This article was intended to be posted for another similar web site; however, I withdrew from that site with frustration before I had the chance to do it. After some revision, I post it here to share with you.
When I encourage people to change their attitude about learning a foreign language, I speak strictly from my experience as a teacher. Every time when I read about Taiwan's English testing results, I cringe. Has the learning attitude changed much after I left Taiwan? In some way, yes! In general, it has not changed much. I have seen how students learn traditionally and I would like to see more changes to be made. So, here I will share a little story of my sister who is a good example of a typical Taiwanese English learner. I love her dearly. Hopefully, she will not kill me after reading this.
My little sister came to live with us for a while after she quit her job from a reputable international company. Her English was quite good, compared to many of her peers in Taiwan. She wanted to improve her English for career advancement, so she decided to come to Canada to study and went to a local college for their ESL program.
Her English level again was substantially higher than the other international students. The only problem was she would spend hours studying on her books. Every day after she got home from school, she would stay in her room and study grammar. She could score really high on the written tests and write sentences that seemed to be grammatically correct. However, her content meaning was often unclear. She was able to speak better than others but definitely with plenty of room for improvement.
My husband who can not speak a word of Chinese often asked her why she would not take advantage of the opportunities while in Canada to practise her spoken language. She often replied that she was shy or she had to study. My husband was finally frustrated and told her that she spent so much money to fly to Canada only to stay in her room to study. She could have saved the money and stayed in Taiwan if all she did was studying the books. Anyway, she eventually got the message and realized that applying her English skills to her everyday life was the practice that she truly needed.
Like my sister, most people want to improve their English either in speaking or writing competency. However, if no attempt was ever made to speak or to write, the ability to perform in either competency would not improve. This is why I often say that most students “talk the talk but do not walk the walk”. They always claim that they want to improve their writing but they never write anything in English. They are afraid to make mistakes or to show their vulnerability. They often express that they want to improve their oral language but they are too shy to speak. If no action has ever been taken, no evident progress will be made.
If you truly want to practice your English, why not post some of your own writing in English here or speak a bit in the chat room? Start with short passages and grow from there. Read the readers’ suggestions with a grain of salt, but pick their brains for good tips that work for you. Here you have a web site that provides you with abundant opportunities to help satisfy your needs and desire on the English learning path. Why not take full advantage of it?
The minute you signed on to this type of web site, you have made your first move towards a better English learner. I wish you all the best on the road to becoming a successful learner in English or any foreign language.