When can you stop learning English?

When can you stop learning English? My answer: Never! We should never stop learning English.

We live in a world in which not being native is no longer an acceptable excuse for not speaking English. At the moment in the world, are 1500 million people that speak English and only 375 million are native speakers.

English gained its status of Lingua Franca in the second half of the 20th century. In our days, people communicate, trade, establish new connections, study and build almost everything using English. English is everywhere from science and business to entertainment and common daily usage. The truth is that the position of English as spoken language evolved a lot in the past decades; if 20 years ago the fact that you were speaking English could assure you a good job position, in our days it is a must-have ability among all the other skills you possess. In any company, speaking English will not make you stand from the crowd but the way you speak it might do it.

There are several extremely valuable benefits of Speaking English Fluently.

Maybe you never thought of this but speaking English correctly saves time. Any language is a tool, including English, possessing it rightly helps you to do the needed faster and better. Imagine you need to give some instructions or to explain at which stage is the project you are working for, or to request some directions, with a limited vocabulary you will need more time to explain the same meaning, it will be more stressful and less effective.

Speaking English at a high level will lower the chance of a misunderstanding in the communication process and this is economically efficient. Misunderstandings cost time and money, there were situations in which a single comma cost companies billions, now, let’s be honest why should we take this risk?

Speaking English fluently works for a better image, don’t limit yourself to the vocabulary that is needed for your daily tasks at work, it will come a moment in which you will need to attend a conference, an important meeting or a formal dinner, being able to treat freely various topics will help you to shine and who knows maybe it will help you to obtain a lifetime deal.

Speaking freely English is emotionally rewarding. Our personal life is not less important, imagine you meet the partner of your dreams and you are not able to communicate your feelings appropriately just because you don’t speak English good enough? How frustrating would this be? Any further explanations are useless.

Please take a moment and recall a situation in which you needed to speak English and you couldn’t.  The moment in which you want to speak and you don’t have enough words is extremely frustrating, I am sure we all have had this kind of experiences, to go back in time and change them is impossible, but it is possible to gather all these emotions and to start to improve our English level so we would never experience this frustration ever again.

Learning a language is a very long process, often students feel tempted to quit going on this apparently endless route. Don’t! Take a break but never quit! No matter what method you choose to improve your language level, the most important thing is to always keep practising, this is the only constant in Language Learning, this is the only reliable path that in time will inevitably take us to priceless rewards.

The Spiritual Birth

 

Next Monday, it happens to be the anniversary of 10 years since I’ve graduated university. My colleagues and I decided to organise a reunion and to meet our teachers at the Faculty. We thought that it would be nice to make a gift for the university as a symbol of gratitude.  All good until we had to decide what should this be. The faculty is not a person, actually, the faculty is just a building without our teachers, so the gift had to be for the people that represent the faculty. All our teachers are so different, they all manifest various interests and visions. What could fit for all of them at the same time?

The solution was in finding what is common between them. Thinking a little bit, I realise that their role in our personality definition process is what unites them. Our teachers had one of the biggest impacts on our formation before we became those of today. Indeed I thought, our personality is shown by the way we behave, feel, and think and our teachers changed us in all of these aspects.

In fact, personality is the result of knowledge acquirement and this is a continuous process, a process that never ends for each of us. In some periods of our life this process is more intense and in some periods of our life this process might seem almost static, what seems clear is that as personalities we are born from knowledge. This means that we reborn each time we acquire enough experience that changes our behavioural pattern, our way of thinking or the way we feel about people and things from our lives, as spirits, we born continuously.

Our teachers gave us their knowledge and experience in a limited period of time, this is why in our memory they are so connected to the idea of the personal formation process.
I thought that if I could transpose this idea into something material this would be the perfect gift for our teachers.
And I tried to do my best. String art is one of my hobbies, I thought that at least I could try to do something.
And this is the result, I called this work: ”The spiritual birth from the knowledge”

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I really hope that it was a successful attempt of an idea materialization if not, it is sure that it was made with a lot of good energy, from all my heart for all my dear teachers.

What started as a conundrum led me to another amazing discovery regarding human mind construction, a field which is so mysterious and difficult but fascinating at the same time. I felt like I had a revelation and I had to share it with you, my dear reader and I hope you like it.

Regards,

Victoria

The secret that will take you anywhere

We are social human beings and to obtain something in the modern world we need to communicate with others. Our communicational skills directly influence our social status, career evolution, personal relationships etc. And usually, we communicate through conversations. To go further I think it is impetuous to explain what a conversation is, the most of the people would say that a conversation is a talk, and they are right, in a simplistic way a conversation is a talk.

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, a conversation is:

(A) talk between two or more people in which thoughts, feelings, and ideas are expressed, questions are asked and answered, or news and information are exchanged.

So, it is a process in which Part A  is transmitting or exchanging information with Part B.

I think you will agree that holding a conversation itself is a pleasant activity. People enjoy to give and to get information, and the topics could vary from how is the weather to the philosophical approach of the happiness. People talk to make someone feel good or to make someone feel bad, and of course to amuse themselves. Conversation is everywhere; it is part of our daily routine. However, with all its importance, sometimes the process is not working.

What Part B receives is not equal to what Part A is transmitting and the communication doesn’t take place. This is frustrating as the target is not achieved.

What happens?

Generally, to receive information, we listen or read; to transmit, we speak or write. Each of these abilities has a different responsible zone in our brain. This means that even if you are very good at understanding when you read, you might face huge problems of understanding what people say, or you might be able to write very well and fail at speaking and vice-versa. To hold a successful conversation in any language you need to train your listening and speaking skills.

So… How to do that?

You might be surprised but you need only one thing to succeed in this attempt. Yes, only one thing, and this has nothing to do with your natural ability to learn languages. Many people reach a certain point in learning a language and they stop, they cannot advance further and they keep changing methods, schools, teachers etc., and all without a significant result, this discourage them and they start looking for all kind of explanations that would justify their situation. I’ve observed this dozen of times at my students’ behaviour and there is only one treatment in this case. The only solution is PATIENCE.  Yes, patience, if you take out the bread before the time from the oven, would you be pleased with the result? I imagine that not really. When you are in a hurry nothing comes out properly, you might be so absorbed of the idea to manage to learn faster that even in those short moments you find to allocate for studying you will not focus enough, in the end, this would only make the process longer and harder.

I am aware that we live in the century in which almost everything could be instant, asking patience from some, sounds like a mission impossible. But let’s do not forget that conversation itself requires us to be patient and willing to listen to the other person. With patience nothing is too hard, nothing is impossible, nothing is too far from us. With patience everything is achievable, everything is reachable and everything is possible.
Maybe patience is a virtue that worth to be developed not only for learning another language but also as a must-have skill in this super fast passing life.

Without patience you cannot give life, you cannot learn, you cannot evolve, you cannot do almost anything, this is why the secret is simple and hard at the same time – this is PATIENCE.
Developing your patience is difficult and it requires patience. How much of it do you think you have?

Do you remember your first teacher?

Do you remember your first teacher?

This is one of the questions I like to address to my students when I test their English level, answering it, they need to talk about a third person, they need to to use adjectives and they need to place the action in past, this gives me the opportunity to observe several parameters at the same time.  Last week a student asked back, what about you, do you remember your first teacher?  I smiled, in front of me appeared my mother’s face. A simple question opened the wideness of my mind’s perception. How could I miss this by now?! My mom was my first teacher. She taught me how to smile, to articulate my first word, to sing the first song, the make the first step, she taught me so many things and above all, she taught me to don’t stop at her world but to look for how to widen mine.

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She taught me to question everything as some things are not what they seem and she created an environment in which I could learn, explore and discover life in a safe way.

The first step, and one more step; step again and I am a mother too, the cycle started over.  I started to understand you at a whole new level, Mom, life is too short to show you enough gratitude for all you have done for me, I love you.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the first teachers in the world.

The power of comparison. Should we compare ourselves with other students or not?

People that know me will confirm that I rarely experience a hesitation before giving an answer or comment, in any situation when it comes to things I am passionate, I just cannot stay quiet.

Last week in the last minute of a lesson my student asked me:

Teacher, how am I evolving?  

I answered: You are making correct statements, negations and questions in 3 tenses present, past and future. You can ask help, directions and talk about you, your family and possessions and all this from zero in only 11 lessons, I would say that this is a good result.

No, teacher. How am I evolving compared to the other students you are teaching?

I had a long hesitation moment.  My brain pulled out another 5 questions – Why does he want me to compare him with others? And if others are learning faster, will he learn harder or will he stop learning because this might be interpreted as he would not be gifted… and if others learn slower will this make him feel somehow special or this will make him push himself less as he already acquires the information faster than other people.

From my point of view, the biggest advantage of private classes is that people can learn when they want and how much they want, they benefit of a personal learning plan adapted to their level and they advance in their rhythm.  So, why to compare us with others, in this case, as far as I see the person should focus only on himself and on his personal growth.

All day I thought why people compare themselves to others. I realised that I also do it; all people do it, but why? I made a research and it seems that this is a normal human behaviour.  People have a tendency to compare themselves to others and it is as automatic as any other human emotion. In daily life, we constantly judge ourselves and others about everything from intellectual merit to athletic prowess. A multitude of psychology studies have shown that comparisons with other people can be used as an effective means for self-evaluation, and conversely, people base judgments of other people on knowledge of their own traits. In the same time, the negative effects of comparisons keep us from our growth and embracing our greatest abilities.

The author Marco Wittmann, a doctoral student in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Oxford says: “We found that although people estimated their abilities on the basis of their own performance in a rational manner, their estimates of themselves were partly merged with the performance of others.” Another important conclusion was that interacting with high performers makes people feel more capable in cooperative team settings but less competent in competitive situations. “The findings potentially have implications for social interactions in the workplace as well as clinical disorders such as depression.”

According to a study published in Neuron, comparisons are often unfair, biased and almost always puts our focus in a place outside of ourselves. Ratings of our own abilities are strongly influenced by the performance of others.

Logically I wonder if comparing students and their performance is appropriate in a classroom.

Since I’ve started to work as a teacher I am continuously looking for methods that would raise the efficiency of the learning process to offer a maximum of knowledge in a minimum amount of time, I accept that some people might manifest a better performance if challenged, and some need competition to feel challenged and at the same time some people might block if confronted with others in a competition. The best way would be to understand your own way and follow it if today you know more than yesterday it means you’ve evolved and you are at least with one step closer to achieving your goal. Focus on the fact that not your speed but your persistence will make the difference for your growth in all fields. There may be times when competition is appropriate but to do not forget that the most appreciated manifestations of the humans such as love, gratitude, humility, empathy and generosity cannot be compared and on our life path exactly these are those that make the difference.

With best wishes for all my readers,

Victoria

Smartly Grow Your Language Level

This week I had a lovely experience which gave me the opportunity to observe a group of people with different levels of English knowledge (to all of them the second language) in a debate.
While some participants in the discussion were happy to be able to express their thoughts in a very simple way by using simple words and even adding body language and smiles instead of the words they did not know. Others were unsatisfied to only express their thoughts correctly, they wanted to play with words and to add humour and puns to their speech and failing at this, they felt sad.

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I’m a teacher but also a human that is searching for the key to happiness and at that moment, my human part could not wonder, why despite their good performance compared to the group some were sad and others so happy even if they weren’t by far good in expressing their thoughts.

Thinking of this, I came to the conclusion that not the level in which we are makes us happy and self-satisfied but the effort we put to overcome challenges we face. Each effort is rewarded by our brain with endorphins and when we pass a difficult point we feel happy. This is why participants in the discussion were radiating happiness and satisfaction not according to their performance compared to the group but according to the effort they were investing in transmitting their thoughts.

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Coming back at my mission as a teacher I clearly see that this brain mechanism can be and should be used in the learning process, this is why you should challenge yourself to smartly grow your language level.

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You will never improve if you will not leave your comfort zone. Read materials that are hard for you, keep the dictionary close to you and to each new word learn not only the translation but two or three synonyms. Do not comfort yourself just knowing the meaning, try to use them in sentences or you risk to don’t learn them at all. Apply this rule to audio, video or written materials you are working with and challenge yourself as difficulty level daily, in time, this will help you to improve your language level but also will bring you satisfaction in the process.

What about you dear reader, do you feel happy after you accomplish something that was difficult at the first sight? Do you think we can use this brain process in other aspects of our life? Share your thoughts in a comment below…

Best wishes to you all,

Victoria

What is the key to succeeding in learning a new language?

As a teacher, I think it is extremely important to observe those behaviours that lead students to their success. In this case, their success means achieving their goal of being fluent in a foreign language. It is important not only to observe and to encourage good habits but also to track and to ban those things that exert a bad influence on their growth.

In this article, I decided to share with you a little bit of my experience. Here are 5 good habits you should develop to achieve success in learning a language.

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Students that manifest a natural curiosity for everything learn faster than others. This characteristic determines them to explore and to learn even outside the classroom, they learn not because they have to but because they want to. As humans, we are curious but learning to focus our curiosity for obtaining useful skills is something that requires training. This is a habit worth developing not only to learn a new language but for a lifetime.

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I saw different types of students, some of them are more enthusiastic at the beginning, some of them have no enthusiasm and they want to learn just because they have to do it. Some of them want to learn because they want to travel, some because they need it for their work, some of them because they fall in love. In the beginning, I thought their motive is the most important and in time I’ve realized that not their goal is what keeps them moving but how capable are they to be committed to their goal. Develop your ability to be loyal to your goals this is no doubt an important characteristic of a successful learning story.

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Another very important factor is their wish of communicating with others. The ability of talking is as important as any other skill we acquire in life and due to our DNA, education, personality etc. some of us are more talkative than others. Students that are eager to transmit their thoughts and ideas are learning faster than the others. If you are not too talkative as nature you could try to schedule special hours in which you will put yourself in the situation of talking. And remember language is for communication you cannot reach fluency by being quiet.

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Students that like challenges and competition tend to succeed more often at completing tasks in the classroom and in the end, this helps them to grow their language level faster. Taking any lesson as a race might help you to see the learning process much more interesting and engaging.

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Students that are not afraid of making mistakes learn faster than the others. This is extremely important as the only way of learning a new language is by making mistakes. You will find words that at first, you will pronounce wrong, you could pronounce them wrong even after your 10th attempt, but accepting your mistakes as learning opportunities and not as embarrassing moments of which you are afraid will definitely help you to advance easier.

Analyze yourself and try to see which is characteristic for you, or what trait you could develop in time, then use it in a conscientious way to achieve your most fantastic learning goals ever.

Regards,

Victoria