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Language learning difficulties

New feature! You can now listen to my posts, how cool is that?



Do you find learning languages (in this case, English) difficult? Or did you hate it at school because it was too hard and boring and put you off ever trying to learn English or any other language ever again? I hear you. But, I want to start off today's post with a super duper inspirational quote, from none other than the famous Michael Jordan. Even if you don't love basketball, you love him, I know.

Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to CLIMB IT, GO THROUGH IT or WORK AROUND IT.

Okay, have a great week, check in for next week's post!

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Just kidding! I could just leave it at that, but I'll take it to the next step for you and give you some actual ways to climb over or go around your English learning blocks. Yes, you're welcome!

 

Listening is so hard! I don't understand half of the words!


Let's start with an easy question. BE HONEST. When you are watching TV or listening to a speech in your first language, do you always understand EVERY WORD (especially when you aren’t paying attention?) If you said yes, you’re lying. You understand the CONTEXT. So, why should you understand every word in English (or your second language)?! Don't be so damn hard on yourself.


The first step in “understanding better” is to relax if you don’t get every word. Can you understand the general context of what you're listening to? Great!!! Pat yourself on the back, go get a beer and give yourself the night off from studying. Ok, seriously though, you don't have to understand everything. Of course, the more you understand the better you will feel, but listening, like any other skill, takes consistent PRACTICE. So, to practice, what can you do? You can: listen to music, podcasts, audiobooks etc. as much as possible, watch TV or series in English and schedule regular conversation lessons (if you can). Hey, I know...sign up for a FREE 15 minute trial lesson with me!

 

I'm so nervous when I speak, I don't want to make any mistakes.


Again, let's start with a question. Do you sometimes forget the perfect word for a situation in your first language? Do you ever make mistakes when speaking? (I’m looking at you, Italians 😉). So, guess what. EVERYBODY MAKES MISTAKES IN THEIR FIRST LANGUAGE! I hear politicians make mistakes. I hear YouTubers make mistakes. I hear teachers make mistakes. We all make mistakes! So if we all make mistakes when speaking our first language, why on earth should you be expected to speak perfectly in your second (or third...) language?!?!?! Please explain this to me.


Being able to speak a language DOESN’T MEAN being perfect. It means BEING ABLE TO COMMUNICATE. so, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, but don’t stress! You should not worry about being perfect, you should just say what you need to say as best you can. Don't be scared of someone judging you. They 99% of the time will just try to help you, and if they judge you, they aren't worth talking to. END OF DISCUSSION.

 

I forget all the vocabulary words that I learn! I can never remember anything!


Last question of the day. Do you know exactly what EVERY SINGLE LAST WORD in your first language means? Don’t even try to say yes, I’m an English teacher and I don’t know EVERY word in English. NOBODY KNOWS EVERYTHING. Thankfully, today, you have soooo much technology that can help you when you need “the perfect word”. And if you don't find the perfect word in English, just do what you do in your first language and explain it the best you can until your listener understands what you're talking about. Check out this quote from Merriam Webster:

It has been estimated that the vocabulary of English includes roughly 1 million words (although most linguists would take that estimate with a chunk of salt, and some have said they wouldn't be surprised if it is off the mark by a quarter-million); that tally includes the myriad names of chemicals and other scientific entities. Many of these are so peripheral to common English use that they do not or are not likely to appear even in an unabridged dictionary.

So, if you want to start learning all million of them, what's the best way to start? You guessed it, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. But, here are a few practical tips to help you remember as much as possible: use flashcards and post-its, read in English, ask questions when you don’t understand a word and stop trying to have a perfect memory and chill. If I remember what I did yesterday I'm lucky. Nevermind what I have to do today. I have my agenda in like 100 formats, paper and electronic alike, so please don't think that you need to remember everything from one lesson to the next, because you won't. But, the more you use English, the more you will remember. So, practice!

 

I ranted today, I know. But this is something very dear to me. You CAN speak English, and NO, you don't have to be perfect. The more you expose yourself to English, the more naturally it will come to you. Set mini goals for yourself so that you stay motivated to keep learning, and I promise, little by little it will get easier. Still have doubts? Send me a message and we can set up a free 15 minute chat to talk about your language learning blocks. Cool right?

 

Glossary

  • I hear you: colloquial expression to say, "I understand"

  • super duper: what's more than super? Super duper, of course

  • to leave [it] at that: an informal way to say, "let's not continue discussing this"

  • Don't be so hard on [yourself]: an idiom to say, "you don't have to be perfect"

  • why on earth would...?: a good way to start any BIG question

  • take [something] with a chunk of salt: an idiom to say, "don't believe everything you hear/read"

  • to chill: slang - to relax

  • to rant: to passionately (or angrily) speak about a topic




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