Still, I'd like to share some of my opinions about learning(or teaching)English. I hope that this can be helpful tothose students I'm meeting in 高科大. Some of these students are dying to learn English, but do not know how.
Also, if you guys have better ideas, please don't hesitate to post them here, write me comments.
There are numerous magazines you can find in bookstore all around, such as "EZ TALK" "Let's Talk in English" "Live ABC".. They are all good material for sharping your listening ability.
But, bear one thing in mind. Don't read the text when you're practicing listening. Or you're not practicing listening--you're simply reading.
Do it on a daily basis, you'll see improvements if you really do so.
Many students complained about not having a good environment for speaking English in Taiwan. Well, this I cannot disagree. People here just don't speak English in their daily lives, which makes it uncomfortable for you if you do so.
(I'm not discouraging you to speak, I'm simply stating the fact.)
Hard as it may be, there are some ways you can use as a substitute.
1. Keep a diary.
By keeping a diary in English, you can learn to put your ideas down on paper, which in turn trains you to express your ideas. As you practice, you'll be able to express yourself quicker and more clearly.
2. Well, if you really can't find any human beings to speak English to,
TALK TO YOURSELF!! (Not dogs or cats)
I'm serious ne...I read about this in a magazine some time ago.
First, you can try to comment on whatever's happening around you. For instance, You're in your classroom. You heard your classmates quarreling. You can react, saying "Oh, these people are shameless. Why would they do this in public?" "Could you please stop? You're hurting my ears." "I'll just wait and see what's going on here." "Ha...stupid women, stupid conversation"
Well, the list can go on and on if you want to. But that's not the point. The point is, you can really learn to express yourself well, if you do this practice often.
One thing very important is that, you need to look up words or sentences you wanted to say, but didn't know how to at the moment whenever you have chance to.
This way, you'll know how to say it, or say it in a more idiomatic way in similar situations next time.
3. Shadowing.(One of the rigorous training in simultaneous interpreting)
The intention is not to train you as interpreters, rather, to use this as a way to improve speaking.
Shadowing means 跟述 in Chinese, which means repeating what you've heard.
For instance, in EZ TALK, you heard John say "Hey Diana, care for some coffee?" Then you repeat quickly"Hey Diana, care for some coffee?" This is not easy in the beginning, because you need to pay attention to listening and speaking at the same time.
But as you keep on practicing, you'll get the knack to doing it better.
About reading, I'd only say one thing--
READ MASSIVELY AND EXTENSIVELY.
Also there are something you need to bear in mind. Don't look up words, if not necessary, that is, if you can still guess the meaning of the words, by reading them in the context. Get the main idea, and read on.
Frankly, I cannot even write well in my mother tongue. So it might not be very suitable for me to provide you with suggestions.
Anyway, I can still talk about some techniques I found useful.
Except keeping a diary, which I mentioned earlier, you can also try writing a summary when you finish reading an article.
For example, you read about film critics or introductions of "SHREK". After reading, try jotting down some ideas of your own, be it a paragraph, or only a sentence. Like this,
"Shrek is a big ugly ogre, which means monster. He has a ugly face but a tender heart. He ran up into a Donkey one day. And began their adventures. Shrek had to save Princess Fiona from a fire-breathing dragon. He was so skillful and brave. I like the movie pretty much, because the dialogues are humorous and they made me laugh hard."
It will help. It's a good way for you to use words you've just learned from the article.
These methods won't work if you don't put efforts into it. As you all know "To know is one thing, to do it definitely another"