外語學習經驗與建議 Ep. 1 淺談我的外語學習歷程|Foreign Language Learning Experience and Advices Ep. 1 My Foreign Language Acquisition Story in Short

在這系列文章,我會分享我個人學習外語的經驗,希望正在閱讀的你無論有沒有和我相似的經驗,都能從我的故事中獲得改善學習外語經驗的一些想法,或者單純地感同我的身受。

首先簡單介紹一點背景資訊。我的母語和多數其他台灣人一樣是台灣普通話和台語。截至寫這篇文章的此刻,我已經學習英語文14年,其中,6年的學習是課後英語教學機構及學校課程並行、3年僅有學校英語課程、4年英國語文學士課程,及學士畢後一年的自學。

個人學習英語前期約5年的時間其實頗為痛苦,因為當時家長選擇的課外英語教育機構的教學風氣十分嚴謹,甚至嚴厲,且同儕間競爭激烈、連上課時也無甚交集,造成學習全程處於高壓環境。到現今我仍清楚記得,當時每週兩堂英文課對於正就讀小學的我,簡直是生存戰。國小畢業後,我在一所私立中學待了一年,但這一年可說是我學習英語的經歷中最混沌的一年。

國小時去上的課後英文課程總還是讓我學了一些英語的皮毛,但進入這所私立中學於我來說,學習反而毫無頭緒。該所私立中學除了一般教育部訂定的英語課程外,還有「進階英語課程」,由外籍教師授課,教授的內容我在往後入了高中才明白,原來是提前了整整三年的「先修課程」。想當然耳,我當時的程度完全無法跟上那些或許曾上過家教或甚至國外課程的同學們,以致我很快就灰心喪氣,大小考試幾乎全然放棄。

至此,我前5年學習英語的時光帶給我些許的英文能力,卻也帶給我莫大壓力和對學習外語的目的的不解。我在離開那所私立中學後甚至十分排斥繼續學習英語,但總還是在家長苦勸下,勉強在家附近一所外商英語教育機構分校註了冊。當時的我當然沒有想到,我學習英語的歷程就在此有了極大的轉變。

我在這間英語教育機構學習的課程所採用的結構為主題式,以涵蓋廣泛主題的課文帶出語彙及文法,課堂活動揉合聽說讀寫,課後活動也包含聽讀寫。課程主題多樣,囊括諸如新聞、明星、房地、環境、科學、運動、文化、傳統、藝術…等等不勝枚舉,對於當時一介普通中學生的我來說是很豐富的資訊刺激。

因為這系列課程並非基礎英文,花了不到三年,所有課程便都結束,而我在高中的後兩年也都沒有再參與學校以外的英文課程。然而我當時並未覺察的是,經過適合自己的教學法的洗禮,自主找尋素材的學習模式已成為習慣。我透過網路上唾手可得的文章及影片及訂閱英文雜誌,在該課程結束後仍持續在課後增進自己的英文能力,即使我並未認知到自己是在自學。

一個普通台灣高中生? 聽起來可能太夢幻,但這是我的真實。

現在回顧,我養成自學英文習慣的契機其實僅僅是為了探索未知。學會使用英語文作為獲得資訊的管道後,我才真正獲得學習英語文的動力。只有知道自己往何處前進,才有前進的動力。

隨著英語文學習的成功,對於學習語言的信心也讓我選擇了學校開設的課後第二外語課程之一—法文,而在高中畢業後我也曾在私人教育機構學習。今日距離我一開始學法文已有7年,其中因為大學課業及進入職場造成不時中斷,真正有從課堂學習的時間大約只有3年左右,我的法文程度也僅介於A2-B1之間。形成我的英語及法語學習歷程的差異的主要原因明顯有二: 投資時間和學習動力。學習法文對我來說僅是興趣,迫切性遠不及當初學習英語時來的強烈;再加之大學入學考、大學課業壓力、到畢業後生活中有更多面向需要時間,不如中學時代穩定的時間分配,從而壓縮繼續學習的餘裕。

學習語言是永無止境的旅程,即使考過多益和雅思,也獲得不差的成績,但在英文領域我仍無時無刻在學得更多時,也了解自己所知及所能運用的有限。然而,在回顧自己學習語言的歷程後向未來望去時,我自然地了解,這兩種外語都會相伴我一生。

我學習語言的故事到此尚未結束,下一篇文章將會是我整理自己的學習歷程後提出的心得與建議,之後也會提及我在此篇並未著墨的英國語文學士學涯。希望我的故事能對你有所幫助。

我們下篇見!

Selwyn College, University of Cambridge, 2016

In this series of articles I will be sharing my personal experience in foreign language learning. By reading what I have gone through and my reflections, maybe you will find some useful bits that are helpful for you.

As you might have read/noticed, I am a non-native speaker in English. My mother tongue is Taiwanese Mandarin Chinese (with reading and writing ability) and Taiwanese (listening and speaking). At the moment when I am writing this article, I have been learning English for over 14 years, including 6 years in private English education institutions and schools, 3 years of courses provided by schools only, 4 years of university education, and 1 year of self-learning.

Personally, the path of English learning for me was far from smooth. The first 4 years of the process could be recalled as a nightmare due to the stressful teaching and learning style in the class. Things did not get any better in the year I was in a private junior high school.

The class I was in in the junior high provided customised English courses that was designed to equipt the students with senior-high-level English, and thus it was far from suitable for me, who neither started to learn the foreign language earlier than the peers, nor got tutor or any especially intense classes before entering the high-school-level class.

For the whole year, my English did not improve in the class that was clearly too advanced for me, on the contrary, I became even less confident knowing I could never catch up the peers in the class.

So far it seems that the first 5 years of learning brought me little more than frustration and stress, however, the second private English education institution I went to changed the whole story around.

The second institution I went to after leaving the private junior high school for a public one had a theme-based curriculum structure, which might have stimulated my interest in learning.

In the theme-based lessons, the students were given sufficient time and chances to have conversations and discussions with the teachers and the classmates. Various topics discussed ranging from news, property, celebrity, environment, science, to culture, tradition, arts, sports, technologies…, etc., inspired and encouraged me to explore the mass information both on and off line.

In the second and the third year of senior high school, which were after the end of the levels in the private institution, I did not take any English courses other than the ones provided in the school. Nonetheless, my learning process did not stop. Not before this point did I realise that I have picked up a self-learning habit back when I was still attending the extra-curricular courses.

I know it sounds like today’s episode of things that never happened, but it surely did.

To me, not until I found how creative I could be with the language did I start to push myself further in sharpening the ability. People need to be aware of where they are going to to keep the motivation up.

This is also when I told myself maybe I could even try another language. When I had the successful experience in learning the first foreign language, the courage for exploring other options emerged naturally. Therefore, among the given choices in the school, I chose French.

7 years of on and off after the beginning of the learning process, now my level of French is somewhere between A2 and B1, which would probably not be considered as ideal for a learner who took courses for around 3 years in total. The main reasons why I have not got a satisfactory learning result can be concluded as the followings: First, I did not invest in as much time and effort as I did for English; second, my motivation has not been as strong as that of for English.

Learning French has been more like a hobby for me rather than a need or an ambition, therefore, there is not as much urgency or desire in knowing more as when learning English.

Language learning is a lifelong journey. The more I learn about the languages the more I realise how insufficient my ability and knowledge is. However, I know for sure that both English and French will always have their roles in my life.

Now you know my story about acquiring foreign languages, in the next episode I will talk about what I have learnt from my own experience. Hopefully my story can provide you thoughts about your own learning.

See you in the next episode. Ciao!