If you find yourself in a situation where you constantly dream of speaking fluent English, but haven’t achieved any noticeable improvement yet, you have to ask yourself the following three questions:
“Am I really going to use and PRACTICE English or is it just wishful thinking?”
“Am I aware of English improving methods that WORK or am I just relying on old-school approach?”
“Am I putting off English learning and improving because it’s boring and I’m not good at studying anyway?”
Am I really going to use English or is it just wishful thinking?
Do you know my friend, what “wishful thinking” is? It’s when you want something, but you don’t have a realistic plan for achieving what you want and you mostly dream about it without taking much action to make it happen ❗
Unfortunately I have to tell you that many foreigners are such dreamers when it comes to learning and improving English. Don’t take it personally, I’m not saying that you are one of them; it’s up to you to judge yourself. For now just read to what I want to tell you and then you can make your mind up as to where you stand.
OK, so here’s what wishful thinking has to do with English learning and improving.
Millions of foreigners are having this idea in their heads – “I want to improve my English”. They think it would be cool because English is spoken all around the globe; it’s become an international language and not being able to use at least some English these days could mean you’re missing out on many things you can enjoy in your life.
But to make this “I want to improve my English” concept into a reality, they need to analyze the situation you’re in and figure out if they really have enough need, motivation and ambition to improve their English or it’s just wishful thinking!
First of all you have to look at your geographical location. If you’ve moved to an English speaking country, like I moved to Ireland 8 years ago, you’re much closer to your goal than someone who lives in their home country with little or no direct English communication opportunities. I’m not saying you can’t improve your English if you haven’t got real English speaking people to communicate with on a regular basis. You can, of course you can, but think about this – you’ll find it much more difficult to motivate yourself! 🙁
You’re probably saying now – Robby, common, there’s plenty of foreigners who live in English speaking countries and don’t bother at all with learning and improving their English! Well, you’re right! There’s plenty of those, but it has nothing to do with the point I’m trying to make.
My point is the following – all things being equal, it’s easier to find motivation to learn and improve English if it’s spoken all around you. Then English learning becomes also a necessity and it’s much easier to find a practical application of the language!
I remember myself wanting to learn Spanish a few years ago. I bought a Spanish textbook and started studying it, but I gave up pretty soon. There were two reasons for that – first of all, I was studying using the old grammar translation method which is the least effective, and secondly – because there was no-one to speak the language with!
Of course, if you know the right methods for learning a foreign language you can indeed learn it in front of your laptop with international chat-pals for a company, it is possible. But ask yourself – for how long will I be able to keep my excitement high enough to remain motivated to continue with such language studies?
I believe that if you haven’t got real communication opportunities, you’re highly likely to lose the motivation to learn or improve English. Of course, you can always come up with all sorts of ways of keeping the language alive – like reading plenty of literature and watching TV programs and films in English.
But I have to go back once more to what I already said – it’s all about motivation levels. A foreign person is so much more likely to stick with English learning routine if they have a real need to communicate in English, and also you’ll learn the language much faster and in a natural way if you spend plenty of time among other English speakers ❗
OK, let’s move on to the next aspect. Let’s assume that regardless of where you live, you’re full of enthusiasm to work on your English and you’re willing to dedicate time on a regular basis for this purpose.
Am I aware of English improving methods that really work or am I just relying on old-school approach?
So the thing number two is – learning methodology. To put it simply, it’s all down to how you’re trying to improve your English.
Sadly enough, most of foreigners are trying to go the same old academic way of studying English and they’re failing miserably. And it’s not even their fault – the traditional English learning methods have been used by generations, so everyone assumes they must be effective. It’s like if you say that learning Math at school is efficient way of becoming numerically literate, then traditional language studies should to the same with your English communication skills.
There’s a huge difference, though, between exact sciences and language learning, and you’d better read my blog post about this topic to find out why traditional studies don’t work and people are struggling with speaking English even after five to seven years long English studies.
So if your English improving efforts include arming yourself with English textbooks, pocket dictionaries and flashcard decks, there’s a very high chance you’re still struggling with seeing good results when it comes to speaking English in real life.
You might be the most dedicated person in the world, but if you haven’t realized the simple truth that the best way of learning English is by focusing on speaking it, you’ll never fully achieve your goal of becoming a fluent English speaker!
And if you don’t see the results, quite naturally you can become frustrated and losing motivation again, thus making it into this never ending circle of failure…
By the way – sticking to learning and improving English the old-school way makes you feel as if you’re not required to make that much effort in order to achieve your goal. Yes, you’re required to cram new vocabulary words in your head and write grammar exercises. But when you bring back memories from your school days you have this image in your mind – the English teacher being in charge of the situation and you just had to do what he/she said.
So even if you’re studying English on your own (or just planning to embark on English studies), you still expect the study process to take care of your progress. So you’re subconsciously expecting things to take care of themselves when you learn and improve English.
When you face the reality which is totally different, you’re becoming aware of the huge contradiction between your expected results and your actual English level. But if you don’t know of any other way of improving English but the same old grammar translation method, your mind conjures up a brilliant way of coping with this contradiction… excuses! 😀
Am I putting off English learning and improving because it’s boring and I’m not good at studying anyway?
And now we’ve come to the last question on our list – finding excuses. If you find it hard to improve your English once you’re not following the right learning methods you can easily relapse back into the state of wishful thinking.
And even if you haven’t done any studying yet, you might be constantly delaying it because deep inside you don’t like the very concept of sitting down and start looking at English Grammar exercises. So you’re probably saying things like:
“I want to improve my English, I bought an English textbook and I’ll start working on my English grammar tomorrow.”
What you really would like to say instead is the following: “I want to improve my English, I bought an English textbook, I had a look at it, but it’s damn boring and I’ll look at it later, not today. And every day I’ll put it off to the next day, because it’s going to be boring all the same!”
Another typical excuse: “I want to improve my English. I’ll join English class; my friend is also coming along!”
And here’s what’s really going on in your head: “I want to improve my English. I’ll join English class; and they’ll teach me all I need to become a fluent English speaker. Well, actually I hate the very idea of sitting in a classroom and studying something because it reminds me of school studies, but I’ve no other options, have I?”
You see, the point I’m trying to make here is that many decisions made in order to improve English are desperate attempts because the person in question is confused, they don’t really know what they need to do to improve English, so they replicate what they’ve seen others doing.
And when they fail to achieve any reasonable improvement of their English, the motivation levels often drop, and the foreign English learner goes back to the state of wishful thinking and dwells on the idea “Yes, it would be so cool to speak fluent English…”
Another typical excuse I’ve heard voiced by many foreigners is: “I’m no good at studying; I know I’ll never learn English because I was bad at languages at school.”
Or – “I’m too old to improve my English to the level I want, if I were a child, it would be so much easier; children learn everything very quickly and in a natural way!”
Well, these are typical excuses that stem from lack of understanding how natural language acquisition works. It’s got nothing to do with being an adult or not having mastered any foreign language at school ❗ For example, I studied German for 7 years at school, and never achieved fluency in it, and moreover, it’s all gone by now!
On the other hand, I learnt conversational Romanian at the age of 22 purely by speaking and I can still remember many things despite not having used it for many years!
It’s all because traditional language studies are ineffective, and there’s no better way to learn the language that by speaking it.
So if you have the guts to speak English a lot, and do it passionately and ignore all the mistakes you’re going to make along the way, then yes – you will improve your English and become a fluent speaker.
If, on the other hand, you’re giving up too easily by allowing all sorts of excuses to dominate your mind, you’ll go back to the same old wishful thinking…
P.S. Are you ready to get on the fast track to spoken English fluency? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!