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中国学生口语自学的误区
时间:2008-9-27
该文作者内文·布卢默(Nevin Blumer)先生以理论与实践相结合为原则,讨论了英语口语自学的四大误区:一、中国学生不愿跟与自己水平差不多的中国学生练习口语,以为这样会对自己的口语带来不良影响,殊不知与自己在水平上相差太大的人练习口语易使自己丧失信心;二、学英语只能向美国人学,刻意模仿美国口音,殊不知只能语音语调正确,用词得当,就是好英语;三、词汇量不大时不开口,殊不知只需掌握一定量的词汇,尤其是功能词,就能用英语进行交流;四、只知死背语法,殊不知必须根据上下文,不断使用固定句型以达到熟练的程度。针对这些误区的存在,他给英语口语自学者提出了一些学习建议:1.自创英语口语学习环境,而不必担心交流的对方不是以英语为母语的人;2.每日抽出一定时间接触生动而有意义的英语原文;3.持之以恒,自我鼓励。

   A good English class is a valuable means for acquiring and practicing English,but still the reality is that much of your progress will arise from your own self-study strategies. As a teacher for close to 10 years now,I am often asked for advice on how best to self-study English for fast results. I suspect sometimes my students are looking for that magic shortcut or panacea1 which can deliver them from all the “blood,sweat,and tears” that often surrounds the process of learning a second language.

  There is,of course,no magic,but on the other hand,there may also be no need to engage in self-torturous2 activities that drain3 your energy. Part of the self-torture that students inflict upon themselves results from misconceptions formed along the way. I would like in this article to discuss a few of these misconceptions and offer some alternative advice for self-studying English. A.H. Whitehead once said,not ignorance but the ignorance of ignorance is the death of knowledge. In other words,it is important to understand misconceptions before they inhibit your self-study.

  Misconception Ⅰ

  If I communicate with a Chinese partner,my English will get worse.

  There is a common perspective here in Beijing that the only way to improve your English is by speaking with a native speaker. It stems from the perception that speaking to another second language learner has a negative effect,since the partner speaks Chinglish.

  Consequently,many desperately look for native-speaking partners,some paying a small fortune for the luxury of speaking with inexperienced expatriates4 who do little more than chat. Worse yet,opportunities to speak regularly with a Chinese partner at little or no cost are ignored out of fear. In short,the “native speakers English” craze is somewhat synonymous with the “chinglish”phobia5.

  The view that communicating with another student somehow damages your English rests on the age-old,erroneous6 assumption that language acquisition is a linear progression,with the native speaker at the top of the hierarchy7. Perhaps native speaker teachers are guilty of feeding this perception by labeling courses,students,textbooks sequentially in terms of levels (i.e. beginner,pre-intermediate,intermediate etc); in the arrangement of grammar structures from simple to complex; and in reading and listening passages selected by the number of words they contain (i.e. easy,moderate,difficult).

  Linguists who have studied the actual process of learning a second language know that developing a second language is anything but8 a linear process. It can follow patterns and steps but these steps and patterns frequently break down. Language learning often progresses randomly and chaotically9. We sometimes progress rapidly,at other times we learn slowly,there are areas we seem to master easily,and areas in which we never seem to  make any headway10. Sometimes the words and sentences come easily; sometimes they do not.

  Moreover,when we talk about the quality of English we must be prepared to acknowledge that it is very much a subjective and contextual evaluation. We know that formal standard professor may find her English very effective in front of her peers,but next to11 useless with inner city teenagers in New York. Therefore,can we still say that her English is better than the teenagers? Obviously,it would depend on who was judging. With English,quality is often an issue of appropriateness as well as grammaticality.

  Researchers who have studied English language learning have found that people progress as they practice,and ultimately they self-correct what they say. It is unnecessary to have someone correct your English constantly,because mistakes most often derive from a lack of English instincts rather than a lack of awareness or knowledge of the correct grammar structure. The same student who never makes a mistake doing grammar exercises on paper will make them while speaking but ultimately he will adjust his structures as he continues to use them.

  Moreover,researchers who have conducted studies of various groups of learners have found that learners who communicate with partners of a similar level tend to progress faster than learners whose partners levels are much higher or lower. One can understand why this is so when a learner communicates with someone at a lower level,but why is it also true of those who communicate with someone at a higher level?

  The reasons are mostly psychological. Having a partner whose English is much more developed discourages the speaker and the fear of making mistakes tends to stifle smooth conversation. However,the researchers found that those who communicated with partners who were near their own level progressed faster. Thus,in fact your classmate who is at the same level of English as you may indeed be your finest teacher.

  MisconceptionⅡ

  If I want to learn American English,I should learn form an American teacher or my English will not be understood when I go to the U.S.A.

  I have seen many good teachers here in China,both expatriates and Chinese,run into problems because of the way many students judge their accents. Students believe that the best chance of speaking like a native speaker is by having that ideal accent. If the teacher has an accent that is not form the target country that certain students want to go to,they are either rebuffed12 or rejected.

  Part of the misconception stems from ignorance of the distinction between pronunciation and accent. Pronunciation involves the stress,rhythm,intonation,and phonetic sounds that facilitate communication. An accent is the distinguishable set of sounds that derives from cultural or regional phonetic patterns. Accents are essentially habits formed at a very early age and very difficult to change after the age of six. This has been verified13 by researchers who studied the tongue and mouth positions of Israeli children at an early age of 5-6,and find that even after heavy immersion14 in American English for about 10 years,their mouth and tongue positions change very little when speaking,and thus their accents change only slightly. In other words,forget about trying to change your accent in a year or two,it is just not going to happen. Pronunciation can be changed and improved. Accents are entrenched15 and need not be changed.

  There is no shortage of superb English speakers and writers in my native country,Canada,who have excellent pronunciation,but heavy accents from their

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