Learning English is an unpopular opinion.


    Another article from the “English courses” led me to write my own notes. With this article, I hope to answer some questions of language learners and dissuade from stupid advice “remember these 10/15/20 words / constructions”, which are presented as certain secrets of the language.

    Now I use only 2 languages: Russian and English, although at different times I also studied Ukrainian, German and French. I have been learning English since I was 6 years old and I was lucky with the teachers (although not all), somewhere in high school I have a level of C1-C2. I want to talk about how to plan in learning the language, and about some techniques.

    Where to begin?

    If you ask this question, then you probably do not even have the basics of the language (or you are not so sure about your knowledge).

    Learning English begins just like learning your mother tongue, for example, Russian, with the alphabet and phonetics, letters and sounds. You do not laugh, you will see that you can speak the alphabet in 5 seconds. This helps in searching for words in dictionaries, for example, or when “spelling” (reading a word by letter), as well as the reverse process — perception by ear — of names, names, etc. The sounds are more complicated, there are quite a lot of them, and the combinations at first are very unusual.

    How to learn sounds?If you have enough patience and attitude, there are official language courses (Cambridge, Oxford, dozens of them). If not, then through the songs. The songs can be different, the main thing is that almost immediately after you begin to repeat, you also see the words in front of you (so that there is no “Stop the alarm, stop the fridge - it’s May Life”). As native speakers teach - yes, just google "nursery rhymes".

    Let's go further. You can write any word by ear (not knowing what it means), speak your first name and last name. The next stage is the initial set of words-objects and numerals. The sets of words are different, but, as a rule, they all begin with related subjects. The numbers, hooray, all the same.

    How to learn words?Yes, somehow, if only there was progress. Some people like the application in the phone, for example Duolingo (there are still a lot of them, but please - do not put everything in a row and avoid applications with a small number of downloads, there may be viruses or something else, such as advertising in a half-screen). Again, there are official courses (for example, English Vocabulary in Use - Cambridge). There is a physical version of the cards with the words - google "English vocabulary flashcards", type, remember.

    At this stage I have two news for you. Good - learned above (alphabet, sounds, vocabulary of words, objects and numerals) will be remembered, if not forever, then for a very long time. The bad news: first, further simple memorization is indispensable, secondly, it must be determined with purpose and motivation.

    Lyrical digression
    Пятиминутка ненависти. Если вы уже на этом этапе пошли (или ребенка повели) на «курсы» и вам там говорят, что физические носители — прошлый/позапрошлый век и вообще ютуб наше всё, бегите от них как можно скорее. Как минимум, у них агрессивная политика зарабатывания денег и экономить они хотят на вас (физические учебники и раздаточный материал стоит денег, подчас немалых), а вполне возможно они еще и некомпетентны.

    Про учебники. Может показаться, что учебники не стареют и английскому учили одинаково что в 1980-х, что учат сейчас. Это не так. Кроме того, что меняются некоторые нормы языка, меняется реальность вокруг, а хорошие тексты в учебниках всегда на неё опираются. Не покупайте старые учебники с рук просто потому что дешево. Если стремитесь сэкономить — ищите бесплатное в интернете, там полно (правда, отдавайте себе отчёт, что экономите на себе и качество обучения может ухудшиться). Для примера, что я точно не рекомендую брать:
    — Скультэ — Английский для детей; и подобные туда же, вреда больше чем пользы
    — Бонк — Учебник английского языка (2 тома); скучно и безобразно
    Это не единственные учебники, безусловно, но я с ними сталкивался непосредственно и в обоих случаях слышал что это прям «золотой стандарт» и «лучше не придумали» (дело было в 90-х, надеюсь, что сейчас лучше). Может, я чересчур категоричен, но учебник английского должен быть на английском. Если вы не понимаете заданий (вот прямо вообще и совсем, а не «одно незнакомое слово») — этот учебник не подходит вам по уровню языка.

    Про преподавателей. Самый главный вопрос — а нужен ли вообще преподаватель? Ответ сложный и многогранный. Для многих задач в изучении языка — нет, не нужен, вам всё равно придётся много работать самостоятельно, чтобы достичь каких-то результатов в разумные сроки. Для того, чтобы помочь с произношением, проконсультировать со сложными вопросами грамматики или просто постоянно помогать и составлять план обучения если времени в обрез — нужен обязательно.

    Purpose of learning a language

    My most favorite topic. Children in school learn English very badly due to the lack of a goal; it is not clear to most why it is needed at all. Those who make their way to a certain level, there also remain for the same reason - there is no goal where to go next. Very few teachers are able to deal with this with enthusiasm and capture the children with play and interest. If children forget that they are learning a foreign language, and not playing games or singing songs, then everything works out, everything learns “by itself”. It is worth noting that this approach works almost exclusively at a younger age and / or only at the first stages of learning a language (when nothing can be formalized and not to consider complex topics). You can try on your children up to 7-8 years old: take Disney's Magic English discs and place one or two at a time. It does not bother small ones to revise the topic 5-6 times, it's quite normal. For fixing in the same place there are disks with exercises (which are called Playtime - because the games).

    Objectives in adolescents and adults can be very diverse. Someone had English-speaking friends, it is interesting to communicate with them, but it’s not good. Someone has job prospects related to the language. Someone is looking for a marriage with a foreigner. At the same time, accents are also different - someone needs to write in such a way that at least they understand (but they don’t have to speak), someone needs to speak so that they understand (and you don’t have to write anything but your name), and someone needs to read a lot , but neither write nor speak in the near future.

    It is best to concentrate on the immediate goal, pulling other areas of the language as far as possible, especially if the process does not bring you pleasure.

    How to talk?You can try to speak already at the basic level of the language. On the one hand, it will be a mistake not to speak and wait for the repentance to improve, on the other hand, not to try to make speaking better is also bad. The main problem is to find someone to talk to, everything is very individual, I have no general advice.

    How to read the lyrics? Here, as a rule, no problems arise. We used to sit in the arms of a dictionary, now Google Translate will save everyone. Or almost everyone. Technicians are probably the first to discover that already familiar words in a technical text may have a different meaning. It will be interesting to someone to find out what the translators have misinterpreted or failed to retell in familiar works (provided that you read books in Russian, of course).

    How to write correctly?We'll have to learn grammar! I once studied for a long time on the "Murphy grammar", but this book is not suitable for beginners. When I was puzzled by a beginner / kids grammar textbook, I found Jennifer Seidl Grammar and would highly recommend it (and adults, yes). Young people may need to know abbreviations and jargon to communicate with English-speaking peers. Memorizing them in advance is meaningless, some are used and only make sense on the sites where you will meet them.

    How to expand vocabulary?At the basic level, as I wrote above, words need to be memorized without any context (maximum is a picture for a word-subject), in a different way, alas, by no means. But at the level above everything is a little more interesting. It is actually simpler for adults (not children) to learn the language if they are not lazy, because at least they already have one (or even two or three) languages ​​and you can trace some regularities. For example, pronunciation in complex words is easier to memorize not by the rules, but by analogs (night - fight - light - it is enough to know the pronunciation of one to be able to pronounce the others). Also, the approximate meaning of an unfamiliar word can be understood if you know the meaning of the root and the principles of word formation:

    unbelievable= un-believe-able, the root "believe" and the negative prefix together with -able give "the one that cannot be trusted", which is close to the value "incredible"

    immortality = im-mortal-ty, the root is "mortal", another negative the prefix and -ty make the adjective “non-mortal” noun “immortality”

    Also borrowed words help adults, they already exist in the dictionary from their native language, you just need to remember how they are spelled and pronounced in English (here it’s once again lucky they already have rallies, icons, partisheny and other distributions).

    Language motivation

    You will not be able to get any significant results if you are not motivated. Negative motivation is, albeit rarely. For example, to move to a permanent residence in an English-speaking country, you need to have experience (the more the better), age (the less the better) and language (the higher the level the better). In this case, learning the language is better as soon as possible, because from a certain age the chances are falling dramatically and even good knowledge of the language will not help.

    Positive motivating factors are, for example, salary increase with a change of position to one with language skills and the possibility of business trips.

    If the purpose of the study has a numerical equivalent, for example, a certificate of language level, then it will be somewhat easier to motivate yourself.

    So why the "unpopular opinion"?

    Because a language cannot be “learned”, it is not an multiplication table, the process of learning a language never ends. You can reach a certain level in the language, and this is not the same as in other words. The difference in forgetting, as well as in the fact that to cover new areas in the language requires more and more effort.

    When you begin to learn a language, set real goals and try to motivate yourself correctly. You work a lot on the language yourself, and when you go to courses or pay a tutor, make sure that you have the same criteria for learning success and that they agree with the terms you set for yourself.

    And what time frame, for example? On one of the billboards I saw the following estimates, which seemed to me honest and realistic:

    • from “full zero” to A1 - 2 months
    • from A1 to A2 - 6 months
    • from A2 to B1 - 12-18 months (not sure, I don’t remember exactly)

    Thanks for attention!

    Write your wishes in the comments. If you have questions - I will try to answer.

    PS: I can write a sequel with examples of textbooks and books that I would recommend to find / read (mainly for children) - write if necessary and in what detail.

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