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08

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Quick Write 082711 “Two difficult questions to answer”

There are two difficult questions for me to answer in terms of English learning. If I disclose this secret of mine, I would inevitably disgrace my qualifications as an English teacher if I ever have those. One is “How I learned English” and the other is “Why I (still) learn English”. I can vaguely imagine what those who ask these questions would like to hear from me, but the more seriously and sincerely I try to answer the questions, the more distant my answers will be from what I recognize myself and English learning as.

The first question, “How I learned English” takes at least three days to answer to begin with. No, just kidding. The encounter with English was when I took my first English class in junior high. Some of my classmates had started learning English at some local private schools, such as KUMON, and a couple of them were returnees from English speaking countries, but I didn’t know anything about English. I started English learning from learning how to spell A, B, C in both block letters and cursive styles, got surprised how troublesome it could get to remember how to spell each word. I learned everything from scratch, literally, and since then, I’ve continued learning English with a short break in my twenties. When I come to think of my English learning history, everything, and anything I did to my English learning has made the proficiency that I currently possess. I can definitely say that I am more proficient than last year, and much more proficient that five years ago. To explain how I learned English could get a quite long story, and I cannot pick up one moment or two when my proficiency was dramatically improved. This, I’m aware, is far from ideal as an English teacher. English teachers should be prepared to share some enlightening or thought-provoking episodes of English learning to encourage learners who asked such a question. I do have some memorable moments in my English learning life worth sharing with other learners, but cannot possible pin down how I learned English. (Do I sound lame? I guess so…)

The second question, “Why I (still) learn English” is much simpler that the first one, but yet not an easy stuff. All I can say is “Because I like it. Period.” I often recall the moment when my mother asked me if I’d ever got tired or bored of learning English seeing my studying English for hours and hours. I remember having replied to her like “Never. I can study English for all day. English is not just a subject that I study for a test. I just like learning it.” The thought I conceived at that time has never changed since then. Some twist of fate had me choose not to major English at university, but I’ve long maintained this “attachment” to English and English learning. So honestly, I cannot share how hate-to-learn-English-but-have-to people feel toward English learning. As a professional English teacher, though, it seems necessary or even imperative to imagine how they’d feel, think, and react to English learning as much as possible, but seriously, I’m aware that I’ll never fully share such sentiment deep down. I like learning in general, but English learning itself has occupied a special space within me since I encountered it. It’s probably more accurate to put it like “living with English” as my English learning friend describes.

(40 minutes / 573 words)

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Aya

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