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Language barriers-TESOLinChina

作者:TESOL in China来源:TESOL总部官微网址:http://TESOLinChina.com

As an English learner of 25 years, I believe I can survive in an English Speaking country, but I know, if I want to ‘live’ as a native speaker, I may encounter some language barriers .

As having been exposed to a purely selected ‘standard English’ environment for so many years before studying abroad, I used to a very ‘BBC’ or ‘VOA’ way of written texts.   When coming to the real classes abroad, I may meet different teachers and classmates coming from different places and having strong ‘non-BBC’ or ‘non-VOA’ accents. How to get used to those accents will be a challenge to me.

Pronunciation pedagogy is undergoing a move from sound manipulation exercises to communication activities, and from a focus on isolated forms to the functioning of pronunciation in discourse.   but tend to be seen as 'accent addition' (Olle Kjellin, personal communication) which opens up new communication options for learners. This idea is closely connected with the ELT profession realising that many users of English need the language for lingua franca communication with other 'non-native' speakers as well as with native speakers. (The Guide, p.64)(Thus, I believe I will improve my listening skills very soon after immersing into the contexts mixed with different accents to complete my English Learning World.

Language barriers could also exist in my daily life.   The most common is that when I order food in foreign restaurants, I may make some jokes because I can't understand the dishes on the menu.   These problems have more or less appeared in the international students. When learning English at home, we have the very strong purpose - by learning words and grammar to achieve high score in the English exam. This mechanical knowledge learning can't meet the needs of application in real life.

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Besides,the range of vocabulary could be the biggest barrier for me to adapt to the classes because I have been in an simple and single language learning environment to learn English for exam purpose. When coming to the native context, I will be exposed to various ‘scenarios’ requesting a bigger range of vocabulary, especially some idioms, or colloquial words. I could understand people when their expressions are   in simple words but hard to understand them when they use idioms. Hence, enlarging my vocabulary is of great importance to help me fit into a native English society.

Even after I get used to the accents and have a rich vocabulary database, I think culture awareness may prevent me from communicating smoothly with native speakers. Due to different culture backgrounds, there is a big gap in understanding language.

A few years ago, I worked for an international school where many teachers were from Britain and Canada. Once in a meeting, one co-worker said he was wearing two hats. Other people just smiled but no one denied him. I was so confused looking at him. He was not wearing two hats, not even one! After the meeting, I checked the dictionary and finally understood what he meant. But I had missed the perfect time to respond in the conversation. From that experience, I do realize the differences of culture could be the real obstacle of perceiving a language.

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