Monday, July 26, 2010


I get asked this question very often. I was once presenting a language program to a group of technical workers at a manufacturing plant in Brazil when it popped up: "So, at the end of the course, will I be speaking English?" I had to say: "Well, you'll probably be able to speak some."

The truth is that this is a question that can't be given a definite answer. The idea of 'speaking English' has to be defined first. There are many levels of competency between the one of a real beginner and that of a fluent speaker.

Sometimes beginners and lower intermediate learners are able to speak just enough for what is required and expected from them. Quite a few students have told me that they did not speak English. What is interesting is the fact that they did so in English! When I said I didn't totally agree with them, they would go on and explain why they felt that way. All that in English! I guess we can call it a paradox.

Learning a second language is usually a long process. Some will even say that it is more like a lifelong continuum. You should see anything you do to improve your communication - a course, a trip, a reading - as a step that will take you a little bit further ahead in the process. Progress is influenced by different aspects such as each person's own ability to learn a language and how much time you devote to learning it. Your ultimate goals have to be considered. You may want to be able to take your kids to Disney or to take up a position at a multinational abroad. Then, the time and effort will vary accordingly.

Next on the blog, a few tips to help you learn a foreign language.

1 comment:

  1. Very good explanation. I can say that I´m an example of someone that can´t speak or writte in english fluently.