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  1. #1
    Anonymous Guest

    improving the use of english as a foreign language

    Dear All,

    At first, let me just say that this site is terrific. And since it has a forum too, I decided to post some questions regarding my usage of english.

    I'm currently pursuing my MSc in a semi-english program, but not in an english-speaking country. I'm using english to communicate with people in academia, visitors, and students from abroad. I also write in english, but mainly technical texts and papers.

    I started to learn english on my own very early. In high-school - that is, 10 years ago - I acquired my first PC. Everything back then were in english, and so the quest began. After some private courses in PC usage, I started to program in BASIC, with an english manual and reference.

    After some time, I started to sense the meaning of words from a "functional" point of view, because I hadn't had a dictionary to perform lookups. Whenever I programmed the PC to draw a "square", a "rectangle", or any other shape, I had first to write the program, and then to see the shape in order to understand it. However, I took no classes.

    Then in college, I always had an english textbook by my side in many courses. I acquired some college textbooks from international bookstores, and began to translate them with a dictionary (Oxford Advanced Learners). At first, I could barely sense the meaning of a sentence. After some time, I began to read and understand the whole paragraph, and then the whole chapter. But again, I was only interested in the meaning of the topics that I read. Grammatical structure and syntax, though "structuring" the meaning, were of minor importance to me.

    Recently, I have started to read my favourite books in english translations. Then I sensed that the english language can present meaning or, generally, content, in a way that can be exciting.

    However, I feel very very insecure. When I write a sentence in an email, or when I compose a post for a forum, I have to read it some times over again in my mind, in order to "feel" that I write something meaningful (this certainly applies to this post too, I read it 3 times before posting). I feel that if I leave myself "untied" (or any other word you suggest - could that be "forthcoming"?), I will torture the reader.

    And having tortured the readers of this post in a cruel way already, I conclude with my little question: Do you have a suggestion for a text that will cultivate, or in any other means improve my use of english? Would it be a good strategy to pickup an early book of say, philosophy or history, or even a contemporary one in any other topic? In any case, do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks for you time,

    - Len.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    43,627
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    Given the standard of your English, I'd recommend reading some of the great stylists of English, where you will see how they achieve their effects. Among the writers I think use English very well are PG Wodehouse (comic writer, but one whose prose bubbles with creation and imagination), EF Benson (a writer who uses a light prose to devasting effect when being bitchy about people), George Orwell ( a true master of the language). AJP Taylor was a controversial historian, but his books are fascinating and beautifuuly written. Keith Waterhouse is a British Journalist with a lot to say about the language and how to use it. Any help? (These are all personal favourites and British English, btw)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    18
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    Re: improving the use of english as a foreign language

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymous View Post
    Dear All,

    At first, let me just say that this site is terrific. And since it has a forum too, I decided to post some questions regarding my usage of english.

    I'm currently pursuing my MSc in a semi-english program, but not in an english-speaking country. I'm using english to communicate with people in academia, visitors, and students from abroad. I also write in english, but mainly technical texts and papers.

    I started to learn english on my own very early. In high-school - that is, 10 years ago - I acquired my first PC. Everything back then were in english, and so the quest began. After some private courses in PC usage, I started to program in BASIC, with an english manual and reference.

    After some time, I started to sense the meaning of words from a "functional" point of view, because I hadn't had a dictionary to perform lookups. Whenever I programmed the PC to draw a "square", a "rectangle", or any other shape, I had first to write the program, and then to see the shape in order to understand it. However, I took no classes.

    Then in college, I always had an english textbook by my side in many courses. I acquired some college textbooks from international bookstores, and began to translate them with a dictionary (Oxford Advanced Learners). At first, I could barely sense the meaning of a sentence. After some time, I began to read and understand the whole paragraph, and then the whole chapter. But again, I was only interested in the meaning of the topics that I read. Grammatical structure and syntax, though "structuring" the meaning, were of minor importance to me.

    Recently, I have started to read my favourite books in english translations. Then I sensed that the english language can present meaning or, generally, content, in a way that can be exciting.

    However, I feel very very insecure. When I write a sentence in an email, or when I compose a post for a forum, I have to read it some times over again in my mind, in order to "feel" that I write something meaningful (this certainly applies to this post too, I read it 3 times before posting). I feel that if I leave myself "untied" (or any other word you suggest - could that be "forthcoming"?), I will torture the reader.

    And having tortured the readers of this post in a cruel way already, I conclude with my little question: Do you have a suggestion for a text that will cultivate, or in any other means improve my use of english? Would it be a good strategy to pickup an early book of say, philosophy or history, or even a contemporary one in any other topic? In any case, do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks for you time,

    - Len.
    Hello my friends! For me your english is good. Can you please help me on how to developed my english skills. Give me some tips that you take.

  4. #4
    ticoh is offline Newbie
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    1
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: improving the use of english as a foreign language

    can anybody here talk to me...i really need to see hows my english language going.

    im going to have this test 4 days from now where in we will be talking to an american to rate on how well do we speak in english.I have the tendensy to panic when i am talking to them.

    pls help me out....add me up on your yahoo messenger or msn so that
    we could talk over..thanks a lot...

    ticoh

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