If you hear someone say, "It's a snap!" they mean, "It's easy." Sometimes, it's also easy to be self-critical when learning a new language. We want to understand what others are saying quickly and feel confident to respond just as quickly, but it's difficult to be that fluent without years of practice. Don't beat yourself up! Language learning takes time, but there are some things you can do right now to make learning English a little easier.
The best part about the strategy I'm going to share with you today is that it is not hard work. It is actually the opposite. I don't believe in the idiom, “No pain, no gain.” Our minds like things that are simple, organized, and understandable.
So, what is my advice? Think about topics and things you are interested in. Don't think about how to apply them to your language learning yet. Just brainstorm subjects, hobbies, and interests that really get you excited.
Have you got your list? Great! Now, let me share my own list with you for examples of how to use it to enhance your English learning. Here are some hobbies and topics I am interested in:
Okay, this list is very random isn't it? How do we use a list like this to improve our language skills? Our brains more easily absorb information when we are relaxed, engaged, and truly interested. Some people love working on old cars and learn everything there is to know about a gasoline engine in a week. I can stare at an engine as long as I want and still have no idea how to fix anything in it! That's because I'm not interested in how the car works.
So, the trick is to choose topics you are interested in when learning English. Let's take a look at each item on my example list and examine how we can apply this strategy.
Creative Writing Because I'm probably not fluent enough in my second language to write a story in it, I would create a character in my story that speaks my second language. This way, I can have the character say short dialog to help me use my second language but not overwhelm me.
Yoga With any hobby, there is a lot of unique vocabulary involved. Whatever sport or hobby you have, learn the names of the equipment used and the verbs for the actions you do in that sport or hobby.
Photography If you are interested in photography, you could make a blog where you post your photos in English. Try and write descriptions of each image you post, using creative adjectives wherever possible to expand your ability to describe things. If you like photographing nature, you might try to learn the names of the trees and flowers you photograph and write captions with your images.
Dancing Who doesn't love to get up and dance? Physical movement is also good for the brain because we get more oxygen and blood flowing. If you like dancing, learn the names of steps and positions in English. If you want to go a step further, you could create a dance to accompany the English words you are learning!
Put Your List into Practice Okay, you get the idea. Now study your list and think of creative ways to apply English learning to the items on it. The more fun you can have with language learning, the more effortlessly your mind will retain new language information.
Don't beat yourself up: don't be so hard on yourself or criticize yourself unfairly
No pain, no gain: if exercising doesn't hurt, it doesn't help you
Random: selection without planning
Overwhelm: to get stressed out because of too many things
Involved: to be central; included
Captions: a short description with a photo
Retain: to remember; to absorb information for later