When you want to give up… read this instead

Photo Credit: Astra Takes Photos

Anyone who knows me will know that for the last 9 months, I have been learning how to code. I love learning and I love editing my website, so I wanted to know more about Web Development and what it could teach me.

I started with a HTML course on Codecademy. After a week, I was totally passionate about it. I loved the logic, and the magic of typing something and then watching the screen change. I hopped my way though HTML, jumped into CSS and asked lots of enthusiastic questions at events.

Then I decided to make my leap of faith and spring into JavaScript. I made similar progress on freeCodeCamp until one day… my brain could not understand the lines of code in the exercises.

I cheated as much as Google would allow (yes, I cheated), but the solutions did not become any clearer to me.

I had a code crisis. My fear of JavaScript grew, and at the same time, I refused to go back to HTML and CSS because it was “too easy.”

So I stopped completely.

Does this sound familiar to you? Have you had a similar experience with learning English? When the beginning is easy, you try something harder, you find that too difficult so you stop?

The crazy thing about this is that I see this in students all the time and, for a while, I didn’t see that I was experiencing the same thing.

Now I’m back on track. I use slightly different methods, I’m happy with where I am and proud that I broke through my first challenge.

What I would like to share with you is three ways how I did that.

©MoreThanGrammar 2019

One: Realise you’ve hit an obstacle.

“Awareness is half the battle” so they say. This means when you see that you have a “problem”, you have already solved 50% of it.

There are three things you can be aware of here.

Firstly, you need to be aware that you are finding it too hard, and you need to find another way forward. You could be stubborn and continue in the same way (which I did at first), and the frustration will stay. You may even end up hating the topic… Or you could find another, easier, kinder way.

Secondly, you have to realise that you are not stupid. We all hit obstacles when we learn and you don’t need to give up completely because something is too big. Learning is easy if you take a big thing and break it into smaller parts.

Thirdly, you need to know that difficult is where learning starts. Difficult is a good sign. It means you’ve reached the border of your knowledge and now it’s time to go further. Be friends with difficult and this journey will be a lot easier.

Because it’s true © MoreThanGrammar 2019

Two: Go back to your “why?”

Now we’ve become aware of the challenge, the next step is to remember our motivation for learning in the first place.

When something is important or exciting to you, you will be more motivated to continue learning. It gives you the energy to continue even when it drives you a bit crazy. I write more about this here.

For me, it was simple: one day I want to work as a web developer and as a teacher. That dream still stayed the same.

And in order to be a web developer… I have to know how to code!

Plus, although it’s hard, I enjoy coding, I enjoy learning and I was still curious about how it worked.

So why do you want to learn English? Why did you start? Is it for work? Is it because you want to travel? Fix this goal very clearly in your mind and watch the excitement come back.

Note 1: If you can’t think of a good why… well, maybe it’s time for another hobby…

Note 2: If you have to learn English, I really recommend reading this post.

Three: Go back… but slowly!

So now you’ve realised you’ve hit a wall and you know you want to continue anyway, how do you get back to your studies?

The key here is to go gently on yourself. Do it slowly and do something that you enjoy.

Instead of springing headfirst back into JavaScript, I decided to forget my ego and go back to HTML and CSS. Instead of learning something that was too hard, I saw that it was better to make what I already know really strong first before moving forward.

Secondly, I watched more videos instead of doing exercises I found too hard. I trusted that the more I hear and read, the more things I will understand later (see below about “trust”)

Thirdly, I spoke to other programmers and learned that everyone hits this wall. It is a totally normal part of the learning process and, in fact, it would be strange if it didn’t happen to me. I would say the same to you about learning English.

I also finally signed up to a course. If this wall has taught me anything, it is the importance of having a teacher and a community of people doing the same thing. Self-study is always challenging and there always comes a point when it doesn’t work anymore. At this point, it is vital that you surround yourself with other people…. or you may go mad.

So you can see there are four clear steps here, which you can also use in your own learning:

  1. Revise what you already know and strengthen your knowledge there.
  2. Do an activity which is more relaxed and fun, e.g. play games, watch videos, read funny books.
  3. Speak to other people about your problems. You will see you are not alone.
  4. Find a course/teacher/community. This could be a meet up, or a study group or an English course.

A final note:

I mentioned trust. Trust is so so so important in the learning process. Maybe it’s hard now, so you need to trust yourself, your teacher and maybe the universe that, in the long term, it will get easier.

(Because it will.)

So to sum up, there are three clear steps here:

  1. Realise you have a problem.
  2. Remember why you are doing it.
  3. Go back slowly.

Easy peasy! Aren’t you so happy that you’re learning English again?

Of course, if you need some help, I can be there as your support. Contact me via email or phone and we can work out the best plan for your English learning!

Show up

Ahhhhh phrasal verbs…

If you find phrasal verbs hard, you are not alone. They are hard and sometimes weird. At the same time, they are a key part of conversational English and they are also quite beautiful.

‘To show up’ is one of these.

Like a lot of phrasal verbs, this has a lot of meanings. One meaning of ‘show up’ is to arrive, often unexpectedly.

Here’s an example from the Cambridge Dictionary:

“I invited him for eight o’clock, but he didn’t show up until 9.30.”

There’s also another meaning which I love. ‘To show up’ can simply mean to be there… even when you don’t want to be there.

For example, you have some work to do in English, like a project or a meeting, and there is this voice in your head that says ‘don’t go! You can’t do it! It’s better to stay at home – it will be so embarrassing. You can do it another time.’

‘To show up’ is when you go anyway.

I'm here show up english teacher Berlin

Be there in bright colours 

Here’s some things I want to say about showing up:

Showing up is a daily practice. It’s something we do today, and the next day, and the next day.

Sometimes it just means going to English class when we’d much rather be at home in our pyjamas.

The winter is coming in Germany. The rain can make us wish we’d rather NOT go to class today. The dark can lower our energy. We don’t even have time to attend company courses because of our high work load. I can completely understand that, and I completely support the need to rest, make space and self-care, but sometimes…

Showing up IS self-care. It shows yourself that you…

  • respect yourself so much that you want to get better at something.
  • trust that you are strong enough to do it.
  • care about your goals and becoming a better person.
  • make space for other parts of life.

Showing up is a habit we build. The first few times we do something it’s always hard. Currently I’m learning how to code. I promised myself that I would learn for at least 15 minutes every time I have a free evening. For the first week, I really had to motivate to sit down and start.

Now I’m in my second week and I don’t really think about it: I just sit down and I start. I show up because now it’s normal for me to do it. And if I can do it, so can you.

Showing up is hard. Because it means we will continue working when every part of us wants to give up.

It means we make mistakes and maybe embarrass ourselves. Sometimes you just have to forget your ego and continue working. You make a mistake, you learn from it, you start the next exercise or join the next conversation.

Yes, this is hard. I know this as a teacher and as a student, but you show up anyway. That’s why…

Showing up gets easier with time. You build that strength inside which helps you continue. You build a trust that you can do it. Finally, you learn to ignore the voices in your head which tell you to postpone your goals.

 

daily practice show up english teacher berlin

Showing up is a daily practice ©MoreThanGrammar 2018

Last but not least…

Showing up is necessary to leaning something new. This includes English. Here’s a hard truth: you don’t get better at something if you don’t practice it. To practice something, you have to show up. Show up to class, show up to Meet Ups, or even show up to your desk and write some short sentences.

The fact is: you do something, you get better at it. It’s always this way.

So next time you’re thinking about NOT going to English class, think about showing up instead. Think about all those reasons that help you to move forward, think about how life will be 6 months from now if you keep showing up.

Think about that. And show up.

The end.

 

Are you finding it hard to show up? Do you need someone to motivate you? Then give me a call and organise a trail lesson with me.

“I can’t do it” is only a concept

yoga retreat english teacher berlin
©MoreThanGrammar 2018

In August, I went on a yoga retreat. I learned many things there and in this post, I’d like to share with you the top top TOP lesson that I took back with me.

Whenever we (the participants) came up with a reason why we couldn’t do something, our teacher would say one simple line: Das ist nur ein Konzept or That is only a concept in English.

For example:

“I can’t do handstands because I’m a woman” – That is only a concept

“Meditation is really hard” – That is only a concept

“That’s just how I am” – That is only a concept

Why these words are so powerful

Since the retreat, I’ve had a lot of fun bringing these five words into my everyday life.

“I’m too tired” – That is only a concept

“I don’t have time today” – That is only a concept

“I have so much to do!” – That is only a concept

Sometimes it even makes me laugh because it helps me to take my thoughts less seriously.

That is one part of the power of these words. Humour is very important when learning something new.

Another great thing is that they bring us out of our normal ways of thinking.

For example, let’s look at my personal favourite: “I have so much to do!”

When I add “That is only a concept” to this sentence, I start to think: “Hmmm good point. Do I really have too much to do? Or have I given myself too much to do? Is there a way I can do less things today? Is there someone or something that can wait for tomorrow or next week? OR maybe I can do all of these things. Maybe I’ll get them done really quickly… I don’t know, let’s see…”

After that, I feel a lot more relaxed about the whole situation.

So, in short, these words are powerful because 1) they help us question our situation and be less serious, 2) they help us think differently and 3) they help us to relax.

hooray that is only a concept i can't do it english teacher berlin.jpg
Yes… this is often how I teach… ©MoreThanGrammar 2018

Concepts in English learning

Now I’m starting to think about how I could use it as a teacher.

In fact, I’ve noticed myself thinking it in conversations with students.

I hear a lot of concepts on a daily basis. In other words, I hear a lot of reasons why students can’t learn English.

Let’s take a common concept as an example: “I can’t do it”

This is by far the top favourite concept that I have heard during my many years of teaching.

I want to say right now that when I use the word ‘concept,’ I don’t want to say that what you think isn’t important. Of course, it’s important.

What I mean when I use the word ‘concept’ is that this is only an idea that you have. It’s a thought. As I learned in therapy “thoughts are thoughts, not facts.”

This means you don’t have to believe everything you think, which is a very freeing thing. It means you can think again. It means you have a chance to think differently about yourself. It means you have a chance to find a new, and positive, way of thinking.

“But Victoria, this is not a thought, it’s a FACT, I can’t do it”

OK, fine… I still don’t believe you. So let’s look at…

…The way out

For this exercise, I want you to think about something you want to do, but “can’t.” It could be writing an email or giving a presentation or speak fluently.

Put this activity in front of you. Maybe you could make a picture of it in your head. For example, a picture of a PowerPoint slide.

Now say “I can’t do this.” Do it with feeling, maybe even shout it, and jump up and down. “I CAN’T DOOOO THIIIISSS.”

And after that say quietly: “But that is only a concept I have.”

You might need to do this exercise a few times. At first, the conversation will probably continue. “No it’s not, I can’t do this.” Just keep answering: “That is only a concept.”

Then slowly slowly, you might get different thoughts in your head.

“Well no, I can’t do this right now, but I can learn. I can definitely use PowerPoint. And I can definitely type. Maybe I could write a version in German first and then start to translate it. Or I can…”

Do you see what I mean? You start to talk yourself into a different way of thinking. You start to see what you can do instead of what you can’t. When you see what you can do, how you feel about the task changes completely.

Very cool.

you are my hero
You are my hero because you can do this! ©MoreThanGrammar 2018

In summary

  • Whatever you believe is only a concept
  • Concepts can change
  • You have the power to change them
  • How cool is that?

Now go out and there and change your world!

Sometimes we need help to change our concepts. I often feel that it is my job as a teacher: to help my students think differently about what they can do in English. So if you need help to find and change your concepts, give me a call and we can arrange a trial lesson.

Design Thinking in English Learning

I’m always interested in new ideas because it keeps my teaching fresh. One of the great things about working with fantastic students is that new ideas come very often.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to one student about a session she organised at her workplace and she mentioned Design Thinking. I had never heard of it, and after she described it a little, I decided to do my research and how I could use this as a teacher.

Here’s what I found

Design Thinking is a solution-based way of thinking.

It uses five steps (empathise, define, ideate, prototype, test), which you can use again and again. It is not a strict linear process. This means you can do steps 1-5 in a line, or in a circle, or backwards, or forwards. Whatever you need.

As I did more and more research, I became very excited. From my point of view, Design Thinking gives us an opportunity to make creative, people-centred solutions to problems.

Plus, I like systems where you are given a series of steps because this helps me to break down what I want.

Finally, as an ESL teacher, I can see that it provides a neat framework that you can use to create your own personal learning plan.

Can I use Design Thinking to learn English?

Yes.

What I’d like to do in this post is look at each of the steps in the Design Thinking process, explain them a little and then give you questions which you can ask yourself. At the end, you can use your answers to find a learning system that works best for you.

Is design thinking really for me?

Of course, you will only know if you try 😉

I found it amazing because I love lists. I love the idea of writing down a load of ideas and choosing the ones that are best for me.

Plus, it is great if you are a visual learner because you can get your ideas on paper. You can use colours and Post-Its, and turn your goal into a piece of art.

It can also be good if you like to move when you learn. For example, you could put step 1 in one part of your room, step 2 in another corner and so on. Then you could follow the process by walking around the space. Some speakers actively encourage you to move around when you are thinking because movement helps your brain work better.

take a walk movement is good design thinking english teacher berlin

Take a walk – it’s good for you! ©MoreThanGrammar 2018

For learners who like listening to things, you could change it a bit. For example, you do invite a friend and do it together, or you could record your ideas on your phone and listen to them.

Or you could do a mixture of all of these. Or you could do it while hanging upside down. Or you could do it in the bath. The main thing is: give it a go! It’s good for your brain to introduce yourself to different ways of doing things.

The Five Steps

Step 1: Empathy:

The first stage is to “empathise” with your problem.

This means you need to understand what you want exactly. For this you need to ask two questions:

  • what do I want to learn?
  • what problems do I have? (time, confidence, opportunity etc)

This helps you to become clearer about what you want and also what could stop you from getting to this goal.

For example: I want to improve my grammar, but I usually become demotivated quickly when I make lots of mistakes.

Or: I want to learn more words, but I don’t have enough time.

It’s important to know what could stop you because then you will be aware of the problem. When you know what your problem is, then it’s much easier to think of ways around this.

Step 2: Define:

So now you know what you want and what problems you could face, you need to define your goal as a positive statement or a question.

For example

  • What would it take for me to increase my vocabulary?
  • How might I improve my pronunciation?
  • I want to improve my grammar to get IELTS band 7 so that I can get into university

You could also combine this stage with a SMART goal as this will also help you to think about the time you need to finish this goal by.

Make it clear, make it positive and make it right for you.

someone shouting I want design thinking english teacher berlin

©MoreThanGrammar 2018

Step 3: Ideate:

For me, this is the fun part. Now you’ve got your goal (your why) we need to find your how.

Ways of brainstorming:

  • List 50 of the worst ways you could learn vocabulary
  • List 100 ways you could practice pronunciation
  • List 20 ways you could continue to avoid learning

If you have no more ideas, move around or work in a different location. Remember, movement is good for the brain!

I recently tried to do this. In fact, I did an exercise where I had to list 100 ways of earning more money. That was hard, man. It took me a week! So don’t stress about getting all the ideas in one sitting. Sometimes we need time.

Quick question: Why think of the worst idea?

Have you ever noticed that, when you are thinking of new ideas, you sometimes say ‘oh no, that’s a terrible idea!’ and then you stop the activity?

This is where thinking of the WORST POSSIBLE IDEAS can help. You can relax, have fun and actually sometimes allows really great ideas to come up. So give it a go! You never know what might happen.

worst possible idea ideation english teacher berlin

Don’t try this at home… ©MoreThanGrammar 2018

Step 4: Prototype:

This is where you use these ideas to create a system that works for you.

Choose ONE method from your ideas. JUST ONE. We need to make learning realistic and if you choose too many, it can become too much and you won’t do anything. Plus, first we need to check if this idea is good for you.

Possible methods are:

I’m going to read 10 pages from a book every day

Or: I’m going to write 50 words a day in my new diary

Or: I’m going to learn 40 new words a week using this app on my phone

Now ask yourself:

  • When am I going to do this? (Morning, evening, lunchtime?)
  • Where am I going to do this? (at home, at work, in a park, on the train?)
  • How am I going to do this? (on a computer, in a notebook, on my phone?)

Now the important thing: save some time in your calendar for this. Make it just as important as your work meetings. This is your goal and it’s worth giving time for it. Plus, when we get a reminder in our calendars we are more likely to remember. It makes you more aware, more responsible and more motivated.

Step 5: Test:

Finally, do it!

Then after 3 weeks, review your method. Ask yourself: is this working?

If yes, great! Keep going.

If not, that’s OK. YOU HAVEN’T WASTED TIME! You needed to see this method didn’t work so you can find the right one.

So if it’s not working for you, ask yourself:

  • How could I change it?
  • Do I need to add something extra?
  • Have my goals changed?
  • Could I use one of my other ideas instead?

Language learning is a process. Design thinking is a process. Maybe that’s why they work so well together…

someone looking at post its ideation design thinking english teacher berlin.jpg

This is me on a daily basis ©MoreThanGrammar 2018

In summary:

  • Design Thinking works for different learning styles
  • There are five stages, and you can do them again and again
  • The five stages are: empathise, define, ideate, prototype, test
  • Review your method and change it if it doesn’t work
  • You are awesome and you can do this!

Remember: The best way to see if it works is to do it. If you need any help, give me a call and we can arrange a lesson to find the best way for you.

The challenges of studying at home

work from home

August has been a quiet month for me. This means a lot less running around and a lot more time at home to work on my own projects, including studying some more German.

This always brings up a lot of challenges for me. The truth is: I find it difficult to study from home. I get distracted easily. I get nervous staying in the same place for too long. And I feel guilty for wasting time when I ‘should’ be doing more.

So by the end of the day, I feel exhausted and also like I’ve done nothing.

It’s also very difficult to create variety for yourself when you are in the same place all day.

By ‘variety’ I mean doing different things at different times. I know students who are studying for an exam and they only focus on one part of the exam for a whole day or even for a whole week. I understand this if you are nervous about one part of the exam. You want to focus on it so you get better.

The problem with this is …

…it can become too much because you are over thinking and ‘over studying.’ This can sometimes become demotivating and you actually get worse at this part of the exam. It’s true. I’ve seen this and experienced it myself.

… there is no variety. You are doing one thing for a long period of time. This can make it difficult to concentrate and you get BORED. Which is also demotivating.

So how can we create balance when we study at home? How can we find a balance between free time and study? And how can we find a balance between different topics?

Here are a few methods which I have found useful in the past:

timetable today

… Create a timetable: When I studied for my A levels (a English college certificate), I drew a timetable at the beginning of everyday. One hour for science, one hour for maths, one hour for English etc. The time you spend on a topic is your choice. I find one hour worked for me. For some people it’s 2 hours, for other people it’s 25 minutes. It doesn’t matter how long it is – find the time period that works for you.

… Change between difficult and easy / interesting and boring: There are always parts of studying (and life!) which we find boring. The trick is to NOT spend TOO long on something you find boring. So do something you like or something you find easy, then do something more difficult/boring. Then do something fun/easy. Then do something difficult/boring… and so on. This way you have variety and also stay motivated AND get things done.

… Remember it’s OK to have distractions: Maybe you can see this as a sign that your brain needs a break. Breaks are so so important. In fact there is a method (the ‘pomodoro’ method) which gives you time to have distractions. We are all human and our brain needs time to breathe, so give yourself the chance to have distractions, then come back to your studies fresher than before.

let's go

… Make a list of everything you have done in that day: Sometimes we get to the end of the day and think ‘oh I’m so useless I haven’t done anything today!’… But ask yourself: how can that be true when you have been working all day?

Get some perspective and make a list. Or call a friend and tell them about your day. This does two things: 1) you can see yourself all the things you have done and be PROUD about them and 2) this is excellent memory training for the brain and helps you to review the things you have done one more time.

Oh and 3) it’s also a chance to see what you want to do tomorrow: where you can study more or where you can study less. This is a great way to make progress.

checking in with a study partner

… Find a study partner: Whether it’s someone you study next to, or just someone you call at the end of the day, it’s great to have a study partner or a guide or a teacher when you are studying for a long time. Someone you can talk with about things you find difficult, someone you can share your achievements with, someone who can check on your progress, someone who can help you and someone YOU can help.

So ask yourself: who could you study with? Who will motivate you? Who could help you to learn?

(It’s very important to find a study partner who will HELP you to study and not distract you – so think very carefully when you are choosing who you want to work with).

In conclusion:

Studying from home can be fun, easy and productive if we learn how to do it well. All we need to do is to find people and methods we work well with and create a balance in our home-studying life. So try something from the methods I’ve shared today and see what works for you. If something doesn’t work, try something else. Remember this is YOUR process which is magical and exciting, and gives you a chance to learn more about you PLUS the subject you are studying.

Exciting, right?

 

Are you looking for a teacher to guide you through an important exam? I can help! Just send me an email and let’s meet for a trial lesson 🙂

What teacher do you want?

someone-thinking-what-do-i-want

Every student is different and every teacher is different, so it important to think about what you want from a teacher so that you find the right teacher for you.

So I would like to share with you three things you can think about before you invest your time and money in a language course.

Tip 1: Find a teacher who specialises in what you want.

What do you need your lessons for? Do you need it for work? Or to have conversations on holiday? Or is it something even more specialised like presentation training or training for an exam? Or do you just want to focus on your pronunciation?

Whatever it is, really focus on exactly what you need, then look for a teacher who specialises in this. When you have a teacher who specialises with a lot of experience in the area you are looking for, your learning can become a lot deeper and you progress quicker towards your goals.

Tip 2: Ask for a trial lesson.

Most teachers will offer a free trail lesson. Of course, the teacher will come with lots of questions for you. I also encourage students in my trial lessons to ask me a lot of questions.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask:

  • Where do you come from?
  • Where did you learn how to become a teacher?
  • How long have you been a teacher?
  • What experience do you have with X? (“X” can be what you need e.g. presentations, pronunciation etc.)

Plus, you can use this time to see how you feel with this teacher. Do you feel comfortable or nervous? Is this someone who you want to meet every week? How you feel during the lessons is very important because the better you feel, the easier it will be for you to learn.

Of course, you can’t get everything from the first meeting, so you may need a few lessons to see how the lessons grow. At the same time, it is very important to have these questions in your head, so that you can see if this is the right teacher for you.

I am responsible for what I learn

Tip 3: Tell your teacher exactly what you want

I have wasted a lot of time (both my time and my students’ time) with students who don’t know what they want.

Yes, it is the teacher’s job to teach you. It is YOUR responsibility to a) know what you want to learn and b) actually learn it. We are your teachers, not your parents.

When you take this responsibility, the teacher’s job will be easier, you will have more motivation and your learning will be a lot more effective.

So ask yourself: What exactly do I want to learn? When do I want to learn it by?

And if you don’t know, that’s also fine. Just tell your teacher! It will make your lives much easier.

In summary, here are three things you can think of:

  • Find a teacher who specialises in what you want
  • Ask for a trial lesson and see how you feel
  • Tell you teacher what you want.

In my experience, if you think about these three things, it will be easier to find a teacher, you will save a lot of time and money and your learning will be more effective.

Am I the right teacher for you? Contact me for a free trial lesson and find out!

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

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.

focus-someone-focussing-focusing

Mistakes and why I don’t edit

mistakes

“I’m a human who is learning something new”

Life always gives us something new to learn.

For you, maybe it’s speaking English.

For me, it’s technology.

I’ve never had a blog before. The first time I tried to load images on WordPress, it didn’t go well. I didn’t know how to do it. I felt stupid and annoyed. I almost threw my laptop out the window!

I made a lot of mistakes, asked for my friend’s help and watched a YouTube video, and in the end, I learned how to do it.

I also have a Twitter account now, and a Facebook page. I’m still learning how to use those too.

Plus, I film videos. Of myself. Speaking. Eek!

If you’ve seen any of these videos, you will see that they’re not perfect. I film them then I load them. I write down my main idea but I don’t follow a script. Or practice.

Because I have a choice every time I make these videos.

I can:

A) edit and edit and edit until it is ‘perfect’

or B) film it and load it

It’s difficult, but I always choose B. Because I want you to know that it’s OK to not be ‘perfect.’ It’s OK to make mistakes.

In fact, I want you to make mistakes. Because when we make mistakes, it means we’re trying something new. It means we’re growing. It means we’re learning.

Your mistakes are there to teach you. Yes, they can be painful and embarrassing, but this is an exercise of focus. Either you have done something wrong. Or you see something you can learn from.

So next time you make a mistake, say: ‘It’s ok, I’m a human who is learning something new.’ I say this a lot. It helps me relax. It helps me see what I have learned, not how I have failed.