My Experience Related to Foreign Language Learning and Teaching
Nowadays, we are living in such a multicultural world that speaking English has become essential to be able to communicate with people from different countries, to travel and to expand working opportunities.
English is present everywhere, particularly on the political scene, encouraging international exchanges. This language is the most spoken in the world after Mandarin with 1.5 billion people speaking English out of a total world population of 7.5 billion people. Despite this, English remains a foreign language for many people.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Léna T. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
What is my experience related to foreign language learning and teaching?
I will consider my relation to the foreign language experience in two different aspects: the learning experience of English and the teaching experience of English. To illustrate the first aspect of learning English as a foreign language, I will talk about my personal experience abroad. In the second part of this analysis, I will highlight my experience of teaching English as a foreign language.
The experience of learning English as a Foreign Language: My personal experience in Australia
When we are traveling to a foreign country the “language barrier” is the common issue we face if we do not speak the language of the country.
I am French and I have always dreamt to speak English fluently. However, even after fifteen years of learning English at school, my English was still very limited since I never had the chance to put my knowledge into practice. I learned English in a theoretical way instead of a practical way. Everything changed when I went to Australia in 2011. To overcome this “language barrier”, I had to learn and to speak English. I spent one year over there and I became fluent.
I mostly learned English with the people I spent time with. It was a real motivation to improve my speaking skills. My experience in learning English in Australia has been funny, difficult and even confusing sometimes. At the beginning of my travel to Australia, my pronunciation was incorrect which led to a few misunderstandings. For example, I was saying “tired” but people understood “tight”. It was quite hilarious. In the beginning, I was shy, I was not confident, but step by step, my friends and all the people I met during this travel helped me to pronounce English correctly to extend my vocabulary and to improve it. I learned a lot of things and their help was precious and rewarding.
Also Read: What is the difference between TESOL and TEFL?
The benefits of learning a foreign language
What an incredible and fulfilling experience it is to be able to speak fluently a foreign language after one year only!
I realized a dream. When we learn a foreign language there is always this touch of curiosity and it feels like an accomplishment to be finally able to talk with someone in their language. Behind learning a language, there is always this will to discover another culture, to open our mind. Today, I speak three different languages: English, Spanish and French. In my perception, since I learned them, it is even easier for me to learn other languages. Like a gymnastic for the brain. In my opinion, learning a foreign is a constant daily process. I am learning new vocabulary every day. Thanks to this incredible experience and the level I reached in English, I have been able to teach it in Vietnam.
Also Read: Do I need a passport to teach English abroad?
The experience of teaching English as a Foreign Language: My personal experience in Vietnam
I have been living in Vietnam for five years and after three years spent in this amazing country, I had the opportunity to teach various levels of English in both Language centers and schools.Teaching English as a foreign language especially as a non-native speaker has been a real challenge for me. Without experience, I had to take it seriously to be able to teach this language in the best conditions. Step by step, while gaining experience, I learned how to be more self-confident and my fears quickly turned into satisfaction making this experience very rewarding. I became more creative to input new teaching tools and activities to teach English to my students. Furthermore, I learned a lot of things. I figured out how to find a good balance as a teacher; between being friendly, funny and firm and respected at the same time. I learned how to be more playful with the kids, how to push my students to think (in a country where repeating knowledge is prioritized rather than having an opinion). My best memory is teaching kindergarten because I simply love their innocence and curiosity. It is great to be part of their learning process as a teacher.
Also Read: "Ways to Encourage ESL Students to Learn English"
I noticed Vietnamese students are often very curious and enthusiastic about learning English. It is like a fun game for them to break this language barrier. In Vietnam, it is essential to speak this language because Vietnamese is a rarely spoken language (by only 75 million people in the world ). English schools and learning centers are growing everywhere. Learning and speaking English is an immersion in a new world for Vietnamese people since it is a completely different language to learn. I admire their ability to learn and to speak it, especially because Vietnamese has a different orthography, grammar, and pronunciation. It has always been rewarding for me to be part of this learning process and progress. Teaching them English also convinced me that I could open their minds, widen their future encounters and work opportunities.
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To conclude, the learning and the teaching approach are interdependent parts of the foreign language experience. They are both very gratifying experiences. English is an outstanding and common language that enables people from all over the world, to interact with each other.
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