Chances are you’ve found yourself in awkward conversations; stumbling around with your dictionary and saying the phrase “Can you repeat that?” all while making copious mental and physical notes, and feeling miles behind. Sound familiar? This is usually when you’re ahead.
When you feel frustrated and want to give up, this is probably because your brain is learning and absorbing the most. It is chemically part of the process, and the process is neither comfortable, nor neat.
Language learners are brave. You are willing to start from scratch with the dream of fluency, the vocabulary of a toddler, and perhaps a pocket dictionary. Self-consciousness can occur as we stumble through basic phrases. Take comfort in visualising the finish line. This may be your first conversation with a native English speaker, telling a joke successfully or a triumphant shopping experience in an English speaking environment.
Perhaps you’ll be watching television, reading a newspaper or understanding a movie when you first start to gain hope. Whatever the circumstances of your success, embrace the win and prepare to continue. Most people will be more than willing to help you despite some mild ambiguity and occasional confusion over meanings and context. We encourage you to commit to the journey, even though at times it will feel uncomfortable.
There has been much research on the importance of linking memories to retaining language. Your mind places a priority on experiences and interactions that are authentic and interesting, much more so than on flashcards, classroom lectures, or textbooks.
Don’t get us wrong, studying the mechanics is an important part of the process. In fact, studying for hours a day is far more beneficial than studying for a few hours a week. But this English tip is to focus you towards the concept of field practice. This may require you to be more social than your comfort zone typically allows. But the results of attending events, chatting online, and meeting up with English speakers will be pivotal to your success. You may even enjoy yourself, while making a few friends.