Blog of a lifetime language learner.
Let me introduce myself: I’m Gillian Claridge, the director of an online English language teaching company called ELTANZ. So, you’ve probably guessed that English is my native language, and you’d be right.
You may think that I’m very fortunate that I don’t have to learn English as a second language, as many of you do, because English is one of the big three languages that are spoken globally. In a way that’s true. But it’s also true that you, the English as a second or foreign language learners, are very fortunate too, Once you’ve mastered English, you will be bilingual, or maybe trilingual, or even quadrilingual… And the more languages you speak, the more your communication horizons widen, the more people you can share thoughts and ideas with, the more cultures you can begin to unravel, absorb and understand. And the richer your lives will be.
I used to think it would be wonderful if we could all speak and read any language effortlessly. Some of you may have read a book called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams: it’s been translated into many languages. You may remember the Babel Fish, which, if worn behind your ear, would enable you to understand any language not only on the planet, but in the galaxy. I suppose if you were always blasting off into hyperspace you would need some means of communicating with any creatures you might meet there. After all, there would be a chance that talking to them might convince them that you were not a threat, or a tasty food source. You might make a whole lot of new friends. Or not. But talking often helps.
However, we don’t have a Babel fish yet, and if we did, I would be out of a job. We do have Google Translate, but is that enough? The wonderful thing about human language is the way that it opens a door into the cultures and thoughts of other people, which an automated translation tool cannot adequately do. But we can learn other languages, and learning English is a way in which many people across the world can begin to understand each other, even if their own languages are mutually unintelligible.
With that thought in mind I invite you to let ELTANZ help you on your journey to teach and use English as a tool for enhancing understanding and appreciating the richness of other cultures. And who knows? Eventually we might be able to extend this understanding further afield: the stars are the limit.
So, in this blog I and my ELTANZ colleagues would like to share something about our own language learning journeys and give you some ideas we’ve picked up along the way about language learning.
And what about your language journeys? We’d love to hear your ideas too.