It will appear from the following that I have a lot of confused knowledge on how to “learn a foreign language.”
On the basis of this, I believe that motivation and efficiency could get a big step forward if school education could free themselves from what I feel is the academic straitjacket.

Now: Read and draw your own conclusions.

But do not be too critical for my poor language.
The following is only a slightly modified GOOGLE-translation from the original Danish edition.

Actually, it is my strong opinion that the Ministry of Education should make some proper research and find the most efficient method of getting to the goal: Useful command of a foreign language.

English in Danish schools.
When I, very long ago, learned English in school, we started with a book where there was a good coherent text in English
BUT using words easy to understand by Danish children without translation. (I can jump, I can run – – – ) It motivated.

German grammar.
When next year we should learn German.
Our teacher started telling us that no one could learn to speak German without learning grammar first.
– – – All the other children sat and feared the worst.
Only naughty little Thorkil asked whether the German children learned the grammar before they learned to speak.

He should have been a teacher.
Much later I sat all night on the campsite Köbenic (East Berlin) and talked politics and philosophy with an old German worker.
He had been a soldier in both world wars. It was enough for him.
This night, I think I learned more German than the 5 years in school. BECAUSE he wanted to talk with me and understand us in the West, but did not tell that grammar was wrong.

The illiterate Chinese teacher.
When my parents should learn Chinese, they got a teacher who was illiterate. He knew no English and did not even knew the word grammar. However, he was recommended by the Danish missioners.
OK
He crawled down on the floor, barked like a dog and said a lot.
Of course they did not understand anything.
He went up on the table, meowed like a cat – – – – –
My father, he knew both German, Latin and Greek grammar.
After some time he wanted to give up because, obviously it was all something foolish nonsense.
At the same time my mother started to speak Chinese!

Teach yourself Swahili
I wanted to learn Swahili and got the book “Teach Yourself Swahili”
Never in my life, have I seen anything that foolish:
Grammar, grammar, grammar and difficult rules.
OK:
I got a children’s book. I learned it almost by heart. It worked.
At least better.

Did you understand me?
My neighbor in Nairobi – a Norwegian technician. He did not even bothered to collect his certificate from elementary school.
On the other hand, he was almost a technical wizard.
He sat with me at a nice place and drank coffee together with a real English professor.
I remember the professor said, “But this it’s not proper English”.
The answer was:
“Did you understand me? – Did you understand me? – Well what was the problem?”
The professor could not even de-ice his own fridge.

My son and German
My son, who works with some Germans, went to the German lessons in an evening.
He knew how horrible opinions I have and it was just a mistake that got him to admit that he gave up because he wanted to learn to speak and not just memorize irregular verbs.

My German colleges
In Tanzania I tried to say “an, aus, bin, gegen, gegenüber – – – ” to some very nice German colleagues.
The older looked at me with a painful facial expression.
The younger with an expression that showed that such rubbish they had never heard anything about.
So:
Now finally, it’s been possible for the German children to learn to speak without learning grammar first!

The girl from Zanzibar
A friend of mine married a girl from Zanzibar. They were about to Denmark very soon.
BUT
She could only speak Swahili and it fell to my lot to give her first needed to get ahead in Denmark.
Of course, we started with the official textbook.
However, we did not get going until we changed to read a children’s set of stories: Rasmus Klump.
In Denmark, she was put on the “proper school”, gave up after 2 lessons and got a job where nobody could speak Swahili. It helped.
(This was before the anti-immigration party got power.)
Now she speaks Danish almost like a native.

My daughter
My daughter, who could only speak Swahili when we adopted her.
She learned to speak English, as well as a three-year child can, in less than two weeks.
Later, when she had to learn Danish, she got two private lessons at the Berlitz School.
Thereafter she joined a summer-holiday camp with Danish children.
Finally:
A time at a Danish school while staying with my cousin.
When she came home she spoke Danish with the local accent.

Kemmy
For personal reasons, I wanted a girl, about 8 years old, to learn English.
I gave her a special tape recorder from Philips, with books.
Next to perfect.
See http://wp.me/p1RKWc-1TH

My foster children
A “handful” of foster children have stayed by me.
They had no alternative, but to communicate with me in English.
Of course, they learned it quickly and got good grades in school.
Later, they could help me with grammar and spelling.

Mama Neema
Later I got a housekeeper who had learned very little during her 6 years of school.
She listened to me speaking English with two children and asked for my help.
“For now I start to understand”.
We used some books from India (SPARK).
See more at http://wp.me/p1RKWc-1TK
It was a good beginning and now I can speak with her (English) on the phone.

The textbook from Malawi
By chance I got a textbook from Malawi.
It was next to perfect.
Unfortunately, my copy was vandalized and when I tried to get a new copy, I was told that now a better set of books had been introduced.
I saw a little in a bookshop and was horrified: The good and somehow exiting stories had given place for irregular verbs and grammar.

Computer-based courses
Many such courses are on the market but the only one I have seen (very little) is The Rosetta Stone.
Here you find a fantastic good Voice Recognition bur unfortunately not a good and continuous story as in the Indian books: SPARK.

Next step
As soon as you have got just the start, you shall enjoy the many good books from England.
As far as I remember, it is the books from Penguin I would recommend.
There are quite a lot: Different stages and for different age-groups.
Unfortunately, they are quite expensive.
If anyhow possible, the project should get somebody – probably a native English speaker – to ‘load the books as audio’.
Here it is necessary to get help from a ‘computer man’.
I think you should have a hard-disk with a lot of books.
If you do not let other copy this disk, I think you do not violate copyright rules.

Back to Education
Back to START

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