The budget this month was particularly tight, and the brakes started squeaking pretty bad, and so I took to YouTube and found a really awesome channel for DIY car repairs. At this point, I was really fired up and wanted to go out and try it myself. Luckily my wife stepped in and suggested I find someone to do it with me just in case. Hey, I've got a life insurance policy, but no need to tempt fate, right?
This got me thinking of the difference between ESL and EFL, a distinction I've always found to be kind of tenuous. As the story goes, EFL (English as a Foreign Language) is the English students are studying in their home country versus English being studied in America, Canada, England, Australia, and other English-speaking countries. Since they are probably studying English for their own personal enjoyment or goals, EFL students don't have the same motivations as students who are immersed in English and must use it to get by and buy groceries and other necessary stuff. EFL students are hoping to get a good score on a college entrance exam, or they hope to get good specs for a new job.
I think this distinction is a bit wooden because not all people living and studying in another country feel motivated to learn the language--even if it would make their lives easier. I remember living in Korea and finding some people were content to stick with the "point and grunt" method of getting around in a taxi, and I also see students studying here in America that huddle together with their L1 peers and don't venture out. I ask them,
"What's your favorite American TV show?"
"Oh, I don't watch anything in English that isn't in class."
"Oh... do you go out with Americans at least?"
"No, I don't have any American friends."
Believe it or not, there are Americans that love to hang out with foreigners--I'm one of them! Students need to be persistent and keep looking. Interaction and immersion are one of the best ways to do it, and sometimes I think we have to be forced to get to that point, but as it says in the title, necessity is the mother of invention. When we need to do something, we'll find a new way to do it; when we find ourselves in an environment where we don't know how to communicate, we'll find a way. Maybe we'll need to point and grunt, maybe we'll find a new word or phrase, but we need that kick in the butt to get out and do it.
So get out this weekend! Or... find something interesting on TV that's in English.