What do you love about English?
One of my students loves to listen to "The Doors.” He was always bringing me the lyrics from the songs, to explain to him. He loved it so much that he could sing the words even though he didn't know what the words meant!
I had another student who loved English TV sitcoms. She spoke almost perfectly from just listening and later repeating what she heard on these shows. She liked "Friends,” "Home Improvement" and even some sci-fi shows like the original "Twilight Zone.”
After 25 years teaching English I can honestly say, language learning is like falling in love! You find this curious person (or language!) that has “just something” about it that attracts you to her, and you want to know everything you can about her! Yes, you feel a bit shy, but your love overcomes that as each new learning experience encourages you to go for more!
Sometimes there are frustrations as you gingerly step into the sphere of love languages, usually caused by misunderstanding. And just as in any relationship, you must be open to learning something new, unlearning misconceptions about the “beloved” and being completely amazed at how intricate and advanced this “being” really is once you do spend the time and effort “getting to know” her!
It is this desire to communicate with the beloved that moves you past the grammar, vocabulary, phrasal verbs, etc. and into the flow of the language, which is a living thing that sweeps you up into its arms and carries you… How far? As far as you want to go!
There is always a chance to get off, and you do at times feel “stuck,” which just means you need a challenge! And experience, and an expansion of reality and how you will stay the course!
So, dear student and language lover,
I encourage you to find a few subjects you absolutely LOVE. Then study them. Read and listen to stories, news, articles and opinion pieces. Talk about what you read with anyone who will listen! (Everyone loves to hear about falling in love!)
Pursue these fascinating subjects of yours to really jumpstart your language learning, or even to get you past that mediocrity plateau and launch you into the next level of your love of learning (or perhaps into one of the 5 “Love languages”!).
I started learning Spanish when I moved into a house where the poor woman was overcome by too many house guests. I borrowed her cookbooks and learned the Spanish words for foods. I also learned the cooking-related verbs, and practiced all of it while working alongside her in the kitchen!
She was diabetic, so I also learned to speak to her about foods that she should not eat and foods that would help her stay healthy! Those are two things I love — cooking and health! (On the practical side, I shared my cockroach killer recipe with her and you would have thought I hung the moon! It works!)
So, as much as people like to say that it’s too hard or too time-consuming, think of your new language as a new love. It's worth it. You'll see!
May your love of English grow as you use these tips to plan your path.