tips. I really appreciate it.
Hana: You’re welcome.