Natural Learning Method for English
Laozi has said, "Man takes Earth as his model; Earth takes Heaven as its model; Heaven takes Tao as its model; The Tao takes what is natural as its model." So we should set up such an idea that all natural things are good. Since we are children of nature, many things are easy for us to learn well only if we exert our connate functions. If a learning method is used by someone unnaturally even painfully, we should conclude that this method is unsuitable for him. He should abandon this unsuitable method bravely and then try other methods.
We shouldn't think the method is right but the learner is too stupid, because this wrong idea deb ases man's endowment and dignity. In my view, only man is the basis for examining and choosing any learning methods, and there isn't such an absolutely correct method being valid everywhere. Man is the measurement of all things, so we shouldn't make man for methods but make methods for man, which is the main thread from beginning to end when I discuss English learning here.
As a world language, English plays a very important part in the modern society, especially in our international interactions. Our country thinks highly of English education, and Chinese students spend a lot of time learning English within their student age of ten more years. It's a big pain for them to learn English without knowing how to learn English well. They haven't enjoyed the pleasure of learning a foreign language but have suffered a lot for being stagnant in their English learning. The learning effect is obvious to all, and there's no lack of dummy English learners. They can hardly express their thoughts and feelings in fluent English, that is to say, the communicative function of English hasn't been fully realized.
Even some undergraduates and graduates score high in TOEFL and GRE, they fail to express themselves in accurate and fluent English. Without melting English into their mind and blood, they can't communicate skillfully with others in English, and what they can do is only to do translation exercises word by word or sentence by sentence. English hasn't become a sharp tool for them to express some of their thoughts and feelings, so accuracy and fluency is out of their reach, let alone emotional color and personal style in their expressions. They're busy thinking how to translate their thoughts into English without pouring their emotions into what they're taking about, so they just speak in a dull or flat way without any moving charm of language expression.
What's the reason? Is it true that Chinese students lack the endowment of learning foreign languages? The answer is Negative. If a Chinese kid live in the United States, he can speak fluent English very naturally. Therefore, we should consider whether we follow right learning laws and adopt correct learning methods.
We should abandon wrong methods and set up new habits for English learning. All languages including English aren't for us to study but to learn. When everything becomes natural, we can free us from the harder and harder English learning so far. If we speak in our native language, what we're going to say will come up to our mind automatically, but we won't go into grammar seriously. I think it's also true for us to speak other foreign languages.
I advocate this natural learning method with three basic principles.
I. Learning English should follow the principle from simple to complex, from easy to difficult, and from rough to subtle.
A journey of a thousand li starts beneath one's feet. We should try to avoid pursuing what's beyond our reach in English learning. If we choose and study some difficult, complex, subtle materials at the very beginning with the hope of having better effect, it's proved to be a wrong attitude by practice. If learning materials go far beyond learners' actual language level, such challenges aren't desirable and just make learners frustrated and painful. It's the worst thing that learners' interest and confidence are destroyed by unsuitable materials.
Your thinking will be affected by your mental state. You'll think quickly and memorize easily if you're in high spirit and full of confidence, then you'll get twice the result with half the effort in such a good mental state. Therefore, you should improve your English step by step in your English learning without the wrong thoughts of cracking English within ten days. Language learning is a lifelong developmental process, so don't think you can master English thoroughly only through a period of great effort, and you should know there's no end for language learning.
So long as your life keeps changing, your language, as a rendering tool, will constantly undergo representational redescription, which makes your language expressive level higher and higher. It's natural that you'll attain high degree of professional proficiency and enjoy more and more fun in your language learning.
If some English works seem too difficult, complex and subtle to us, I must point out, it lies in our lack of similar life experiences apart from the obstacles of language itself (vocabulary and grammar). Because we're in too low life levels with too superficial thoughts, it's natural we fail to understand the profound meaning of those articles.
I've been impressed by a statement, "You must learn more things beyond poems if you want to learn writing them." Actually, English learning isn't different at all. You must learn more things beyond English if you want to improve your English expressive level. You're just an outwardly attractive but actually worthless person without enough knowledge no matter how well you've mastered those English language skills.
Actually you can get enlightened by imagining the pyramid shape. The pyramid stands firmly with a big bottom but a small top, and we should use it for reference in our English learning. Complex materials base on simple materials, difficult materials base on easy materials, and subtle materials base on rough materials. The simple, easy and rough materials serve as the big base of pyramid, while the complex, difficult and subtle materials serve as the top of pyramid. We can reach the glorious summit of pyramid if we learn English in this way.
II. Learning English should follow the natural sequence of listening prior to speaking, reading prior to writing, accumulating prior to applying.
There's an ancient saying: After reading up three hundred Tang poems, you can at least intone poems even you can't write them. This experience completely accords with the logical law of learning.
Absorb more language materials according to your actual level and interest in your English learning. With your open mind, absorb as much as you can, and accumulate rich language materials as many as possible, such as English songs, novels, newspapers, magazines, movies, etc.
Hold an attitude of embracing everything just like ocean containing hundreds of rivers. Because human brain has such a function of processing language materials automatically, it can produce some useful language information when materials have been accumulated to a certain extent. It's natural you want to speak when you've heard a lot, and also natural you want to write when you've read a lot. Everything has been done in a natural way, then success will come when conditions are ripe.
As input and accumulation, listening and reading function as observation-based learning. Try to imitate very pronunciation and intonation, every word and sentence from the rough to the subtle with a natural attitude. It varies with each individual when to rest for a period of time and let those input language materials processed in the brain according to the individual character.
When you feel your head is stuffed with many language materials just like a teacup full of water, it'll overflow if you continue pouring water into it. Well, seize that critical point, then start your rest. So-called rest, I mean you forget all those absorbed language materials and throw them into your subconscious mind.
The active method of rest is to do anything irrelevant to English without worrying you would really forget them. Psychology research points out a human can remember what he's interested in and forget what he isn't interested in. What attracts your interest will be kept in your mind deeply without thinking of them all the time. Just for this reason, I particularly suggest that choosing English materials should be different for each individual. You must choose what you have interest in, otherwise there won't be any good absorbing effect.
In my view, your interest in materials shows the door of your mind is open to them, otherwise, the door is closed. Even you've read a lot of materials, but if you have no interest in them and your brain rejects them, it means you've absorbed nothing at all.
As output and release, speaking and writing function as feedback-based learning. Try to practice bravely without being afraid of making mistakes in your speaking and writhing. Only in brave practice can you exert your brain's function of self-repairs in language. And your English expressive level will be improved little by little in the process of success and failure.
Listening and reading form half of a full circle, complemented by speaking and writing as the other half, and with both given the same attention. Keep Circulating around the circle so that you can constantly improve your ability in English listening, reading, speaking and writing.
III. English learning should cover the gradual process from wrong to right and from rough to perfect.
Many English teachers hold such an idea which is wrong in my view. They require students to speak absolutely correct English at the very beginning, so they explain every word and sentence very carefully, and persevere in criticizing and correcting students' mistakes. This eagerness for quick success and instant benefit will do great harm.
It's very common to care more about the result than about the process. When it comes to English learning, in my opinion, teachers do too much for students in the gradual process from wrong to correct and from rough to perfect, which almost deprives students of good chances for growth from mistakes. It's natural the temporary effect is good, but the long-term effect is opposite. Students don't have deep impression on what they've learned and forget them easily because they don't experience a long process from wrong to right.
A poem says, knowledge from books isn't enough, only through practice can you really understand it. In English learning, teachers should create free space for students to make mistakes and develop their self-repairs in language with deep impression and good effect. It's a very selfish attitude that teachers are too eager to see the teaching effect. A good and responsible teacher should respect the objective law of language learning and lead students to advance step by step.
Let's Go From Scratch
I set up this training group in order to help everyone improve English, but you must have a correct understanding of its function and well handle the relationship between English teaching in class and English training after class. In my view, the English teaching in class seems as if regular army does battle，where English teachers teach you in a systematic way to lay strong groundwork for your English learning and applying, and its importance goes without saying. If you don't pay enough attention to class teaching for it seems a little boring sometimes, on the contrary, you pin your hope on English training after class, and I think it's very unwise.
I do hope this English training can become a helpful supplement for your English learning in class. Compared to English teaching in class, this English training has its own advantages. There are only six members in our training group, so I've enough time and energy to guide and help each member carefully. Maybe this English training is more pertinent and interactive than English teaching in class, thus I've full confidence in the training effect. In addition, it's easy to create a loose atmosphere in such a small group to help you gradually overcome the shyness and fear in your English learning. One's biggest enemy is just himself/herself, and the biggest victory is to conquer himself/herself.
As we know, "Habits are our second nature and die hard". Since we've made our mind to learn English well, we must fight with those bad habits bravely. Regarding English learning as a weapon or a breakthrough point, we should improve our character in the learning process, make us more confident, courageous and dynamic, organize our thoughts more quickly, and express our feelings more smoothly. We should struggle to realize such a confident and beautiful life, and I believe that our efforts won't go to waste.
You join this training group for your confidence in me, however I'm not an English major but a passionate English learner. With proper method and permanent effort, I've made certain progress in English learning. Of course, it's not enough at all, and I'm doomed to be an English learner all my life. Because I love English, I can't help pursuing higher English expressive level, although it'll cost my whole life. Without end for learning, I enjoy a lot of pleasure in the long process. Since I can make progress, I firmly believe you can also make it.
We all know listening, speaking, reading, writing and translating are closely related. We particularly focus on listening and speaking skills, and also give consideration to other three skills in this training group.
There is no "the" for "nature" ( or information, life, death...except for specific reference.) In case of "nature" there is no specific reference. "The nature of..." is different from "nature." E.g. take comfort in that nature provides us with all that we need. Enjoy the wonders of nature. ( BTW: I have read many similar "adding of "the" in front of 'nature' in writing by Chinese. I don't know if that is specific to Chinese or that other non-English-natives(e.g. Spanish, German...) also make that mistake.)
Using the opening chapter of the Bible (God build man in his image), and the often quoted "Art imitates life", one can think of an alternative to the translation by using the same ideas.
In "人法地，地法天，天法道，道法自然”。“法”是效法或效仿的意思, we can try: Humans imitates the earth; earth imitates heaven; heaven imitates the Way, and the way imitates nature.
Just an idea. I don't know if it is right or not.- Ursula LeGuin
几乎不能流畅地用英语来表达自己的思想和情感，那就是说，英语的交际功能没有很好地实现。--> Depending on the degree of 几乎不能流畅 the communicative function of English (hasn't been realized well.)--> hasn't been fully realized; is hardly realized/hasn't been realized at all.
有力武器 I wonder if replacing it with "tool" would make it sound better. (Again, just an idea on my part.)
听和读，是圆的一半，说和写，是圆的另一半, 两者不可偏废，共同构成一个完整的圆 I would shorten that Listening and reading is (is: with Listening and Reading as one entity) half of a full circle, complemented by speaking and writing as the other half, and with both given the same attention.
Exactly as you said, uncle Yeti. The following is found from the internet:
The Chinese culture, believed to be passed down by God, started with such myths as Pangu's creation of heaven and the earth , Nüwa's creation of humanity , Shennong's identification of hundreds of medicinal herbs , and Cangjie's invention of Chinese characters . “Man follows the earth, the earth follows heaven, heaven follows the Tao, and the Tao follows what is natural.”  The Taoist wisdom of unity of heaven and humanity has coursed through the veins of Chinese culture. “Great learning promotes the cultivation of virtue.” Confucius opened a school to teach students more than 2,000 years ago and imparted to society the Confucian ideals represented by the five cardinal virtues of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and faithfulness. In the first century, Shakyamuni's Buddhism traveled east to China with its emphasis on compassion and salvation for all beings. The Chinese culture became more wide-ranging and profound. Thereafter, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism became complementary beliefs in Chinese society, bringing the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) to the peak of its glory and prosperity, as is known to all under heaven.
 Shennong (literally, "The Heavenly Farmer") is a legendary figure in Chinese mythology who lived some 5,000 years ago. He taught the ancient people the practices of agriculture. He is also credited with risking his life to identify hundreds of medicinal (and poisonous) herbs and various plants of that nature, which were crucial to the development of traditional Chinese medicine.
 Cangjie or Cang Jie is a fabled and legendary figure from ancient China, is said to have been the Yellow Emperor's official historian, and the inventor of the Chinese characters. The Cangjie method of Chinese character computer input is named after him.
 From Tao-te Ching or Dao De Jing, one of the most important Taoist texts, written by Lao Zi or Lao Tze.
 Opening remarks from The Great Learning by Confucius.
Uncle Yeti, nyleda, thanks for your help. I've learned something from your comments and I expect more help from the friends here.