I started learning English since my early childhood, but I couldn’t recall what actually I learned the first time I was attracted to it. As my memory can serve, my grandfather and aunts used to watch some Western TV series aired on the first and only state-owned TV station in Indonesia. It was damn fun to watch Remington Steele (Pierce Brosnan was playing detective there), Little House on the Prairie ( the most inspiring American dream story to me), Full House (when the Olsen twin sisters were infants), O’Hara (a story about an Asian martial art guru named O’Hara living in the US), Bonanza (typically-cowboy story with lots of the Indians vs European first settlers conflicts), Silk Stalking , Melrose Place, Northern Exposure, Twin Peaks and a lot more. Most of the series above were broadcast late at night, because you know..some of the scenes were romantic. Kissing, seducing scenes were at times found and they were thus not very appropriate for kindegarten kids like me to watch. But who cares, I did watch. I remember one night I had to stay up late only because I wanted to see Pierce Brosnan with his dashing blonde hair. And I benefited..much, yes much by watching them. Without taking English course before, I could articulate some short phrases frequently used by the actors and actreeses, like “What’s the matter?”, and “What happened?”. The way they spoke the phrases was also unique, quite different from my native tongue, Indonesian. So I promised by heart that someday I’d be able to speak just like those American actors and actreeses did. Based on my own past experience I just told, a foreign language lesson is best given for kids at their early stage of brain development, especially brain part that takes control of their linguistic skill.
So back onto business, I encountered some people who keep asking “what should I do to be able to speak fluently in English?”. Many of us face the same problem and never manage to tackle that. Some make excuse that they simply lack vocabulary, fail to dispel shyness, pay too much attention to their sentences grammatical accuracy, and so on. However, one thing I could take conclusion from is the fear of making mistakes, the mistakes can be mispronunciation, ungrammatical sentences, or any other mistakes which can’t be enumerated here.
Recognizing the key cause may set us free from the unpleasant domino effect in the future. For instance, a huge number of English learners failing to tackle their fear of making mistakes are likely to fail not only in speaking, but other subjects, such as writing, vocabulary, etc.
So why did I tell you my childhood English learning experience ? Simply to remind us that learning a foreign language (not only English) like a child is the best way here. What I’m trying to say here is that most kids are carefree, they don’t have a concept of failure on their mind. To adults, a failure or mistake is something to avoid, something they dread for good. To fail is a sin, to fail is embarrasing and humiliating. But to kids or young learners, making mistakes or failing is not something to mind. Maintaining pride or self-esteem is definitely the least thing they think of. What they know is that they have to enjoy what they do. Whatever they play, they must enjoy that. So can we learn how to be kids again to drive away that unnecessary fear?? Only time can tell.
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