How come that so many people are not able to speak a foreign language after graduating from school? This is the most usual question so far, but no one has given a proper answer yet. Is it so hard to pick up basic linguistic knowledge? Maybe the educational program and school methods are to blame. Are well-educated mentors and their efforts not enough to encourage students to learn? The question is ”Are we even able to indicate the problem related to this mystery?”.
After running some research and conducting a survey, the problem seems much more profound than it is supposed to be. First of all, we may pay attention to the fact that respondents in the survey aren’t able to choose only one or two factors responsible for this issue. In some parts of the questionnaire, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers weren’t enough to understand the subject, but they showed how voluminous the issue is.
What are the results of this research?
Learning a foreign language is usually a big challenge – it can take several years indeed. Despite many years of effort, it may turn out that you are still unable to communicate with other people in a foreign language. The reasons for this may be, among others: certain internal language barriers, methods, educational techniques not suited to individual needs or predispositions, insufficient motivation on the part of mentors, unsatisfactory educational programs, or unsatisfactory teaching methods. To obtain opinions on the above-mentioned issues, we conducted an anonymous questionnaire in which we received 44 answers to each question asked.
Our first question was: “Do you think that the knowledge you received in primary school about foreign languages has enriched your linguistic skills?” As many as 56.8% claim that the knowledge of foreign languages passed on to them in primary school did not enrich language skills sufficiently, and 22.7% selected the option “No”. From this, we can conclude the percentage of people who are not satisfied or not satisfied enough is as high as 79.5%.
Another aspect analyzed for the respondents to our questionnaire is the satisfaction with the method of teaching foreign languages in schools – the big majority (90.9%) answered they were not satisfied. In connection with this disproportion, it is worth analyzing the answers to the question, “Do you think that private lessons are more effective than teaching foreign languages in schools?” Here, we can also notice a vast predominance of one answer – 93.2% of respondents believe that private lessons are more effective than schools. It is known; however, that private English lessons are paid (if they are not financed, for example, from the public budget), so not everyone can afford this type of education.
Who is to blame?
The last question provides paramount knowledge based on the conducted research but was only mentioned to give a clearer view of the received information. “What do you think is the cause of poor language skills?”. The poor program of studies plus the lack of motivational technics used by linguistic mentors was the answer of almost half of the people (43,2%). Other 29,5% believe the educational program has visible deficiencies and is not working successfully for everyone.
Do I need to be motivated? Do I need any tools to improve the results of gaining this knowledge?
Well, the question is as simple as the answer. Motivation is a paramount factor in the whole process, which is simply called ”learning”. Without motivation, we aren’t even able to leave the bed so how can we learn a foreign language without it?
When it comes to useful tools, we should pay attention to polyglots’ recommendations. As we know, various ways are helping with the whole educational process but unfortunately, not every method was created to learn languages. Besides, not every method will work for you, as we all have different expectations and brains. For some, flashcards are successful enough, while for others, memory maps will work even better.
Klaudia Matera and Patrycja Oleś.