Reflecting on your learning… Why is it important?
Is the way you are learning English (or other languages) working for you?
Learning a language is not a sprint, it is a marathon. If you are serious about becoming fluent, you are in it for the long run.
With my students, we put together a learning schedule full of ideas of what they can do to surround themselves with the language and learn what they need. I do the same for myself.
But precisely because the language learning process is ongoing and not short, we all tend to just fall into habits and patterns with our learning. Some of these habits are good and some of them don’t work for us the way they did at the beginning when we started with them.
If this happens, we tend to fall into the vicious cycle: we don’t feel like learning, we see little to no results, and since we are not improving… what’s the point? So we stop. We get frustrated. And we give up.
However, the learning of a language is a process. One that needs (just like any other processes that are to work) a regular check-up and improvement. What worked for you 6 months back does not have to work for you now. And if it doesn’t, it needs changing.
When we talk with my students about the different ways they can learn vocabulary, I tell them that I change the way I learn new vocab regularly. What works for me in Spanish does not work in Italian. What worked for me when I lived in one place doesn’t work for me in a new place. What worked 2 years ago doesn’t work now.
I tend to evaluate my practices (how I do things) a lot. I find it a useful way to move forward, planning the best ways to get to where I want to be. I also regularly check what it is that I’m doing that is not getting me anywhere. I don’t want to waste any more time on things that don’t work and don’t help me to progress.
Learning a language is about falling in love with the learning itself. Yes, you will be fluent one day. Absolutely! But if you don’t find an enjoyable way to get to your fluency, you will never achieve this goal. Learning a language, surrounding yourself with it, and incorporating it into your everyday life so you can start thinking in it, is your ultimate goal. This is what should bring you joy.
So, here is my suggestion for you...
Why don’t you go for a coffee sometime, sit down for a little bit (in a nice café like I do or someplace comfortable where you feel good) and write down everything that you do to learn and improve? And then think… which of those things actually bring you results? Which do you enjoy? And which make you cringe? 😅 How could they be replaced with something that you would enjoy more on daily/weekly basis? Then, try it all out. Does it make a difference?
What you are aiming for is to find habits and learning resources (such as apps, ted talks, books, movies, etc.) that make your learning enjoyable and effective. If there is anything in there that is slowing you down because you hate it so much that you never want to do it, let it go! Replace it with something more pleasurable and engaging. Even if it is hard or ‘boring’ (let’s say if you are learning for work or for a test), there is more than one way of learning what you need to know. Think about it! How could it be done in a way you enjoy more so you would want to learn more often?
The more we think about what works and what doesn’t, the faster we can improve and learn. It also means taking responsibility for the learning process itself. When you take responsibility, you own the process. You make it your own, a part of who you are and what you do. And this is the kind of mindset you need if you are to succeed in the language learning marathon. It is your responsibility if you are progressing or not. Your responsibility if you are enjoying or not. Yours and nobody else’s. Make it good.
Go have a coffee 😉
PS: I took the picture above when having a coffee in Granada, Spain, with my planner, reflecting on my last 3 months of learning. Adjustments and changes made. It doesn’t have to take long 😊 Make it happen 😉