What is the Best Way to Learn English?
“To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world”
This question is similar to “what is the best method for learning English?” and, believe me, the answer is not an easy one. Why? Because academic research has proved that there is not just one best method for all learners. Different learners have different objectives, live in diverse environments, have special learning needs and, above all, have different learning styles. Read on to find out which method suits you best!
As a prospective student of English, you can choose between
- studying on your own using different tools like books, magazines, comics; English songs, videos and movies; TV shows, news, etc; the internet, social networks where you can interact with other English speakers. You can even move to or spend some time in an English-speaking country.
- and attending a school or an institute. If you choose the latter, it is important for you to understand the various methods and techniques to be able to choose the one that best suits your needs and enables you to enjoy and profit from your learning as much as possible.
Please, bear in mind that your language learning will not advance much unless you study in a respected language school where you can meet other students in your same or similar situation and where you have a tutor who can guide you through the fantastic adventure of acquiring a new language using appropriate methods, techniques and procedures.
Language teaching methods have gone a long way since the time when teaching a second language meant transmitting structural rules, focused on writing, grammar and analysis.
Relevant examples of traditional methods:
Grammar translation method:
Used to teach classical languages, but still used in traditional academic settings.
Goal: learn the grammar rules and the vocabulary of a language to read and understand literary pieces.
Basic approach: analyze and study the grammatical rules of the language, practice them through translation exercises. Learn vocabulary from the texts used.
Focus on: reading and writing
Stress on: perfection and accuracy.
Born as a reaction to the grammar translation approach
Goal: learn how to think and communicate using everyday sentences and structures and how to use the language spontaneously.
Basic approach: learners develop skills by interacting with their teacher using questions and answers. Vocabulary is taught through pictures or real objects
Focus on: speaking and listening before writing. Grammar rules are acquired through practice
Stress on: Student active participation
Goal: learn to be able to communicate automatically
Basic approach: repetition of patterns in dialogues and phrases about daily situations. Practice is based on drills, repeated till the students’ response is automatic. There is very little grammatical explanation
Focus on: listening and speaking (mostly repeating) interacting with other students, but teacher centered.
Stress on: acquisition of patterns in common everyday dialogues
Communicative Language Teaching Approach:
Goal: learn to communicate successfully
Basic approach: the teacher facilitates communication while students try hard to interact using English
Focus on: meaningful communication; interaction among students and with other English speakers – lots of pair and group work. The learning process is centered on the student allowing personal creativity
Stress on: the ability to communicate the meaning of the message
Even though there are several other methods and techniques, one is worth mentioning here, which, I think, is by far the best and most modern way to learn a language: It appeals to all learning styles, situations, needs and demands.
What exactly is blended learning? A combination of face-to-face (in class) learning with online learning. It is much more than adding computers to a classroom. It means that both students and teachers have to change their approach to language learning. It has to be carefully designed using customized strategies to balance and enrich the use of both in-class and web contents. It provides an integrated learning experience and gives the student some kind of control over time, place and pace.
Our blended learning method at Wall Street English includes the best parts of the different learning styles above. We teach English using ‘natural language acquisition’ – the same way you learned your first language. Our method is unique, supportive and personalized. You get the best of both worlds, allowing the flexibility of online learning at a pace you want, with the added support of Personal Tutors and Teachers for that face-to-face contact which is vital for learning! See more about our unique method and English courses now!