LISTENING IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY
As an English teacher with over 5 years experience, the most common question I get asked by my students is 'I have been studying English online for years now and I am still not seeing an improvement, what am I doing wrong?' This question is a desperate plea for help by students who are on the verge of throwing in the towel. My response is always LISTEN!
From my understanding, many Asian countries focus on reading and writing when it comes to their style of teaching English. This is possibly because of the shortage of native English speakers in the countries. Schools that have these natives speakers are however very pricey and your everyday family can not afford to take their children there.
Many of my students are convinced that the SOLE reason for their inability to express themselves in English is because of lack of speaking practice...and they are right...to an extent. Speaking practice is not the ONLY thing that enables you to hone your language skills, listening is just as important.
I always give my 'toddlers' example when trying to emphasize the importance of listening. In about 2 years, a toddler can speak a language FLUENTLY. We are talking about a child who could not even speak any language for the first year of their life, but at 2 years old BAM, they talk. This is because for the first year of a child's life, all they do is listen, they might not immediately understand, but whatever you say to them goes straight to their subconscious mind. Our brains are complex and interesting, and never undermine the power of the unconscious mind. We need to LISTEN in order to learn a language, listen to the music, watch tv shows, movies, anything that will work on your listening skills. I always suggest the sitcom 'Friends' to my students because the dialogue there is pretty simple. The American music industry is full of many genres, choose your fancy and listen to that music.
More importantly, expanding on my 'toddlers' example, during the first year of their lives children listen to a language not just one hour a day, but for many hours. So coming to class for an hour and listen to a teacher speak will unfortunately not do much for you. Listen to the language as many hours a day as possible, let it become a part of your daily life. On your way to work, while doing chores, as a lullaby for your children, listen listen listen.
Coming to class afterwards and actually practicing your speaking, will really hone those skills especially if you get a teacher that focuses on free conversations and most importantly, CORRECTIONS. You, however, have to do your part outside the classroom. So remember LISTENING IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY.