Word and phrase lists

A person posted a list of “51 key English phrases” on a Chinese language forum based here in Vancouver. Here are the last few jewels from that list.

dying art ????????????????????????

gentlemen agreement ????????????

I’m trying to make ends meet ???????????????????????????

prosperity makes friends, adversity tries them.???????????????, ???????????????

if you wish to be the best man, you must suffer the bitterest of the bitter. ???????????????, ???????????????

it is better to fight for good than to fail at the ill.???????????????, ???????????????

he who has hope has everything. ???????????????, ???????????????

self-trust is the first secret of success.?????????????????????????????????

the secret of success is constancy of purpose.???????????????????????????????????????

success grows out of struggles to overcome difficulties.?????????????????????????????????

experience is the extract of suffering. ????????????????????????

My comment was:

I have learned to speak nine languages and have put some effort in to two more, Korean and Portuguese. I have tried learning lists of expressions and phrases. It does not work.

Listen and read a lot. There is not shortcut. Notice words and phrases from your listening and reading. Write them down. When you talk to native speakers, mostly listen. When you listen to radio and TV, write down the key phrases and words. Try to use these words and phrases, a few at a time.

Language learning is all about real communication. It is not about picking up cute phrases you can use like decorations in an otherwise sub- par command of the language. In my experience, phrases studied out of context cannot be learned and are quickly forgotten. I do not even believe the phrases are useful unless I have heard them myself in context.

Language learning is not an academic exercise. It is not about rote memory. It is not about splitting hairs over obscure points of grammar. It requiires a lot of exposure. It depends on a relaxed attitude, a willingness to communicate and a level of commitment which, unfortunately, is rare here.

As pointed out in the National Post a few days ago in their lead editorial, we have a lot of highly educated immigrants in Canada who are functionally illiterate in English and French. No amount of government money will change this. A profound attitude change on the part of 90% of the immigrants is needed. I do not see it happening.

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