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English language learning: Importance and benefits of practice and exposure

 Language learning is a complex phenomenon.

  Language learning is a complex phenomenon. So learning second language is more complex phenomena. In fact, complex phenomena of the world can be de-complex slowly and gradually. If we care greatly, and slowly move to explore the complexity of the world, the complexities become feasible, so is the case with language learning. The more exposure and practice we get, the more language learning takes place.

Language exposure in a suitable environment: – Does adequate exposure help students to learn a language?

Exposure of certain language in suitable environment is the key point in the language teaching – learning process. Language is meant for communication. Merely knowing the language is not sufficient, if it is not used in day to day life. Use of language for different purposes is another key point in learning a language. The systematic use of language develops at second stage of language learning i.e. appropriate/meaningful sentence, fluency, grammatical accuracy, word- power and punctuation. How much exposure does help in language learning?

If one wants a hands-on experience, be with us. Meet, this is Rehman, a student of class10th, appearing for the SSC board examination.  He writes almost all sentences correctly in the examination with full confidence; ask him to speak three sentences in English; will take 5 minutes time to speak. Don’t be hurry in your judgment; ask him to write 5 sentences, he writes it within seconds. What does it mean? Does he know less English? Or is he a shy to speak before you? What do you think?

He knows English very well but he can’t’ speak English. Because he is exposed to write sentence, doing translation, memorizing words meaning etc. Right from the beginning of schooling, his teacher, parents, made him to do so .He got exposure only in writing and reading, he never exposed to English speaking people. There were no peers to talk in English; even English teacher speaks in his mother tongue in the classroom and in home parents speak in their mother tongue. So there was no exposure at all. It is really pleasure to meet Ankush, a class 6th student of English Medium School in Hyderabad, he speaks English fluently, and however his writing skill is not so good. He got so much exposure everywhere, in society, in school, in home. Exposure does matter in language learning.

When does a child learn language?

When does a child learn language? A child starts learning language in his/her mother’s womb. It is proved in scientific research and even we know it from our religious epic the Mahabharta.  Abhimanyu learnt so much language in his mother’s womb. Can you say that journey of language learning starts right from the mother’s womb? Unconsciously a child has already been acquired some knowledge about a language and the parents, home, society, helps him to bring that unconscious knowledge to the conscious effort of language learning. The way child learns language is very interesting. In early stage, if a child utters a word “mama , pa –papa ” parents encourage his/her to say so repetitively and gradually child picks up language ,i.e. letter , words , sentences , phrases etc. It happens only due to practice and exposure to that language. Child starts learning his mother tongue. Slowly, children get more exposure in mother tongue.

Provide homely environment for maximize language learning: – Do you think so?

The main thing is that the children learn mother tongue in homely environment. What happens when children start to learn second language? Can we provide same environment in the classrooms in teaching –learning situations? We can certainly maximize second language learning in the classroom by providing homely environment in the class.

Role of family and society in learning a language

Language main purpose is to communicate, to convey the message. Home is the first school of language learning. If the parent of a child is well qualified and know more than two languages; child acquires more than two languages very easily. Suppose if a Child’s mother belongs to Gujrat and her mother tongue is Guajarati but she marries to a man from England, naturally child will acquire both languages.  It will also depend on the society, where they reside. If the parents live in Delhi and most of the people in locality speak Hindi, probably the child learns Hindi first than English. Because most of the time he listens Hindi than English. Society also plays important role in the language learning. If a number of people speak particular language in society; child will acquire that language easily e.g., in Goa there were French colonies before independence and till the date French is one of the main language in Goa. School is an important factor in language learning, their peers, and their teachers are most important in their life.

Role of English Language Teacher

Wise language teacher provides ample opportunity for his learners to communicate in English. He knows the importance of communication. We express ourselves in a proper manner, when we know “how to communicate” in English. We learn new language, when we involve in using words and sentences in desired learning language.

If teachers in the school are competent enough in their concern subject, and if their teaching methodology is suitable to the learners, suitable to the present needs of the learners, language learning takes place very soon. My friend Tappu qualified his intermediate level from a government school in Purvanchal district from Uttar Pradesh, India. His English teacher was very good. He used to teach English through structural method because of long tradition of his English teaching. English Teacher Sharma Ji used to teach him rules of grammar as well as translation efficiently. His grammar was fair enough but Tappu could never speak even a single sentence in English in his school days. He completed his Under Graduate Degree (UG) in English Literature from a state university. He got good marks but he hardly spoke in English. It happened because of examination system which was fairly based on writing five long questions therefore it was no need to speak in English. He started speaking in English after 6 month of his study in a reputed Department of English of a University. He practiced well to speak in English and tried to overcome his shyness because everyone in the university campus and hostel used to communicate with each other in English. Gradually I started speaking in English. He got enough exposure in the university campus. Exposure and practice in language learning is crucial factors without it no one can learn language. In fact we cannot learn language in vacuum.

Role of school in language learning

School is the best place where language learning takes place positively. It provides a big platform for each and every learner studying in the school. School provides comprehensive learning platform. Learning is a transmittable act. Positive and negative learning occurs rapidly. We try to learn a new language, when we find that everyone is speaking a same language. School provides a challenge for learner to speak in same language. Each and every stakeholder receives enough input in a language over a period of time. Student takes learning new language in a challenging way; yes I have to speak in English and I will speak in English. He started to practice it with one word, one wrong sentence at early stage but next stage he learnt more than a word or a sentence. Positive learning has been started at this point which leads in the classroom when a teacher delivers lecture in English, and peer communicates in English in the classroom, playground and in the bus while travelling. Students get better exposure and ample opportunities to communicate in English without sense of fear. Students learn English speaking technique very fast up to pre-primary and primary level; however English language learning is happened to be slow after 10-11 years of student. It happens due to learning English as a 2nd and third language. Learning occurs here but progress becomes slow. Notwithstanding, growth is observed in a gradual process.

Role of Textbook in Language Learning: Does a textbook play important role in language learning?

Exposure does matter in language learning. See any textbook prepared by SCERT India. Textbook has been heavily written to develop grammar; notion behind preparing these types of textbooks is that if we give much exposure in grammar children will learn language automatically. Of course it helps at some extent but communicative competence never develops by teaching only grammar in the classroom or outside the classroom. Language learning must be a fun. Children learn so much by play -way method. So language teaching must include so many activities which should be based on play way method. Text book plays crucial role in learning a new language. A standard textbook considers student’s age, social and cultural background positively and develops relationship with learners existing knowledge to provide proper, precise and concrete language learning opportunities for ‘each one teach one’.

Develop learner’s comfort level for learning

We should create such types of activities which involve children directly like role –play, discussion in the classroom etc. These types of activities provide so much exposure and practices. Children feel comfortable in the classroom. When children feel at ease in the classroom they learn so much, they think that they are just talking in the classroom, meanwhile they acquire so much language. Does a textbook play important role in language learning? Yes, a textbook plays crucial role in language learning. It provides ample opportunities for language learning through different tasks.  Now a day’s textbook writers give much importance to develop communicative competence; tasks are communicative and related to real life situations so that learns can use language in the class as well as in daily activity. If the textbook provides ample communicative tasks, children learn so much.

Exposure and practice” are the keys to success. Practices lead to perfection and command on that language and exposure helps to use that language in different contexts, it helps to sharpen that knowledge. Apart from exposure and practices, home, parents, school, teacher, society, textbooks play crucial role in language learning.

Rajeev Ranjan

Indian Educationist

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