My belief, or kind of.

“What do you believe that you often have a hard time convincing others of?”

I’m learning English. I believe the most important thing we can do to learn a language is come to like people who speak it and to like the things written or spoken in it. I love reading books, so it worked for me. Now I’m reading my favorite fantasy books in English. I also came to like talking and writing to people who speak and write in English.

In Japan, where I live, many English-learners are sometimes a bit crazy about scoring better in exams. I know it’s a good way to learn it, too. But some of them are complaining about their difficulties in conversation skills even if they don’t actually practice those skills.

Some people think learning grammar and vocabulary, or just either of them, makes them a good speaker of English. I’d say, it doesn’t work without using it in other activities like reading, listening, speaking and writing. You can’t learn vocabulary just by learning itself. Memorizing very short sentences in your vocabulary book doesn’t work if you don’t keep remembering them in actual materials like books and the news.

Learning a language also requires a more tangible motivation. We need to rethink about why we started learning it in the first place, and why we are still learning it. I hope to believe we aren’t learning it just for bragging about our test scores or showing off our skills. We need to have something to talk about, learn or read in that language. Speaking to someone memorized sentences won’t work. If you don’t have anything to say, anything to learn, or anyone you really want to talk to in that language, why do you need to learn that language so hard?

Actually, learning something, and learning a new language, opens the door to a new world. A new language is a key, and we’ll know a new knowledge. You might also find someone who would think just like you, who, if you don’t learn his language, you might haven’t come to know at all.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: What! You too? I thought that no one but myself.”—C. S. Lewis


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