- Education and Science»
Easy ways to learn English
It seemed a hopeless effort to teach black learners English.
One of the major elements in learning a new language was absent. Interest! Lack of interest also made my learners unruly, inattentive and undisciplined. As soon as I started teaching grammar, matters became worse, it seemed as if no single attention-catching technique worked.
In desperation I developed several innovative methods to keep them absorbed in reading lessons. These methods "forced" learners to keep their eyes on the text while someone else in the class was reading aloud. Magically I suddenly had order and silence in the class as everybody were focused on the text. It was heaven on earth to have an attentive and quiet class, so I kept this up for a very long time, developing more and more innovations to get them even more focused.
It all happened by accident
I was getting worried. Seriously worried. How would I ever get the grammar into their heads? It just seemed as if we've reached a point in education where it was not possible to compete with the media anymore. Learners have lost their "ability" to focus on what the teacher says in a normal teaching situation; trying to explain subject matter? I had no answers, simply kept up the reading. At least that worked.
Then it happened!
The majority of learners had left their readers at home, and I asked the few, who had theirs with them, to read together from the text. The entire class started reading like one man, as if they all were reading from the text. For a moment I stood clueless, not comprehending what was happening. Then it struck me! They were actually "reading" without the text.
During the next few weeks I gradually grasped the implications of what I've discovered. It almost seemed as if the text were "photographed" by the brains of the learners. I realized that the grammar,- including spelling, tenses, style of the author, idioms, vocabulary and even punctuation - were engraved in the memory of the pupils. They now had something in their heads which they never had before; Perfect English sentences verbatim in the style of the original author. Without formally teaching them grammar, it was all there now, - albeit unofficially.
Hole in the impenetrable wall of learning English
The way was opened
Learning to speak and read proper English without formal class instruction?
I knew we were onto something really great here. We started reading classical Walt Disney dramas in dialogue format. It took some time, but eventually the texts were in their heads. I saw visions of bringing the dramas to stage in front of an audience. This brought an atmosphere of great excitement and expectation. Everybody wanted to be an actor/tress.
During assemblies, plays were performed in the school hall. All of a sudden English was not a dead boring subject anymore, but a road to fame and notoriety. Eventually the plays were performed in front of packed audiences. We had stumbled upon an easy way to learn English. Reading, speaking, acting and a very good degree of "unofficial grammar,'' almost automatically became part of, even the very weak students.
Easy ways to learn to speak and read English
The foundation was laid. Now the building had to be erected. I researched the science of this phenomenon. What happened in the heads of these learners? As time went by, we developed more interesting and innovative reading techniques, I understood that reading was really the key to teaching black school children English as a second language. I used this a a platform to develop a whole new alternative approach to teaching English in primary schools. Needless to say, despite the miraculous results, authorities mulishly stuck to their guns. English had to be taught the conventional way, whether it worked or not. I decided silently to continue with this incredible discovery, and to publish my work and methods after retirement. That time has now arrived. The whole secret was to get learners to develop a total focus on reading good texts. Are you interested to find out how this is done?