TOEFL essay sample: The best way to learn foreign languages

[size=150]TOEFL essay sample[/size]

Many people learn foreign language in their own country; others have learned a foreign language in the country in which it is spoken. Which is better?

I chose to answer this question by describing my personal experience.

Canada, as some might know, is an officially bilingual country the languages being French and English. According to the 2001 canadian census, there are 17,5M people whose mother tongue is English and 6,7M people has French as their mother tongue. Knowing that almost 6M of these francophones live in the province of Quebec, we can say that Canada, apart from Quebec, is grossly an anglophone country. This leaves the opportunity to learn any of these languages in your own country while taking advantage of everything being with native speakers is supposed to give.

Unfortunatly, Quebec has a law, the bill 101, that makes the learning of English a foreign matter. For instance, in order for a child to be allowed to go to an anglophone school, he has to have at least one parent who went to an English school. Thus, most of quebecers, if not all, have to go to a french school. Still if this was all, a student might learn English at school but that’s not all. In fact, student have 2 or 3 hours of English classes per week and this teaching may, at best, make you a beginner at the end of high school because you basically do the same thing for your first until your last high school year. Moreover, until this year, you had to wait to be in your fouth year of elementary school to begin your learning process. Everyone gets the passing grade eventhough it’s not everyone that understand. So, everyone graduates and those who want to learn English apply at an anglophone university but our hearts tell us that it’s going to be a hard time. We could also go abroad to learn but it’s time and money consuming. That is what I chose to do regardless of this because my goals are clear.

At this very moment, I’m in Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada), 1200 kilometers from Charlesbourg, the city I’ve lived in for 20 years. I am going to stay here for one year and then, hopefully, I’m going to be good enough to get around at McGill university. It’s the same country. Culture, architecture, people, this is all the same as it was back there. But, people do speak English as they would in England, USA or in Canada. It’s true that I’m seen as a foreigner but people are glad to see that I want to learn and I will.

People keep on telling me I could have gone to Montreal and learn English properly as it is considered to be a bilingual city. But you have to be really determined to avoid taking the easy way. I don’t think that you can learn all there is to know if you can always rely on two options. You have to be into it and have no other option then to communicate and live in English. The fact is that I’ve been exposed to English all my life (music, internet, television shows, radio, school, etc.) but I’m not bilingual. It’s only three years years ago that I decided to put more effort into this project but to listen, to read or to write is not enough. National radio is nothing compare to listen someone in a real conversation. Reading is nothing because you can get around even if you don’t know all the words. You certainly learn but you’re not becoming bilingual. I write this because I want to share this experience but mainly because I want to learn. Still, it isn’t enough because there are so many ways that something can be said so I just have to pick the one I’m comfortable with. You have to talk. But it’s hard to find an anglophone and it’s even harder to find one willing to make you learn.

Therefore, I believe my choice was the right one. I’m going to find a job, talk, read and live in English to achieve my goal of becoming fluent.

Thank you for reading my story and for sharing ideas and corrections!

TOEFL listening discussions: A conversation between a professor and a university student in the professor’s office


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