The process of learning English as a Foreign Language is long and complex. It can be pleasant for some students or rather unpleasant for some other students. This is likely to depend on the teacher and his or her teaching method. In fact, if the teacher is not interested by what he or she is teaching, it might be harder for the student to learn. Plus, you do not teach a beginner like you teach an advanced, you do not teach a 10-year-old like you teach a 19-year-old. The teaching method has to be appropriate so as to be as efficient as possible. So how is the process of learning English managed through time? What is the attitude towards that?
At the beginning of the learning process -often in primary school- students are mostly taught grammar and basic vocabulary as they need a strong basis to properly learn the English language later on. When they get older and get further forward in their studies, learning English is still about grammar and lexicon and not so much about pronunciation and communication. This sort of stagnation can be perceived as shameful because why would you learn a language if you do not practice and speak this language? At this stage, every mistake you make is corrected by the teacher and you are sometimes punished for being wrong. For instance, you might have got the spelling of a word wrong in a written test and you must copy it out several times. In this case, supposing you tend to struggle with orthography, English can become a nightmare.
Then when you move towards to a university level, things change completely. You chose to keep learning English to get better at it, to come near fluency. At this level, you might learn the art of translation, practice oral comprehension, learn about the history of English speaking countries and you also might be led to give oral presentations in English -a language you don’t master perfectly yet. Classes are more and more taught in English and less and less in your first language. English becomes ubiquitous in your life when you chose to study it at university. Plus, sometimes teachers are native speakers which compels you to get used to other accents than the ones you already know or to other ways of thinking than the ones you are used to. At this level, you are not corrected at every mistake you make anymore so, as you often have more freedom, you are more likely to try harder and less afraid of making mistakes. You progress faster.
Academic English is very formal and is not really representative of the English you would speak with Native Speakers of English or with people who use English as a Lingua Franca. Schneider (2011) is going down this road when stating that ‘repetitive and passive language skills tend to be given priority over productive language usage’. At school -from primary school to university- writing often receives more attention than speaking. Also, rote learning is major while the student should try to put together a sentence by himself -in order to be able to have a real conversation. Two problems staten by Schneider are that less emphasis is given to develop oral fluency and…