Balance: the inner critic and your inner cheerleader

balance its not good enough you're doing really well.jpg

I just want to say: where ever you are, whatever you are doing for your language learning, however you are talking to yourself, you are doing really well.

We all have this voice to tell ourselves that what we do is not enough, that we need to do more, that we need to be better.

I talked about this voice in my last video. I said that: When we say our English isn’t good enough, we become demotivated, we enjoy less and we learn less.

However, I also want to say…. It’s OK to have this voice.

I used to push this voice away and ignore it. In my experience, the voice then only got louder and I had to fight harder to keep it out of my head. Now I have a relationship with this voice. I listen to it…. I am always curious about what it needs.

What is this voice saying? Do I feel unsafe? Am I comparing myself to other people? Is it true: do I need to do more? What does this voice want?

It is safe to ask these questions. Normally I find the voice wants something very simple and kind.

If we don’t listen to this voice, we end up following it anyway. It follows us and comes into our day. Learning becomes more about following the voice rather than learning to enjoy, learning to improve ourselves, or simply learning to learn.

And we can build another voice. A kinder friend who will always encourage us, and point to the positive things we are doing.

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I have built this voice in me through different ways:

  1. I write down all of the things I can already do
  2. I write down all of the things I have done that day (or I list them before I sleep)
  3. I leave little messages around the house or in my bag that say nice things about me
  4. I write encouraging notes for me (for example “You’re doing really well” or “You can do it”)
  5. I talk to myself in kind ways when I am walking to work

This is not about creating a war between two voices. This is very important. Wars in your head are very tiring.

No, instead it is about balance. The voice who criticises you lives with the voice who encourages you. It is safe to have both. There is enough space for both. In fact, we have a right to have both in us. Because both make us human. And to learn a language well, you need this balance.

And that’s why: where ever you are, whatever you are doing for your language learning, however you are talking to yourself, you are doing really well.

 

Do you need help finding balance? Then send me an email or give me a call, and let’s arrange a free trial lesson today!

What happens when you say “My English is terrible”

 

Be careful what you say! Because what you say changes how you think and feel about your English.

Subscribe to my channel to watch language motivation and tips!

Find your comfort zone: how to find something to talk about

make your conversation flow

When we speak to people who we don’t know, it can be difficult to know what to talk about.

Where do I begin? What do they like? What is right in this culture? These are the questions we often ask ourselves when we are in a new social situation.

I find the more I ask myself questions, the more confused I get. When I am confused, I don’t say anything at all.

So I’d like to give you an easy exercise so you can find something to talk about and build your language around that.

good topics and bad topics small talk language exercise

What do you want to talk about?

This is an exercise I often do with new students in our first lesson together.

It is very simple: draw a table – on the left write ‘good topics’ on the right ‘bad topics.’ Then write any ideas you have which can go in these two groups

What is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’?

Good question. ‘Good’ topics are things you can talk about with anyone. For example, the weather (very typical in England), where you live, places you travelled to, friends etc.

‘Bad’ topics are things that are too personal or controversial. For example, money, politics, sport (sometimes!), religion etc.

(Maybe there are some topics which are in the middle – for example family – it is OK to talk about your family but maybe you don’t want to talk about the argument you had with your bother last night!)

TOP TIP: If you are going to do business with another country, it is a good idea to research what are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ topics in their culture. You want to make friends in your first conversation, not enemies! It is important to be respectful.

Now you have your topics, choose one you really like.

For example, maybe you can take ‘where you live.’

Now, you need to become an expert in this topic. You can do two things for this.

First you can write all the words you know and then find more (by translation or online). You can write a list or draw a mind map. Whatever works for you.

Secondly, you can write all the questions you can ask about this topic. You could get your teacher to correct them for you and then you can practice them until you know them completely.

where I live mindmap and questions

With these two steps, now you have at least one thing you can talk about with new people who you meet. When you become comfortable with this topic, you can choose a second topic and start the process again.

I find this is a really easy way to build your conversation skills because it gives you easy things to talk about and a structure you can use to learn them.

If you’re interested about learning other structures I use or if you want a teacher to support you in this, send me an email and we can arrange a trial lesson.

What topics will you choose? Share in the comments below.

How to Talk to Anyone

 

how to speak to anyone people having a conversation 2How do we talk to anyone?

Sure it’s very easy to talk to people we know in a language we know.

But what about we don’t know the language? What about when we don’t know the people? What do we talk about? How do we know we are saying the right thing? What if we forget the words? What if we make mistakes?

I want you to lose the idea that you have to be perfect.

No conversation is perfect. I know native speakers who also don’t know the words to say. So you can forget about this right now.

English is a simple language and I KNOW that you have enough knowledge to say what you think. OK it might feel strange, you might make mistakes and you might have to explain more what you mean. And that’s OK.

My aim as a teacher is not to make you perfect.

Instead what I choose to focus on is you feeling comfortable when you are speaking in strange situations. Because when you are comfortable, you are happy to be yourself. When you are happy to be yourself, other people are happy around you.

Then it’s possible to talk to anyone.

And I am becoming more and more passionate about telling people that it’s possible to talk to anyone, right now, with the language you have now.

You don’t need to be C1 to make sense. You can be A1 and a powerful speaker. You have ideas and English is another chance to share them in a different language.

reach up

For this reason…

Next week, I am starting a course here in Berlin called ‘How to Talk to Anyone.’

It is for people who know the grammar, but who don’t know how to use it on a day to day basis. People who know how to read but not how to speak about what they read. People who have a lot to say, but don’t know how to say it. And for people who simply want to feel more comfortable speaking English.

My aim in this course is to give you some structures that you can follow and ideas you can talk about when the words escape you. I want to give you a safe space to practice your words and your opinion so that it becomes easier in the ‘real world.’

And finally I want you to relax and have fun – because when we have fun, everything becomes so much easier.

I want you to know that you can have fun with this. Talking to anyone is wonderful and exciting. You make new friends and build new connections, at work and in your free time.

Yes, it’s possible.

So if you are interested in learning more about conversation and want to feel more comfortable when you are speaking, send me an email and I’ll reserve a place for you.

The time to feel confident is now. This is your chance. Take it.

 

Read more about ‘How to Talk to Anyone’ here.

Icandoit

The importance of laughter

laugh its good for you

Laughter yoga is one of the strangest things I have ever done.

…It is also one of the best.

What is it?

Laughter yoga was created in Mumbai by Dr. Kataria in 1995. It started with a small group who told jokes to each other. Then Dr Kataria learned that we do not need jokes to feel good. He found that it doesn’t matter if you are really laughing or if you act it out: the benefits are the same for the body. So he developed some exercises… and Laughter Yoga was born.

My story

I first went to a laughter yoga class a year and a half ago. I decided to go because I had forgotten how to laugh and this made me sad. So, because I believe you can learn everything, I decided to learn it. I saw an advert for Laughter Yoga in a centre near me, and after five weeks, I finally went to my first session.

It was uncomfortable and strange… and it was also the best time I had in a long time.

It has also helped me to build my confidence.

How?

how to speak to anyone people having a conversation 1

1. Laughter yoga asks you to do new things:

The hardest thing I found was to make eye contact with complete strangers. I have always felt awkward looking at people in the eyes, but eye contact in LY is very important because it helps you to laugh more. It took me about 6 months to learn that it was safe to look people in the eye. And I found it wasn’t as scary as I thought.

We also do a lot of role play at LY. For example in one game we have to mime a word and others have to guess what we are doing. Our confidence increases when we do something new because we see that it is safe. We also learn that we can do things differently and that it can be fun. Both help us grow and feel more comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

2. It teaches you to relax.

LY is not hatha yoga – there are no poses or chanting. The only yogic part of the class is deep breathing and the final meditation, where we lie on the floor.

I love the final meditation because this is when I feel all the benefits of the laughter. I feel soft and energetic inside. I feel SUPER relaxed and happy and friendly. I also feel like everything is super easy and wonder why I worry so much. Why worry when everything is so funny? Which brings me to my next point…

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3. I don’t take things seriously

Now when I get annoyed at something, I laugh about it. When I make a mistake, I laugh about it. Or if I am scared about the future and dream of the worst possible thing that could happen… I laugh about it! Of course this is not always easy, but I still have this tool that I can use whenever I want.
I also laugh at myself when I am being serious, which means I’m not so sensitive to people’s opinion. This means I can hear criticism and not take it personally.

Finally…

It’s really healthy!

There are so many health benefits to laughter. In fact, it has the opposite effect of stress. Your cortisol (stress hormone) goes down, you release endorphins (feel good hormone) and breathe more deeply. This is great for your mood and your health.

So why not find a class near you and see for yourself? Maybe you could even take a class in English and practice two skills at the same time. (TIP: learning English is easier when you are having fun!).

Whatever you do, take a chance to do something new and learn to laugh at the same time.

Enjoy, grow your confidence, laugh, have fun!

If you want to learn other ways to have fun while learning a language, contact me and let’s arrange a free trial lesson.

Find out more about laughter yoga at laughteryoga.org and universallaughteryoga.com

Talking to someone you can’t see

 

For me, the hardest thing about talking on the phone is that I can’t see the person who I am talking to.

In this video, I talk about why and also give you three tips on how you can feel more comfortable talking to someone who you can’t see.

Thank you for listening. Please feel free to share with others who will find it useful.

To see more of my videos, subscribe to my channel.

The power of community

take time for your friends mondayThere is power in community.

Of course it is wonderful when we can depend on ourselves. When we are strong enough to face our challenges alone.

There can also be times when we need support.

Our communities lift us up when we fall. They give us someone to talk to when we are stuck in our thoughts. They motivate us when we are close to the finish line.

As well as this support, I find my communities help me to grow. They give me a chance to experiment and share my opinion in a safe space. They remind me of my dreams and inspire me to make them happen. They give me advice and connections so that my network continues to grow.

together

How do you find a community?

I have built my communities through three main ways:

1. Social media has given us a fantastic opportunity to build our support groups. Personally, I have found Facebook groups amazing. Typing out my problems and seeing the support I get almost instantly helps me to feel safe and encouraged when I really needed it.

2. If you need people to connect to, meetup can be a fantastic way to find people who have the same interests as you.

3. When you have found these groups, get involved. Go out, connect, help others, drink a tea together, go to the park, whatever!

Don’t worry if you don’t get best friends immediately. Sometimes it takes 3, 4, 5 or more meetings to build a strong relationship. A true community comes from openness, exploration and commitment. Keep going, you will find your people!

I am very grateful for my community and I know I would not be here without them.

And we all deserve that.

So to close I’d like to ask you 5 questions:

  1. Who can you already reach out to?
  2. How can you build that relationship?
  3. How can they help you?
  4. How can you help them?
  5. What can you do to grow your community today?

Take time to ask yourself this question today and find the community that’s best for you.

Are you Berlin? Are you looking for community? Join my meetup group Confidence and Conversation and feel welcome at our next workshop.

Thank you to my precious communities: Berlin Girl, Brighton Girl, Playing Big for Visionary Women and Berlin Spoken Word.

Share your opinion confidently

 

I want to talk about two things in this video: 1. why it can be uncomfortable to give your opinion and 2. three things you can do to feel more confident when you are sharing what you think.

Enjoy and share with others!

 

Are you in Berlin? Do you want to improve your confidence? Check out my new 8 week confidence course and practice sharing your opinion in a safe environment.

Find your WHY

i want to learn english because find your why

If you want to do something, first think about why you want to do it.

Very often when we want to do something, we focus on “how” we are going to do it. We ask ourselves “what do I need to do? How am I going to do it? When is it going to get easier/better/faster?”

This is of course very important… but it is only 20% of the work.

The other 80% comes from why we want to do it.

“Why” gives us our motivation. It is our reason to try again, even when we fail. When we know why we want to do something, how we are going to do it comes very naturally and easily.

It is also very important that our “why” comes from a positive place.

For example, compare:
“I need to learn English because if I don’t I will lose my job”
“I want to learn English because it will give me new opportunities at the workplace”

Which of these comes from a positive place?

Yes you’re right. The second.

So I’d like to ask you to take some time today to think about why you are learning English (or Spanish or German or whatever). Why is it important to you? Are you doing it because you want to? Or because you have to?

Think about this and find your “why.” Find your “why” and feel more confident in your studies. Find your “why” and see how your learning becomes clearer, more focussed and more fun.

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How do you sit when you study?

 

In this video, I want to talk about your body and how you sit when you study. I especially want to talk about your shoulders and how this can change how you feel.

What do you think?