Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My writing at edx Berkeley

“A Great Way to Learn English”
Egi Arvian Firmansyah
This essay is submitted as a final assignment at edx University of California Berkeley

English is undoubtedly the international language in which by using this language we can communicate with anyone in any place in the world. The reasons of learning English are varied among people. Some people learn English because their work requires English, some learn it as they want to study in English speaking country such as United States or England, some learn it as they want to get better job or education. Of course there are other reasons that I cannot write here. The key point is, people keep learning English either American or British style. We, as the non-English native speakers try many ways to master English in a very fast and best way. Joining an English course, reading English books, watching English movies, listening to the English songs, taking home stay program in English speaking countries or joining English club might have been chosen by some us in order to master English as quick as possible. But the greatest way for us (adult) to learn and maintain the English language is by joining an English club or community.

English club or English community is a place where the members of it learn English and share any lesson and information related to English in a regular basis. From any age or educational background, the members usually gather on weekend in the afternoon when they have free time to meet up. This non-profit organization is usually managed by some dedicated members and the membership is open to anyone. This English club might look strange to most of English native speakers. It happened to one of my Australian friends saying that she could not believe that they are people who study English in an English club. But for us (non-English native speakers), learning English at the club has indeed many benefits for improving the English skills.

The first reason why English club is an awesome place to learn English is that, we can save more money. Compared to an English course where the students usually pay a high amount of money, English Community only charges the members an annually membership fee or even an everlasting membership fee. This cost factor matters much for us especially during this today's economic hardship. As we have also known that English course is a profit oriented company whose the main goal is earning money. This is not wrong, and yet the relation between the company and the students is often a transactional relationship – they sell the product and we buy it. Moreover, when we have finished the course program, we somehow loose the connection with them, meaning we do not come there anymore or talk to our former teachers. At an English community, the relationship is more to emotional relationship. There is no term teachers or students, in fact the terms used are members and facilitators. It feels that there is no gap among them as they are all basically members who have the same goal – mastering English in a fast and fun way.

The second reason is that, English community is perfect to maintain our English skill. At an English course we are usually limited by the levels, let us say beginner, intermediate, advanced and so on. Therefore, the period of learning English has been determined by that course institution. At English club on the other hand, we can learn English as long as we want let's say five years or more. This means we have more chance and time to keep our English sharp. When somebody only joins an English course, he or she might loose his or her English proficiency when the course duration or level ends. It is caused because he or she does not practice English anymore. But at English club we are always motivated by our friends to always learn and we do not recognize the term level or period. At English community, it is indeed a-never-ending-learning that we get. 

The third reason why English club is great is that, the learning is conducted in a fascinating way and the members of the community are highly appreciated to get involved in building the community itself. The fun learning is possible at an English club since the syllabus or let us say the curriculum is usually made by the senior members and other newer members who also take part. The senior members who are usually the facilitators will someday be succeeded by their newer members. The way the members learn English is often fun as the planners position themselves as the members, too. I do not say that the learning at an English course is dull or boring, it is just the students there often do not have chance to give their opinion, feedback or suggestion on how the learning process or curriculum should be. Members' participation in the making of curriculum at English club is indeed really important in determining the quality of the study. Therefore, the members can have clear picture on what they really will study in a certain time in the future. Aside, this kind of learning also enables other members to be facilitators as they have involved in the planning process which finally makes them even more ready to be facilitators. Learning at English club does not always have to be a member (student), in fact everyone is encouraged to be facilitator (teacher). In other words, all members can quickly master English by “learning to facilitate.”

The last reason that I would like to make here is that, at English club it is really possible to all members to share any beneficial information they have. For example scholarship information, tips and tricks on how to get it, job vacancy, wonderful English studying websites, videos and songs in learning English and nice event or seminars. Information sharing is really crucial and it often happens at English club where the members have the same vision. I am not sure it will happen at English course where the relationship among students is often full of competition. As has been outlined earlier, the transactional relationship makes the study atmosphere feels not really good, moreover when the relationship among members is rigid. It eventually hampers the sincere interaction among all. At English club, everything is all about building the community and its members. Therefore, whenever there is valuable information, it will be shared with everybody as it will finally benefit the community as well.

I believe that the future of our education should be open, including English learning. This means everyone in any part of the world should be able to access it – to be smart does not have to always spend much money. I really appreciate this online Writing course at Berkeley which lets us learn English at no cost. Ubuntu, LinuxMint, Fedora and other Linux distributions are also good examples regarding what the power of community really is. They have proven to the world that the community can result something great and build something beneficial for the people whole over the globe.

Learning English is a challenging thing for us non-English native speakers. The demand to master it is getting higher therefore we do our best to master this language in a fast and effective way. The choice often comes to learning at English course or such. And yet the price often gets more expensive especially for the people who live in the developing countries. Therefore, here I suggest that we had better join any English club to sharpen our English skills. Aside from saving the cash, we can also get something great from other members. The learning is often fun, too. If we cannot find any English community around us, we can build it and I am sure it will finally benefit other people too. We can start finding two or three friends of ours to establish it. I am sure the power of community and knowledge sharing among the members of English club will make our English better. It is really effective and great especially to maintain our English skills : speaking, listening, writing and reading. Let us build an English club, it is for the better of our future, for us and for our community.   

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