The right use of language is central to all aspects of learning and social development. Successful and appropriate language communication is also closely linked to the individual’s place in society. But when one is not able to communicate, this clearly hampers and eliminates a person’s ability to cope with even the simplest educational and social situations. Some psychologists maintain that language is learned by waiting for children to show forms of speech which are desired and then by gradual shaping them by parents or other socializing agents until the correct sounds and sentence forms can be used which are right to the particular situation.
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This is a fair representation of the interrelationship between perception, emotion, reason and language, for numerous experiments have now disclosed that principles for generating novel responses can be acquired through the observation of others. The principles of language use can be learned through observational learning. As I went through my schooling, I think I sounded quite strange and funny to most of my classmates because of my thick Spanish accent which also was hard pronounce according to my friends.
That was the opposite of what I felt. It looks like it was me who was having a problem with the way I sounded as I speak English because some words seem to slide and not even be pronounced well. This is completely the opposite of Spanish where there are many vowels and I have to open my mouth bigger so that I could be well understood. In my speech, I would always be very polite with the people who were years older than me. So my talk seemed to attract people to help me. I think it was really my way of saying that I needed their help so speaking with an accent made them notice me and I got the attention and help that I needed in the first place.
By the time I realized the meaning of the words, I started experimenting with them to compose my English words. During this stage of learning language, I started to sort out the speech sounds until they I came up with one and two word sentences that can carry meaning. At this point, I was doing quite well in learning English.
My learning of the English language happened slowly. I came to the USA four years ago and since then I have begun to study English. When I came here, I went to college in the morning and the regular ESOL classes which lasted for one year. Aside from that, I also went to night classes at the American High School. There is one activity that has helped me a lot in learning English. Aside from repeating what my classmates would teach me, I learned how to keep a journal.
I would write there the situations where I met people and then I would write the story of what happened. That way, I was able to learn English slowly. It is not yet that good but I am learning slowly but surely. In my journal, I also put my reflections about what happened during the day and the people I meet. It is a good way of practicing my English. Slowly, the journal entries become longer as I have many things to write. I ask some of my English-speaking friends to correct me and sometimes they smile. But all of them are kind to teach me how to do it right. Slowly, I begin to be more confident but only because I have a lot of friends who encourage me well.
I was lucky to get my first job after being here for eight months. This was at Broward and it was there where I learned how to speak English because most of them have English as their main language. So, it was like I was forced to speak English to them too, or else I would be alone with no friends. It was very hard at the beginning because I did not know a lot of English words and I could not tell them what was on my mind.
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One very good way that I found out which made me learn English faster was listening well to what my co-worker would say to a customer. Then, I would repeat that and I did that many times until I got the confidence to talk to them without being very afraid. It was at Broward where I learned how to speak well although the worst part was when I have to answer the phone and I just could not understand what the customer was saying. But the experience at Broward was the best training I got to speak English quite well. Broward is far from my home and school and I decided to stop my work there. In my new work, I got to meet Latinos and African Americans so I am able to practice my English on them too.
In school we had skill-based instruction, but the instructor overcame the negativity of this kind of instruction. This was done by establishing an environment that made the students comfortable. The teachers established clear, simple rules, and they provided safe, cozy places in the classroom where students could work alone or in small groups. As a result, the classroom became a comfortable, energetic place. Discussions were facilitated by elevating the student’s place, putting them on a platform so they were at a height equal to their teacher. In the same manner, writing was effective because it encouraged authentic representation of student cultural beliefs.