QW 081412 “English learning since April”

Today is a good day to for me to look back on what I’ve done and haven’t done to my English for the past 4 months. Why I say so is I’ll be flying to the country where those L2 English tutors with whom I’m learning live their lives. You’ll no doubt know where I’m heading for, right? It was my friend who planned our trip. She asked me if I’d be interested in joining her retreat, and I said yes.

In terms of speaking practice with online English tutors, I can say I’m on the very right track, actually. I focused on my pronunciation, the American accent and enunciation to be more specific, with my pronunciation tutor for about three months. During the first month, there wasn’t much noticeable improvement on my speech, to be honest. In the second month, the feedback focus of “never-go-easy-on-me” teacher turned from American vowels to intonation and enunciation. He recommended me to find a pronunciation role model, and I chose Catherine Kobayashi. He checked her speaking on NHK World English and endorsed her as my first pronunciation role model. Then, during the third and last month, I started getting only minor feedback. The teacher would take motes on my speech and shared his observations with me after I read an article. It was like an authentic “Listen and Repeat” practice, and I really liked it. He rarely did demonstration, probably thinking it was me who should speak and practice during the limited lesson time. So I appreciated that he demonstrated the words and phrases with which I had a problem, and had me practice along with him.

I knew it would happen sooner or later, but he has gone unavailable. My teacher-quest began, out of the blue, at the beginning of August, and it still continues. I thought I would’ve been a lot more depressed since my beloved pronunciation sessions were forever out of my reach. It turns out, however, I was tougher than I had thought. (Yeah, ladies are a lot tougher than guys.) As I wrote in the previous QW post, one of my next English learning projects is to keep “our” ball rolling with tutors who are super proficient in English and regard me as a learner who doesn’t need slow-downs and simplification of teachers’ speech.

Listening to my speech recorded in each lesson, my speaking ability has surely got better during since last April in terms of pronunciation, variety of vocabulary used, speech-rate control (urgency control in my case), topic development, discussion skills. Above all, the biggest achievement that I’ve made is that it’s become my “brush-my-teeth level habit” to speak with someone in English almost every day. It means a lot to an English learner like me who hasn’t learned the language in the countries in which it is spoken. It’ll never ever compensate what those L2 speakers of English who studied or lived in English speaking countries did or had to do to their English abilities. That said, those lack such experiences also have to do something to their English abilities no matter how small the achievement they would be able to make. Don’t you think so?

(40 minutes / 530 words

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