Let’s talk! about ESL students’ biggest challenge


in Let's Talk!

TODAY’S QUESTION: A challenge is a difficult task. What is the biggest challenge you face, or experience, as an English learner who doesn’t live in an English-speaking country?

Let’s Talk! is an online discussion about learning English as a second language.

  • Each discussion will be open for two weeks.
  • If you want to reply to what someone else has written, click on Reply at the end of their comment; your reply will be added after their comment.

I’d like to hear from you!

Warren Ediger

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Hannah Lee February 1, 2010

This question might not apply to me right now, because I’m living in an English-speaking country. But 3 years ago, when I was an English learner in South Korea, there were lots of things that made my learning quite challenging. We Koreans speak Korean, obviously. Naturally I was surrounded by Korean, Korean, and more Korean. Even when I wanted to watch an American movie in English, there was always something, whether it was subtitle or dubbing, that steered me away from English-speaking environment. When I was in English class at school, I studied English, but I did it in Korean. My teachers translated all the English readings into Korean and we had to think in Korean to do well on English exams. To me, the biggest challenge I faced, as an English learner who wasn’t in an English-speaking country, was the lack of opportunity to be exposed in an English-speaking environment. If I was more exposed to English and was encouraged to learn English directly, it would have been much easier for me to acquire English.

Hung February 1, 2010

Hi every body!
My name’s Hung, I live in Viet Nam. I like English and want to speaking English very well. But my English is not good now, maybe because:
– I don’t live in an English-speaking environment.
– I have not an aptitude for English.
– My learning English plan is not constand.
I hope that will improve my English when I joint community of Successful English.
Best regard!

Daven February 3, 2010

Hello! everyone, my name is Daven(戴文延) from Shanghai,China.
I’m a company employee worked for a Japan-based company.
This is my first typing works in this marvalous site.
I’m really impressed by the suggests and comments which make me learn much.
For me, the big challenge to me is speaking in English.
I can’t not communicate with english-speaking persin in fluent and accurate way.
I hope I can impove my English overally not only in speaking, but reading, listening and writing.

Tanya Taylor February 6, 2010

I would like to share a funny side of my life, here in Greece, in regard of the question above.
I am a native Bulgarian, living in Greece, but mostly surrounded with English-American speakers. My attempts to learn very good Greek have always fallen with zero result. Greeks are very keen to learn foreign languages. So English is spoken by almost every one – doesn’t matter where you go. And on the top of it – Greeks are very eager to use every opportunity to exercise their skills. So if I go in a Greek store and try to communicate using my Greek knowledge, which it is modest but still they understand me well, I would always be served with a smile from a Greek in a very good English!
On the other hand when I am surrounded with native English-Americans they always mistake me for being a Greek and try to benefit of the situation “let’s get ahead and talk some greek words with a native one”.
I think that finally I found myself at the right place having been tutored by Mr. Warren Edger. At our meetings he talks to me real American language and he does not make any attempts to learn Greek from me!

Warren Ediger February 6, 2010

It seems like a common thought here is being able to have conversations with Americans or other English-speakers. Has anyone tried to find an “English buddy” – for example, an American student or an American working in your country – to have occasional conversations with? If you did, what was your experience?

The question is for anyone!

Suat Kıran February 8, 2010

Dear all,

I am a learner/active user of English language (as well as a couple of other languages) living in Turkey. I have been dealing with English in my daily life (studying for further improvement, watching/reading/listening – all in/to English,- tutoring others, writing projects/reports, doing business in international trade, etc.) for more than 15 years now and I guess I have enough personal experience to have a couple of words on challenges that an average ESL student constantly faces.

Most of the time he/she is alone in this adventurous journey:
Yes.. unfortunately the poor guy often does not have anyone to accompany him/her in daily life. Maybe he/she attends an English course. Yet, often, this is no more than a couple of hours, let’s say, every three days and he/she is still surrounded by his/her fellow citizens of the same mother tongue that see/perceive/think/communicate in and look through the window of his/her native language/culture. And once he/she comes out of the course and steps on the street of his/her neighborhood the situation gets even worse for the poor learner. His/her mobile rings and voila: a friend of theirs/a family member/a colleague speaking in and expecting him/her to speak in their native language. After this short talk the poor guy advances towards the bus station as they routinely do while they suddenly feel like dropping by the small market on the way to make some shopping (in the native language). Then, waiting at the bus stop a stranger approaches him/her and asks for directions (in the native language). This happens just when his/her mobile rings for the second time while the secretary working in the English course calls to tell her Monday’s lesson has been postponed to Wednesday (in the native language). While speaking to the secretary on the phone the expected bus arrives and the crowd -all uttering/muttering in the native language- starts to move to join another crowd (in the bus) of similar utterance/muttering. Just when he/she steps into the car the driver asks for the ticket (in the native language) while interrupting the ongoing phone-talk (still in the native language). Finally, our adventurer makes it home where the loop (of langauge and culture) tightens even further with mom/dad/bro/sis, etc all talking/thinking/seeing/perceiving/expecting, etc in the one same language/culture :). So, the average ESL adventurer lacks the natural exposure, input, impulse, force, etc – of which they would have plenty living in a native English speaking country.

Ed. February 9, 2010

It´s interesting look back and see the stages of my language development. At begin I used google translator to all until I decided really to learn english. How I had no money to english classes and i had friends very bored with yours english classes I put in my mind that I could learn english by myself.

I couldn´t read anything in English but checking the meaning of some word in few time I was able to pick up the main idea from texts.

Next I´d like to learn how to write in english, so I created a mail list to practice writing because the mail lists I had joined was full of grammar tests and I didn´t like to spend time doing it.

The next step was to practice listening and be able to understand what people say. I choose podcasts from eslpod.com and started listening. I start listening those podcast every day at bus while commuting to work. I felt myself like a stupid listening that because I could understand anything, the scripts of each podcast help me to overcome that. Some time after I was able to understand all that Jeff [Jeff McQuillan, ESL Podcast] told.

Now my next challenge to face is speaking.

I hope go back here to write my experience.

Good look for everyone, the first step is the hardest.


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