Moment of truth: As a writing tutor who works with many English-language learners, I come across many students who speak rather bad English. (Ironically, most of them are also enrolled in my school’s ESL program, whose teachers end up sending them our way even though THEY’ve forbidden us from helping them with tiny grammar issues–which is what their students THINK we’re there for! Sooo frustrating…) Recently, while one of them was asking me a question, I couldn’t help but think about how fortunate I was for speaking my adopted language so well (AND becoming a tutor who helps students in that language!), because, modesty aside, I do speak it well–or so I’ve heard :)..
But anyways, as I was thinking about that, I also couldn’t stop myself from offering a silent “Thanks” to my parents in my mind too (don’t worry, I was still paying attention to that student, I promise!) for literally forcing me to learn English when I was growing up in Colombia. Though my school was bilingual, my parents thought I needed more, so they enrolled me at our local Centro Colomboamericano. I said “forcing” earlier because while they (especially my dad) weren’t too stern or held any menacing props over my head, I did always attend those friggin’ classes against my will. Ugh I hated them! What’s funny is that back then, we didn’t know we’d ever end up here in the States, so in a way, my having attended these classes was kind of serendipitous. >> See? I’m thankful!
Now I also enjoyed watching American TV as a kid. I felt as though the lifestyle they showed was so awesome and I thought I could attain a piece of that someday. (For instance, I loved that all the homes in those shows had both a main door and a back door, which was really intriguing b/c you don’t have those in Colombia. Also, I coveted Clarissa’s style.)
So yeah, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, Clarissa Explains It All, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, 7th Heaven, Whose Line Is It Anyways, King of Queens, Full House, Doug, Bananas in Pijamas, Hello Arnold, That 70s Show, etcetcetc, became my livelihood. Plus, they were great tools for learning English! Some were dubbed in Spanish, which was dumb, but most were in English with Spanish subtitles–and that was awesome b/c you could learn so much English that way!
How have we kept up with learning English? Well I’m glad you’ve asked. To this day, we still watch shows in English with subtitles–though they’re English subtitles, of course! My parents even listen to English-language news stations all day at work, and the only Spanish were exposed to every day consists of our conversations and the FB posts of our friends and relatives. So while we don’t condone TV addictions, I do endorse watching American shows and movies (with English subtitles!) if you want to perfect your English! (In case you’re wondering whether this sounds right, let me tell you that a student from China I worked w/recently said he also relied on Friends to learn English. So there! :) )
Are you trying to learn another language? What resources have you taken advantage of?
And b/c it wouldn’t be Work Wednesday w/o a tale about my job, here you go:
Last week, a fellow tutor kept telling his student to write on her paper “more easy this” and “more easy that,” and I couldn’t take it anymore. So I interrupted him (it was URGENT!) asking, “Can you actually say ‘more easy’?!”
To which he, a dashing U.S.-born ENGLISH major (which you’ve come to know as Cute Coworker), replied something like, “Sure you can! It’s not common but yeah.”
Me: “Um, no, you can’t”
So we went a little back and forth on this (“yes,” “no,” etc) (all while his student just sat there innocently) until he finally asked the other tutors to help break the tie.
Not being a native English speaker, I THOUGHT I’d lose and I’d be like “whatever.” But to my surprise, they ALL sided with ME! (PS- “More easy” is wrong!)
Honestly, I didn’t want him to be wrong. However, it felt AWESOME to know that I didn’t waste all those years I spent learning English!