The battle with English

It is time to address a topic that really gives a lot to talk about. Without a doubt, knowing English is fundamental nowadays. It is the language of knowledge, of business, of international communication, plus a great deal of entertainment and educational content.

1. How did I learn English?

2. What levels did I go through?

3. How did I get the certificate?

4. Conclusion

UPDATE, 12/08/2022

UPDATE, 25/12/2023

HOW DID I LEARN ENGLISH?

I never had a problem passing it in class, partly because I went to an academy one year to improve, and partly because I really liked it. To this day, however, I regret having studied it that way. Achieving a good level of English was a stressful and complicated task. In this post I will limit myself to describing my learning of the Anglo-Saxon language, and in the German one I will philosophise a little more and distinguish between both paths.

Roughly speaking, I learned English grammar and vocabulary through school and extracurricular classes, and to use it through some interactive exercises such as exhibitions, conversations, hangouts, and communication in online life (obviously, online games and a lot of related content is in English). Later I would learn also through by doing exams.

WHAT LEVELS DID I GO THROUGH?

1. The first lessons I got in the academy were the A2-level

2. At the age of 14 there was a PET (Cambridge B1) exam at my school, which I passed without too much difficulty. But accrediting an advanced level would be a very different challenge.

3. Three years later I signed up for B2 classes. We learned new structures, more advanced phrasal verbs, rephrasings….

4. And in the following year I was transferred to C1 classes for the CAE, as the teachers saw that it would be more profitable and probably more tangible. I took these classes for another year, and when I finished I went to the exam.

3. HOW DID I GET THE CERTIFICATE?

In that exam I got a good lesson. I knew I wasn’t enough, prepared, but I was confident that I would do well when it came to the moment of truth. Badly done: the lack of preparation and practice took their toll, and this was especially noticeable in the listening part. I felt then very saturated because I had spent too much energy on the other skills (listening was the last part of the exam).

I made up for the mistakes of the previous exam: more writing, more reading, a finer ear. And I decided to use that summer to work on the exam as it should be, dedicating an hour or so every day to it and signing up for an intensive course. Of course, there was also some time to have a drink, of course, but there was a personal goal.

In this way, I took the exam in Valencia, I was very happy with the work I had done, and I received the pass after a few weeks. That way, I took a load off my mind.

4. CONCLUSION

There is no doubt that certifying such knowledge is very important, but while much of the language is retained, other skills still need to be practised. And the most effective way is to make it part of your routine, such as reading the news or watching videos and documentaries. All of this only makes everyday life better by having a wider variety of sources.

For this reason I encourage every reader to follow this method; from experience I can assure you that it is much more effective, playful and above all, sustainable over time. In the post about my German learning I will reflect on what the approach to learning a language should really be like, and especially this one, feared but not that complicated.

UPDATE, 12/08/2022

It had to happen, sooner or later. Languages have lots of benefits, but one of the most interesting is the variety of ways in which it can be learned and practiced, specially English.

It is impossible to abandon English – Contents in Internet made me steady in this topic. But with an eye in the future, I decided to make a step forward, only for the matter of learning:

– Endless music. Expressions, culture and particularly the ability to sing them instead of kinda spit broken English. A great investment.

One super discovery is the story told by Eminem in his rap Stan. I strongly recommend the reader to delve into it.

Documentaries and reports of all kinds, or the popular Ted Talks stand for two super ways to kill two birds with one stone. Suddenly you see yourself engrossed in the topic, and you completely forget that you understand little more than the half.

As a highlight, I remember coming across a video entitled “how imaginary numbers were invented“, which tells a story between several mathematicians from very different generations. From the search for solutions to the problem of quadratic equations, there were discoveries, betrayals, inheritances…, which at one point led to the need to create a negative area, and thus to assume that an intermediary was essential.

Some words pocketed:
· Stutter: a mathematician was
· To lure someone
· Subtle: the solution


-News in webs such as the BBC or USA today.


-Scientific essays of all kinds on knowledge dissemination websites. On the one hand, sciencenews.org with articles on a wide range of topics, and on the other hand, howstuffworks.com, with explanations of a wide range of interesting topics, provides a key dose of daily learning.

UPDATE, 25/12/2023

After a year living in England, I could realise first-hand how much English I knew. In my case:
– Speaking great, even if I sometimes miss a few words.
– Writing great, e-mails go fast
– Reading great, like it’s nothing
– Listening, nope. Must be the new accent, or that I haven’t seen enough films or series in English, I don’t know.

I would say it is the worst discipline to fail, as the best part of a language is communicating with other speakers in person. However, I’m sure in 2024 it will be solved….

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