Learning a new foreign language is never easy. It is a myth that intelligent people are better at learning languages. Most language learning skills, however, are in fact habits, which can be formed through a bit of discipline and self-awareness.
Just as babies learn to produce language by hearing and parroting sounds, language learners need to practise listening in order to learn. This can reinforce learned vocabulary and structures, and help learners see patterns in language. Listening is the communicative skill that is used most in daily life, yet it can be difficult to practise unless you live in a foreign country.
In language learning, attitude can be a key factor in how a student progresses. Linguists studied attitude in language learning in the 1970s in Quebec, Canada. The study found that Anglophones holding prejudices against French Canadians often did poorly in French language learning, even after studying French for years as a mandatory school subject. On the other hand, learners who are keen about the target culture will be more successful in their language studies.
It does not matter how well a person can write in foreign script, conjugate a verb, or finish a vocabulary test. To learn, improve, and truly use the target language, they need to speak. This is the stage when language students can clam up. In cultures where saving face is a strong social value, EFL teachers often complain that students, despite years of studying English, simply will not speak it. They are too afraid of mispronouncing words in a way that would embarrass them.
Adapted from The Daily Telegraph December 2012
READING COMPREHENSIONQuestion 1: [2 POINTS] Indicate whether the following statements are true or false and write down which part of the text justifies your answer.
a) People of high intelligence are better at learning languages.
b) It is very easy to practise listening if you are living in your native country.
c) Enthusiastic learners will do better at learning a foreign language than unenthusiastic learners.
d) In some countries foreign learners are afraid of speaking the target language because they feel ashamed.
Question 2: [2 POINTS] Answer the following questions in your own words according to the text.
a) What benefits does listening give to language learners?
b) Why do foreign language learners find speaking the target language difficult?
Question 3: [1,5 POINTS] Find words or phrases in the text that correspond to the words and definitions given.
- a) Self-control (Paragraph 1) Discipline
- b) Imitating, repeating (Paragraph 2) Parroting
- c) To keep silent (Paragraph 4) (To) Clam up
Question 4: [1,5 POINTS] Complete the following sentences without changing the meaning.
- a) “Will you be back before Monday?” The teacher asked the students.
- The teacher asked the students if (whether) they would be back before Monday.
- b) It was said that some strange creatures inhabit this palace.
- Some strange creatures were said to inhabit this place.
- c) “Don’t drive so fast, please” the policeman told the boys.
- The policeman told the boys not to drive so fast.
WRITINGQuestion 5: [3 POINTS] Write a short essay (about 120-150 words) on the following topic:
– What are the benefits of learning a foreign language? Give reasons.