An Aid for English Language Learners

I had done the bookwork, I knew a reasonable amount of the grammar, my vocabulary was on the rise, I thought — I can do this!

I hopped off the plane, got off the gate at the other side — and…..

Hang on a minute…what? I barely understood a word of what was going on around me.

The airport announcements flew in one ear and out the other without taking hold.

After two weeks in France, things improved enough to hold a basic conversation.

But being in Paris was much like listening to a radio that was sitting nicely in between two frequencies.

What was being said to me —I understood — everything else was faint buzzing….

My French teacher told me it would take a good 3 months to tune in properly with the French.

I had three weeks…

Though French fluency I did not win, it was an experience that helped me appreciate the hardship learners of English have coming here to New Zealand.

According to Ministry of Education statistics there are 9,909 students are learning English here.

Many of these students will be trying to further their education or even work — a difficult task when what is being said around you sounds much like radio static.

I can remember sitting in various lectures at university, watching the many international students sitting in the front row.

They would type frantically away, trying to translate every fifth word coming out of their lecturer’s mouth.

After France, I feel their pain, listening requires a mental stamina of a different sort. The only thing I found that helped me, to understand French, was a written equivalent of the speech, be it subtitles or transcriptions.

Cue in – transcription software.

With little more than a touch of a button, international students can gain access to not just a recording, but the written word.

It’s just that easy!

By Corazon Miller, Journalist

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