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My Own Experience as a School Language Learner

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Through the ages of 7-16 I was a learner of English as a foreign language at school, and I can say that it was not the best experience at all. I received my education in a local school, which is delivering language with limited tools, material, and funds. In other words I knew that I couldn’t count on school to acquire a foreign language as I wanted to. Under those circumstances, I had no chance other than paying additional efforts coupled with my Dad’s help at home to be better, with a lot of dictionary use, watching English films along with songs it helped a lot.

Finely-tuned and roughly-tuned input

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Language input that I received back then was exactly at students’ majority level. In general it was finely-tuned input – that is the language chosen to be precisely at students’ level- with a lot of repetition, besides teacher correction for most common mistakes, not individuals’, that was due to the capacity of classroom “over 35 students” unlike the roughly tuned input –that is language slightly above students’ level. I can remember that I rarely had a communicative activity in class, I can say it was a teacher-centered class with no promotion for any kind of discussion to have a learning output. Even in the very limited chances that I had a communicative activity in class. I was afraid of speaking in front of my classmates, and being judged or made fun of. Accordingly I had a very low self-confidence when it came to speaking in English in public. I believe till now this is one of my insecurities that make me double-check most of my words pronunciation.

Therefore I believe the teacher of today should have the tendency to adopt teaching methods using both the finely-tuned and roughly-tuned teaching model. Through my own experience, of learning foreign languages in a classroom situation, the more informed the teacher the greater the presence of roughly-tuned exercises to help the students to naturally acquire the grammatical concepts presented in the more theoretical side of the lesson. In my opinion, the degree to which roughly-tuned activities should take precedence over the more finely-tuned depends to a great degree on factors relating to the students themselves.

Language taught or picked up

Acquisition is a sub-conscious process identical in all important ways to the process children use in acquiring their first language, while Learning is a conscious process that results in knowing about language.

Considering Galasso and Stephan Krashen proposal, L2 acquisition is the process by which children unconsciously acquire their native language, while learning stands for the conscious knowledge of a second language, knowing the rules, being aware of them and being able to talk about them, my L2 was taught not picked up. I consciously learnt language items in isolation of any language situation or real communication. My teachers used to teach the rules theoretically along with examples, then to let us practice with mostly do as shown exercises. Moreover the dialogues were non-authentic far from real situations or authentic language use.

How long and frequent was the exposure to language

I believe that one of the reasons that I had difficulty with L2 learning was that I started to learn my L2 at an old age, I was 7 years-old when I started to learn about the alphabet, which is considered old age for learning syntax of a new language according to Chomsky, he found that children have critical period when it comes to learning a foreign language. My learning for L2 was before puberty age, but sooner is better especially in any learning process.

However I received a daily exposure to the language for about an hour for 11 years, yet not effective, as most of communication and explanation were in my L1 with a limited use of L 2 with no constant drilling which resulted negatively on my learning process. I suppose that exposure to language on daily basis this much would be enough, only if it was done efficiently, there would have been so much difference in my L2 level earlier.

Kinds of texts and materials used

In the meantime materials selection was level/grade appropriate, matching the age and level, but not fulfilling my interests or needs. The materials were not challengeable for me at all, which made them dull to study, and learning L2 in school was more like a routine that I have to follow with no interest. To be brief the material was a set of leveled EFL textbooks that carries growing learners from beginner to intermediate level of advancement. The topics were not exciting enough to boost my interest and the systematic method of presenting new words wasn’t helping for me or developing my lexical outcome.

In my opinion, bringing realia into the classroom is one of the most efficient ways to construct an enjoyable class atmosphere and acquire the target language skillfully. On the contrary my L2 learning experience did not include any usage of realia or visuals, as our class room settings didn’t include computer, screen, or any other tool except for the blackboard and chalks.

As for role-play, I can remember that in very limited chances the teacher used role-plays when he taught novels. Each student played a role of one of the characters, with teacher’s monitoring and pronunciation correction when needed. Through my learning and teaching experience, I consider role play quicken students’ imagination and add to their social development, strengthen cooperation will, plus listening and turn taking skills. Role play is a really vital activity for learners and let them cope with challenging situations and experiences.

Teacher’s personality

Teacher’s general personality traits such as charisma, supportiveness, leadership, and orderliness surely affect any learner during his/her academic study. The teacher is a vital part of the classroom, and teachers are one of the most important factors altering a student’s performance.

In my case my teachers’ personality had the most important role in my learning development especially in my earliest learning ages. In case I liked the teacher, I felt connected to the subject with a strong will to study and be better just for the teacher to be proud of me. That didn’t mean teacher had to be indulgent to like him or the subject, but I believe a balanced behavior will do the job. Leadership as well is a must in a successful teacher’s personality, most of my teachers were leaders naturally, but few of them had charisma! Supportiveness is one super important factor, the only time I was recognized as a pioneer in science, it wasn’t my favorite, was because of the support my teacher then, it had an immense effect on my development.

How efficient my learning was, conclusions for my own teaching of English

Learning efficiency refers to learning satisfaction and learning effect. On the cognitive concept, I can say I used to get very good scores along my learning journey. On the affective concept, I can’t say that I had the mood of learning, nor the will to learn. I had to learn, but not liked to learn.

On the whole, as a teacher I need to have an ideology of teaching that mirror my own personal beliefs about how students learn, how to teach a varied range of learners, how to manage behavior, how to create an effective classroom how I will blend teaching and learning strategies into the classroom.

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