“How to spell?” ”How to spell?” Wherever, whenever, whatever, when people are discussing an English word or words, the first thing they tend to do is to ask the above question. The same question has been asked by any single individual English learning person all his/her life so many times, more than the numbers of actual English words he/she can master adequately. “How to spell?”
There are more than three thousand spoken languages or dialects all over the world, but only no more than one hundred and fifty of them have written languages. What have been left, the two thousand eight hundred and fifty some languages and dialects without written forms, can people learn these languages? Can the native speakers of these languages learn to speak as their mother tongues? Yes, yes, yes, actually, nobody in the world learns to speak his/her mother tongue from the written form. And amazingly, even those who speak several languages as well as their mother tongue, still, from the start, learn these languages in the way that one learns his/her mother tongue.
In the third week of November 1997, Lily Lee of Chung Li Toastmasters’ Club gave birth to a baby boy. And at January 30th (fifth Friday of the month) 1998, she came to the Karaoke party of that evening. “Do you speak English?” “Yes, but not very well.” “And does your baby son speak anything at all? ” “No, he is only a little over two months, maybe in another two years he can speak his mother tongue.” “By then, do you have the confidence that your English speaking will be improved to an extent as your son’s mastering his mother tongue?” “I don’t know.” So you see, a baby can learn to speak his mother tongue in two years, but his mother, after learning English for more than ten years, does not have the confidence to improve her English speaking capability, within the same span of time, two years, to the extent of her son’s mother tongue.
What is the problem? The problem is “How to spell?”
Children learn to speak their mother tongue in their infancy. They listen to whatever is said around them and record the sound which they don’t understand one single syllable, and play the recorded sound back when they are sleeping. When they grow older, they repeat whatever is said around them and which they don’t understand one single syllable either. And in no time they start to speak. Never, never in this process have they asked, not even once: ”How to spell?”
Now, forget the spelling of any word, also the meaning of any word. Make a tape of a short discourse or news report, such as the anchorman or anchorwoman reporting in CNN news or CBS news, or a dialogue in a Hollywood movie. Record only a very short period at a time, no more than ten minutes, and make repeated copy on one cassette tape of thirty minutes or of sixty minutes. When you are alone at the house or driving all by yourself, try to listen to the tape and shadow what you have heard. To use a headset is advisable. What is shadowing? Shadowing is to repeat simultaneously whatever one is listening without trying to understand the meaning of which, nor trying to guess the spelling of certain words. When you are listening something, you don’t understand at all and in the mean time try to shadow what you are listening, and worst of all, you could not keep up with the speed of the speakers. Yes, it is frustrating. But after three months, it all depends, or three weeks, or even three days, not only can you catch up with the speed of the speakers, words by words, you can even understand some or even most part of what you are listening. But IT IS NOT EASY. To keep on going for six months, then, you can keep on going for another six months, then, for the rest for your life, and maybe you want to try to learn another language by using the same MOTHER TONGUE METHOD.
“How to spell?” Never ask this question again. Never try to learn a word by its spelling but to learn it by its sound. Keep on going and you will be successful.