Tuesday, September 04, 2007

An Expert Foreign Language Teacher in Lord of the Rings Country Gives Priceless Tips on Learning a Foreign Language


An Ancient Chinese Saying


There is an ancient Chinese proverb which says, "To know the road ahead, ask those coming back." So a fellow ex-pat speaks on the realities of learning a foreign language “on the fly.”

Native English speaker Katherine Peckitt originally from Britain, now residing and teaching in Auckland, New Zealand; speaks Finnish, Polish, Portuguese and English

“I was actually in Finland for a bit, but I have also taught English in Poland and Portugal.”

“Poland was probably the funniest place to communicate because they speak so little English and I spoke absolutely no Polish. I remember going into a shop on the first day needing milk and eggs and we ended up acting out a cow being milked and a chicken laying eggs because everything was behind a counter!! We very quickly learnt the words and I'll never forget them!! But for the rest of my Polish we tried to learn functional stuff - so I actually was quite good at ordering a pizza over the phone, giving directions home in a taxi and haggling in a market.”

Key Point: “I definitely think that you need to learn functional things first that you will need to use everyday.”

“Portuguese was easier because I already spoke French which in a way made it also more frustrating because I could understand so much more than I could produce - but in the case of Portugal I actually met more local people and joined a gym which made me have to speak more. I also lived in a smaller town that didn't have so many tourists.”

Key Point: Smaller towns and non-tourist areas offer better, more frequent contact with the locals which can boost your practice and acquisition considerably.

Katie continues, “Finnish was quite probably the most difficult language I've ever tried to learn which wasn't helped by the fact that most people over there speak English anyway!

What I found most useful was having the radio on in the mornings as I was getting ready for work and then very slowly I found that I could understand how to tell the time and what the weather was like. I did join a class but being a complete beginner and not really having enough time or energy to study after teaching all day I quickly got left behind - and so at the end of my year there I still got the numbers 5 and 6 muddled up and I have absolutely no idea what the months of the year are!!”

Key Point: Listen to local radio stations to pick up vocabulary and phrases by ear.

Katie also says, “I think the best phrase you can learn is,
"Sorry, I don't speak _________"!!

No matter which foreign language you might wish to tackle, these “front line trenches” tips can be useful tools in your English or other foreign language learning arsenal.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for the no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com