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Language learners: ‘Take it easy and keep it simple’

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1The ‘take it easy and keep it simple’ motto is something a member of the WCE team lives by and its use here is not meant to contradict the last blog post on how there is no excuse to be lazy when it comes to language learning – because there really isn’t any excuse if learning is really what you want to do. I have used this motto for this post because I’ve come to notice that there are many language learners out there who aren’t patient with himself or herself and frankly, often bite off more than they can chew when it comes to learning English. What does that mean you say? Well, it just means that you try to do things that are too difficult for you.

I have always encouraged learners to challenge themselves to progress but by this I do not mean a beginner should be doing advanced language exercises and completely bypass intermediate exercises. You don’t want to make things too difficult for yourself but you also don’t want things to be comfortably easy, so you have to be realistic. You have to figure out your level of comfort in a language and then proceed to take the next step towards progression which will obviously be a little more challenging but not too challenging as to make you feel like throwing your books out the window because you just don’t understand anything anymore. Remember, take those baby steps by challenging yourself and eventually you will reach fluency. Some just get there quicker than others but ultimately you should be focusing on your learning and not anyone else’s.

So taking you back to last week’s post, where I said the worst thing you can do is to always try to compare the language you’re learning to another language you already know (be it your mother tongue or another language). This is because there are a lot of cases where there are no equivalents between language ‘A’ and language ‘B’, so trying to look for one will only confuse and frustrate you further. The cases I refer to are things such as many idiomatic expressions and even many phrasal verbs in the English language; this is because these are very deeply rooted in the English culture. When you’re learning a new language you should focus only on that language. Of course, it’s easier said than done because you may have many friends that speak your mother tongue or even speak to your family back home on a daily basis. This is why, learning to separate these languages and not mix them is highly important.

2I particularly like the analogy of your brain being like a storage room and when you’re learning a new language new papers get mixed up with old papers and everything is a mess. What you have to do is organise these papers into specific separate boxes in your head so that when you decide to speak English, you will temporarily forget about the other languages you may have. Once your thoughts are organised in this way then you’ll begin to find that learning a language is made easier. I recently spoke to a student who said that he was limiting the time he spoke to his family back home to once per week in order to avoid using his mother tongue as much as possible. This a wise idea if you want to see faster progress but of course, you don’t have to be as extreme if you don’t want to – you could simply just dedicate some time like an hour or so during the day to speak to your family or friends in your mother tongue and then switch back to the language you’re learning. Separating the languages into different boxes in your brain will of course help you to easily switch from one language to another.

You have to put your body and mind into learning a new language and learn to just focus on your own learning and the language itself. Remember comparisons are useless and just slow you down so take it easy and keep it simple – LEARN AT YOUR OWN PACE but at the same time SPEAK, SPEAK and SPEAK!





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