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The Comparison Of Language Learning Strategies

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The students in the American Language Program at Columbia University, interviewed by the author, Anita Wenden, of the article titled "How to Be a Successful Language Learner," proposed some strategies in learning English. Comparing those strategies to my own strategies, I find many similarities in how to be a successful learner. However, we have some big differences in the ways of using English, which is one of the strategies the students proposed.

Some students suggested that living and studying in an environment where the target language was the main language of communication could help the learner learn the language better (Wenden 21). This kind of learning environment provided the student more opportunities to practice. One could not avoid hearing, reading and using the language since everything was in that target language. In other words, one could learn the target language automatically. Moreover, some students suggested that learning the natural way could also help the student learn the language more effectively. A young Israeli explained, "I don't think I have to use it. If it happens to me to use it, I use it. I don't force myself to use a word." (qtd in Wenden 20). They thought that one should not force oneself to use the language, but then again, they tried not to miss the chances of learning language whenever there were. Therefore, one could learn new things in a more natural and comfortable way.

The two ideas I have mentioned are probably interrelated to each other. Living and studying in a target language community provides us the learning environment naturally. Miguel who stayed with a British family said everything was natural to him (Wenden 20). He said he watched TV and talked with the British at home while he read, studied, attended lectures and took notes in English at school (Wenden 20). Ideally, if we keep using the natural way to learn language, gradually we will have much less difficulty in expressing something using correct phrases and sentences.

However, it is not realistic for me to use English like this. I live and study in the target language community, but the environment does not favor my language learning. In the U.S., I live with my godparents, who are Chinese too. We speak Cantonese, watch the Chinese TV channel, listen to the Chinese radio channel and eat Chinese food almost every day, and so I seldom have a chance of speaking English at home. I also have less opportunity to practice at school. Since I have no car due to financial reasons, most of the time I have to leave the school in a hurry in order to fit into my godparents'



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