Have you ever studied any foreign languages? If yes, then you probably already know the challenges and frustration that come with it. What does it take to be understood and get your message across in a different tongue? Why do some people do so well while others don’t?
Now talking about English as a second language, lately I learned that Taiwan, my birth country, ranked poorly (scored “low”) on the English Proficiency Index (EPI) 2017 released by English First (EF). Standing uncomfortably at the 40th place worldwide out of 80 non English-speaking countries, this disappointing result was Taiwan’s worst over the last 7 years.
So, what needs to be done to increase the level of literacy and overall linguistic skills in English? Not that there’s a lack of focus or support from Taiwanese authorities, schools and parents. In fact, there’s plenty. But relying on an existing curriculum or external support network will not help students go far enough as they have their own limitations and this is true for any countries. From a personal experience, it was the extra time and effort invested outside the school hours that helped make a difference. Back in the old days, I used to listen to the English broadcast on the radio (called Studio Classroom), hire a few personal tutors who were native, go to private English classes after school. I remember how I usually sat in the front of a classroom acting like a top student and grabbed any opportunities to speak, read, write, listen and ask questions. It was a hunger for knowledge and success that drove me to adopt a winning mentality. Having a bit thick skin allowed me to keep my fears under control. Common fears such as fear of being laughed at, fear of being called a show-off and fear of making mistakes weren’t simply in my vocabulary!
These days with the convenience of internet everywhere, there’s really no shortage of learning resources so it all boils down to what’s inside. That says, what needs to be worked on internally to boost the confidence to acquire language skills or any skills in general. Perhaps it’s body language, self-talk (a positive or negative language) in the head that should be improved first. It may not be as easy as ABC in the beginning but with practice and practice, the results will speak for themselves…