The Importance of Learning English With a Native English Speaker
Oct 30, 2010 English as a Foreign Language (EFL) 5013 Views
My father came over to this country sixty- five years ago not speaking a word of English with barely a penny in his pocket with the clothes he was wearing for the journey and a spare pair of socks. Being a tailor by trade he was soon working in an all immigrant clothes factory where no one spoke native English and just spoke their country's languages. Several months passed, and bored to death, he started seeking work elsewhere, but with little English (the only English he knew was taught to him by his heavily accented uncle) the places he wanted to work wouldn't hire him. Frustrated by the rejection, he decided to learn and learn fast. He found a native English speaking house that was renting a room, moved in and soon it became easier and easier for him to decipher the words he already knew but had not actually heard spoken before by someone who was a native English speaker. By being forced to communicate in English his tongue soon loosened around the unfamiliar vowels and consonants, his pronunciation improved and his ears started to decipher the nuances and the accents around him. Elated that he could speak more freely, he soon paid for weekly lessons with a retired school teacher who was a native English speaker; Within six months he understood most of what was spoken to him, but more importantly his verbal fluency increased. Over time, he became fluent got a better job he socialised more often and got very popular, especially with the ladies. He was able to joke and cajole with everyone around him, using idioms and peppering his speech with the current pop references of the time. He had started to communicate again, and what was great is that he was doing it in another language that was not foreign any more.
He often saw his old pals from his home town. Many of them, even after decades living and working in London had never really moved away from their own community and therefore never exercised a need to speak native English so their language skills been poorer marooned them in their position, and often to their dismay their kids could communicate fast and strong, using colloquialisms that blindsighted their parents, so as for them to get up to mischief and mayhem unhindered. He often said to me how important it was to learn from a native English speaker when seeking to speak another language, then adding that it took him months to distinguish 'v' and 'w' and 'b' and 'd', because his tongue was not used to those sounds in the order that English words so often have. Vowels were longer, rounder to what he was used to and it did take him time to figure out where his tongue needed to be to make the consecutive word sound legible. To look at him chirping along in English now, is amazing to me, I learned both languages from birth, but to learn another language in your mid twenties and be fluent is a feat to me, because I would have had a very hard time. The trick is to listen to the rhythm of the language around you and adjust your hearing and then practise loud and proud, he used to do it in front of a mirror. Ever the dandy and the swain.