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    Some Articles about Language Learning - 英语学习方法



    作者:廖志英 阅读次数:11243


     
     

    赵宝斌 编辑整理

    I have collected some articles about language learning. I hope you can get some ideas about it from them.

    1.How to Be a Successful Learners
    2.Language Learning
    3.Why is the Native Language Learnt so Well
    4.Learning a Language
    5.Language as a Living Thing
    6.Learning the World Language: Today and tomorrow

    [b]How to Be a Successful Learners [/b]

    Some people seem to have a knack (诀窍) for learning language. They can pick up new vocabulary, master rules of grammar and learn to write in the new language more quickly than others, so what makes language learner so much easier for them? Perhaps, we may discover a few of the techniques, which help us, learn the language easier.

    First of all, successful language learners are independent learners. They discover their own way to learn the language. Instead of waiting for the teachers to explain, they try to find the pattern and rules for themselves. They are good guessers who look for clues and form their own conclusions when they guess wrong, they guess again. They try to learn from their mistakes.
    Successful language learners are active in learning, therefore they do not wait for a chance to use the languages, and they look for such a chance. They find people who speak the language and let those people correct them, when they make a mistake. They will try anything to communicate. They are not afraid to repeat what they hear or to say strange things, they are willing to make mistakes and try again, when communication is difficult, they can accept information that is incorrect or incomplete, It is more important for them to learn to think in the language than to know the meaning of every word.

    Finally successful language learners are learners with purpose. They want to learn language because they are interested in the language and the people who speak it. It is necessary for them to learn language in order to communicate with these people and to learn from these. They find it easy to practice using the language regularly because they want to learn it.
    What kind of language learners are you?

    [b]Language Learning [/b]

    The first thing to realize in studying the English language is that it is primarily (起初) something that is spoken, not written. The introduction of a system of recording thought and speech by writing (and later by printing)was a very important step forward, and without it we should be very largely ignorant (无知的) of the ways of life and the modes(方式) of thought of our ancestors.(祖先).We should be completely shut off from the great minds of the past, and it would be quite impossible for us undertake such a study, since we should have no means of knowing anything about the language of the people who lived in this country five hundred or a thousand years ago, and still less should we be in a position to relate that language to the tongues spoken in other countries. The only means we have of knowing the kind of language used by Julius Caesar or by King Alfred the Great-the words they employed and the grammar of their speech—is by studying such written documents as have survived: and in the main that will be the method employed by future generations when they wish to investigate(调查) the language of our own age. Now because of this necessity of relying on written documents for learning about language, and because reading and writing have come to occupy so large a place in our daily lives, there has grown up a tendency to think of language in terms of the written or printed word. But printing and writing are only substitutes(代替) for speech. In its primary sense language, as its name implies, is oral. Printing and writing have certainly had an influence on the development of language—usually displaying a conservative tendency,(趋势) opposed to too rapid change or innovation;(创新) but in the last resort (求助)what is written is determined by what is said.

    Secondly we must realize that in language change is constantly going on. If we look at a passage from Chaucer (who was writing towards the end of the fourteenth century), and compare it with the English that is spoken and written today, it is obvious that the language has altered considerable in the intervening five hundred years or more; and if we go even further back, we find an even greater difference. These facts are really too self-evident to need pointing out. But though this evolutionary(演变) factor is obvious and generally recognized, there is frequently a tendency to assume(假定) that it is a thing of the past, and that, in all 'civilized countries' at least, language has now become more or less fixed and set, so that the English, the French and the German of today will be the English, the French and the German of two centuries hence. This is far from the truth.

    In the third place, it should be realized that speech or language is the distinguishing(有区别的) characteristic (特性)of man as such, and is one of the chief attributes(特征) which differentiate him from the other animal species(种类). Why? The answer is probably to be found in the development of mind. The species which developed mind and personality also developed speech.

    [b]Why is the Native Language Learnt so Well [/b]

    How does it happen that children learn their mother tongue so well? Let us compare them with adults learning a foreign language, for the comparison is both interesting and instructive. Here we have a little child, without knowledge or experience; there a grown-up person with fully developed mental powers. Here a haphazard(偶然) method of teaching; there the whole task laid out in a system. Here no professional(专业) teachers, but parents, brothers and sisters, nurses, and playmates; there teachers specially trained the art of language-teaching. Here only oral instruction; there not only that, but textbooks, dictionaries and visual aids.(视觉教具) And yet this is the result: here a complete mastery of the language, however stupid the children; there in most cases, even with people otherwise highly gifted,(天才的) a faulty and inexact command(掌握), what accounts for(造成…原因) this difference?

    Some people believe that a child's organs of speech are more flexible(灵) than an adult's. This explanation, however, does not really hold water(严密). Children do not learn sounds correctly at once, but make countless mistakes. Their flexibility of the tongue and lips is acquired later, and with no small difficulty.

    Others argue that a child's ear is especially sensitive. But then the ear also needs training, since at first it can hardly detect differences in sounds which grown-up people hear most clearly.

    The real answer in opinion lies partly in the child himself, partly in the behaviour of the people around him. In the first place, the time of learning the mother tongue is the most favourable of all, namely, the first years of life. A child hears it spoken from morning till night and, what is more important, always in its genuine(真正的) form, with the right pronunciation, right intonation, right use of words and right structure. He drinks in all the words and expressions which come to him in a fresh, ever-bubbling spring(泉). There is no resistance, there is perfect assimilation(消化).

    Then the child has, as it were, private lessons all the year round, while an adult language-student has each week a limited number of hours which he generally share with others. The child has another advantage: he hears the language in all possible situations, always accompanied by the right gestures and expressions. Here there is nothing unnatural, such as is often found in language lessons in schools, when one talks about ice and snow in June or scorching heat in January. And what a child hears is generally what immediately interests him. Again and again, when his attempts at speech are successful, his desires are understood and fulfilled.

    Finally, thought a child's "teachers" may not have been trained in language teaching, their relations with him are always close and personal. They take great pains to make their lessons easy and interesting, always repeating the same phrases and at the same time doing the thing they are talking about. They are greatly pleased at every little advance the child makes. Every awkward attempt meets with sympathy and encouragement, and the most difficult step on the path of language becomes the merriest game. Unfortunately, this is a point often overlooked by teachers of language, who demand faultless accuracy from the beginning. By keeping their pupils working unnecessarily long at some little part of the subject, they often weaken their interest in learning the language. Perhaps one should not merely sprinkle(喷洒) the pupil, but plunge(使…投入)him right down into the sea of language and enable him to swim by himself as soon as possible. A great deal will arrange itself in the brain without the learning of too many special rules or the aid of elaborate(详细的)explanations.

    [b]Learning a Language [/b]

    Linguists(语言学家) are interested in the abilities to understand and use language that people have. One of the abilities that people have is the ability to learn language. You are using this ability right now in your efforts to learn English as a second language. Most students would like to know how to learn a language more easily. Most linguists and language teachers would also like to know this. Linguists are working on this problem in two ways. First, they are trying to understand how children lean to speak and understand their native language. They also trying to learn how people learn a second language.

    Linguists are not sure how children learn to speak. Some linguists think that children are born with an ability to learn and use a language. This does not mean that you came into the world knowing your native language. It means that, along with many other things, you were born, with the ability to learn your native language. One group of linguists feels that with just a little exposure to language, and a little help from your parents, you were able to learn to speak. Another group of linguists does not think this is correct.

    This second group of linguists thinks that children learn to use a language from their parents. They believe that a child's parents teach their child to say sounds and words in their language, When the child know some words, the parents begin to teach their child to say sentences. The linguists don not think that parents teach their children in the same way that people are taught a second language. Instead, parents probably teach their children by talking to them and correcting their use of language. These linguists feel that you learn your language mainly from our environment(环境). In this case, your environment is your family and your home. As you see, the first group of linguists disagrees.

    There are some other theories about how children learn language. May people are studying the process of language learning by children. This work is being done in many countries. Linguists are not the only people who are interested in these questions. Many psychologists(心理学家), doctors, and parents are also interested. People who teach foreign languages are interested in this process(过程).

    Foreign language teachers are interested in how children learn to speak their native language for a very important reason. If we knew how children learn their native language, perhaps we would have an easy way to teach adults, as well as children, a second language. This is a very interesting idea. Some foreign language teachers believe that adults learn a second language the same way children learn their native language. These teachers try to make their students 'lives similar to the life of a child just learning to speak. These teachers speak only the foreign language in the classroom. They will not speak to the student in the native language. They try to expose(使…接触) the students to as much of the spoken language as possible. They do not teach their children rules for language usage, either. They simply tell the child how to say something correctly. Foreign language teachers using this spoken language method do the same thing. For some students, this method is successful. They learn to speak quickly and easily. They seem to enjoy using the language, and they do not worry about using exactly the right rules for everything they say. Some students, however, cannot learn a language this way. Linguists are trying to find another way to teach them a language.

    A second method, the rule-learning method, sometimes works better with these students. Some linguists believe that learning a foreign language is different from learning to speak your native language. They feel that a student must learn the rules for using the language by memorizing them. The students must practice saying things in the language, using the rules correctly. These linguists try to teach the students the rules of the language they want to learn. Then they give the students many sentences in the language to say over and over again. The students are encouraged to make up new sentences using the rules that they have learned and other words that they know.

    Some students are very successful with this second, rule-learning method. They learn the language quite quickly and can use it well. They know the rules for using the language, and can speak it and understand it too. For many students, this is the best way to learn a foreign language. For some students, both of these methods may work. Sometimes teachers use a combination of these methods in a class, hoping that everyone will be able to learn the language with one method or the other. Some people can go to a country and "pick up" the language simply from hearing it and trying to communicate. These people are rare.

    Most people try to learn a language by taking classes and studying it in some way. Most teachers will try different ways of teaching to help the students learn the language quickly and easily. Linguists and psychologists are trying to understand how people learn and use a language. Perhaps language learning will be easier for everyone when we have clear understanding of how people learn and use language.

    [b]Language as a Living Thing [/b]

    A group of scholars, calling themselves the philological society decided in 1858 that the time had come for a new Dictionary to be compiled. They set themselves the stupendous(巨大的) task, not only of recording every word to be found in English writings from about the year AD 1000, but also of tracing the history of each from its first appearance in manuscript,(手稿) and showing the changes it had undergone in form, spelling and meaning. Like Johnson, they planned to illustrate the use of the word by quotations(引语) from various writers, but unlike him they were to give a whole series of quotations for each word, illustrating its complete recorded history.

    To find suitable quotations, they enlisted the aid of hundreds of volunteers, who undertook to read texts and sent in the quotations on slips of paper. Many of the older works which had to be sifted(详审)in this way existed only as rare manuscripts, so that one of the first steps necessary was for arrangements to be made for these to be printed and published. In the course of many years, some six million slips were went in by readers from all over the world.
    Progress in compiling the Dictionary was, naturally, slow. Three different editors had a hand in the task before the first installment(部分)was published in 1884-and that installment covered part of the letter A. It was not until 1928, just eighty years after it was started that the final section of the New English Dictionary came out. It filled ten large volumes and dealt with 240,165 main words-the greatest dictionary of any language in the world.

    Valuable though the actual volumes of the dictionary were, there was perhaps an even more valuable product of this enterprise- a new way of thinking about language problems and 'rules'. The emphasis, you will have noticed, was upon history. The compilers did not pretend to lay down a certain 'correct' way of using a word, but showed us the various users to which it had actually been put at various times in the past They bring home to us the idea of language as a living, growing thing not as something that can ever be 'fixed'.

    This new approach has had important results. The grammarian can now regard it as his business to examine the way in which the language works and to describe what he finds. Such descriptive(描述的)grammar is sometimes at odds(不一致)with that of the prescriptive grammarian who sets out with a set of rules and uses them to argue what ought to be. The prescriptive grammarian will tell us that we ought to say.

    'It is I you have to thank'
    because the verb is, like other parts of the verb to be must be followed by what, in Latin, is called the nominative(主格) case of the pronoun. The prescriptive(描述的) grammarian says that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred what in fact we say is:
    'It is me you have to thank'and that this fact alone is a satisfactory reason for continuing to do so.

    To say that the second approach(方法) is often the more helpful is not, of course, to say that everyone should be permitted to treat the language just as he chooses, or to suggest that 'Whatever is, is right'. In these days, when new words are coined on the least provocation(刺激), whether the need for them exists or not, and when the loosest of conversational expressions are stamped with the approval of print, it is argued that far more thought should be given to what is and what is not acceptable.

    On most matters, probably all grammarians would find they agree. There does, however, arise the problem of deciding between the expression which is theoretically correct and that which the usage of centuries seems to justify(公正). Among the first writers to tackle the problem systematically were two schoolmasters, H. W. Fowler and F. G. Fowler, who published their book The King's English in 1906. This work, together with H.W. Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage, did much to create a new interest in linguistic matters, particularly in those knotty(难的) questions, which remain and perhaps always will remain debatable(争议的).

    [b]Learning the World Language: Today and tomorrow [/b]

    Is there any evidence that the standard of English as foreign language has improved in the years since the Second World War? Naturally, as it is the world language, more and more people are taught it and use it. But do they speak it or write it or understand it better than their parents' or grandparents generation?

    Have Standards Declined?
    There is no objective way of answering this question. Tests of the traditional sort--compositions, precise, (summary) writing, and son--have always been subjective, so they cannot be used to judge whether people have got better or not over the years. But so-called objective tests are useless as a measure of progress too. We are left with only personal impression to go on.

    My own (opinion) is that, if anything, standards have declined somewhat in the last thirty or forty years, despite all the new theories, tools and techniques that have been developed. I am not alone in this judgment. In Sweden, for instance, Professors Johannes Hedberg and Gustay Korlen, two of the most experienced workers in the field, have on several occasions drawn attention to the lack of progress in the teaching of foreign languages since the late fifties. Yet Sweden is a sophisticated society with extremely high educational and academic standards, and very concerned not to be cut off from the rest of the world. If such a country can not achieve advances in the study of foreign languages, it is unlikely that many, if any, others have done so The goal is Learning, Not Teaching

    I believe the study of English as a foreign language can be improved immeasurably. There are two fundamental--and connected--problems. One is the mode of study, and the other is the mode in which that study is organized.

    In the last forty years or so, practically all the efforts to improve the learning of English have gone into pedagogy. Teachers are now supposed to be trained 'professionals'. What does the new professional training mean that teachers can do? Perhaps it means that some, even many, of them can teach better than they would otherwise do. But if that better teaching does not produce patently(obviously) better English learning, something is clearly wrong, the effort is misdirected. For teaching is not the end; the end is learning.

    This is obvious. It is time to re-think our whole approach to language learning, to start facing reality, and addressing the right issue. First of all, we need to recognize the essential truth that languages can only be learned; they cannot be taught. Language learners need to realize that they must do virtually everything for themselves; that if they know how to learn, they have little or no need of teachers; but that if they do not know how to learn, teachers will do them no good. Indeed, teaching for the most part inhibits(prevents) learning, for students believe that their teachers, in some magic way which is called skilled teaching, are going to do the work for them. The students' achievement is in roughly reverse proportion to the extent to which they rely on their instructors. They tend to believe that the essential thinking work is going to be done by the teacher. dedicated students believe they must work hard, and they do work hard; that is to say, they conscientiously carry out all the tasks the teacher sets them and they study their course books or follow their computer programmes regularly. It is of little avail if they are lacking in self-reliance and active curiosity. But if one really leaves a person to find out her own best way of learning a language, one risks doing something very like throwing a small child onto the water at the deep end and expecting her to swim.

    Every language learner should have complete autonomy. But autonomy should here mean that is never obligatory to learn a foreign language. It is morally wrong as well as ineffective for it to be imposed as a task. If it is, many will not experience what should be an adventure in the way they should be allowed to. I other words, autonomy should be deciding whether to learn a foreign language at all, but it should not mean deciding unguided on the method.

    The Common Interests of Students and Teachers
    It would do a great deal of good if we started using the term 'guide' or 'adviser' instead of 'teacher' for those who try to help people learn foreign languages. it would emphasize that what learners need is individual attention. It would also remind everybody that the responsibility for learning is basically the student's. What the students needs is somebody who can do two things (1) show her or him how to learn a foreign language; (2) answer questions about that language. Those questions must be thought of by the students. If students do not find questions to ask--whole streams of questions- it is a sing that either they are not really interested enough to do the thinking for themselves that is crucial, or they do not know how to.

    The spirit that language learners need before anything else is curiosity. If they do not have that, they are wasting their time. This means, in turn, that their guides do not need training in linguistic or educational theory, or in pedagogy, or in any techniques of stimulating interest, keeping students entertained. If students need to have their interest stimulated, something is very wrong.

    What a language guide does need, thought,. is a thorough and practical knowledge of how the language works, a conscious knowledge that she or he can articulate in a way the ordinary native speaker cannot. Students should be able to sense that their guides have a genuine interest in the language, and that they have found out about it by thinking for themselves, not by mere uncritical memorizing of textbooks or lectures. It is only through such critical awareness and interest that guides can develop the ability to explain any given aspect of the language in varied ways so as to suit the particular needs and mode of thought of any individual students.

    One of the most misguided principles of modern pedagogy is the 'structured lesson'. This is just what should be avoided, even in classes as well as private lessons; A good language guide is completely flexible, and can respond instantaneously at any moment to any need for the students that arises. Those with this capacity never need-never should -spend long hours planning and preparing lessons; but the corollary is that guides need to really 'know their stuff'. The best place to develop the sort of knowledge and ability I have just outlined is 'on the job', through an apprenticeship with experienced, sympathetic and encouraging colleagues, in good conditions of work. [color="#000000"]www.[/color]

    For most of the several decades since I started helping people to learn English, I have always stressed to them that my prime duty was to make myself unnecessary. When students have the essential independence, they will need only a fraction of the number of regular sessions that they at present attend at teaching institutions.




    关键字:英语学习方法