How To Learn English


Synopsis

For me the only right way to learn a foreign language is to do it the same way you learned your birth tongue. That is, trying to use it in your life and work.

Intended Audience

I would like to talk about only the situation in China. Everybody is spending lots of time studying, but most people are on the wrong track. That’s why I feel this HOWTO might be meaningful.

The intended audience would be people like me who need to use English in daily work, but do not really have much time to study it. And the people who want to explore the western culture and already determined to be a life long English Learner.

About Grammar

I am never interested in learning grammar, it is not because I do not want to write sentences formally and rightly, but rather that it is too difficult to learn. Grammar is like this, you learn one rule and 1000 exceptions will come with it.

Too much concern on grammar makes learning so boring and using English so painful.

you do not need to learn grammar

It will come to you after you read enough right English sentences.

What is good English?

The topic seems a little obscure, I know that. Here I only focus on Chinese English learners, for whom English is a foreign language. I want to start by giving my believe that it is basically impossible to learn perfect English without staying in a English-speaking country for more than 10 years.

Here the word “perfect” means “not obviously different from native speakers”. No body speaks a language perfectly, many native speaker speak very bad grammar, which makes their better educated fellow citizen angry since they taint the language of Shakespeare, and make me happy, since I can do better:-) However, even these guys speaks better English than that of a Chinese English Professor. Because by my definition, having good English means you can wrap your mind easily to express your emotion clearly and telling things clearly. Language is just a tool, a good tool shall be something with which you can create things neither useful or beautiful efficiently. As to grammars and other superficial stuff, I beg to say they are only secondary. And that is one of the main reasons I stick to the point that

English can only be learned in practical use.

Well, I actually started to study this language in 1995, the first year of my junior middle school. But it was in the year of 2008 that I started to really using it.

I want to tell you why I did such a switch since I believe many people has such kind of dilemma as well.

I started programming since the first year of my post graduate study. It was not so bad, coding was also interesting. But one year later, that was the winter of 2007, I felt I had been kept really busy for programming and I did not have enough time for English study.

I was scared, since if you do not have enough for English, you start to forget things. I thought I might lost all I had achieved till then. So it was kind of life or death moment for my English Learning. So I made

A big decision

I throwed away all my programming books in Chinese, and uninstalled Chinese input on my PC. That was a pretty crazy action I took, a big leap of faith, but it turned out to be really rewarding for my life and career. Until now, I still do not have Chinese input on my computer:)

Trap to avoid

In all my six years middle school life, everybody in my class tried really hard to learn English. But I really hated it, English study is so boring

I think that is because:

Examinations are Evil

It is worse than bad, it is evil. The more attention you put into exams, the less likely you can speak English well.

conclusion

Forget about exams, try to use English as often as you can.


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