martes, 12 de mayo de 2015

Madrid Teacher: The best way to teach English

After 87 weeks publishing Madrid Teacher videos on a weekly basis, the series comes to an end. There are not more videos available as far as I know, so this is it for Madrid Teacher.

I have meant to leave the video on English learning until the very end, so after so many weeks keeping us company, here's the last piece of advice from these teachers. We'll miss you, guys.

What do you reckon the best way to learn a language… what do you think the… best thing you can do to learn a language is?
I think the… the main thing is students have to study. They have to dedicate some time to go into a class, or having a teacher or something and, besides that, just study. Two or three hours a week.
Yeah, there’s definitely a relationship between the amount of time you put in, and what you learn.
To be honest, I disagree. I think that the most important approach is, of course, the amount of time you put in, but I would say that studying… would be less effective than beginning initially with the language as it is naturally used. Listen to it as frequently as you can and speak it.
Well that’s what I mean. I mean, if you’re listening to it, you’re studying it. I mean…
Not necessarily.
...if you’re watching movies, watching TV series…
Yeah, I’m talking about films and music.
...listening to podcasts; I mean, you could be doing all that sort of thing.
I agree.
But, it’s a mass of noise to begin with.
Yeah, but…yeah. I mean, there’s two types of listening you can do. I… From my opinion listening is the most important thing, but there’s two types. Listening to stuff at your level… or slightly above or slightly below, which is good for, you know, understanding… and general listening like what you were talking about.
Listening to natural English, normal English. I think that’s good because it gets you… gives you an ear for the language. And it’s…
Yeah I think it’s kind of a roundabout way to go through things if you… for instance with English, if you start listening to “what is” for a long time so you understand it, and then all of a sudden you start hearing “what’s”. I mean, you could… one might say that you’ve wasted your time looking about… looking… listening to “what is”.
With natural English, you’re right it’s a mass of noise, but it begins to sort itself out, especially if you’re supplementing with vocabulary and reading.
Right. And you have to vocabulary, and grammar, and other things.
The best way to learn vocabulary is reading.
It’s not just one thing.
No, of course.
It’s a lot of different things.
Well I think… people tend to think grammar is a lot more important than it is. I think you can strip grammar down to its basics, it’s… there’s a few structures that are useful and if you learn them you can generate more language, but I don’t think you should be overly obsessed with grammar.
I think they need to be more obsessed with vocabulary. They need to…
Yeah. Without words you can’t say anything.
Right. And that’s…
Basic verbs, expressions, and vocabulary. That’s another interesting point, you know, I think you need to learn vocab. in… in… in expressions, rather than just individual isolated words.
Right, in chunks.
Yeah, absolutely.
I mean, there are obviously some words, you know, like “pen, paper”, that you can learn individually, but, most vocabulary is more useful if you learn it as an expression, you know, er, “have a bath”, “have a shower”, “have a drink”…
Rather than just, “drink”.
That’s when you’ll be able to communicate and express yourself.
Yeah, but the…but the main point here is with vocabulary. They need to spend some time memorizing it.
Yeah, absolutely.
And… students tend not to do this. I mean, they’ll spend more time with the grammar than with the vocabulary, at least here in Spain.
There are some… there are some words and expressions that you have to make a conscious effort to learn. But I… I’ve found that, with French and Spanish there are some words that I’ve found easy to remember. I don’t know why. But there are other words where you have to… you have to find a way to remember them. I used to draw pictures and things like that.
Yeah, there’s got to be something, some kind of drawn out repetition. If it… if it’s writing it down and referring to it every once and a while on an index card or a notebook, if it’s pictures like you say… You know, rarely you get this groundbreaking experience where you can associate a memory to a word. More often it’s the mundane… studying.
You’ve got to study, yeah.