It’s hard to eradicate habits picked up over years upon years spent studying English in a traditional setting – textbooks, translation, plenty of grammar studies – you know the drill!
One of the most lasting effects of such English studies is the desire to figure out what EXACTLY a new English word means.
Let’s say, for example, you’re listening to a radio news broadcast and they’re saying that the death toll has reached two hundred people following a massive volcano eruption on some distant Pacific island (this is totally fictional, my friend, so don’t go looking up news online about a recent volcano eruption – you won’t find anything!)
So, the overall message is quite clear – two hundred people have lost their lives, and while you mightn’t know the word TOLL, the context reveals its meaning in an indirect way.
Here’s what should be going on in your head as you hear the sentence “…volcano … death toll reached 200…”:
VOLCANO + DEATH + 200 PEOPLE = simply means 200 people have lost their lives.
It shouldn’t be like this:
VOLCANO + DEATH + TOLL … what the heck is TOLL? Will anyone help me out with this one, please? Tell me what is TOLL, I need to know what it is!!!
Here’s what I believe.
I strongly believe that any foreign English speaker behaving like this knows deep down inside what the word in question MIGHT mean, and they also get the overall message.
They simply like asking questions because it’s encouraged in a school setting, and this kind of behaviour carries on into the adult life making those folks question everything and anything that isn’t 100% understandable and clear-set.
Are you one of those folks?
Then keep reading this article and hopefully we’ll be able to deal with this problem once and for all!
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