To Learn English
This is me telling my story on how I learned English.
In our family we decided to homeschool our kids. We have many reasons for doing so, one of them is freedom to be able to choose what we teach to them and when. How to teach them Spanish was a subject that for a while was an issue. All my family lives in Mexico and most of them do not speak English, so it’s not easy for them to communicate with the boys who only speak English. Now that the boys have started their homeschooling lessons with an organized system, we can start teaching them a second language. However, in the same way my kids need to know Spanish to be able to communicate with half their family, it is also important that kids in Spanish speaking countries learn to speak English. Kids don’t need a private school; it can be learned at home. Furthermore, how many Hispanic adults live in the US and cannot communicate because they haven’t learned English? These days, learning English is a necessity.
There are many methods and systems to learn English. Among the most popular ones are Ingles sin barreras, Muzzy (from the BBC) and Rosetta Stone. We have been successfully using Rosetta Stone. The program is easy and comprehensive, because it teaches you to speak and understand the language in the same way little kids learn to speak. It relates the words with pictures and actions, which allows you to more easily learn vocabulary. The focus of the program is to help the student understand the language and to be able to communicate without the need to translate. The program Muzzy is specially designed for kids and teaches languages with cartoons and fun activities. Both Rossetta Stone and Muzzy are equally effective programs. I don’t know about Ingles sin Barreras as I’ve never used it.
They say practice makes perfect. It doesn’t matter how long you spend reading books and “learning” a language in school because unless you actually put it into practice, you will never really learn. You have to speak, listen, and write frequently to get better. If you live in a Spanish speaking country, then you can practice listening to it in movies and music. Today all movies on DVD offer the possibility to view them in different languages and English is always one of the first choices. Listening to music in English is also a good idea. And never forget the Internet; most of it is in English. Finding someone to chat with on the Internet shouldn’t be a problem these days. If you live in an English speaking country, then all you have to do is go out to the street and talk to the first person you see (they probably won’t bite). The Hispanic kids living the US have a great advantage. They can learn and practice their English with their friends at school. In fact, English becomes a first language rather than an auxiliary one.
Doors open when you know English. It’s indispensable for business and technology. And you’re lucky because it’s so easy to learn (yes, despite what people say, it is easy). In fact, one reason it’s so popular is because it’s so easy. The mannerisms and the sentence composition provide lots of possibilities to express ourselves. Conjugations are also easy. Kids’ brains are like sponges, ready to absorb anything. However, just because kids have spongy minds doesn’t mean we adults can’t learn. Old dogs do learn new tricks too. If you live in a country where English is the official or dominant language, you know you need to learn it. There’s no sense in putting it off unless you just like torturing yourself.
It is true that most schools these days (in Spanish speaking countries) teach English as a second language. But not many schools teach it from early childhood. If you have the chance to teach your kids at home, the sooner you can start the better. As a matter of fact, it is something you can learn together. There are many different programs you can use to learn English; it’s just a matter of choosing the one you feel most comfortable with. I came to the US when I was 23 years old, and even though I had “studied” English in school (from elementary all the way through college), I couldn’t speak it. It wasn’t until I moved here that I truly learned and started speaking the language. Remember, you must practice what you learn, or you will forget it. Movies and music are excellent ways to practice and, of course, there’s the Internet. Learning a second language is easier when you’re a kid, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t do it. When you really want to learn nothing is impossible.