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I am a non-native English speaker who became an ESL teacher in the U.S. I've also learned two other languages. All four languages I learned (Persian, Russian, Japaneseand English) have completely different sets of alphabet and are from different language groups. I am fluent in three of them. Having been both a learner and a teacher, there are several factors I believe are crucial for non-native to learn English:
1. Knowing how to learn; it's a fact that those who have never been schooled before have harder time learning, at least in our school system.
2. Being immersed in English speaking environment 24/7 or as often as possible. If a classroom is the only environment where a student is exposed to and encouraged to use English, he/she will not be able to acquire English skills very well. This applies not just to immigrants here but anyone who wants to learn another language. It would be ideal if a whole (immigrant) family is taking English class together and is encouraged to practice between themselves at home.
3. Reduce the stigma among immigrants in using English. This is the biggest hinderance in ESL for immigrants in the U.S. Those who want to use English all the time maybe perceived as "traitors" to their own immigrant subculture; i.e. "you no longer want to be part of --- culture but want to be a part of 'them'", "you forget your identity" etc.
I began learning English grammar at 12, but it wasn't till I was 21 that I first came to the U.S. People can't tell if I'm a non-native when on the phone now. What helped me most, I believe, is that I love to learn, to communicate, to get to know people wherever I go. I see languages I speak not as my identity but as tools.
posted 3 years, 4 months ago
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