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Your Poor English: 5 Ways to Correct It

Popularity 1Viewed 3969 times 2017-8-10 10:03 |Personal category:English|System category:News

I would guess that more than half of the CELs (Chinese English Learners) that I connect with, tell me, "Michael, my English is poor." This seems to be an attempt at relieving any responsibility for mistakes that they think they are going to make. 

I have more than 11,000 students connected with me from all over Asia and other parts of the world. I interact with them. I have 19 groups on WeChat which all have more than 300 people each. I talk to dozens of Chinese English teachers every month. I've taught SAT (American gaokao) to students who get extremely high scores. In six years, I've lived in the vast ocean of English learning and English training in China. I still learn new struggles that CELs have here even though I'm quite aware of most of the obstacles they encounter.

I teach out of compassion and passion. First, I saw the difficulties that students in China face as well as their perseverance and hard work to learn. I came to China with plans of staying only one year and now, six years on, I'm still here with no plans to leave. My compassion turned into action which fueled the passion I have today for teaching English and raising students up to levels that they dream of achieving and aspire to.

Yet, I still here this common phrase too often. "My English is so poor."

Here's what I'm going to advise you to do in order to overcome 'your poor English.'

1. Stop saying that your English is so poor. You might argue with me and say, "But Michael, it is so poor." Well, you're doing yourself no good at all to continue to say that. Say this instead, "My English isn't as good as I want, but, I'm working hard every day to make it better." Why say that? Well, because you are doing that. This is what I've observed with CELs. They work hard and want to master English. So, just tell the positive truth about it. When you follow this advice, you'll set yourself up for success instead of failure.

2. See your English learning as an investment. First, most people want better English so they can improve themselves. This results in higher pay and promotions. It might involve their future education and perhaps even their desire to study abroad. I see a lot of people who are looking for 'free' English training. You'll find a lot of it. However, it is likely not going to be to a standard of what it really takes to master English. You don't have to spend a lot of money. But, chances are, you going to have to spend some money to find a qualified teacher who knows how to teach you and who can help you achieve your English learning goals.

3. Find a native English speaking teacher. I can tell you right now that I don't want some guy who isn't a native Chinese speaker trying to teach me Chinese. I don't trust them. It isn't that I think that they are dishonest, however, it is that I don't know if they are teaching the right way. Many people say, 'practice makes perfect.' This statement is NOT true. Practice the wrong thing and you'll become 'perfect' at doing it the wrong way. Only 'perfect practice makes perfect.' It doesn't matter what language you're learning. Find a native teacher to teach you. You'll not only learn the right way, but, you'll learn faster. Also, it will boost your confidence level a lot.

4. Have a set amount of time to study English. You need to commit to some study, every day. I know it isn't always possible, but, you need to set it as your goal. If the old saying is true, that is, 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away', then, you can't wait until Sunday and eat 7 apples. You'll get sick. You have to have ONE every day.

5. Practice speaking more than anything. Language is naturally learned through speaking. ALL languages are learned that way. Most CELs have been taught that they must study grammar. In fact, they don't study Chinese grammar. Why? Because Chinese grammar is 'caught' while speaking Chinese and following your Chinese teacher. English is the same. The one thing that all Westerners know about English is, 'every time you teach a new grammar rule, then, you have to teach two dozen exceptions to that rule.' We, native English speakers, know that. Most CELs have been taught that grammar is the most important thing. It is not. Practice speaking more and more.

I'll add more steps later. Learn these and understand them and you'll learn to have 'rich English' instead of 'poor English.'

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Reply Report Swifty55 2017-8-10 11:27
Michael:I agree with your 5 things listed here and thought I was the only one teaching English correctly in China until I started reading your blogs.I would add that unless Universitys in China start hiring only experienced native Englsh teachers there will not be any improvement in speaking of English by Chinese students. I have been a teacher in China now for 4 years at the University level. I have 37 years of experience as a certified teacher/principal in the USA.
Reply Report MichaelM 2017-8-10 18:53
Swifty55: Michael:I agree with your 5 things listed here and thought I was the only one teaching English correctly in China until I started reading your blogs.I ...
I applaud your dedication. It takes dedication, sacrifice, and commitment to do what you and I are doing. On top of being a foreigner without much of an opportunity to learn the language (I'm consumed with teaching English and hardly take a vacation of any significance), there is also the situations you have to endure in this culture. In over 50 years of my life and having been deeply embedded in education and the real estate business in the U.S., I was cheated out of the most amount of money here that I'd ever experienced in my life. So, there is that element that we are vulnerable to as well. There is virtually no legal recourse for such things here as this kind of crime is not taken seriously. (I know. I contacted every authority that I could to get help and none would help.) So, we have to endure and tolerate such things in order to help the children and the future of this country. It's a sacrifice that few are willing to make.

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Michael is the author of the transformational book, Powerful Attitudes. He is a professional educator, an educational consultant, an author. He lives in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. He enjoys playing guitar and writing poetry. He loves China.


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