Keeping your English sharp/proficient while abroad?

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Keeping your English sharp/proficient while abroad?

Post by brooklynclarke » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:40 pm


I have a question about strategies teachers use to keep themselves sharp, in terms of their English. I find myself in Brazil, and as I am learning Portuguese and becoming immersed in Portuguese culture.

I'm an English teacher and I want to keep my speaking ability. What should I do?

Thanks, Clarke

Sally Olsen
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Post by Sally Olsen » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:34 am

You will probably come home with the me Jane, you Tarzan type talk like the rest of us but it comes back quickly, like the proverbial riding a bicycle. I wouldn't worry about it.

Reading a lot will help with new vocabulary and reading or watching the news will keep you up to date with words and new ideas from your hometown. It won't matter though because people will fill you in as if you had been off the planet. I suppose it is a way of reminding you that you weren't part of their lives for awhile. You won't be the same when you return and they notice the difference. I always thought of it as a plus.

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Keeping your English Sharp

Post by alawton » Mon Oct 25, 2010 3:54 pm

I would make a point of reading in English every night before bed. It just gets you back in that mode. You could also make a point of watching at least one program a day in English. This can be done online. I don't think you could ever forget your English, but words tend to not come as quickly when you are away from it for a while. Watching a program a day or reading a couple of chapters of a good book in English have helped me in the past. Good luck!

Andrew Lawton

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Post by JamesAtRealize » Wed Nov 03, 2010 3:01 pm

I've been doing Skype regularly with family/friends to keep from getting rusty :) it works great!

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Post by STCrowley » Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:46 am

It's a definite tradeoff: if you're really focused on learning Portuguese, you're going to find some of that creeping into your grammar: particularly if your students use 'Portuguese English.'

My advice is to find a few other English speakers (they're everywhere) and try to find one who's happy there. (You can meet a lot of bitter people abroad. Try to find someone who's also enjoying Brazil.) Talk with them on a fairly regular basis. Also, the reading and the TV in English helps. Also, I'd say keep your journal in English.

But, like I said, your Portuguese will come along more slowly, I'd wager.

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Post by itsjustnouns » Thu Mar 24, 2011 5:58 pm

Yeah, that's a funny one. That happens when you don't practice your own language, it changes. But you might have a different accent upon returning home.

It can be worse while you are teaching English abroad because you become too flexible and your students too agreeable and things become too lax. A mild case of going native. :P

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Post by Domoviye » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:04 pm

You should combine what the others have said. Speaking with other English speakers regularly, phoning home often, and reading English books should keep the worst of this problem away.
I've taught in China for four years and from doing the above the only noticeable effect has been that I speak slower and use slightly smaller words. Nothing too serious.

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