Saturday, February 6, 2010

Learning English Through Movies

If you are reading my blog on a regular basis you may have noticed that my English isn't flawless. Maybe you've already seen a little film strip note on the sidebar where I'm talking about my “movie” English. That's right, I've learned my English almost entirely through  movies. It all started when I was a little girl. Back then, foreign movies weren't dubbed  in my country. We always watched the original version with subtitles in our language. Most of the time those movies were in English. So I listened to the original voices  and read the subtitles simultaneously, it was a no brainer at the time.
Later  I started to learn German in school, there even wasn't an option to learn English in our little town of 5000 people. I loved German so much throughout my school time that I even decided to study it and become a teacher!
It wasn't till I had my first baby (love you, froggilein) that I realized that something wonderful must have happened in my brain because I started to understand English without having one single lesson in my life! All these years of watching and listening to the movies without any effort...was it even possible? 
I finally found the explanation for this phenomenon while living in Germany in the nineties. I stumbled upon a book of a German psychologist and linguist Vera Birkenbihl. In her book “Stroh im Kopf” she said, among other things, that it was possible to learn  languages trough a passive method, without taking lessons and studying grammar. The explanation was a bit more complicated then that but it suddenly started to make sense to me! From that moment on, I started to pay more attention when listening to the music or watching television. I even started to read in English: magazines, books and later on the Internet. My passive knowledge of English language grew constantly. But from there to start to talk or even to write: inconceivable!

When I moved to Canada with my family in the late nineties we had to learn French – we were in Quebec! I was under the impression that I've lost all of my English while learning French. But it was only temporary, it all came back once I learned French very well. I also started to watch television in English on a regular basis, all the American cable channels to choose from, such a treat for me!
Trough my first job in Canada, I've created a  four level English conversation course for immigrants in Quebec City and hired an English  teacher. Although we were living in a French speaking city, English was a must when applying for a job. One of the teachers encouraged me to participate in an advanced (!) conversation group (thank you, Hormuz!). It was the first time that I took an English course and also a first time that I said something in English. 
Later, when I discovered a blogosphere, I started to follow English speaking blogs and was amazed by all the wonderful people who shared their talent with the world. So I finally created my own blog in 2008 but didn't start writing on a regular basis until September 2009. I was surprised myself that I was able to write in English, with or without errors. And I'm so happy when someone leave a comment on my posts, I can't believe how generous bloggers are!
Oh boy, this must be my longest post ever! I'm somewhat relieved now when you know the truth! Thank you so very much for reading my blog!!!
Share/Save/Bookmark

8 comments:

Imene said...

Wow it is amazing your english is so good I would have never guessed. You really have a talent for languages

Zhu said...

Same here! I have never learned English formally since my second language, after French, is Chinese.

I find English grammar pretty easy but I had a hard time with idiomatic expressions and slang when I first came to Canada. For me, reading helped a lot. I struggled through the first book, the second one was easier and then I picked it up. My English isn't flawless either but I'm glad I learned on my own.

Yasmine said...

@Imene: Thank you, I really love learning languages!
@Zhu: What a coincidence! I guess we both must have a talent for it, we both studied languages!

tinypaperheart said...

wow that's very inspirational :)

Sonja @ Craft-Werk said...

It's probably a big no-no coming from a qualified English teacher, but I learned English through TV, too. In my teens we received English speaking TV channels in my home and I got totally addicted to all things English. It really helped me - understanding native speakers with all their different accents, checking out previously unknown vocabulary and picking up idiomatic expressions.
I haven't learnt a new language for a long time, but having just come back from a short break in Italy I would love to learn Italian...
Thanks for sharing, Yasemine!

Expat Traveler said...

I am amazed at your story. I can't believe English just clicked for you one day. I'm sure that French is much the same now. I really want for my French to click one day..

By the way, I do think your writing is AAA +. I did find one error. Trough - is probably Though? or Through? I'm not sure...

What a wonderful story. Now which language to you speak at home? And dream in? I'm very curious to know!

Expat Traveler said...

lol - I even make errors when I type. I usually just don't re-read it all. I meant to say which language do you speak at home?

Yasmine said...

@Expat Traveler: thank you for your kind comments! My French is much better than my English. I also speak German fluently, I've studied it and was once a German teacher. I usually speak in my mother language at home with my family but sometimes I joke around with my children in one of the other languages.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...