Learning English With Laughter began in 1990 when we, George and Daisy Stocker, traveled to the historic city of Karlovy Vary in Czechoslovakia, to teach English in a private language school. Communism was over and the people were embarking along the road to democracy. There were hundreds of students eager to learn the English Language, but suitable textbooks were non-existent.
Consequently, we wrote as we taught, making countless revisions as we listened to the students’ special needs. We will always be grateful for the welcome we were given, especially by Helena Zrustová, the director of the English Center. This series is used in her school up to the present time.
Upon returning to our home in Victoria, Canada, we have adapted the adult series to meet the cultural needs of students in Brazil, El Salvador, and The Ukraine. The children’s series is being re-written to meet the needs of the Chinese culture where the children begin school at a very young age. All these adaptations have been achieved through communication with, and often travel to the country of the culture involved.
Learning English With Laughter is a conversational approach to English. It stresses communication in a variety of everyday situations. Reading and writing are included in each lesson, but listening and speaking are given the greatest emphasis. In the adult series, suitable for students of 13 years and older, basic grammar is introduced sequentially, then practiced in a variety of oral activities and written exercises.
Our experiences in Eastern Europe, Brazil, El Salvador and China have shown us the importance of adapting the content of the lessons to reflect the student’s cultural environment. Although students want to study material about other countries, they also want to see and discuss their own heroes. This motivates and enhances understanding.
Children of 12 and under learn a second language through listening and imitating. At that age their learning abilities are specially adapted to languages. Learning their first language is a natural part of their growth and development. Learning English With Laughter centers on these special abilities, providing constant student participation through games, activities and dramas set in an imaginative and stimulating context.
As with the adult books, we have found it necessary to make major changes to accommodate cultural differences. The Chinese culture, for example, approaches childhood learning in a way that is very different from the West. At Learning English With Laughter, we make every attempt to understand these differences through communication with the people and teachers of the target culture.