Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Monday, February 20, 2006

Success Story

by AJ

Ive got a fantastic student in my class... she's young, vibrant, and enthusiastic. More to the point, her English ability is improving rapidly. She's gotten a job as a waitress in a restaurant, catering to American customers... even though she is in the "low-intermediate" class. This student is improving faster than most of her classmates. Whats her secret? After all, she's from Korea.. and so is a product of the same drill-kill-memorize educational system as most of my students.

Turns out this student is instinctively following her own "comprehensible input approach". She hates grammar study. In a recent class discussion, she described the textbook as "useless".

Instead, she prefers music, movies, free reading and TV. She's got a notebook full of song lyrics. She downloads American music on her MP3 player... finds the lyrics on the internet... then uses a dictionary (and native speakers) to help her decode the meaning.

A month and a half ago, we read an article about the benefits of pleasure reading. I advised the class to go to a bookstore and buy an EASY and FUN book to read. She was the only student to take my advice.. she bought an English language manga (comic book) and has been reading enthusiastically.

This student loves the movie technique. At home she even tries it herself.... watching movies and TV shows on her own. She also has no fears of making mistakes. She speaks eagerly... focused on MEANINGFUL COMMUNICATION, not grammar perfection. As a result, her speaking is amazingly fluent for a student of her level... as is her listening comprehension. Her grammar is not bad either, as good or better than any other student in the class.

While a few of her "monitor overusing" peers struggle along at a snails pace, this student is acquiring the language rapidly. Just as importantly, she is already functioning in the language... enthusiastically using it for authentic (non classroom) communication.

My challenge: How can I convince other students to follow her lead?