Posted by: lyonenglishnetwork | November 9, 2011

What languages did you learn at school ?

Person A: What languages did you learn at school ?

Person B: Spanish and German

Person A: Do you speak Spanish ?

Person B: No.

Person A: Do you speak German ?

Person B: No.



  1. Similarly: After I used the word ‘shrink’ in class, one student asked –
    ‘Is that ‘shrink’ as in – ‘shrink – shrank – shrunk?’
    ‘Yes, that’s right’ I replied
    ‘Ah, yes,’ she said, ‘I remember that from school, but I’ve no idea
    what it means, though’.

    Does this not make you question the french schools’ english teaching technique?

  2. Yes.

    With regards to irregular verbs, learning a whole long list is not the best way, in my opinion. There are around 220 irregular verbs I think (or 212) to learn.

    But in reality you only need to learn a few to get started.

    Words like went and bought are much more common than shrink, shrank, shrunk.

    I would recommend an approach that you learn them as you come across them. The most common ones you will come across more often so then you can put down, say, on a piece of paper the equivalenent in your own language.

    It’s the same with numbers, trying to learn them all in one day is not the best way, in my opinion to about it. But as you hear them on tv, on the radio, on youtube videos, see them in books, etc, you will pick them up. You might even hear them in the esl classroom, but again, the esl classroom is not the only place where you can learn these things. It can be part of the process but it can’t be the be all and end all.

    About schools, you have to question what is their real objective, though? Is it to teach the students how to speak the language because if so, be it in England or France or many other countries for that matter, they ain’t doing a very good job. Not many people, including myself, come out of school speaking the language fluently.

    Whereas I think if you use the correct technique and put in the commitment, you can be fluent in under a year. Maybe for some people it might take 3 years. But most people go through the school system (6 or 7 years of lessons) and they haven’t got a clue how to piece the jigsaw together.

    There is an assumption that you will learn it later whereas if there was more focus on how to learn a language (be that English or another langauge), perhaps there would be more success.

    Qu’en penses-tu ? Et d’ailleurs, qu’en pensent les autres internautes ?


  3. Also, while we’re on irregular verbs.

    A lot of French students have learnt them but with absolutely no idea why so while some can do “go – went – gone” they’ve got no idea what the preterite is for or what a past participle is and which one is which.

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