After the end of my fourth week back studying in the University of Limerick, I want to reflect on what I have learnt and just explain a bit more about how my year abroad has impacted on my studies today and why I am focusing in particular on my Teaching English To Speakers of Other Languages module (TESOL).
After living in two different countries where English is not the spoken language, I have really begun to appreciate and admire people who have learned or are trying to learn to speak it.
In Belgium the three official languages are French, Dutch/Flemish and German, while in the Netherlands the first language is Dutch. I noticed that in the Netherlands English was more widely and more proficiently spoken as a second language than in Belgium.
This was especially noticeable while I was studying Journalism while on Erasmus in Groningen in the Netherlands, as English was the spoken language of the minor which consisted of international and Dutch students. These students came from all around the world and had varying levels of English.
As one of the only native English speakers in the class I was often asked by students and teachers about grammar, spelling and pronunciation issues, which was a strange experience. It’s not everyday that a lecturer has to turn to a student for help! However, while I could answer these questions, once a Polish friend of mine asked me whether she was forming the present perfect of a verb correctly and I had no idea what it was. That’s when I started thinking more about TESOL and how I would have to learn the grammar rules of English properly if I wanted to be able to teach other people English.
Learning another language is not easy. I have experienced this first hand as I always struggled with languages at school and more recently I have been trying to learn Dutch since it was spoken in both countries I was living in last year. I will explain more about attempting to learn Dutch and the difficulties I faced in my next blog post. I will also explain the EFL project which I will be doing as a component of the course.