Top 3 things to consider when learning English

With the rise of information abundance, and the rapid increase of communication means available to us, many of us are in need to learn a new language, or improve our language skills in order to keep up with our work and social environment. For many of us, this is a challenge: time constraints, the sheer amount of information available and different methods to use can make it hard for people to even begin. So many times, I’ve talked to people trying to learn a new language. Some of them are quite successful, and are able to speak fluently and smoothly within a considerably short amount of time. Others have more trouble learning a new language.

The more I speak to them, the more I find they all have a similar excuse on why they can’t learn a new language. Phrases such as ‘I’m just not good at learning languages’ or ‘I don’t have a feeling for the English language’ are quite common, and are used as an excuse to either stop after a basic level, or give up altogether. Learning a language is actually simple, but just like anything you learn, you need 3 things to make it work for you.

Motivation

If you don’t know why you’re learning something, then taking up language courses can be a daunting task. How ofter have you started something new, with the conviction you would take this on, only to drop it after a few weeks of trying? I can certainly attest for that. I’ve been there. This happens because you’re not convinced that learning this new skill is a good thing. You lack the motivation because you don’t know why you want to learn it in the first place. Maybe people in your social circle are pushing you. Maybe your boss is asking you to take it on. As long as you’re not convinced you really need this, you can’t put the right effort behind it.

When you’re setting yourself up to learn a new language, then create the motivation to learn by visualizing what it would be like for you to already be able to do this. If you can picture in your minds eye what doors will open for you once you get to know the language, it will act as a powerful stimulator to learn a new language. It will put you in the right mindset, and will help you get through the difficult first weeks to get your first successes in applying the language. Your method also needs to give you successes in using the new language early on, motivating you to continue learning. More on this below in this article. 

Making it a habit

Us human beings are conditioned to think, act and even feel in a certain way. The combination of our environment, who we are as a person and the habits we have created over time determine what we do each day. Because of this, we are on a sort of automatic pilot throughout the day, doing most of our things by muscle memory and conditioned responses. When you are setting a goal for yourself to learn a new language, this is a new habit. As you are learning this the first few weeks, you need to make it a habit. But because we are conditioned to do our automated tasks, you need to give yourself some time to learn this new habit. This takes about 66 days for people on average, and explains why we need to be dedicated to learning this new task.

Bottom line: if you want to learn a new language, then set some time aside on a daily basis to practice. Do this often enough, and you will just apply what you’ve learned automatically, and make big jumps in your language skills altogether.

A method that works

For those of you who have learned a new language in school (a long time ago for some – I know), you remember that some of your peers would pick it up fast, and some would take forever to learn anything new. This has little to do with ability, but more to do with the method that is used. I mean, when you’re going on a camping trip, but the language vocabulary you learn in class would be about social and political history, you would not want to apply any of what you’ve learned in your free time. You want to be able to talk about nature, the route to get there, and how to set up your tent.

Therefore, the method needs to match into your everyday life as much as possible, so you can easily put it into practice. The other part your learning method needs to include is that we need to focus on the parts of the language that are used most. Tim Ferriss (amongst others) describes this really well in his book The four hour chef and on some of his blog posts: if you want to learn a language, then learn what is used the most. The famous 80-20 rule applies for languages too: 20% of the words of every language are used 80% of the time – the rest of the words and grammar are more obscure and can be learned at a later stage. This way, you can quickly have conversations, and book your success early. This, in turn, will motivate you to continue on learning.

The way that we create our content and curriculum is much in the same way. We help you to set your goals for learning English, and actively engage you to bring your own topics to the class. This will allow you to learn faster, and in a way that is relevant for you. We focus on the topics that you are using on a day to day basis, allowing you to put everything you do at work, your family life or your social life right into practice. This allows you to book successes in learning the language early, and motivate you to continue on learning and applying what you’ve done. Come and find out how much fun it is to learn English with us!