English? For me, it’s a combination of hard and easy. It is hard because English has a really wide scope. It is comprised of macro skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing) literature, and a lot more. What makes it easy is that English is a universal language. In most countries, it is the second language being taught and spoken. Therefore, it is quite an advantage to learn it.
As a Filipino, it gave me quite a hard time learning English as it is not my native language. Luckily, it is part of the subject taught to us since kindergarten (alphabet, animals, colors, etc). Exposure to a language plays a great role in learning. English is not the only language that I have learned aside from my native language. I have also learned Mandarin Chinese in college. It was tough, but I enjoyed it. What was the key? EXPOSURE. Though I’m not saying that the only way to learn a language is through exposure, it is just one thing that can give you an advantage.
As An ESL Teacher
I am an English teacher from the Philippines. I have taught different nationalities. All throughout my experiences, I’ve encountered different queries from students on how to learn English fast and easy. I would always tell them to read English books, listen to English audio clips, conversations, or music, and watch English movies (first with subtitles, and second without). I, myself, am actually wondering… “How did I learn English?” Let me tell you my story…
Since I was a kid, I’ve lived a normal life in a province. No foreigners, no elite persons, no celebrities. All of us lived a simple lifestyle. If you might ask, “I thought exposure is the key?” Again, that is just one of the countless methods.
I grew up in a family of 6 (including my parents) and I, being the second child. Both of my parents didn’t finish college. My brother and I grew up doing our own homework. Never did we ask, or gotten help from our parents nor from each other. We were taught to study and learn independently. When I was in elementary, I love every subject except for Mathematics, though I’m also bad in arts. I like Filipino, Science, and English, so I can say that they were pretty balanced.
During those times, we would occasionally have English spelling quizzes in the classroom. I like spelling so much! But I hate reading (even up till now). Grammar was not a thing for me and I would usually use my gut feeling for answers ( if it sounds good, it’s correct. lol).
I Love English
In high school, I found an affinity in English. Adding up the factor of admiration towards my English teacher on my first year in high school, I grew interest on this certain subject. My English teacher inspired me to have a better understanding of the subject. She was kind and smart. I found her teaching approach really engaging. Also, literature started to be deeper and more interesting. I admire her teaching skills because most of all, she speaks English without a hint of Filipino accent. She was really proficient and competent. My discovery of great interest in English is all thanks to her, Miss Katherine Buendia.
I was a really shy person back then. I was one of those that they call “Dalagang Pilipina or Maria Clara”, because I would usually just sit down on a chair and cover my mouth with a handkerchief. I am that kind of person that prefers to listen than talk (except for talking with REALLY CLOSE friends). I never knew that I would be able to speak English in a good way even though I don’t really practice it too much. I even joined spelling bees before, and never thought to obtain a place since I don’t really like reading books or dictionary. They even established a classroom rule which was the EOP or “English Only Policy” during English classes, though they usually just last for a week or two.
How did I get better at it? I guess because of listening, since I’m quite an adaptive person.
I Made A Choice
When I was about to enter college, I had to make a choice for a course to take. I wanted to be a flight attendant. My family didn’t want me to take it because the course would require a lot of money. I didn’t have a choice. That was the only course I’ve wanted. They gave me an option to take MedTech or BioSci, or even Sped. I didn’t want any of those. Until they told me to just take up education since there’s an elementary school nearby our house. Then I just agreed. I took up education.
I didn’t really know about courses too much when I was that age, so when I was asked in the admissions office what course I’d be taking, I said “education” and they asked me, “what major?”. I was wondering if there was a major for elementary, but I said “English” since I didn’t know much about courses, and since it is my favorite subject. Because of that, I took up BSED major in English.
Exposure To The Language
I studied in Malolos, which is a city. I came from a town so I’m not used to the new environment. People were so diverse, even with the dialect. I even had a classmate who was from the United States. But later on, I got along with them very well and got used to the diversity. At that time, I thought that I know a lot about English but the truth slapped me. I found out that there’s a lot more about English than meets the eye. I’ve learned a lot of things in college. Not just from my professors, but even from my classmates and friends. I get to use the English language more often as we are English majors, and that we analyze English deep within its roots and form. It was then that I realized how wide and complicated English really is, but it was so fun and satisfying to gain from it.
In my second year, I had a subject called “Speech and Stage Arts”, it was also one of our major subjects. It was more about role plays. I like reenacting stories in literature. I like it so much that I thought of shifting my course. But then I told myself that I wouldn’t want to waste the two years that I’ve been into the education field. Years passed by and it’s been a roller coaster ride. It was a combination of good and hard times. I endured the hardships, and I learned. Learning English is not easy. It takes time, effort, and you have to put your heart into it.
When I was in fourth year, I got together with my classmate from the United States. He’s a native speaker so I speak in English all the time. We were already close friends since the first and second year though I didn’t get to talk too much but just listen because I was so shy and afraid of committing mistakes. Fear is one of the factors that hinders learning. I’ve realized that you should trust yourself so that you can grow. When we got together, we get to talk about a lot of things. I learned that multitude of things I know about English were wrong.
Learn What’s Right
There are lots of English words that were pronounced wrong because of Filipinism (way of pronunciation, only in the Philippines/by Filipinos) that all these times, I thought was right. And I’ve adapted his way of speaking (slang, idioms, expressions), since we’re together most of the time.
Even about Mandarin Chinese, there were Filipino and Chinese teachers that taught us that language. But I found out the distinction of learning a language from a native and a non-native speaker. If you learn it from the natives, you’d adopt the accent and expressionst. But if you learn it from non-natives, it doesn’t mean that it’s bad or any worse. Non-natives tend to focus more on the structure, grammar, and ways to learn the language easily, since they’ve experienced it themselves. So the difference between learning the language from native and non-native is the accent/expression, and the structure.
As a second language learner myself, I would advise those of you that are struggling to learn English, to identify your learning styles first of all. Know how you learn things easily whether it is Math, Science, or anything. You should find out if you’re a type of learner whose auditory (hearing/listening), visual(watching/seeing/reading *pictures,books*), kinesthetic (moving/tapping/doing whatever while studying), tactile(feeling objects), audio-visual(watching videos/presentations), etc. You can look it up for better examples and definition.
Once you figure it out, you can tailor your needs on how you’ll learn English the best. Know yourself, and be comfortable with the language.