Saturday, January 15, 2011

This has nothing to do with running- it is about English and school system

I have just read some of my past blogs and I feel little ashamed of what might seem as my poor English.

For example yesterday I wrote "scalf" instead of "skull". I knew that something was wrong with the word "scalf" but I just could not remember the correct word and was too lazy to look it up.
Or sometimes I add an extra word, or omit a word. Or write when instead of then etc.

And I feel like an idiot because if someone reads it then that person will think that I cannot write/speak English properly. Ok, my English is not 100% (and you should hear me talk, especially my funny accent. I cannot pronounce word "water" properly and nobody understands me, it is always embarrassing when I eat out and it is my turn to order something to drink. I should start ordering coke instead.) but it is better than you might think when you read what I write.

I am too lazy to double-check what I have written, but fortunately sometimes my computer catches the spelling mistakes, maybe I should start with it.

This brings me to the second problem which is that since I went to the US for the first time my nice Cambridge English has deteriorated. My vocabulary has greatly expanded but I do not remember the last time I have used the third conditional or continuous past perfect tense or properly used must and have to or used a synonym to awesome. It is horrible.

My cousin has spent past summer with my sister in Arkansas- to learn English. She still cannot construct a sentence without confusing
tenses and forgetting to put "s" in the third person but she uses written and oral expressions like gonna, wanna, thanx, nite and it drives me crazy.

You know like they say that the best way to learn a language is to go abroad and learn it there? I slightly disagree. I think that a person
should learn grammar at home first and only then go abroad and learn to speak.
I have learnt English in Slovakia and French in the US. Two completely different approaches. In Slovakia we have learnt grammar and we did not know how to speak. In the US we learnt how to speak and never learnt the grammar. But it is always easier to learn how to speak when you know grammar than to work backwards and try to learn grammar and speak properly after you have learnt how to speak improperly, right?

Which leads to my conclusion that both systems suck separately but the system would be unbeatable if they were combined. Old Slovak (communist/socialist or whatever you want to call it) system is not great because there is a huge emphasis on facts and less attention given to anything else. But I have the impression that the American kids can talk about causes and consequences of French revolution and can analyze its impact on Karl Marx but they have no idea when French revolution happened and other basic facts. I can tell you that Louis XVI was beheaded on Jan 21 1793 (I bet $1000 bucks that this is true) but I have no idea what impact that had on Karl Marx. But it is important to know both! Otherwise someone may end up analyzing the impact of the French Revolution on the 30 Year war!

This post does not really lead anywhere, I wanted to write something to make me feel less ashamed of my mistakes and I ended up posting the greatest idea of all times.


  1. this is a great post. education is a tricky thing. for sure rote memorization of facts does not an education constitute BUT without a certain number of basic facts, students are ill-equipped to think critically. it is a tough balance to strike. when i think of my education, mostly how i approached it, i regret so much all of the rote memorization i did particularly since i have now forgotten 90% of what i learned (what a loss!). is this because i was too lazy to think and memorization was easier or because our educational system was structured such that rote memorization was rewarded. who know. but i would like to see more exercises in critical thinking and in learning to learn in our educational system.

  2. OK, I have a similar problem, you should hear me say "boots". LOL. But I love my accent and people understand me, as they understand you. And heck, I make a living by talking!
    I believe being immersed into the culture is the best way to learn a language. But the trick is to be immersed into a group of people who speak proper English, and have them correct you and explain things to you. English has a very easy grammar as opposed to French, or Romanian (not sure about Slovakian), and it is easy to pick up. Of course you'd make mistakes - my 5 y old still does - but eventually by reading and speaking with the proper crowd you learn. And don't worry about the blog. You can always go back and do a spell check if you really wanted.