Teacher interview – How can students improve their English?
In a new segment for the BCN Languages blog, we will be interviewing a language teacher each month to get their opinions, advice and experience on learning languages throughout Spain and the world.
First up is English teacher Tom from Australia. After living in Barcelona for 6 years, Tom has taught all levels and ages and many nationalities… so what’s his view on the English learning scene in Catalunya?
BCN Languages: What general advice do you give to English language learners in Spain?
Tom: Many of my students ask how they can accelerate their learning and improve quicker. The obvious answer is to study more and apply yourself more. In my opinion, the best way to learn FAST is to submerge yourself in the language by travelling to a foreign country on an exchange or for an extended time backpacking or travelling around. For many, this is not an option due to work, financial or time constraints, but at the end of the day it really boils down to your priorities. One way to reduce travel costs would be by becoming part of communities such as couchsurfing, but this certainly isn’t for everyone.
There are a few basic, free options which students can easily apply to their lives in order to boost their English. If students can make these options part of their daily routine it doesn’t take much effort. I recommend that students:
– Change the language to English on their mobile phone, computer, facebook, email etc.
– Only watch films in original version (subtitles are ok!). Remember you can hire DVD’s free from the school!
– Do an interchange (check out www.loquo.com or soon you’ll be able to find an interchanges tab on our facebook page)
– Make use of the schools intranet resources to practice
– Watch informative presentations on a wide variety of topics at www.ted.com (many videos contain subtitles in many languages)
– Find an English chatroom on the internet.
BCN Languages: What are some of the most common errors from students in your classes?
Tom: This of course depends on the specific level of each student… but from the top of my head some of the most repeated errors would be:
– Confusion of the verb ‘travel’. It’s not possible to say ‘a travel’. If you would like to say ‘un viaje’, say ‘a trip’.
– Confusion between ‘fun’ and ‘funny’. If something is ‘funny’ it makes you laugh. If something is ‘fun’, you enjoy yourself and have a good time, but you aren’t necessarily laughing.
– Remember ‘r’s are not rolled in English.
– Try to expose yourself to English outside of the classroom as well.
BCN Languages: What do you most enjoy about teaching?
Tom: Teaching has given me the opportunity to meet many local and foreign people. It’s very interesting to hear the opinions and viewpoints of a wide demographic of people and is a fantastic way to get insights into local traditions, history and beliefs. Getting these opinions is a real eye-opener and allows you be better informed on the whole. It’s a great feeling to see students improving their language skills and feeling more motivated to travel, improve their work opportunities and push their limits.