I. 1.- The problem of learning languages is very important today. Foreign languages are socially demanded, especially at the present time, when the progress in science and technology has led to an explosion of knowledge and has contributed to an overflow of information. Foreign languages are needed as the main and most efficient means of information exchange of the people of our planet.
2.- Today English is the language of the world. Over 350 million people speak it as a mother tongue. The native speakers of English live in Great Britain, the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand. It is the major international language for communication in such areas as science, technology, business and mass entertainment. English is the official language of some political organizations, such as the United Nations Organization. It is the language of the literature, education, modern music, international tourism.
3.- Russia is integrating into the world community and the problem of learning English for the purpose of communication is especially urgent today. To know English is absolutely necessary for every educated person, for every good specialist.
4.- Learning a foreign language is not an easy thing. It is a long and slow process that takes a lot of time and patience. Reading books in the original, listening to the BBC news, communicating with the English speaking people will help a lot. When learning a foreign language you learn the culture and history of the native speakers.
II. Methods of teaching foreign languages.
There are three principal views at teaching a language:
- The structural view treats language as a system of structurally related elements. Cognitive method.
- The functional view sees language as a vehicle to express a certain function. Communicative method.
- The interactive view sees language as a vehicle for the creation and maintenance of social relations.
Cognitive approach. Introduces the four principle language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The teaching of grammar consists of a process of training in the rules, which make the students correctly express their opinion, understand the remarks, which are addressed to them, and analyze the texts which they read. The objective is that by the time they leave college, the pupil controls the tools of the language, which are vocabulary, grammar and orthography, to be able to read, understand and write texts in various contexts.
Communicative language teaching. Emphasizes the interaction of both the means and the ultimate goal of learning a language. This acquisition-focused approach consists of three stages: aural comprehension, early speech production, and speech activities, all fostering natural language acquisition. Pairing off of students into small groups to practice newly acquired structures becomes the major focus. Now the classroom becomes more student-centered with the teacher allowing for students to output the language more often on their own.
The direct method. This method is similar to communicative approach, but it uses only target language in teaching. This method encourages the natural acquisition of language. One of the main features of the method is. for example. using mono-lingual dictionaries, when an unknown word is explained with the help of the same language. To my mind, this must be the second stage of language education, when a lot of simple words are learned.
Silent Way. The teacher is usually silent, leaving room for the students to talk and explore the language. The role of the teacher is to give clues to the students, not to model the language.
III. Language certificates.
There are some international organizations, which are responsible for language testing and language certificates. For example the International Language Testing Association organizes conferences, workshops, and a public forum for the discussion of important matters. In Europe, there are two organizations: the Association of Language Testers of Europe and the European Association for Language Testing and Assessment. All of these associations have developed so called Code of Practice which all language assessment professionals are expected to adhere to.
There are some internationally acknowledged certificates of English.
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). It measures the ability of non-native speakers to use and understand English as it is spoken, written, and heard in college and university settings. The test opens more doors than any other academic English test.
Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC). The test is the standard for workplace English language proficiency worldwide.
IV. Improving you language and working with vocabulary.
Language immersion. Language immersion puts students in a situation where they must use a foreign language, whether or not they know it. This creates fluency, but not accuracy of usage.
Learning by teaching. It allows students to prepare and to teach lessons, when students not only convey certain content, but also choose their own methods and approaches.
Working with vocabulary. Foreign languages are the ideal subject area for the use of memory techniques.
The Town Language Mnemonic. A student chooses a town and uses its objects as the cues to recall the images that link to foreign words.
Adjectives should be associated with a garden or park: words such as green, smelly, bright, small, cold, can be easily related to objects in a park. Verbs can most easily be associated with a sports centre or playing field. This allows us all the associations of lifting, running, walking, hitting, eating, swimming, diving.
Remembering genders. A student divides the town into two main zones where the gender is only masculine and feminine, or three where there is a neutral gender.
Many languages, many towns. With the town mnemonic, all you need do is to choose a different city, for each language to be learned.
V. Personal experience.
1. Personal experience in learning languages.
- learning at home
- learning at courses
- learning methods and techniques