10 Ways to be More Productive in Language Learning

We are not born with a positive ‘go do‘ mindset. It is our experiences, cultural background and religious beliefs that shape who we are as individuals. Although our genetics do have an influence on the chemical makeup of our attitude a positive outlook is actually a skill that anyone can learn!

It takes hard work, consistency, and perseverance.  There will always be highs and lows that life will throw at you. You mold your own perspective and are ultimately responsible for your own self-growth and success.

“Remember you shape your perspective and are ultimately responsible for your own self-growth and success”.

Limiting exposure to negativity, focusing more on the positive, offering and asking for help when needed, will help you feel better prepared for learning a new language. It can be very challenging to remain positive when faced with the challenges that can arise. For example, a language partner might not show, a tutorial may be canceled or you may not be feeling confident about an exam. These experiences can all have a negative impact on your attitude for study and make you feel less motivated. However, it does not have to be that way. You can shape your own response to negative experiences and improve your performance.

1. Focus on the Positive to be More Productive

Step back and take a deep breath and remind yourself of all the reasons why you are learning the language. Write down all the things that are going well for you. A good idea is to invest in a journal. To get some ideas on how to use a language journal check out 10 ways to use a bullet journal for language learning. Once you have done this make a start! Any fear of failure of excuses for having a lack of time will greatly reduce.

2. Look for the Good

Many people find it hard to stay positive when faced with negative situations. If you are struggling with

learning a language, always remember that this difficulty will pass and if it doesn’t you can adapt your learning to better cope with the challenge. Be grateful for the things that are going well for you.  Honour even the smallest of successes that you have when learning a new language.  Noticing and pointing out the good will help you

to stay more positively focused, motivated and will build greater confidence.

A positive attitude can also influence those around you. Give thanks when someone makes an extra effort to help you. If you’re impressed with someone, tell them. Praise encourages an appreciation and this positive reinforcement will be returned to you in some form or another. Looking for the good can also reduce nonconstructive competition and comparison between other language learners too.

3. Escaping Negativity

If someone is being rather negative about another language learner refuse to join in. My trick is to turn the conversation around with some humor or telling a story of something else thus changing the topic. Joining in with negativity not only hurts those around you but over time you could develop a ‘toxic’ mindset too. A toxic mindset is detrimental to your own well-being. There will always be people who like to dwell and suck up positive energy like a vacuum and leak out negative vile. They think that the world is against them and they have a right to have whatever they want with little regard for those around them. They always complain and are quick to criticise others. Be aware of these people and try to avoid them because their pessimistic outlook will start to impact your own. Although sometimes it can be our very own thoughts that are negative check out this post to learn how to manage negative thoughts.

4. Environmental and Biological Factors

Scientific studies have shown that our environmental factors can impact on our ability to learn. ambient temperatures are linked to productivity. The comfort zone is between 22ºC/72ºF – 25ºC/77ºF. It is also important that you are aware of your most productive time of the day. Even if is 11pm at night or 5am in the morning. Pick a time that feels right for you. Our learning styles can be very different to one another so it is important you have the right learning style for you. If you are not as productive as the day before try switching computer for a book or working with pen and paper rather than a phone app. Switching environment can be a great motivator and might even promote some creativity!

5. Less is More

Less actually equals more! Productivity is not measured by how long you sit in your designated study area. The Pomodoro Technique is an excellent technique. Work in short bursts with maximum focus and take short breaks when your attention starts to wonder. It is important to just focus on one thing at a time. Research has shown that multi-tasking is inefficient.

6. Setting Goals for Language Learning

If you say “I want to learn French” that isn’t a very precise goal and sounds very overwhelming. Break goals down into smaller more management chunks over a specific time period.  It is important to set ambitious, but realistic goals. If your goals are over ambitious you are setting yourself up to fail and impacting on your future motivational levels. You will find more enjoyment in learning if you’re always aiming to do better. Acknowledge what you can’t change and work on the things you have control over. Ask yourself what your ultimate goals are? Where do you see yourself in 6 months, five or ten years time? Then ask yourself what you need to do to get there.

7. Journaling for Success 

Make a plan in a journal. For more information check out How to Set Language Learning Goals in Your Bullet Journal.

8. Pareto Principle

More commonly known as the 80-20 rule. This principle draws upon the rule that 80 per-cent of our effects come from just 20% of the cause.

9. Social Stimulus

Developing relationships with other language learners is one of the most effective ways to improve your attitude and performance. Feeling supported will help you have more fun with your language learning, Reach out and realize the value of study partners. If you begin to feel negative, look to upbeat language learners to put things back into
perspective for you. Language is key to being social and developing people skills is an important part of language learning. By sharing your goals you will feel more accountable for them. Check out the 24 soft skills that are required to be a successful language learner.

10. Reward yourself

If you’ve just completed a goal, gone up a level in your fluency or you’re feeling
really exhausted, consider taking a break from studying for a couple of days. A long
weekend can improve your productivity and leave you feeling refreshed and more motivated too.

 What helps you to be more productive in your language learning? Comment below…


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10 Ways To Cut The Crap And Learn a Language Successfully

So you want to learn a new language, but you have tried time and time again only to fail miserably? The good news is…according to Einstein “You only fail if you give up trying” and after reading this article you are going to give this language learning malarky another go!  OR do you feel there is too much (pardon my English) crap in the way to try again?.

It is time to cut the crap and crack on with your language learning goals. Did you know that you can control the focus of your attention? Stop thinking like a fly that LOVES crap and start thinking like a polyglot with a thirst for learning new languages…

1 Remove Yourself From Negative Environments

 

First and foremost if people tell you-you can’t learn a language it’s impossible over a long period of time you may start to believe this. This belief will be ingrained in your own thoughts not just the thoughts of others. Guess what over time you start to make this ‘can’t do it‘ attitude a reality!

It really does become impossible…right?

WRONG the reason you ‘can’t‘ is that you listened and decided to focus on the crap that has resulted in blocking you from even trying! Don’t get swept up in negativity. Join a language learning community one that is full of positive energy.

Make the decision to stay away from negative environments that don’t serve you justice. Check out our Twitter or Facebook Page for some positive language learning environments.

2 STOP checking Emails and Facebook 5 Times an Hour

Seriously stop that right now! It isn’t productive. Schedule in a period of time to check emails or Facebook. Put some boundaries in place like only checking at 7 am in the morning and 7 pm in the evening. The longer you stick to doing this the more likely it is to become a habit. So after a month or so you would have got used to only checking social media a couple of times a day!

3 Limit Distractions

Create a learning space that is free from distractions. If it helps turn off all your email and social media notifications (don’t forget those phone apps too)!

4 Bullet Journaling

To increase productivity invest in a journal. A PAPER Journal! It will get you away from the many distractions of modern technology and allow you to really think about your goals and the progress you are making. For more information check out 10 Ways to use a Bullet Journal to Improve Language Learning.

 

If you are anything like me…a night owl this will be super hard for you! However, studies by clever folk have shown that we cannot function at our best if we do not get an adequate night’s rest. For more information check out How to Optimise your Brain for Language Learning.

You may think studying whilst the family are asleep will make you more productive, but actually, your quality of focus will not be at it’s best especially if you have had a hard day. Try to go to bed by 11ish and aim for an absolute minimum of 6 hours a night sleep.

It is a lot easier to wake early in the summer months than the winter, but getting up early potentially before the family can help you be more productive. Aim straight for 40-45 minutes of focused study time or use some of this time for some gentle meditation or exercises. I find meditating first thing in the morning really helps to energize me for the rest of the day!

7 De-clutter your Study Environment

My mother always used to say that a “tidy home is a happy home“. Personally, I am a messy person which is properly why my mother used to say this to me. Anyway, as much as I hate to admit it when I declutter my desk I do feel more motivated and get greater enjoyment from my study session.

 

How are we ever going find time to learn a language if we say yes to EVERYTHING! By saying no a lot adds more value to when you do decide to say YES. True Story. It is obvious that saying yes often will have a detrimental effect on your productivity. Eventually, you will just burn out. Make learning a new language your priority!

9 Diet and Exercise

Have you ever thought about the crap you put into your bodies? or How motivated you feel after some exercise? To be more productive ensure you exercise at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes, eat a healthy balanced diet and drinking enough water (6-8 glasses per day). It is also important to reduce caffeine, animal fats, and sugar intake For more information on a healthy lifestyle check out Positive, Health and Wellness.

“Eat to live, not live to eat. Food is fuel”

Your health is really important and the better you feel the more motivated and productive you will be.

10 Make it a Conscious Choice 

Make it a conscious choice that you are going cut the crap and be a successful language learner. Make a note of it and stick it where you will see it on a daily basis.

What do you plan to cut out of your life to make yourself a more productive language learner? or What do you need to do more of to be successful at learning languages?

Comment below and if you like this post please share…

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Want to be more productive in your language learning? Check out my new online course… ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Mindful Learning

24 Soft Skills Required for Language Learning

Have you ever looked at a polyglot and thought “How did they manage to learn all those languages?” Is the success in languages really for a select few? Perhaps you look upon polyglots with jealousy or even admiration? It’s understandable. But as you’ll soon see, you to can to be an efficient language learner. This can be achieved by using  ‘Soft Skills’. These are the skills that you are not necessarily taught (but should be) in schools!

What are Soft Skills?

The term ‘soft skills’ basically refers to ‘people skills‘. So it is those personal attributes that give an indication of high emotional intelligence. Soft Skills are something that is much needed in today’s society, but sadly is clearly lacking!  An example of these skills is how you choose to communicate with others.  Schools typically fail to develop our soft skills. They are more interested in students memorising facts for tests. Especially in subjects that many students will never actually use in real life!

So Why are Soft Skills so Important?

Soft skills can have a huge impact on your life. Skills such as being a good listener and having a positive mindset are all signs of soft skills. To be successful in language learning and life, in general, you need to be proficient in soft skills. The good news is you don’t have to be born with these skills. You can learn them and with practice excel in this area. The most successful people tend to have a vast majority if not all of the skills listed below.

24 Soft Skills Ideal for Language Learners

1. Listening Skills.  We have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason! Through listening, you can improve your language learning skills. You may also gain more friends as a majority of people just love to talk about themselves or their lives. When learning a new language ensure you are listening more than you speak it. That way you will be exposed to the correct pronunciation of words and it will vastly improve your understanding.

2.Accept Feedback. Whether good or bad, feedback is absolutely vital for success. For example, you can not progress if you are unaware of what you are doing wrong. So welcome criticism, it is actually your friend not your enemy and it will enable you to make positive changes in language learning.

3. Focus.  In today’s technological advanced world the average attention span has actually dropped to an all time line. If you can improve your focus of attention this will give you a great advantage in life. Focus on just one thing for about 10 – 20 minutes, take a short break and then can back to the task for another 10 – 20 minutes. It is easy to get distracted so turn off your mobile phone, close all the tabs you have on the computer and get cracking. It will also help to set goals. For example to learn 5 new words/sentences or characters. Check out 10 Tips for Mindful Language Learning to help you improve your focus.

4. Be Flexible. Flexibility is not taught in schools! However, it is required in all aspects of life. If you are part of a study group online adjust your plans to meet study requirements. It is not always easy and family does come first. If you want to achieve your goals you need to be bendy rather that rigid!

5. Courteous and Well-Mannered. In my personal experience, many people seem to be unaware of how they actually treat others. For example, they may appear arrogant and rather aloof when in reality they may actually be a bit shy or lacking confidence. To be courteous and good-mannered will attract the right support and you may find people want to help you more. Different cultures have different mannerisms and courteous behaviours, which are worth researching. For example, I am currently learning Mandarin – Chinese and I have spent the last week or so learning key vocab in this area and researching cultural beliefs.

6. Team Work. Surround yourself with positive like-minded people.  Language learning is a social skill. So do not shut yourself away with a grammar book to learn a language. Remember you are not an island! If you are a language teacher or have an online language blog, you must also know how to motivate and inspire your students or subscribers.

7. Be competitive. In schools, they teach that everyone is a winner, just for taking part. However, being competitive is essential to success in the real world. Don’t just compete with others. For me, I always try to get a high score on memories as well as beat the previous week school. I find this helps to motivate me and increases my vocab too!

8. Confidence. Successful people always seem to have so much confidence! You’ll need to do the same if you want to be successful. Plant some small goal seeds, nourish these seeds (revising, studying, practising and also ensuring some time out), then watch your confidence grow and flower out. Confidence, not feeling it. Then fake it till you make it. By being confident you will eventually become more confident.

9. Trust. Trust in others and yourself!  If you keep saying others or you will let yourself down this may become a self-fulling prophecy really. Eventually, you may even start to believe this and then just give up. Tell yourself “You got this“. Being more trustful will help you to gain the confidence of others, and soon you will develop a reputation for being honest and reliable.

10. Continuous Improvement. Continuous development is important and I always try to be a better person than I was the day before. I allocate time each week for self-development. The very fact that you are learning a new language shows that you believe in self-development too.

11. Recharge. Have you noticed how successful people are really energetic? They are lively, vivacious and highly charismatic. If your energy levels are low, you’re unlikely to be attracting success. Try boosting your energy through practising these soft skills, eating healthy, drinking enough water, least 30 minutes exercise, at least 3 times a week and meditation.

12. Interpersonal  Skills. Happy people know how to communicate with others. They are comfortable communicating with people from all different backgrounds. They also know how to have constructive and inspiring conversations. Reflect on your correct interpersonal skills what do you feel you need to change in this area?

13. Be Friendly. Trolling language learning forums isn’t a likely way to make friends or discover exciting opportunities and get support. Smile, even when you are just typing away on the keyboard.

14. Develop a Positive Mindset. “You can’t have a positive life with a negative mindset” Negativity especially when applied to language learning will get you nowhere. If anything those in a negative mindset are more likely to quit! Life,  and pardon my English at times will be shit and if you choose to focus on the ‘shit’, you’ll quickly lose sight of what you are truly capable of. Positive people constantly seek out new opportunities without the fear of if they will be successful or not. Yes, you do have to be realistic, but do so with a positive mindset.

15. Organisational Skills. Are you organised? I have a journal for my language learning. It also has all my Skype tutorials and study group meetups listed. I would be lost without my language learning journal. Being highly-organized is a very desirable soft skill. It is also essential for success! Check out 10 Ways to use a Bullet Journal to Improve Language Learning

16. Body Language. We may be learning a language, but most our face-to-face communication actually via body language! Although slight deviations across cultures, body language can be universal to an extent. Learn body language and this makes chatting to a native speaker of your target language much easier. Also remember it’s a very useful skill to have, as sometimes body language contradicts what someone is saying with words.

17. Set Goals. You want to be a successful language learning and achieve, then you must have specific goals. Check out my eBook that looks at being a positively productive and motivated language learner via a more holistic approach using positive thinking and goal setting strategies. Alternately download my FREE 28DayLanguagePlanner to help you plan ahead.

18. Problem Solving Skills. Struggling with language learning? Have you hit that language learning wall. Rather than dwell on the problems faced. Focus on the solutions required. If a method isn’t working for you. Change it. Simple. You will always get the same results if you always do the same thing. Want different results. Try something new!

19. Laughter. Humour is important, especially in language learning. Don’t take yourself too seriously. You will make mistakes. We all do and that is okay. We can learn from them. I once kept telling my tutor “I like to be a dog at home” another time I mispronounced a word and swore at a tutor, Now I could have logged off and never went back or we could have a laugh about it, build some rapport and it’s a story to tell my own students and subscribers.

20. Respect Others.  This, unfortunately, is a soft skill that isn’t used as much as it should be. There are some really self-centered people out there who put their desires above the needs of others. Make sure you value and respect all those who support you in the language learning communities you below too. Interestingly, by respecting others, you’ll earn their respect in return.

21.  Time Management.  Tutor sets a time and you skype 10 minutes late. This happens on a regular basis? Time management skills are really important and if you can better manage your time it will make your language learning more efficient. Try to get ready for a skype tutorial at least 10 minutes before you go live. Focus on words you struggle with first rather than what you know well.

22. Helping Others With Troubleshooting. If someone is struggling work with them and offer some suggestions on how they could improve their language learning.

23. Smile More and Stretch! Smiling realises feel-good hormones that also help motivation and confidence levels. Stretching also helps to release those feel-good endorphins.

24.  Patience.   Things will not always go to plan and that’s okay. Some days you will make progress and other days you will not.  Try not to get angry or frustrated. Be patience with language learning. Rome wasn’t built in a day. By practising poise and calmness you will feel less stressed.  If your tutor cancels on you use this time to reflect on language learning rather than moan you have been let down.

As you can see, soft skills are an essential part of successful language learning. Develop the skills you already have, and adopt the ones that you are missing. If you can do this then you will be priming yourself for success in whatever language you are learning.

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