English is Stupid

Great Britain rose to power on the world stage in 1588 with the defeat of the Spanish Armada and her magnificent fleet of tall ships. Britain’s dominance continued for many centuries in many fields. In 1684, Sir Isaac Newton published Principia and ushered in industrialization and a new era in modern science. Britain reigned as a world leader for nearly four hundred years and left the stamp of English around the globe. In 1945 at the end of World War II, her authority passed directly to the United States of America. These two back-to-back superpowers happened to share a common language. Between them, they effectively established English worldwide as the language of commerce, technology and science for generations to come.

There are 1.5 billion people learning English in the world today. As you can see in this pie chart, learners of English outnumber native speakers by a margin of about four to one.

English Speakers Worldwide

English Speakers Worldwide

The English language is the most sought after commodity in the history of the planet, and to date, there has never been a particularly effective way to teach it.

Students who study English in school learn primarily about reading and writing and are frustrated that the speaking doesn’t follow. The fly in the ointment is the Latin alphabet.

The heart of our trouble is with our foolish alphabet.  -Mark Twain

 

There is no crossover from written English to spoken English through the alphabet. Therefore, no one can learn to speak English from reading it. In effect, written English and spoken English developed separately into completely different languages and must be taught that way for students to be successful. Traditionally, the grammar, spelling, punctuation and reading skills taught in language classes are all about writing and simply do not relate in any meaningful way to the mumbling, grunting, inflection, pausing and gestures that somehow work together to make conversation.

Think back to how you learned your first language. Human beings acquire their first language as toddlers. They learn to speak by mimicking those around them. There is no formal understanding of the mechanics of any language in order to speak it. The process is acquired subconsciously. Conversely, grammar and spelling are parts of language studied in school sometime after the age of six. You were a master of using grammar before you learned the names of the parts of speech.

 

First language skills are acquired in this order:

Listen -> Speak -> Read -> Write

 

Baby-WalkingChild-Reading

English has no clear-cut relationship between the alphabet and sounds; therefore, the language learning process cannot be reversed. No one can learn to read or write in English and expect speaking English to follow because the skills are unconnected.

A specialized approach is required to unlock the unconscious aspects of oral English in order to effectively teach or learn English as a second language. That’s what this book is about. Speaking is not simply writing spoken out loud. Speaking and writing are completely different skills that use different sets of rules. The simple set of six rules in this book addresses all aspects of oral communication. A clear understanding of the distinctions between writing and speaking provides a powerful place for learners to start.

Reading and Writing Use

Eyes

eyes

Reading

Hands

Hand

Writing

Speaking and Listening Use

Mouths

Mouth

Presentation

Ears

Ear

Listening-With-Headphones

Reading

  • alphabet
  • spelling
  • punctuation
  • format
  • grammar

Speaking

  • sounds
  • stress
  • linking
  • expressions
  • gestures

Writing and speaking are different language skills, and they have to be taught with separate rules.
 

Author Judy Thompson is a professor, ESL teacher trainer, pronunciation expert, TEDx speaker, and thought leader in English speaking education. She has a degree in English and TESL, and over a decade of experience in adult student ESL and English teaching. She has produced two text books, a curriculum, and a sound dictionary, and is the founder of the Thompson Language Center.  Judy has also conducted workshops for teachers and international students in 15 – 20 major colleges and universities, as well as spoken at TESOL and TESL conferences as the keynote speaker.

Friendships From Across the World

Cheers Friends Drink Wine

Photo Credit: Didriks

While many LRNGO users meet to learn from each other locally in the same city, or even from a neighbor down the street, others choose to make their community much wider and go around the world. Of course, this requires using a live video chat platform, like Facetime, Google Hangouts or Skype.

One of the things you may find interesting though, is that even among those LRNGO users using video chat, the percentage who prefer to learn from each other remotely when they have a choice is still the minority. When given the choice, roughly 75% of you prefer to list meeting in-person rather than online.

This reminds us that for the majority, although technology is used to facilitate, in the case where you have a choice, face to face is preferable. At the end of the day, learning from each other (especially one-to-one) is most often still a very traditional in-person proposition.

Along those lines, some of you who are Skyping each other from afar for language exchange specifically may be interested in eventually meeting in person if it can be arranged. While facilitating these arrangements directly is beyond the scope of the introductory services we provide through LRNGO, you may be interested to know that there is now a website and online platform doing this.

Launched just last month, TalkTalkBnb is a social network for learning languages from local hosts while traveling. The idea is that travelers receive complimentary food and lodging from hosts (people wanting to improve their language skills) in exchange for helping the hosts learn and practice the traveler’s native language throughout their stay.

We all know that language exchange is valuable for accelerating the learning process and is the most cost effective way to receive the benefits of one-to-one language tutoring, but now it can also be used as a means of “currency” for your travels. That’s a real win/win.

You can find out more here, and hopefully some of you who have met here on LRNGO and are now practicing language exchange remotely can have the opportunity to travel and meet in person by bartering for accommodations. It’s a pretty cool concept that we hope takes off around the world.

Top Five Ways to Fail Your Internship Interview

Young Man In Suit Holding Rock

Whether it’s your first job or an internship, the interview is arguably the most important step in the hiring process.

While each job may have different dynamics and each job provider may have different needs, there are some universal qualities that most all employers are looking for.

 

Here are five sure things you can do that, in my view, are guaranteed to make your first prospective employer pass.

 

1. Cancel or Reschedule On the Day of the Interview

Stuff happens and it might not be fair, but most employers know that if it starts that way, it usually ends that way. By canceling on the same day, you’re projecting that either the internship is not a high priority, or you’re going to have trouble making it there. Either way, it’s not good. If the internship is one that you really want and there’s any small doubt you’ll have trouble arriving, reschedule in advance to make sure you’ll be there the day of.

 

2. Avoid Answering Questions

You may get some questions you don’t know the answer to and that’s fine, but you don’t want to simply avoid an answer (you know, the way politicians do). Example: “Can you tell me about a time when you failed?” “Well, I think I’ve always been lucky enough not to have any serious failures…” Another example: “What interests you about this internship and our company?” “Well, I’m looking for an internship in IT.”

 

 

3. Don’t Research the Company Before the Interview

Ok, so far so good. You have a good rapport with the interviewer, you have his or her attention, and you seem like a good fit for the internship. Now here it comes: “Can you describe what our company does?” “Well, I’m not exactly sure…” That answer, or one that is completely off base, will probably put you in the “no” pile.

By not knowing what the company you are applying for does, what you’re projecting is that:

a) You don’t care enough to do your research

b) You’re looking for whatever

c) You don’t know how you will contribute

How could you if you didn’t take the time to figure out why they exist?

 

 

4. Have Misaligned Goals

Ever wonder about that question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”, and why you hear that at every interview? Answer with something that has absolutely nothing to do with the internship, and you can probably keep looking elsewhere. For example: if you’re interviewing for an IT position, your five year goal probably shouldn’t be to become a famous writer of romance novels.

 

5. Project that You’re Not a Team Player

Example: “What were your responsibilities on the team when you worked on that project?” “Well the guys on my team sucked so bad, I had to go off and fix everything.” There’s a reason Google doesn’t hire lone wolfs. Even if you’re great, you have to be able to pass the ball to win the game. Alternatively, here’s an even worse answer from the other side: “I didn’t really do any of the code on that project, I just put it on my resume since I was part of the group.”  This shows that you are ok with not contributing anything.

 

In the end, it helps to remember the universal fact that above all else, an employer wants to know if you are the right fit.  A big part of that is you wanting to be there and learn. Clearly, there are other ways to fail and not get the internship you want, but these are five of the most common.