Have you ever thought to yourself: "I'll never improve my English because ________"?
It's so easy to feel that we won't move forward and reach our goals. After all, from the news to our own past, our world can seem shaped by negative events that emphasize failure rather than success. Our consumer society tells us what we don't have and why we won't be happy unless we have more. Social media leads us to comparing ourselves to "perfect" others who seem to have it all.
So despite our innate tendency to remain positive in the face of major adversity (think of how you continue to face each day despite the horrors happening around the world), many of us also experience extreme self-doubt and dissatisfaction about our own abilities and successes.
Our fear of failure, a motivator for some, can push us to realize goals and not fall behind, but that fear doesn't disspate when we do. Fear can also turn into a vicious cycle where our successes only seem like inadequacies compared to our constantly growing needs and wants.
So if there's one thing I want to promote, it's that positivity is key to learning!
There is nothing more empowering than a positive attitude when we are learning a new skill or enhancing one we already possess.
On the other hand, there is nothing more debilitating than a negative or toxic mindset that keeps us from being happy about our successes!
So, how can we keep a positive attitude when learning?
1) Focus on the process.
It's not just what you learned, but how you learned it.
Did you improve your skills by reading about a topic you had never thought about before? Or by travelling to a new place? Maybe you wrote an email and had to look up new words to write it.
Did you visit a new website that's now your favourite?
Focusing on the process or learning reminds you that learning is not just about final exam results or a "level", but it's firmly connected to everything else we do in life. So let's learn to learn better and become more independent as we do. Learning has never before been more in your own hands!
2) Make learning the reward.
Rather than rewarding yourself for learning and improving, make learning the reward for accomplishing something else - like a hard day's work, doing the laundry, or getting the kids to bed!
Learning should be associated with pleasure, and like chocolate, ice cream or any other favorite sweet or activity, activate the parts of the brain that make you feel good, spread endorphins to th rest of your body, and become slightly addictive!
Think of how far our learning would go if our brains looked forward to it and felt pleasure each time you learned something new!
Now, not so fast! You'll first need to find a learning style that you actually enjoy to make this work. Whether it's a fun mobile-phone application, a private one-to-one lesson or a fast-paced group lesson, a trip to the cinema or reading the news, you should decide what your preferred way to learn is.
3) View your skills holistically.
No-one is good at everything. And when we are good at something, there are ways we excel and other ways we are a bit lacklustre.
Lanugage is no exception. Some of us are good listeners, other are good speakers, while others excel at writing, whether in our own language or one we are learning.
In a second language, we will also improve some of our skills better than others. We may understand better than we speak, or write better than we understand when listening, and that's OK! Appreciate that each of us will learn a language differently than someone else, and learning a language "perfectly" is purely illusory!
At bStellar, I promote a positive learning environment where student and teacher can feel good about their learning and teaching through memorable and motivating content, fun classes and turning students into empowered learners!