I solved the gigantic math problem.

It's so sad and lame that a simpleton like me needs a huge amount of time and effort to understand and absorb something that initially seemed hard to digest. What leaves to me is a teeny tiny hope that I'll never give up thinking until I reach what is supposed to be found out. I used to like contemplating math problems for hours and hours and days and days, so I'm kind of familiar with the catharsis of finally revealing how to solve a gigantic geometric proof problem. My friends would calle me as "Queen of Geometry" in junior high, by the way. What you've told me sometimes turns into a gigantic math problem that I need hours, days, weeks, months, (not years since we've known just for months!) to solve and reach a certain conclusion. Supposedly, I've obtained one.

Yes, what you say is absolutely true, legitimate and making-sense. We're nothing but English learners who are always willing to adore the beauty as well as the functionality of English grammar, cherish the linguistic value in well-constructed English sentences, and indulge into splendorous words in beautifully written English passages. We're just one of those who've determined to pave their own ways of learning English in an attempt to climb up any higher to the top just for their own good. It should be quite a lonesome journey during which almost nobody but ourselves empathize the agony, pain, and loneliness that are to be given to us. There'd be no room to let other things cut in as excuses of not being able to secure time, or as means of eliciting consolation to ease the pain in the course of English language learning.

Having revisited what you've written for all these years, I, once again, cannot help thinking that I'm so fortunate to get acquainted with you. I cannot help adoring your attitude toward English language learning. I cannot help wanting to learn whatever I can take from you. Before anything, I cannot help respecting you as an English language learner. I've never had such a respect to anybody with the persistence that hard-core atheists would have. Besides an amazing talent that you've demonstrated on all kinds of your writing, your unwavering attitude to improve you English language ability simply strikes me. I've never known or cared about the loneliness that English language learning innately entails. Now I know what "less" alone is supposed to mean. Yes, I'll be less alone in the course of English language learning life lying ahead of me. I'll be paving my long, uncertain way on my own while being less alone. You're always my inspiration. Thank you for being there, my dear friend.

This song always cheers me up.
[広告] VPS




Dear My Precious English Language Learning Friend 2

You don’t know me well enough, my dear friend. I’ll never take it corny or slushy if you say that your beloved writers have kept motivating or urging you to be a better writer. I tell you that I’ve always been pursuing what I consider as "ideal" and wishing to absorb all the language that my iconic English speakers have demonstrated. Yes, I totally understand that you never feel obliged to anyone but yourself, and those accomplished professional writers urge you to do more and push further, which eventually enables you to obtain a good control on your commitment. I do hope every English language learner is blessed with such an intrinsic motivation generator. I have absolutely no idea of why I've been so "obsessed" with learning English, actually. It could be learning French, Spanish, or Chinese. I sometimes wonder why it has to be English, and never reach a satisfactory, convincing answer.

Regrettably, I have to admit that I don’t know much about those hardcore TOEICers or TOEICoids even though it’s highly possible that people who visit here regard that I'm in the same camp. I’m not going to defend them either, but it seems to me that those people would like to acquire a better command of English in their definition anyway, and what they’ve chosen is to study in the form of being TOEICers or TOEICoids. (Oh, I can hear you say "No, No, No, No!") I suppose that if they ever acknowledge that writing 400 words a day for 2 months is effective for their score gain on TOEIC or whatever they’d like to realize, they’d be happy to do so. Or... oh, yeah, it’s just as simple as "Sex, TOEIC, Rock 'n Roll" kind of thing. If all of the pretty girls on the face of the earth were to go for the guys who write extremely well in English, all of the guys who're learning English on the face of the earth would definitely start writing in English right away. That’s for sure. Oh, just for your information, I’d definitely fall for the guys who write extremely well in English.

The argument you brought up in the previous letter in regards to "Game aspect" is very intriguing and worth elaboration. It’s true that "Game aspect" gives us a reason as well as a powerful drive to endeavor, compete, and grab whatever the victory. It’s very effective or even addictive for a short-term goal, but it's not the case with a long-term objective, namely English language learning which inevitably requires a life-long commitment. There would be no such effective and enduring "external" factors to keep pushing you to pave your endless way of English language learning. To be honest with you, it doesn’t matter to me much whether the motivation is intrinsic or extrinsic. The most important thing for me is to keep reaching out to what is being sought and pursued, may it be to achieve 800, 900, 950, or even 990 on TOEIC to accessorize your CV beautifully and flawlessly, or dare to keep marking 985 for the sake of a long-lasting "external" motivation.

I’m glad to know your belief that the blogospherical friendship can support and encourage other English language learners to keep writing in English. Your argument sounds solid because you’ve already realized one successful case.....Me! You once told me that you’ve never said anything in an attempt to encourage me, but you DID in a good way. I remember when you asked me if I ever write a blog post in English. My selfish and immodest interpretation of your question was that there exists at least one person in the blogosphere who would be interested in reading whatever blog post I write in English. And the rest is the history! Since then, I’ve been even more intrinsically motivated in English language learning including L2 writing, but also started bearing more serious respect and responsibility for the commitment to my sedulous efforts. I cannot thank you enough, really.

Now, let me bring up the orientation of our future talk. Our next discussion topic is going to be how we process phonetic information of the language, how we compensate "lost" information in the course of the language processing, and how we eventually improve the listening ability, right? I might be repeating myself, but let me opine here again. I think it possible or even effective for English language learners to memorize or recite what they heard without understanding every single word in the phrase or sentence, nor analyzing the grammatical construction thereof. I suppose that’s the way we try to remember the lyrics of our favorite bands' songs when we were in our early teens, and it did construct the very basis of our English language ability. I believe that until a certain point of learning, it’s necessary to swallow the language as it is with all the logics and analyses behind. I guess you’d agree on this to some extent.

OK, then, here's the thing. What do you say to a learner who claims that he catches all the phonetic information, knows all the vocabulary, and analyzes all the grammatical constructions, and yet cannot comprehend the "meaning" of the sentence? Do you have any thoughts for why that happens? Or, to be more general, how have you realized your present listening ability? Have you read English phrases and sentences aloud to absorb the whole language? Have you immersed yourself in authentic spoken English 24/365? Do you think that dictating all the words you hear is effective? Honestly, "The West Wing” is a little difficult for me to follow depending on the context and the speakers. But overreaching is good, right? I'll definitely keep trying, my friend.

The West Wing of the White House




Dear My Precious English Language Learning Friend

Of course I knew you had been working on a “Not So Fictional Email”, but I didn’t expect that it actually was meant for me. It’s a well-known fact among your blog readers that all the letters you’ve written are titled with the adjectives “fictional” or “imaginary” which, by the way, I’m very fond of. Oh, for your information, my favorite is definitely “Imaginary Letter”. You know why ;-) Besides the adjective thing, it gave me another sense of privilege that a new post category was created for “A LETTER”. Is this OK to expect that you’re going to write more LETTERs to me? I do hope so.

Now let me start my response with the motivation for L2 writing and how to deal with it. You pose a question about what we can do about the whole situation on this blogosphere, say, whether to encourage other learners to write in English on their blogs or to be more supportive and make constructive, encouraging comments. You haven’t manifested your own opinion there, so let me be the first to have a word. This may sound very unkind, inconsiderate, unsympathetic or even run the risk of disappointing you (hopefully NOT), but I dare to say that it is very unlikely that those learners will start writing in English by way of explicit, direct actions of ours. On this particular matter, I’m extremely pessimistic. One of my convictions cultivated through my teaching experiences is that what others can do to motivate a learner for an extra and unremitting push is very, very limited or at least not enduring. As we know full well that language learning is a painful job and requires a huge amount of effort for quite a long time. It’s a harsh reality that no one would launch such a seemingly impossible job unless they’re intrinsically motivated, or in “now-or-never” situation, or forced by external factors that might cause very serious consequences.

I learned that there are five types of motivation control in L2 vocabulary learning in the Second Language Acquisition class: Commitment control (to keep doing it), Meta-cognitive control (to obtain necessary English knowledge), Satiation control (to avoid getting too bored), Emotion control (to overcome anxiety or boredom,), and Environmental control (to create best possible learning circumstances). I believe that the categorization works for L2 writing as well. OK, take English language learning bloggers in Japan for instance. Meta-cognitive control won’t be that problematic. Those English language learning bloggers already have acquired sufficient (at least it seems to me) English proficiency to write a 150-200 word blog post in English routinely if they ever try. I think you agree on this. And as you suggested, there are many ways to have their written products proofread, such as Lang8, Googling, and most importantly, “self-proofreading”. I’m guessing, however, that Commitment control and Emotion control could be a huge hurdle for them. As we’re all aware, blogging is ultimately a voluntary act and nobody can force anybody to do so. Once bloggers have established reader/visitor community and started feeling some kind of facilitative responsibility to write in English, Commitment control will get a little manageable. Until that moment, the bloggers make their own way on their own. That’s what any kind of learning is supposed to be, by the way ;-) Secondly, Emotion control comes down to so-called “anxiety”. It’s so sad or even pathetic that English language learners in Japan are obsessed with anxiety toward their English abilities. It must be due to so many factors and we can do almost nothing about it. They are born to have anxiety, so to speak. It’s a matter of personality or aptitude to be able to overcome anxiety and stay open to new experiences. All in all, I can’t deny that the motivation control is their problem, not ours.

That said, I believe that there still be some sort of “niche” where we can come into play- Intrinsic motivation. I had been reading other people’s blogs, of course yours on top of my interests, but never started blogging myself until the end of last year. During that time, it was like I was waiting for the moment for my blogging motive to fully ripen, and the time CAME! In other words, that amount of time was necessary for me to start a new routine while testing my interest, resolution, and commitment. Many bloggers who are somewhat interested in L2 writing will go through this kind of process. It takes time, but the moment will come sooner or later to those who cannot help brushing up their English ability. As an attempt to facilitate those moments to happen to English language learning bloggers, what we can do is just letting them know what we’re doing, what we’re enjoying, and what we’re struggling with. Don’t you think that it’s interesting to overhear conversations of people on train or colleagues in office? We can enjoy listening to what they’re talking as a total “observer” without any responsibility. But as the conversation gets exciting, we’ll more or less be inclined to join the talk and express your thoughts to them. That’s what could happen on this blogosphere as well. Am I being too optimistic?

I really adore your rendition on language, quote “we're learning the best instrument ever — called 'language'. English makes it possible that we exchange our thoughts, ideas, opinions, etc. with billions of people all over the world, but it's only possible when it's said or written.” I can’t agree more, my dear friend. Yes, we both love Heavy Rock and Heavy Metal, which gave us the initial drive to learn English intrinsically. In the course of English language learning, we’ve experienced the countless joy of being connected to the English speaking people all over the world, these days specifically, on the cyberspace. What connected us a few months ago was also THE cyberspace, right?! It’s absolutely possible to foster this kind of English language learner relationship, and we’ve been verifying this seemingly implausible hypothesis! I hope other English language learners who have access to the cyberspace will establish healthy and inspiring English language learner relationships. Exchanging "LETTER" between us is one way to spread a facilitative atmosphere to write in English, and I truly hope so. OK, that’s what I’ve got for you today. Keep learning and make your English good. So will I.

Let's keep listening to our beloved Bon!
[広告] VPS



English learner


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