Michelle's independent resources for ESL Students at Vancouver Community College

This is a Canadian ESL blog for Intermediate and Advanced Students who want to learn and improve their English. Each PAGE above contains thousands of free English lessons, tutorials and practice exercises to help you learn and improve your English grammar, reading, listening, pronunciation, speaking, writing and editing. Some of the resources are Canadian. Others are from around the world.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Take a Leap of Faith: Live Your Life in English

Leap of Faith: As with all things dear to your heart, and convictions, you must have Faith in yourself... by CT Pham off Flickr

Dear Upper Advanced Students,Welcome to class.I`m sure we will have a great term together. In the few days that we have had together so far, I have seen that all of you have both strengths and weaknesses.

Some of you have strong listening and speaking skills, but are weaker in reading, or writing.
On the other hand, others may have great grammar, or reading skills , but really need to work on your English speaking and listening skills.

As you know, this class covers all skills within a limited amount of time ( i.e. ten weeks).
This means that some of you may have to work on your weaker skills on your own (by yourself, with no help.)

You can do this in a variety of ways: by going to the Learning Centre, using my Moodle platform, or using the resources in this blog to do some independent work on your own. There is a lot of help out there. Whether you use it or not is up to you . It will depends on how motivated you are, and how badly you want to meet your goals.

Keep in mind (idiom - remember) that you are only human and therefore need to develop realistic expectations of what you can possibly achieve in two and half months. L
earning English is not like learning math, or physics. It is not a classroom subject that you only study for exams.

English is the world you;live in. It is the language you will work in, shop in, make new friends in, play in, talk to your children`s teachers in..... I could go on. It is a living, breathing, constantly changing language. You cannot think of it as something you stop using as soon as you step out the classroom door. In fact, you must stop thinking of English as something you take multiple choice tests in.

Life is not a multiple choice test - in any language.

Can you imagine answering questions at a job interview with an A, B,C. D. Can you imagine asking a customer how you can help her, only to have her respond `D please.``:
Ridiculous isn't it .

English is the language of the country you have chosen to live in. If you want to improve, you have to practice, practice, practice, just as a new driver must practice until he can drive.
This means taking a great leap of faith. Of course you will make mistakes. That is part of the process. Remember, you didn't learn how to communicate in your own language at the professional level in two years.
Don't get discouraged, or blame yourself if you don't seem to be learning as fast as you want to, or as fast as you thought you would. Perhaps you had unrealistic expectations, both of your teacher and yourself. Perhaps you thought that you would improve simply by attending class, listening to a teacher, and practicing in class. Sadly, that will never be the case. You will always need to practice out of class and use English as the living language it is.

You may however, need to adjust your expectations and reassess your goals. Rather than focusing on the big picture, develop SMART goals.: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic ,. and timely. ( I will be saying much more ab out this in another post)
Most of you are working full time. Some of you have families and children as well, so you only have a limited amount of time. Whatever you choose to do, try to study smart. If you only have an hour in which to study or do homework, focus on the areas you are weak in. Don`t spend an hour on a grammar exercise if you already understand that point quite well.

Focus on a weak area instead. For example, put all of your energy into your reading homework. Make notes on the sides saying what you think the writer is trying to say. Practice with the new vocabulary. Learn some conversational idioms and practice them with every English speaker you meet. Listen to an all news radio station while you are driving. You will hear the same news stories over and over again. As such, you will start to absorb the vocabulary without even realizing it as getting your ear used to the music of English.

I will have a lot more to say on goal setting, time management and specific strategies you can use to improve all of your English skills, both in class and out of class, but I will discuss these in other blogs.


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