General information:
Studying foreign languages is important for everybody. We have many reasons to study them. We need it for travelling abroad, for reading foreign materials, for business communication and so on. The most important language for the communication is English. English is a world language. It is spoken by around 350 million people. It is used as a first language in countries such as Australia, Canada, GB, Ireland, New Zealand, the USA and many of the countries in the Caribbean. In other countries it is used as a second language, it is a way in which people who have different languages communicate with each other. This is especially true in many parts of Africa and India. In these countries and former British colonies English is an official language.
History of English:
English is a member of a language family that includes ancient languages like Ancient Greek and Latin, some Asian languages and Slavonic and many European languages, for example French, Spanish, German. These languages have the same original root. The family of languages that English belongs so is the Indo-European family. English began to develop in about 450 AD when Anglo-Saxons came from Germany. Before this invasion the language spoken in England was a form of Celtic, similar to modern Welsh. Old English was clearly a Germanic language, more like modern German and Dutch than modern English. It was affected by the languages of other invaders such as the Vikings who came in the 9th century, and the Normans who came from France in 1066. Normans used Latin for official business, but spoke French in daily life, so at this time there were three languages used in England. Because the rulers used French and Latin, many specialised words, especially those connected with government, law, learning or the army, have come into English from French or Latin, while words for more everyday things are from old English. From the 14th century onwards, many English words were borrowed or invented from other languages. Some borrowings are very recent. Others nave been in the language for centuries.
Importance of studying foreign language:
For Czech it is important to learn foreign languages, because only a few people abroad can speak Czech. And when we can communicate with people from other countries, we have to know some of world language. The most favourite foreign language at Czech schools is German, because we border on Germany and Austria. But the second favourite language is English. It is easier than is Germany and also Germans and Austrians can speak English.
My experience in studying foreign language:
I started to study foreign language at the 5th form or Basic school. I had Russian, because it was compulsory in that time. Then I made an entrance examination to Grammar school and I begin to study English. So I can say now, that I have been studying English for eight years. From Russian I remember only “azbuka” and a few words. Azbuka is a special type of writing, which uses different letters for vowels and consonants. I thing that this knowledge is quite useful because sometimes when I get to Bulgarian or somewhere else, I can read writings an guess what it means because these languages are similar to Czech. When was in 4th form I started to learn another foreign language – German. At the beginning I mixed these two languages together. Now I can say that English is much easier than German. First it has no cases. In German there are four cases. Of course it is less than in Czech, we have seven cases, but it made me a lot of troubles, especially because German cases are not same as Czech ones. And not to lie I have to say that I don’t like German for its sound. It sounds me very sharply. If I were allowed to choose my second language I would have chosen French. It has a very nice sound. However I wasn’t allowed, so I have to study German. In my opinion, the most difficult parts of English grammar are tenses. In Czech we have only past tense, present tense and future tense and a special category, which is not in English.. In English there is also past perfect, present perfect and future perfect tense and other confusing categories as a present conditional, perfect conditional. All this tenses can be passive or active, simple or progressive. When I was studying English for some years I realised, there are no emotional nouns. If I want to express my feelings I have to use different ways than I use in Czech. I thing, that learning how to express feelings is the most difficult part of studying a foreign language. If you want to speak good English or German, you have to learn not only vocabulary and grammar but also the mentality of the people that speaks these languages as a mother tongue. Of course, vocabulary is the most important. I have some methods of improving it. I write new words into my wordbook, write the pronunciations and then I find Czech equivalents in a dictionary. Sometimes if the word is irregular I note there also plural or past tense. I read this list of words and try to remember them. Another method of improving my word power is reading English books in originals. I love it. So far I read The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemmingway, Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Deffoe. I have two English Bible, one is a new translation (called Good News) and one is quite old translation (called Kings James Version), this one is very hard to read, not only for foreign, but also for English people. Both books I got as a present. According to me the most effective way of learning is by using it. The best way is going to a foreign country. Nowadays it is not impossible. Young people can go there as au pairs to families, help them with looking after children, cooking and so on. They can go for three months or two years. It is also a very good experience. I was in England only for one month (It is exception but it is possible) and now I can say that studying English is easier for me. Even this short time spent in England helped me very much.