Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Friday, March 24, 2006


by AJ

Yesterday I had a conversation with the best student in my class. By "best", I mean the one who is progressing most quickly. She is, in fact, zooming ahead of everyone else.... learning very very quickly.

At one point in the conversation, we talked about her life here in the US. Her eyes lit up, and with a huge grin she said, "I love America!".

And there it is. THE key factor. More than method or approach or any other factor. She's learning English quickly because she loves America.

Students who are motivated by love find a way. They are not content with classroom instruction. They are not content with passing tests. They are DRIVEN by a powerful desire to communicate. And they are driven by a desire to know the CULTURE, not just the language.

While the grammar-drill-translation method is slower and more painful, I have no doubt that such a student could succeed even with this approach.

By contrast, the "worst" students in my class...... the ones who are barely improving... show no interest in American culture. I ask them why they came to San Francisco and they say "to improve English". I ask them, "What aspects of American culture do you like?",... and they have no answer.

Now, I can relate to that answer :) but I also cant help but wonder why they are bothering at all. Because they have no connection with the culture, English learning is one long chore for them. Because they have no interest in the culture, all of their focus is on language mechanics. These are the people who monitor everything they say, determined to speak with "perfect grammatical accuracy". Problem is, when you do that, you dont end up saying very much.

LOVE, for the target culture, is THE best guarantee of success. I think it should be a prerequisite for entering any language course above the beginning level. Those without it are wasting their time. Most likely, they will go home and never use English again. So whats the point of all that money spent, time wasted, and energy squandered? Imagine what theyd accomplish if they focused, instead, on something they were truly interested in.

San Francisco, CA