October 21, 2005

Repost: Why Learn English the Hard Way? -- by Bruce Lin

Why Learn English the Hard Way?
TOEIC, TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, GEPT…so many tests there puzzle you. Which one is better in proving your English worth? Actually, it would be plainly silly to compare them, as English is so vast and complicated that one test alone can’t judge your ability; no test will ever be suitable enough to improve your English. Yet, one approach remains simple and true – if you USE English every day, your English will be better with each passing day. So many English textbooks serve more like detours than short-cuts – they show you English rules that you will forever have hard time memorizing. To use English, you don’t need those rules. However, when you use English, you have to constantly refer to those rules in order to refine your English.
In society, unfortunately, people never have the interest to know you; their mentality is only high enough to understand a certificate. Memorizing those rules becomes important. The thing is, tests can’t really determine abilities, but people need those stinky certificates to help them move forward. Now, I would like to tell you my experience in taking a test, which involves listening, reading, writing, and speaking English. Hope they are useful to you:
I listen to and read a lot of English in my life. I think it is not so much my personal interest as a common human nature of wanting to know more. That said, I did not answer any of the test questions of listening and reading confidently; those readings were meant to confuse, but I persisted on to the last second.
As for the second stage, the writing and speaking tests, I am 100% certain that if I did not USE English every day, I would not have made it in the first place. In the speaking test, the questions were, “What do you like to do in your free time and what’s the purpose?” and “Do you think personality determines a person’s fate.” They are simple questions, yet if you don’t practice English speaking daily, you can’t tackle with even the simplest questions. In the writing test, testers were required to write two 250-word essays in 105 minutes based on the articles provided. I write every week and I try to get each of my writing done in 20 minutes. When in the real writing test, my ideas just came down like water onto the paper without too much thinking – writing is already a pleasant habit, not some trick I work hard on for a test. When I finished the two essays, there was still 15 minutes left – that’s more than enough for me to check grammar and wording.
Many people spend lots of money learning English. When will they ever learn? It does not take money or intelligence to learn something; it is passion, the very essence of human existence, that does it. Is that too complicated to understand? Why learn English the hard way? Sadly that many people’s passion has turned capitalistic, doggedly believing that money can solve everything. It can’t.


1 comment:

  1. No one can improve your English but you. A self-motivation in learning English is the key to success.