Recently, I started to think about my goal for the upcoming semester and even my last two years in college (if there’s no “special incident” lol). I planned to take English certificate exams like TOFEL or IELTS before the end of the first semester of my junior year since they will come in handy for the application of student exchange program. I also wanted to take Spanish certificate exam if I can handle A1 then. The plans for my language certificate showed the ability differences of my foreign languages, and this made me wonder: How the heck did I learn English? Why my Spanish ability is not growing as fast as it did?
I started to examine the learning methods I used to learn English in the past, and I listed them out chronologically:
- When I was little, I was in “bilingual kindergarten”. I learned English by having sufficient natural input from native speakers.
- When I was in elementary school, I went to a cram school twice a week. One class was taught by Taiwanese teacher (still spoke English) and another was taught by a native speaker. That cram school is not a conventional one, I really enjoy learning there. Teachers there wouldn’t crush your will with scores. Instead, they reward you with points and let you exchange various prizes such as toys, books, and even what you actually want with it. I actually exchanged an expensive beetle with my points once.
- From junior high to senior high school, I pay good attention to the English classes and memorized tons of vocabularies alongside with short articles in textbooks. I also did a lot of exercises from workbooks. I also started to play video games, watching Youtube videos and read news in English. I think this is a crucial period of my English learning. I studied English every day because there were tests every day. The conventional teaching approach of school did work well, it lay down the foundation of my English grammar and vocabulary. Moreover, my leisure activities in English made me improve a lot without any stress.