Hey, welcome. It’s Hadar and today we’re gonna talk about the ground rules that will help you stay motivated when you’re learning English, especially if you’re learning English on your own.
So, you all know this – when you’re embarking on a new journey, when you’re starting something new, whether it’s starting to learn a new language, or starting to work out, or go on a new diet, then we start strong. We’re very motivated. Things are working well for us until they don’t anymore, until we get discouraged, until the body starts resisting the change and until we start saying to ourselves, “I don’t see results so maybe I’m not really good at it. Maybe I just can’t do it. I’m not good at learning languages. Working out, it’s just not for me.”
So, here’s the thing – it’s very natural for us to stay in our comfort zone. It’s human nature to resist change. It’s scary. We don’t know what’s out there, right? It doesn’t feel right to fail and to make mistakes, but here’s the thing: that’s the only way to reach your goals, to see results and to achieve the things that you want to achieve, especially with language learning.
So, the way I see it is that if you’re learning on your own, you have to do a few things deliberately, or you have to keep a few ground rules that will help you stay motivated and do it for the long run.
So here are my five ground rules to staying motivated when learning a new language, especially English.
Number 1: You have to remember your ‘why’.
Learning English is not the goal. Learning English is the means to reach your true goals. What are your true goals? Now, I really want you to dig deep and to think what are the things that you wish for yourself that you know that you need English for. Is it changing your job or a position in the company?
Would you like to manage teams or teach people? Do you want to speak in public more? Right? What are the things and there are no dreams that are too big. Okay? So, think big right now. I want you to think big and really visualize yourself, and what would you do if English was not an obstacle, if you had perfect English, and I want you to remind yourself of that every single time before you start learning. Visualize yourself in that position, in that country, doing that thing, speaking to the people you want to speak with, before you’re starting.
So, you have to be very specific and focused about what you really wish for yourself. Because when you visualize it and you see it, it stimulates you. And that feeling, that excitement that you feel will get you passionate about the next 10 minutes, 15 minutes, hour and a half that you are learning, that you’re studying. Because the actual work is boring. What you’re going to achieve is the interesting part.
So, you have to always remind yourself what is your ‘why’. Why are you learning English? When I go online and research for English learning materials, I find the materials so incredibly boring. I mean, I see these dialogues and they’re like, no one speaks like that. It feels like it’s meant for kids. And the situations and the quizzes have all these silly sentences. No, I’m not saying you can’t use silly sentences, but when you do it over and over again it doesn’t really trigger anything intellectual in your brain, and then you get bored. And when you get bored you get discouraged, and frustrated, and then you think it’s your fault.
So do the things that interest you. So, I’m recommending for you to become a bit more creative and engaged in creating the materials that you’re using to learn. Learning English does not have to be learning from online resources for English learners and the Internet is packed with materials in English – podcasts, articles, books, YouTube videos, Facebook groups that encourage conversation.
So instead of settling for the simple solution and being a little lazy about it, you know just downloading quizzes or tasks that are online, create your own practice exercises. So, for example, it could be ‘read an article and mark all the interesting or important words and then create a different text using these words’ or ‘listen to a podcast and echo it, repeat it, shadow it’ or ‘take a TED talk and try to understand the concept of the talk and then teach it to someone or speak about it’. Record yourself as if you’re teaching someone.
Okay, there are tons of ideas of what you could do. Pick a monologue from a movie that you really like and memorize it, and pretend that you are the actor and do it full-out in front of a mirror. So do things that interest you and inspire you and, of course, create situations where
you can actually talk to people and practice your speaking skills. Because, remember, that that’s the most important thing and talking to people is always, I mean, not always, sometimes they can get boring, but talking to interesting people, people that you like in English is the best way for you to advance and to practice your speaking skills.
The 3rd thing is stay focused and keep the flow.
The way we’re wired is that when we start doing things, it doesn’t matter what it is whether it’s doing your job, writing something, or practicing your English. It takes time until we get to the zone. That zone of flow where everything is just, like, coming out of us. That we lose track of time and things are going really well, and we feel that we’re actually doing something, that we’re advancing.
Now, you can lose that state of flow and focus like this [snap]. Can you guess – how long it takes you to regain your focus after one small distraction? So, let’s say, you’re in the state of flow, you’re doing things really well and then you get distracted. Do you know how long it takes to get back on track, or to get back to the same focus?
Yes, according to a recent research conducted at the University of California, for most people it takes about 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to exactly where you were after one distraction. “Oh, someone texted me. Okay let’s continue practicing”. Or phone call, “Hey! What’s up? No, I’m practicing my English right now. I’m studying English. I can’t talk. So, oh really? Sally? So cool! Okay, I’ll talk to you later.”
Okay, where was I? Twenty-three minutes and 15 seconds later, maybe you’ll get back to your flow. Now we do this all the time. We get distracted all the time, especially with those freaking phones. I know that because when I write content or when I make videos or when I have to write a complex price proposal, then, whenever it gets difficult challenging when I need to think a little harder, you know what I do? I look at my phone. I check my Facebook group. I look for WhatsApp notifications, and then I go back to it, and like you know – where was I?
And you know what I did? I started putting post-it notes on my computer saying ‘If you open Facebook you’ll have less time to sleep.’ ‘If you open Facebook that means less time with your girls’. Because it takes me longer to do it. Now, since you have a period of time where you can learn so it’s not like you deprive yourself of doing other things, but what you do is you don’t get into that flow.
And when you don’t get into that flow, then you don’t see the change. You don’t feel empowered. You don’t feel like, ‘Hey, something’s clicking here. This is working for me. Hey, I feel great! I sound great! I see results. I hear results.’ Right, because when you’re don’t get into that flow you don’t you don’t see all that. You don’t get all that and then when you constantly don’t see results day-in day-out, then you get discouraged. Then, you’re not gonna stay motivated, because we only stay motivated when we see and feel the change.
When you learn English there are a few things that you need to learn. There is grammar and accent, which there you have intonation and pronunciation, and all of these things. You know where they are for you. And when you sit down getting ready to learn something then you’re like, “Okay, today I’m gonna work on my vocabulary.”
Now, vocabulary is a huge thing. There is like so many layers to learning vocabulary. What are you trying to do? What kind of vocabulary are you trying to learn? Are you trying to learn vocabulary meaning to learn new words, or maybe you’re trying to use them in context? Maybe you want to work on the pronunciation of the words that you usually don’t use?
Right? You’ve got to be very specific about what you’re practicing. So, when you’re telling to yourself, ‘Okay, today my task is to learn to improve my vocabulary.’ Nice, right? And then you’re like, ‘learning three words’. And at the end of the day you’re like, ‘I learned three words and there are like a billion words in English. This is a very lame. It’s like I’m terrible. I’m so behind. I will never be able to do it’.
Because learning vocabulary is overwhelming and it feels unattainable. But when you’re saying to yourself, ‘Be specific. Learn food vocabulary.’ Or ‘Let’s learn transition words’, or maybe ‘food vocabulary that is related to ordering in restaurants because I always get stuck in restaurants.’ Okay?
So, this is what you’re trying to achieve. You have X which is like, it’s very clear, right, what you’re trying to get and then you can actually do it, but ‘enhance vocabulary’ is huge and you won’t feel like you can check it off your list, because there’s always something to learn. But when you say to yourself, ‘Okay, but my goal was to learn just these five six words’ I can do it within a week. Eight? And to learn that means not to know it, but to actually start using it freely. Okay, then you can say, ‘Check, I did it.’ You feel accomplished. You feel the progress. You stay motivated.
The last ground rule is – make it sustainable. Okay? So even if you’re really passionate at first, don’t start big. Start small but keep it small. Sustain it. Be persistent. The idea is to do it for the long run. Right? And if you started by saying, ‘I’m gonna practice for two hours every single day’, great but not great. Because let me tell you this – it’s not going to last. It will last for a few weeks, maybe a few months. But then you’ll get into this mode of all-or-nothing, because you got used to practicing two hours every day, and now you don’t have those two hours. You have a new baby, or a new job, or you get bored with it now, it’s not interesting to you anymore, and then another day goes by and you don’t do it. Another day and then you fall off the wagon and it’s really hard to get back on. Okay? Remember that.
So instead of practicing a lot at the beginning, stop yourself. An hour? It’s great. It’s amazing to practice your English, but 30 minutes is also amazing, if you manage to achieve what you set out for yourself to do. And you know what? 15 minutes is better than nothing because it’s not all or nothing. So, make it sustainable, be persistent, and make sure you’re here to do it for the long run.
Now, the last thing I recommend for you to do is – no this is not a ground rule, but let’s call it friendly advice – I want you to create a fun and empowering ritual at the end of each practice. So, every day, at the end of your practice I want you to have the sentence that you say to yourself. Something like, ‘I did well (not ‘I sucked’). I did well. I’m improving. Tomorrow I’m going to be even better. I’m gonna kick butt.’
Or, you can do the English learning dance – ‘I did it. I did it. I’m speaking. I’m speaking. Who’s speaking? I’m speaking. Who’s awesome? I’m awesome. I learned English.’ Whatever works for you. But the most important thing is acknowledge your work, acknowledge your improvement, and to say to yourself that you are a freaking rock star. Remember that! Because you’re speaking another language and you cannot take it for granted. Okay? That’s it.
So, now, I’m curious, I want you to scroll down and let me know in the comments below what is your ‘why’? Why do you want to become fluent in English? Why would you like to achieve? What are your your secret goals? And remember – there are no dreams that are too big. So, let us know. And also, what motivates you? Let’s add it up and let’s keep each other motivated.
Okay, that’s it! Thank you so much for watching. If you like this video, do not forget to like it, or to subscribe, or to share it with your friends. Share the love. Spread the love. I love you. Thank you so much and I will see you next week in the next video.