One of the most fulfilling New Year’s resolutions is to learn a foreign language or at least go back to learning one (English?) that you’ve never been able to use efficiently. The world is getting smaller and smaller and communication and understanding is a vital part of getting along in the world community. Recently Aled Jones, a BBCI TV host of a program called “Songs of Praise”, introduced 6 of the best youth choirs in the UK who were gathered together in an East Yorkshire church located in the ancient market town of Beverley to sing “The World In Union”. “The World in Union” is the theme song for the Rugby World Cup which symbolizes the world community and the spirit of international friendship. The lyrics are by Charlie Skarbek and the melody is taken from the middle section of “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity” from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” (inspired by an Anglican Hymn “I Vow to Thee My Country”). The underlying sports theme is “to be the best that I can be”. To see the lyrics and sing along (an excellent way to improve your pronunciation) click here:
Reaching a goal of linguistic autonomy is one way to make sure that you can be “the best that you can be” and to be a “world player”.
First you should develop a strategy for meeting your goal:
- In what situations will I need to speak in English?
- What type of language is needed?
- What strategies will I use to learn this language? (books, video, internet, immersion courses, etc.)
- What will be the signs that indicate that I’m on the right track?
- How will I know when I’ve achieved my goal?
So first choose the type of language you want to learn, i.e. business, tourism, legal, etc. (this will narrow down the number of specific words you’ll need to assimilate) and then find a simple book with CDs at your level (try an online bookstore or an internet site to download books) which you can use on your own. Go easy on yourself. Try to work a little bit each day during a slow time making a habit of it (during a break, after lunch or before dinner) and allow yourself a weekend from time to time. Test your progress monthly by watching a favorite movie or listening to a radio program to see if you can understand better. Find someone who speaks the language fluently to test your capacity to express yourself using the new vocabulary you’ve learned. Try to see them on a regular basis to give yourself a weekly practice session to prepare for an upcoming course or trip abroad (like some of you used to practice before a piano lesson!). Listen to Internet radio while working at your computer to improve your oral comprehension (there are thousands to choose from). Buy a book in English to add enjoyment and cultural enlightenment to your language learning while also conditioning your brain to “think” in English. After a month or two, enroll in an immersion course to give yourself a boost. It’s amazing what you can learn in a week when totally immersed in the language. Lastly, take a weekend jaunt to London or New York to give yourself a final incentive to learn English perfectly. Good luck! And remember…where there’s a will, there’s a way! Yes…we can!!