Jana: So Peter, you also learned English as a foreign language, right?
Peter: That’s right, yes.
Jana: It’s not your first language? So how did you do it?
Peter: That’s a good question. When I think back, I think, I try to think about the things that helped me most and I think it was a funny combination of things. I had one really interesting English teacher, she was really strict, but she was really interesting and I think she inspired me in some ways because her English was so good and I thought ‘wow’ that’s really great. I wouldn’t mind being able to be as good as her. The other thing that really helped me was reading like I really read so much in English. I think you mentioned, I remember you saying that too at some other point.
Jana: Yeah, I think so too. I read a lot, not because I wanted to learn but because I like reading and so I read in English and later on I realized I must have learned a lot of vocabulary and things that I didn’t even realize I learned.
Peter: I think yes.
Jana: Just through reading.
Peter: Yeah, the same thing happened to me. My home had so many books in it, I was lucky I guess in that way and at least half of them were in English and when I discovered that there were books in the house that I couldn’t get into and I was really into stories and reading, I felt so angry that I couldn’t get into them so I said OK I’ll start try and read them and I guess it started off there because then I started reading so much and it was really good for me in the end, I think.
Jana: So that was your motivation, you wanted to read those mysterious books?
Peter: Yes and it was really good for me that way I guess.
Jana: That’s interesting. You see people ask me how did I learn English. I didn’t really have a plan, I just enjoyed English that’s why I studied in my free time but I didn’t think of it as something I have to do, I just did it for fun.
Peter: I think so too for me. Also in high school I remember my classmates complaining about all the homework in English and they couldn’t do it and they used to come to me for help and then I thought but hang on it’s not, it doesn’t feel like work to me, it just feels like something kind of fun.
Jana: That’s right.
Peter: But I can’t tell you where that fun started. I guess it has something to do with being curious about things that are written or said. Do you think so?
Jana: Yeah, I also sort of remember when I first became interested in English but later on when I met some people from different countries, I became more interested in communicating with them and, like you said, my teacher also inspired me. I enjoyed just chatting to her in English.
Jana: Yeah, it was basically fun. It was not studying hard for me.
Peter: Yeah, I suppose it’s the same for me I think. I think when I got to university and I could read and write and my listening was really good in English but I couldn’t speak so well at all and then I happened to make some English friends and they couldn’t speak a word of Afrikaans or any other language so I was kind of forced to communicate with them in English and that, I think that really helped me too because I was forced in a way to be able to speak my mind and in the way that they could only understand so you know.
Jana: Right, that really makes it meaningful doesn’t it? You really need to, you want to express yourself so you have to try hard.
Peter: Yeah, and I remember this frustration. They would have these arguments about things that I was interested in and I wanted to join but I couldn’t and so I just decided well I have to just do this. I want to talk so I’d better do it in English.
Jana: That’s right. Yeah, I think I improved a lot by talking to people from different countries, not necessarily native speakers but having friends from different countries and I wanted to communicate with them so, yeah, you just do it and you learn as you go.
Peter: Yeah, I think so too.