I’d like to introduce myself and this new project to you. My name is Clarissa C. S. Ryan. I am finishing my master’s degree in English/TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). My bachelor’s degree is in history, with a minor in Asian studies.

I have studied two languages academically: Chinese and Japanese. Because I have experienced the struggle of studying languages that are very different from mine, I understand how hard it is to learn a language like English. I have also studied abroad (in Taiwan), so I understand how stressful that can be, too. Every English student I have ever met speaks English better than I speak Chinese or Japanese. So I really admire and respect my students and my friends who are learning English.

Most people my age and older learned languages using old methods such as the Audiolingual Method or Grammar Translation. These methods are stressful, slow, and don’t work well for most people. There is evidence that more realistic methods work better. These methods usually emphasize real communication and actually doing things using the language. These methods are also more fun, even when you’re working hard! What I really believe is

Memorizing grammar rules IS NOT ENOUGH to be able to read or write understandably.

Memorizing vocabulary words does NOT teach students how to use them.

Reading for fun DOES HELP students learn vocabulary words and sentence patterns.

Of course, you have to memorize some rules. But if you don’t use the language, you haven’t really learned anything. When I got to Taiwan, I couldn’t speak enough Chinese to get on the right bus. But I had studied Chinese for more than three years! I know many of my students and friends had the same experience when they came to the US. Even though they had studied English for years, they had never used it or had fun with it. So they had studied English, but not learned English.

I want to help you learn English as well as you want to learn English. I think reading is a big part of this, so you’ll see that I post lots of things for you to read. If you can read something in English for fun, you’ll learn faster and you’ll be less bored! Just remember, I’m not recommending fun things because I’m lazy or you’re lazy. I don’t think we’re lazy. I’m recommending these things because I think they can work, based on the research I have read. So I’m going to encourage you to do the things that researchers think work: reading for fun, experimenting, making mistakes, talking to people, etc.

I hope you will enjoy reading this blog and that you will tell your friends, family, classmates, and students about it! Thank you for visiting.

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