Have you ever met an English speaking Iranian? The ones I’ve met tend to have fantastic English. I’ve had a number of Iranian students in my time here in Turkey and have a couple Iranian friends that I’ve met at conferences. They all have absolutely amazing English. The kicker is that they all learned English in Iran where there are almost no native speakers. That’s right, they speak English really well even though none of them may have ever even met a native speaker before leaving Iran.
Some of my students come to study English in Turkey with the express purpose of studying under a native and are often shocked to learn that the upper-int classes they are put into would be considered intermediate at best back in Iran.
I often ask how this is possible. According to the Iranians, the reasons are that they take intensive classes with 4 hours of English with little break and constant speaking opportunities integrated with other skills and knowledge. However, I would love to go and see for myself how these classes work. Unfortunately, going to Iran could jeopardize my wife’s chances of moving to the US with me, so, unless I get a Turkish passport, it won’t be happening anytime soon .
Has anyone been to Iran or does anyone living there have descriptions of the classes and methods? Why do you think the English is so good (or am I getting a false impression for some reason)? Does anyone have other experiences of countries that have superb English educations? I’ve heard Romania is really good too. The Scandinavian countries and Denmark have great English but I think that’s mainly due to classes held in English and especially the lack of dubbing on TV.
Most importantly, what does this say about the prominence of the native speaker?
Just as an aside, I would also like to add that Iranian students are wonderful to have in the class. They often bring really interesting opinions into the class and are very vocal about discussing controversial issues. They really tend to liven up the classroom.