“I can’t understand anything” How many people have said this before about a language that they are learning? I’m sure almost everyone has said… Read More »Believing you can: Reaching your full potential as a learner
This happens most often because of reasons other than language knowledge. Many people know exactly how to learn the language, and spend most of their free time doing exactly that, but still hesitate when it is time to speak.
So, what else can we do about it then?
Well, try this. Start by asking yourself:
“What kind of speaker am I?”
Think carefully about this. Don’t think about just your English abilities (or whatever other language you are learning), but your native language as well. Which adjectives would you use to describe yourself?
“I am a ____________ speaker.”
Some people are confident, some are shy, some are fast, some are slow, etc. All of these will affect how you see yourself as a speaker, and therefore, how you speak.
My role as a speaker
Thinking about what kind of speaker you are helps you to understand your beliefs about speaking.
Your beliefs about your ability directly affect your performance.
If this is hard for you to agree with, let Tony Robbins explain it to you:
If this is something interesting to you, Bruce Lipton has done lots of research on it.
So how do I understand my beliefs?
Simple. Just ask yourself questions. Similar to the one earlier. This time, focus only on your English abilities.
- What kind of speaker am I?
- How well can I speak?
- Why am I speaking?
- How much do I enjoy speaking?
- How often do I take advantage of opportunities to speak?
As you ask yourself these questions, write down all the ideas that come up. Make a list. Make sure you write down everything, positive and negative. Then, ask yourself why.
It’s best if you actually spend the time to think about this before continuing.
You walk up, smile, look each other in the eye, and say “hello“. After “hello, how are you“, then what? What do you say next?… Read More »Speaking shouldn’t be as hard as it seems
Isn’t it frustrating to understand everything that people are saying around you but feel like you cannot participate in the conversation because you believe your language ability isn’t good enough?
Well it’s time to do something about it. By that I am not suggesting for you to go and enroll in an intensive 20 hours a week English course (although the extra practice certainly would be helpful). It’s time to take control of your learning.
“Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself”
— Chinese Proverb
Keeping yourself going
It’s helpful for you to have a good teacher, but what is even more helpful is to have drive. You need to have a strong desire to learn, and you need to set firm rules for yourself about how you will practice and when.
The first step in achieving this is to set firm goals for yourself (it’s a good time of the year to be thinking about this right now, but you can do this whenever you want). Imagine yourself in January 2019. How is your English?
Why goal setting is difficult
Most people try to avoid goal setting because it never seems to work for them. The reality is, most people are so careless about their goals that they don’t even bother following or checking up on them once they are set.
The secret to effective goal setting is to be systematic.
But what exactly does it mean to be systematic? It means to have a set of rules and boundaries for yourself that you do not break, and if you do, you punish yourself or make up for it next time.
For example, if you plan to study for 30 minutes this evening but feel tired and spend your time looking at Instagram instead, you have to spend an additional 30 minutes studying the next time.
Sounds simple, right? The problem is, most people don’t have discipline while studying. They say “tomorrow, tomorrow”, and tomorrow becomes next week.
So, in addition to punishing yourself for breaking your rules, you need to reward yourself for keeping to your study plan. 10 times in a row and you get a piece of tiramisu!
Finding your direction
Clearly there is more to discipline than just rewarding or punishing yourself. You need to have a clear sense of purpose. Why are you learning the language?
I am learning English because…
Is it difficult to find a reason? Try defining it in terms of ability. Think about what you want to achieve with your language skills.
Don’t just read ahead. Stop here and really think about what you want.