I can read and understand words in English, but often struggle to spell them. Why?

English is not easy to spell. In fact, it is one of the hardest languages to spell. It's not your stupid brain but rather the stupid language. I know, I am an English teacher and also I have real difficulty spelling. I'm not stupid. I have had my IQ tested several times and I could easily get into Mensa (but don't see any purpose to joining).

Will watching English language TV help improve my English skills?

TV is an important learning tool. I find that there is a strong correlation between the best English students and the amount of English language TV and movies they watch. It used to be difficult for students to access English language TV shows, however today the internet provides an endless stream of English TV for all ages.

Why are many Chinese students, who have learnt English for years, still poor at English?

The teaching method for English in China is poor. The main reason for this is because the examination method is poor. Teachers teach for the exam and nothing else. The exam is based on vocabulary memorization and understanding of grammar rules. There is no need to compose sentences let alone paragraphs or longer essays. There is no need to speak, and there is no need to understand when listening, because none of those things are in the examinations of middle or high school.

In English why can't I write "sutle" instead of "subtle" when the latter only adds complexity?

It may look like simplifying spelling would improve the language, however, simplified spelling is often more difficult to read. Since people read more than write, the language should be optimised with a balance towards ease of reading rather than ease of writing.

Consider the following example:

For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer be part of the alphabet.

The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later.

What city in China do your recommend for teaching English?

Keep away from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Too many foreigners live in the areas. This saturates the market meaning that you'll end up with the dregs of the bad jobs on offer. Heading for a smaller, but not small, city means that you have less competition and so can acquire better quality positions.


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