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04

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QW 042412 “Voices from Somewhere Else”

Didn’t you know that quite intriguing arguments are being developed by an accomplished brain scientist in the Twitterverse these days? He fiercely inveighs against the TOEIC test, blaming it as a source of impoverishing English skills of Japanese people. He advocates English learning strictly through intensive and extensive reading and listening of authentic materials such as English novels, TED presentations, and newspaper articles.

I basically agree with the way he sees English learning. In my shallow interpretation, he argues that we learn English to become a functioning user of English who can access whatever valuable information available only in English. I can’t agree more on the notion that we should learn the language to become conversant, functional, and competent users. Which, by the way, has always been my objective to learn English. My views on “how to” become such a language user may be different in some aspects than what the brain scientist claims, but I value the audacity in his arguments. Yes, we may need such strong voices from somewhere other than English education-related fields.

Some people may say he’s always been “an intellectual elite” who never had trouble learning anything, and thus, never understands what “non-elite” would go through in the process of English learning. Some people may say his arguments lack supporting evidence and empirical data even though he’s a “scientist”. Some other people may claim that he doesn’t really know what the TOEIC test really is and he’s making his statements just to boast his proficiency in English by denigrating the TOEIC test. Well, all could be true depending on your perspectives to see English learning. I dare say some of those counterarguments are just the outcome of losers’ mentality. Sorry about the audacity here if you find any.

My bottom line is, we can do this and that and whatever we believe works for our learning English according to learning objectives. In this day and age, resources are abundant and affordable. Why not go for authentic reading/listening materials? Why not take reasonably-priced online speaking lessons? Why not take the TOEIC test if it’s the “one and only” incentive to keep pushing yourself to English learning? Meanwhile, I pursue my own path that I believe will work for my English learning while trying to share my view with the learners that I’m with as an English teacher.

(50 minutes / 391 words)

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Aya

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