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How to deal with change




We humans are creatures of habit. Most of us don't like change. At least not big changes. But change is part of life, and it's what keeps us on our toes. I'm making some changes to my teaching business, and that means that some of my clients will have to change the way they work with me, which of course, creates mixed feelings for everyone involved. But this got me thinking...our lives, for as stable as they can be, are full of change. This keeps us alert, flexible, and prepared. So why should our language learning be exempt from change? On the contrary, I think that adding change to your language learning routine is absolutely fundamental for your growth! Here's how.

 

Why it's good to add change to your learning routine


Let's think about how we communicate in real life for a second. Do you talk to just one person, all the time? No! You are constantly talking to different people with different accents, tones of voice and perhaps even a different range of vocabulary (even if just in your mother tongue). Then, perhaps you use your second language for work. Are you only talking to one person? No! You're reading and writing emails to different people, having meetings with people from other countries, many of whom I bet are not even native English speakers. Communication isn't 1-1. Communication is 1-MANY. In all languages. So, while having a "language learning routine" is great, and having a "go to" English teacher can help you improve in so many ways, if you really want to improve your English, eventually you'll have to step out of that comfortable 1-1 space and start interacting with new people. Perhaps you join a Conversation Group! Perhaps you look for another person to have English conversation with other than your regular teacher.


Another reason to add change? To keep your brain on its toes. It's important to set habits for ourselves, but it's equally important to give our brains new stimulus. If your weekly learning routine involves a 1-1 lesson and some light English reading, perhaps throw yourself a curveball and sign up for a workshop to learn some specific vocabulary related to your job. Or join a Conversation Group (am I being obvious enough?), or add a video into your weekly routine as well. It's also more fun this way! Think of it like a workout for your brain. If you do the same workout routine every day, eventually it will get easy and your body will no longer improve from doing it. You will just stay in the same place. The same goes for your brain. You must give it new challenges!


Do you really need another reason to add change to your learning routine? Okay, here's one more: it will help you improve faster. Trust me. I've worked with a lot of students. My area of expertise is working with children, but what I'm about to share applies to adults as well. I've got a group of children who have been working with me since they were 6 years old. Now they're 10, and they are capable of understanding pretty much everything I say in English (I almost never use Italian with them), and they can have basic conversations with me and their peers! THEY'RE 10!!! We do all kinds of fun stuff - we watch videos, we read stories, we do role plays, we do quizzes and games, we talk together as a group. We don't do the same thing every lesson. We have a routine, yes, but the activities that we do in our lessons are always varied. Compare these kids to another group of kids who started with me when they were 11. Their only experience was English at school (follow the course book and learn grammar and vocabulary, very little speaking and listening). They came to me unable to say 1 complete sentence (and understanding me at first was their biggest challenge). Now, 2 years later, they aren't as far along as the little ones who started younger, but they too are starting to communicate with me and their peers with much more fluidity. Why? Because I've challenged them. I've pushed them out of their comfort zones.


So, do yourself a favor today and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Sign up for Group Conversation, what have you got to lose?

 

Glossary


  • to be a creature of habit: someone that likes to follow a stable routine

  • to be on [one's] toes: to be ready to adapt quickly

  • to throw [someone] a curveball: an idiom to say - to surprise someone or do something unexpected



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