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Learning English = School + Lifestyle

I read an interesting article in today’s Taipei Times that addresses the value of the current trend of teaching English to children at an earlier age. It seems as though many people believe that if they can just start studying earlier, students will have more time to learn and end up better speakers. The author of the article describes this trend in Taiwan, but questions its validity and concludes with this point:

“Perhaps the issue of how early EFL students start to learn English is not that pivotal. The crux of the matter is whether or not the students will continue to acquire English after school. I’ve interviewed numerous adult learners who began to learn English after 13 and now have a native-like proficiency. The one thing they have in common is that they use English every day, whether it be watching TV programs or movies, reading English newspapers or popular novels, or other methods.

Therefore, English teachers need to ponder a more crucial issue: how to make their students still willing to involve English in their lives after leaving school.”

We believe that a classroom education is a crucial component of learning English. But turning that foundation into natural language use requires another step, which is lots of practice in context-rich environments such as having conversations with native speakers, listening to native speakers having conversations with each other, and being exposed to native English speaking culture.

The easiest way to get this experience is by living in an English speaking country where access to speakers and culture isn’t a problem. The challenge is that cultural immersion is only available to a small percentage of people.

English learners who can’t make that move must find a way to make English part of their daily lifestyle. They might be harder to find, but there are plenty of ways to simulate immersion such as reading English news, finding a language exchange partner, or spending time in environments where native English speakers hang out.

We urge all of our members at Ebaby! to actively participate in school, but to help them reach the next level and truly grasp the English language, we do everything we can to make practicing English fun and engaging in an effort to make using it part of their lifestyle.

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