How language is learned?
Author: Leon Ling | Editor: Sharon Strong | Photo: Li Lin | Guest Speaker: Sharon Strong
“Just like you learn your mother language, you learn it as an infant, by hearing it, by learning to make the sounds in your mouth when you hear them,” said Sharon. With music training background, it is easy for Sharon to know how sounds can be made through the mouth and throat, and it helped her to learn other languages as well.
Sharon Strong is a retired university and public education instructor from Alberta. She followed her mother’s path to be a teacher. She took music as her major for two years then switched to Early Child Education when she learned language educational methodology which she applied.
Curiosity is one of Sharon’s personality. She actively participated in summer teaching programs so she had chances to teach English learning skills and methodology to teachers in Some Asian countries and also the Caribbean. When exploring overseas, she was shocked by the cultural differences from China and Thailand and was impressed by the careful and polite attitude of the Japanese towards life. She adapted to the new culture with her resilience, made new friends, and had a great time overseas. In 2012, she retired and moved to Victoria, BC to spend her time exploring island life.
In Sharon’s teaching career, she helped people learned English. However, it is difficult to change learners’ pronunciation for English from their language, because learners’ tongues are trained from their birth for a specific sound making. Sharon demonstrated to students how sounds are made with different shapes of tongue so that students can adapt to it by learning and practicing.
She also brought music into her class. “We usually have a dance with it (music), or something in movement, because movement helps things stick in your brain, ” said Sharon. She introduced singers and songs with stories to students to help them to understand the language better.
Vocabulary is the second problem newcomers have for English learning. Many people find it difficult to remember and apply the words they learned in the conversation. However, the most effective way to solve the problem is to use the language more. People can remember new words by applying it in real-life conversations with others or making a sentence with new words.
For newcomers who want to develop careers in Canada, how to improve language skills to a professional level is another question, especially in writing. It might be a long process to improve, but familiarizing yourself with professional vocabulary and remembering formats and styles in different writing scenarios can be the first step to start.
“Good English writers do the same things, so you can follow how good writing happened and you will begin to appreciate the format and style,” said Sharon