Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Man and the Little Girl Part 2



The Man and the Little Girl Part 2


      The girl was exposed to actual listening, speaking and reading. That time, she had been attending a Philippine school for 2 years. The girl learned grammar through actual listening, speaking and reading a lot, that's why she was able to apply the grammar rules instinctively. She did not need to dissect the sentence to know which word would fit in the blank. The man, however, had to first study the form of the sentence and all its elements before he could figure out which word was the best answer. And may I please mention that the man started studying English in Junior High School. If we do our Math--- the man had more years of experience in learning English than the girl had, but the girl spoke English a lot more fluently than the man did, not to mention that she was a lot better in answering TOEIC questions. 

      The truth is, a lot of students spend so much time, money and effort memorizing grammar rules and words, that's why when they talk, or when they answer English questions, they mentally dissect the sentence and identify its patterns and modifiers before they answer. Learning the structure of the language is of course very good. And, there are things, such as new words and new expressions, that have to be committed to memory. But again, there has to be something that supplements all these memorized rules and new words. It has been proven so many times that knowledge of grammar, correct usage of vocabulary and even spelling are the direct results of reading. By reading, a student can also develop other skills such as making inferences, paraphrasing, rephrasing, determining cause and effect, and a lot more. Students have to be trained to concentrate on the meaning of what they hear and read, and not just to dissect sentences and enumerate grammar rules which they might not even understand. Too much memorization paralyzes the student's natural ability to process information in his brain on his own.  

     Some students I have talked to, however, raised some points. They claimed that they were trained to memorize and copy everything that their teachers said and wrote. They were not trained to speak. They were trained only to say "yes" to everything that the teacher said. They said that they just wanted to memorize and memorize and memorize and memorize more and more and more words and sentences, and that's it. They said that they're too old to change the way they study English. 

      I understand their point, and I empathize with them, but hey...can we really make another hole by digging the same hole? Can we really expect to produce a different result if we keep on using the same method? 

      Let me conclude by stating two simple rules when studying a language, particularly English: 
        1. Love, or at least like English. 
     2. Be open-minded. Just because a method is widely-used doesn't mean that it's effective.

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