www.mjcsmith.net Mike Smith - teacher and trainer Brisbane, Australia
www.mjcsmith.net / English Language Services

Thoughts on English Teaching and Learning

English is a difficult language to learn. It comes from many older languages which provide confusing rules for grammar and vocabulary. It has features like articles which do not appear in Asian languages, making it difficult for learners from those cultures. At the same time, English adopts features from its parent languages, but often in contradictory ways to those originals, making it frustrating for learners from those tongues. Finally, the use of English reflects its history and development and those of the maturing societies inhabiting the British Isles, and its overseas settlements including North America and western Pacific oceania.

The history of English is a fascinating account, and its study helps provide an understanding of the idiosyncrasies of the language. Several good books are available which, while not designed for English as a Second Language (ESL) students, would allow teachers to help their students by providing an explanatory background.

My background as a child migrant from Holland to Australia in 1971 gives me a perspective upon and empathy with foreign language students, quite unique from most other teachers. I learned English from scratch in primary school when grammar, spelling, and conservatism had high standing. At the same time I saw my parents struggle daily with the language.

No proper English schools were available to my parents, and we have come a long way from then. However I believe that even now we can do more to make learning the language more effective

    Updated 20 July 2004