Nov 13, 2015
Episode text below:
Hey, Go Natural English learner!
How are you doing?
I’m so happy you’re here today.
We’re going to talk about classroom English versus real life English and how they’re not the same.
Maybe you’ve thought about this before.
Of course, classroom English is different from real life English, but how are they different and how could you actually be hurting your English fluency by learning in the classroom?
It seems so counterintuitive: you want to study English, you sign up for English class, you go to your class every day, you learn from a good teacher, why are you still not fluent in English?
These are the thought that you might be having in your own head.
So, let’s talk about it a little bit.
I taught English as a second language in a classroom for over ten years.
That’s right, ten years.
So, I know what it’s like.
And I did my best to help my English learners to become fluent in English.
But the fact is inside the classroom is not the real world.
We can do role plays, we can pretend, we can act, we can do theatre, and that’s really fun, and they are all great ways to learn, especially at the beginning levels of English, but when you are ready to become and advanced, fluent English language speaker, you need to get out in the real world, you need to get out of the classroom.
The classroom is rigid, the classroom is its own real world, its own bubble.
In the classroom, you’re going to learn more classroom English, such as ‘Turn to page twenty,’ such as ‘Please, raise your hand,’ such as ‘Any questions?’
These are phrases that you don’t always hear on daily basis in the real world.
Sure you might hear them, but it’s going to be more likely that you hear something different, like ‘Hey, what’re you doing? Where’re you going? What’re you up to?’
And these are phrases that…
They’re a little bit casual for most English teachers to be teaching.
Now, maybe you have a really great English teacher, and yes, I was a pretty good English teacher, but the thing is we often have to use textbooks, and textbooks can be quite rigid.
And the time we have in the classroom is limited.
So, as teachers we can’t always cover natural, conversational, casual English in the classroom.
When you learn English in a classroom with an English teacher, that English teacher might be an amazing English teacher, but they might only have experience as an English teacher, not in the specific area that you want to learn English for.
For example, if you want to become a doctor, you want to learn medical English.
Or if you want to have conversational English, maybe out in the world, like in a bar or a restaurants, well, sure your English teacher might have experience in bars and restaurants, but in the classroom, they’re probably not focusing on English for the bar.
Anyway, other specific examples.
If you want to be a pilot, a flight attendant, these are English for specific purposes.
So, you may want to find a course or a teacher that helps you in those areas.
If you’re preparing for a test, find a teacher who can help you with those areas.
So perhaps, you have a course or a tutor that can help you, but just be aware of what you want to learn, what are your goals and can your teacher, can your class, can your textbook help you with those.
Another thing is inside the classroom, conversations can seem a bit forced, scripted.
You might be reading examples from a textbook, and then, your teacher calls on you, and you know you have to answer.
But in real life, how do you know when to join the conversation?
I find this is a big issue for a lot of English learners.