The importance of foreign language has become an indisputable fact in our increasingly globalized world. In particular, the effect of the media and the internet on shortening the distances, and on increasing the speed of communication and interaction to an unimaginable level, made it inevitable that even in daily life, foreign language and especially English would be encountered here or there. Given that three-quarters of the total Internet content or half of the business agreements in the world are in English, there is nothing to be surprised about. Today, we encounter English almost every day in any web site we visit, in the name of a new technological product, at almost all of the computer games or the famous Hollywood television series that we watch with subtitles.

Because of this and many other reasons, even more impotantly because of the fact that it is the language of trade and science and technology, all developed and developing countries pay particular attention to English education. In this respect, our country is not an exception. Our education system has been giving importance to foreign language education for many years. For this reason, preparatory classes have been established, the number of the lessons has been increased and English education has been planned as of primary school.

Although there are many efforts to improve the quality of English education, I wouldn’t be wrong if I claim that the results we have achieved are not satisfactory for us. The reason why English comprehension and speaking competence of the students who have studied English for 11 years, starting from the 2nd grade to the 12th grade, are at very low levels is a research subject on its own.

Of course, there are many different reasons. However, in my opinion, the most important one is our lack of knowledge about the difference in the structure of a foreign language and about the process of learning a foreign language. Me, as one of the students who had been studying English for many years during the school life, I first understood this after going to the USA for getting my masters’ degree and later when working abroad in a multi-national company. Let’s open this up a little.

After arriving in the United States for a masters’ degree program, I had a hard time communicating at first, although my English level was not bad. It wasn’t because of my lack of grammar or vocabulary, my lack of speaking practice, or my weakness in listening. Furthermore, I had received very high marks from internationally recognized exams. The reason was that the English spoken in everyday life by native people was different from the English had been taught to me. Isn’t that the same for Turkish? When we look at the language we use in our daily life, it is quite common to see that there is no compliance with the rules of grammar, inverted sentences are used from time to time, and even some of the main elements of a sentence such as subject-object-predicate are missing. The same goes for English. Unfortunately, our approach to language, even as an individual, is usually focused on grammar and vocabulary. But real-life English is more than just grammar and vocabulary. For example, in a country whose native language is English, how many times do you hear someone asking how you are doing by saying “How do you do?”? or somone answering this question with a “Fine, thanks and you?” Let me answer, I have hardly seen it in my five years of experience. Hasn’t it been taught to us for years? I realized this when an American told me “what’s up!” and I couldn’t find out exactly what the answer would be. This is exactly why a language is learned by living or experiencing. You can find some suggested solutions for this at the end of the article.

The first thing I noticed when I started working abroad was that some of the other nations, such as Germans, Dutch, Danes, etc., could speak English more easily and fluently. Of course, the diversity of education systems, cultural affinities, etc. have a lot of influence on this, but there is another aspect that is as effective as them. I noticed this while chatting with a German colleague. When I was checking my e-mails that day, my German friend, who asked me to translate an e-mail from Turkish into English, complained about the time I spent for the translation. Then I told him that we could do an experiment if he wanted to. I translated the words directly into English without changing their place in the sentence and asked him how much he could understand. The answer was less than a quarter of the whole paragraph. We tested the same thing with a German e-mail. More than 70% of the words in one paragraph were already in the correct place as they would be in the translated sentence into English. Even if you put only the English meaning of the words, the whole paragraph was understandable. This meant that; we cannot speak by originating from our language structure and translating in our minds while speaking English.

We have two solutions ahead; we will either make the sentence in Turkish first and then find out how to express it according to the English sentence structure or think directly in English. The second option is of course the ideal one. But it is a fact that it takes time. What is important at this point is that we should be aware of both of the situations I mentioned above before we start studying English. So we need to know that; We can’t speak English like Turkish. We need to learn English like English. Just like the kids learn to talk. Children learn to talk by imitating. They constantly watch around, record conversations, and see in what situation and how people react. This will be a grammatical detail, but when building sentences, they don’t think what form of past tense they should use. Because they use language as a reflex. Same as a 7-year-old native English child doesn’t think either it should be if clause 2 or 3 as he speaks without thinking. This is exactly why English is best learned by exposure. Firstly listening and reading, but then necessarily speaking. Because speaking requires productivity, forces the mind, and makes learning more permanent. The more you are exposed to sentences set up in similar situations, the less you think and strive to speak when you come across them in real life.

This is the approach that VIPTalkers is based on in learning English. In addition to grammar and vocabulary, to expose the student to English as much as possible (as it is used literally) and to make the English become a reflex, to raise the student from a passive listener position to an active element in the center of the course and to make him think English as a result. The basis of the training at VIPTalkers is speaking. Because, as mentioned above, speaking actively enables the use of language. For this reason, the courses are designed to allow students to speak as much as possible. In this way, it is possible to learn English much faster and in a more fun way. Remember that knowing English is not just about knowing meanings of the words or grammar rules. On the contrary, it is far beyond that…

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