Levels of Understanding English

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A wartime interpreter used to only need to master only 500 words in the language… those days are over now as war as evolved alongside technology and interpreters will be lucky to get a job with 500 words only…
But if all is fair in love and war people needing a second language today will need a lot more than the 500 more top bracket… and the same goes in business… which also used a lot of war lingo… and language…

Let’s stop and think for a moment and imagine how many words of English a learner really needs… what level of command of English should be expected from him/ her ?
People usually know far less English that they claim or imagine… although some actually know more… it is easy to assess how much English people actually master… and tests are often disappointing… as most –if not all- only really assess understanding… and I have tested the TOEIC examination with students who chose to check all the As and or Bs or Cs or even Ds -whenever possible-… and got an amazing 25 % right ! In other words any non speaker could take the TOIEC and get 25 % minimum of the score… without speaking a word of the language !

Many people tell me they understand -and sometimes speak- English well… as they watch a lot of films and series in English… which couldn’t be more wrong and for many reasons… and I prove them wrong every time… watching films in English does NOT help the learning…
Among those reasons are the fact that :
– the language used in films today is very poor and relies on a few dozens of words…… while a book may reach a few dozens of thousands of words…
– the topic (sci-fi, romance, action, …) of the film is enough to give a good understanding of the story WITHOUT speaking English…
– films now all follow a certain code… which makes them all very predictable… and dead easy to understand…
– the music and the pictures help a lot in the understanding of the film…
yet nothing of this proves we have actually really understood… as one of the tricks of our brain is that it doesn’t like it when it doesn’t understand things… and makes do, with what it gets and has… and however it can… any shrink will tell you that… in other words you might as well right your own story…
Ask your students to tell you what is actually said in a film… and they’ll be lost for words !

Beyond understanding English well enough to get a good score in a TOEIC, BULATS, IELTS or other test, there is understanding English in a context…
As a teacher, teacher trainer and coach in English I realised people need to know more… and more and more English depending on their usage… because a language is not mere words and grammar… it is also a meaning in context… in a culture… which varies from country to country even those sharing a common language… and when translating this language needs to be adapted to the people it aims at…
After years of success with songs penned by British writers and composers, American popstar Tina Turner admitted she only really understood the lyrics she was singing only decades later…

Continue reading
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Comprehensive-Teacher-TEFL-Companion-English-ebook/dp/B00LWXBNJQ/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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