For the May #ELTchat challenge, I am handing over our blog to one of my Business English students, Adrian, who has managed to develop a host of helpful learning strategies to use outside the classroom, independently of his teacher. Adrian has travelled a long distance from studying in a fairly traditional learning environment to turning an autonomous learner, responsible for his own learning and free to (re)negotiate the syllabus with his tutor. Here is what he had to say, in his own words, and without any editing from me:
I am a middle-aged professional and I need advanced English on my work so learning English is a need for me, not a pleasure.
My aim isn’t to get a language diploma but to reach a level that allows me to use the English language correctly and to speak fluently. I mean, I focus on the practical and not the theoretical part.
As you realize, I am not a typical student. I work many hours per day so I don’t have a lot of free time for studying, my memory is weaker than most younger students’ memory, so I don’t absorb the knowledge easily. On the other hand, as a professional, I use formal vocabulary when I speak in my mother tongue and my critical thinking is on a high level. Sometimes, these things make me analyse things too much and prevent me from going ahead quickly.
First of all, I had to convince myself to do just that: to start English lessons.
Finally, if I wanted to improve my English language skills, I should manage my time properly. That’s why I did English part of my daily routine.Second, I did some research online and I found the school that seemed right to me. The point was that it was experienced in teaching adult students.
I do the following things in conjunction with my lessons.
For more ideas, check out this site: www.onlinenewspapers.com
I also read the Greek news through the English version of our local newspapers, like Kathimerini. It is really useful procedure because, first, I improve my vocabulary and, second, I feel more confident when I need less and less my dictionary.
I started to watch movies without subtitles. It was a disaster because I understood the minimum of the plot and I was disappointed. Then I realized knowledge acquisition needs time so I have to go on step by step. I started to watch videos again but this time I chose short videos from YouTube and English, baby! .
I had two main benefits: first, I wasn’t bored or tired of the video and, second, the short duration helps me to manage it easily. I watched every video many times until I understood most of the dialogues – not only the general meaning.
Apart from these, these days I watch English TV news channels online like BBC one , On-air , France24. Now, I am able to listen to lectures or TV programs without many difficulties and I feel proud of myself.
And … Speaking:
It is the most difficult part for me. I am a very strict and demanding person and I usually have high expectations of myself. That is the main obstacle which I have to overtake, because I avoid speaking except when I am completely sure about the correctness of my speech.
This technique helps me to find out my mistakes and to fix them but I still avoid taking risks because I hate to make mistakes. (I know this is silly but I cannot stop it!)
Finally, I’d like to say that learning English is a long process which needs patience and persistence. So:
Set your personal targets and try to reach them step by step.
Put English in your daily routine.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes (don’t be like me!)
About the Author
Alexandra Koukoumialou has been a teacher of young learners and adults for more than 15 years. She obtained her Cambridge Diploma for Overseas Teachers in 1993 and ran her own private language school for 10 years. She now teaches general and Business English and Modern Greek courses at CELT Athens and, as her blog post suggests, occasional CLIL courses! Alexandra also recently completed her Avalon Certification Course for Teaching Languages in Second Life. Alexandra is also one of the online tutors supporting our Distance Diploma in Translation Courses from and into Greek.
She is @AlexandraKouk on Twitter