Heute habe ich Lindsay Williams aus England, die hinter dem Blog „Lindsay does Languages“ steckt.
Sie ist Sprachencoach für Spanisch und Französisch und kennt sich dementsprechend ausgezeichnet mit den Problemen von Sprachlernern aus.
Im Interview teilt sie mit uns ihre Tipps für effektives Sprachenlernen und wie auch Du viel von einem Sprachencoach profitieren könntest.
Unterhalb findest Du das Video, darunter findest Du eine Zusammenfassung mit den 5 wichtigsten Tipps aus dem Interview und darunter die Transkription vom Interview in der Originalsprache Englisch.
5 Tipps von Lindsay Williams woran Du einen guten (Online-)-Sprachlehrer oder –coach / -tutor erkennst
Das Interview mit Lindsay ist ziemlich lang. Wenn Du also nur auf einem Sprung bist oder eine kurze Übersicht haben willst, ob es sich für Dich überhaupt lohnt das ganze Video anzuschauen, findest Du hier ihre 5 wichtigsten Tipps aus unserem Interview:
Tipp 1: Flexibilität und persönliche Gestaltung des Unterrichts
Dein Sprachtutor folgt nicht einfach nur stur einem vorgefertigten Protokoll oder noch schlechter einem Lehrbuch oder Aufgabenblatt. Ein guter Tutor passt den Lernstoff und –plan Deinen persönlichen Schwächen, Stärken und Bedürfnissen, sowie vor allem Deinem ganz persönlichen Lerntyp an. Etwas was in den Bildungswissenschaften auch als Inklusion bezeichnet wird.
Tipp 2: Kombination des Sprachenlernens mit Deinen persönlichen Vorlieben und Hobbies
Ein guter Sprachlehrer versucht Dich zu motivieren, indem er um Dir die Sprache beizubringen Dinge nutzt, welche Dir grundsätzlich schon einmal gefallen. Bestimmte Filme, Musikgruppen oder Songtexte, ein bestimmter Autor. Er nutzt mit Dir gemeinsam Deine Hobbys und Vorlieben und integriert diese in das Sprachenlernen. Wenn Du zum Beispiel ein großer Fan von Shakira bist, wirst Du durch die Übersetzung ihrer Songtexte viel leichter Spanisch lernen, als durch das „Auswendiglernen“ von einer langen Liste von Fachbegriffen aus der Wirtschaft.
Tipp 3: Nach der Stunde ist vor der Stunde
Für einen guten Sprachlehrer endet die Betreuung nicht mit dem Ende der Stunde und fängt genauso wenig erst mit dem Beginn von dieser an. Ein guter Tutor gibt Dir für die Zeit zwischen den Einheiten Aufgaben oder Anweisungen, um mit Dir gemeinsam Deine tägliche Routine für das Sprachenlernen zu erstellen. Und falls er Dir dann sogar noch hin- und wieder eine kurze Erinnerungsnachricht schreibt, um Dich am Ball zu halten, solltest Du das keineswegs als Belästigung, sondern viel mehr als besonders persönliche Betreuung sehen.
Tipp 4: Die endgültige Planung der Stunde erfolgt zu Beginn der Stunde
Zu Beginn jeder Einheit sollte sich Dein Sprachlehrer die Zeit nehmen, um sich 5 Minuten mit Dir persönlich auseinanderzusetzen. Um sich zu erkundigen, wie Du die Zeit seit der letzten Einheit verbracht hast. Lediglich hinsichtlich des Themas Sprachenlernen natürlich. Wie Deine Fortschritte sind oder waren, was Dir gerade Schwierigkeiten bereitet, oder worin gerade Deine Schwerpunkte liegen. Besuchst Du noch zusätzlich einen Gruppenkurs und würdest Hilfe für eine Hausaufgabe benötigen. Und aufgrund dieser Informationen den Ablauf der Stunde gegebenenfalls anpassen.
Tipp 5: Fortschritt durch kleine aber beständige Erfolgserlebnisse
Beim Sprachenlernen sollte es nicht darum gehen bestimmte Zielvorgaben in einer bestimmten Zeit zu erreichen. Außer Du bereitest Dich gerade auf ein Examen vor, welches relevant für Dein Studium oder Deine Arbeit ist.
Zielsetzungen wie zum Beispiel „In 3 Monaten möchte ich das Niveau B2 erreicht haben!“ oder „In einem Monat möchte ich 500 Vokabeln gelernt haben!“ führen zumeist nicht zum Erfolg. Im Gegenteil eher zu unnötigem Druck und zu Enttäuschung für den Fall, dass diese nicht erreicht werden.
Eine Sprache zu lernen sollte viel mehr ein Prozess sein, in welchem Du Dich Schritt für Schritt und mit Deinem persönlichen Tempo verbesserst. Ein guter Sprachlehrer fungiert dabei als Lotse, der Dich durch diesen Prozess leitet.
Und um Dir das vor Augen und damit Deine Motivation hoch zu halten, solltest Du von Deinem Tutor nicht mit Anderen und genauso wenig mit irgendwelchen Vorgaben oder Niveaustufen verglichen werden. Sondern mit Dir selbst von vor einer Woche, von vor einem Monat oder von vor einem halben Jahr. Dadurch wird Dir auch Dein eigener Fortschritt und damit dein eigener Erfolg ersichtlich. Und das ist das Wichtige und das was wirklich zählt.
Transkript vom Interview mit Lindsay auf Englisch
GABRIEL: Today I have Lindsay Williams formerly known as Lindsay Dow in my interview. She is from England and she is a language coach for French and Spanish. She Blogs and Vlogs about language learning on Lindsay does languages, I’m so glad to have you here today.
LINDSAY: Thank you. I’m Glad to be here today.
GABRIEL: So you learned quite a few languages, other than English, French and Spanish which one would you consider yourself fluent by any definition you would have for Fluency.
LINDSAY: Definition for fluency. Now that’s a question. I prefer to say the languages that I’ve studied and then kind of give them to you in order of how well I studied them to a particular point so English is my native language and then French and Spanish are sort of up there and then beyond that German, Portuguese and Italian are my three that are on the same level and then I studied a tiny bit of Dutch and Mandarin Chinese, they’re roughly on the same level and Japanese as well and Korean a little bit and Esparanto a little bit and I’m currently studying Indonesian which is exciting.
GABRIEL: Alright, so you learn a language and then when do you stop like you don’t feel like it anymore, what makes you decide to not get to fluent but I’m going to start a new language?
LINDSAY: Well, it varies, something like French is the first foreign language I studied and I started that when I was about seven or eight so we’re talking about seven years ago nearly, which is crazy to think and say I’ve studied French for twenty years if you want and so it’s that idea of how long do you say I’m going to study a language for a year or six months or three months, whatever and then have fun which is quite difficult so it varies. I mean it’s been a case of German for example I started a one year course because it wasn’t kind of a set course and then I studied the second course because that would mean I’d get the certificate so I was like okay, now I’m going to do for two years and then I figured it’s two years, I’ve got to a comfortable level but I can revise it when I need to but I don’t necessarily want to go further with that language so I’ll leave that on there and then I’ll move on where as other languages for example like Korean last year, I studied for example like three or four months and I just didn’t get as far and I wasn’t enjoying it much and I was like you know what, I want to enjoy this so maybe I’ll leave it for now and come back to it in the future so it’s a very personal thing in terms of the language.
In terms of it depending on each language being its own individual process and depending on what else is going on in your life generally at that point so it varies.
GABRIEL: So you said the course finished, it didn’t feel like you wanted to continue but what was your ultimate goal with the language that you learned like of you didn’t get to let’s say fluency did you learn it for the fun of it or did you plan to use it at some point? What was the goal with a language that you sort of stopped earlier?
LINDSAY: I think because I may be a little bit different from some people in that it feels like for most people they want to communicate and speak to people whereas for me I’m kind of a little bit more introverted in that sense so even in English, I don’t just go out to say hello my name is Lindsay, how are you, so for me speaking was never a big thing. It was never a case of I want to go and talk to the people and meet people so it’s always been more about I enjoy that process of learning a language and I enjoy the routine of it as well and I enjoy, for me it’s about learning, I think you can learn a lot about the people and a culture and everything through the words that they use and through the language and the way it’s evolved and it just helps me to understand that the people and increase tone. I think that’s a really nice thing and for me that’s never been about going all the way to like seven thousand languages in the world and I couldn’t possibly focus on one.
GABRIEL: Alright, so you mentioned it’s very important for you and I feel like many language learners feel like they shouldn’t have fun or they can’t have fun while learning a language, how do you make it fun to learn the language?
LINDSAY: Well, always fun is hard. There’s going to be some things that you don’t enjoy like any process, like any job or anything you do, there’s something that isn’t as fun as the other stuff but that’s good, it makes you realize what the other, how fun the other stuff is but I think there’s many ways to learn a language, this is what’s quite interesting or good about language learning compared to other areas of studies.
If you learn a language you could learn anything in that language so if you want to go really far and kind of, I’m really curious about music but I also want to learn Italian for example so I’m going to combine the two, so I’m going to learn about music with Italian twist on that so you can play on that so I think that’s what makes it fun, you can go out and find something that you love and in a different language and really embrace that and use it to inspire you to keep going and that’s what’s going to make it fun, having that passion for something, whatever it is, whether it’s music, whether it’s a film directed or a poet or you just love the food or you really love to travel to that place. It could be anything but having a thing that you love is what’s going to make it fun and keep it inspiring.
GABRIEL: So basically the best idea is to think about what’s fun for one person and then try to link it to the language learning process itself. Is that what you’re suggesting?
LINDSAY: Yeah, what for you as an individual. I mean obviously it varies if you’re studying for kind of academic purposes and you have a particular course to follow then you’d have a little bit less control over that but if you’re learning on your own you can control and if you don’t like economics and you turn your course book to the next page and you have to read and there’s a whole section on economics in that language, if you can’t do it in your own language don’t feel pressured to do it in another, if you’re not going to find it fun in your native then for what reason would it be fun in a different language so I think it’s really crucial is to know yourself and know what keeps you motivated in your native language and take that and use that.
GABRIEL: You mentioned another thing that you’re more an introverted person and many people believe that it’s very difficult to learn a language if you’re introverted, but there are quite a few polygraphs that are introverted so I think a person don’t feel comfortable with speaking with other people especially if they don’t speak a language well, you’re a language tutor. What do you suggest or what would you advise to people that are introverted and have challenges speaking to maybe even a language tutor?
LINDSAY: Good question. I think it’s about building and it’s not about going straight in and thinking I have to do it and speak for an hour straight with the tutor. Don’t do that, it’s going too freak the life out of you.
I think it’s about taking steps so for example try starting with writing and putting some writing out there and ask at Hello talks where you can sort of connect with people and exchange language so you can write a message to begin with and then you can send a little voice message without video, you can even read that voice message you’ve already written it in advance, you’ve practiced, you know it’s correct, you’ve taken away that fear and you’re just reading and sending to someone. Take it step by step and that’s what I recommend rather than throwing yourself in if you know you’re going to be terrified. Ease yourself into it gently and enjoy the process as well so it’s not that terrifying.
Break it down even if it’s really tiny steps, whatever for your personally to get to that point where you need to be able to communicate with a tutor for an hour as the example that you gave. I think once you do it as well you can begin to refine that process. That’s another reason I love to learn multiple languages, every time I start a new language, I’m like this is going to be the one, I go to C2 in six months because you get better and better each time and you begin to learn about yourself as a language learner but also the person, about how disciplined you are and how well you can use your time which is really cool because that’s transferrable to other areas of life but I think that’s what I would say to answer your question. I’m getting side tracked slightly.
Take it step by step and don’t sweat it. Make it easy and challenging for yourself but not crazy challenging where you’re going to freak out.
GABRIEL: Don’t start learning a language today and then do something else tomorrow. Really small steps. Great advice.
LINDSAY: Yeah, I mean for some people that would be fine and the idea of like, I’m going to start learning, I’m going to have an hour every day for a week every first week. If that’s you, that’s fine, go for it but maybe that’s not you right now and that’s fine too, you can still learn a language and you can focus on reading, you can focus on listening and kind of absorbing the language as much as you want to first and then when you ready it’s your call so that’s what I would say, decide how it’s going to make you feel comfortable.
There’s something to be said as well for kind of getting out of your comfort zone but at the same time jumping out of your comfort zone is probably not going to do you too much good either. It’s going to freak you out so it’s about knowing yourself and taking small steps to get there.
GABRIEL: Let’s continue those small steps, so now someone is ready to have a language tutor for an hour and you’re the language tutor, what would be the optimum process to learn a language?
LINDSAY: I think best language tutor you can get is someone who’s really flexible because like I said when you’re learning on your own you’re in control so even if you get a tutor, you don’t necessarily need the tutor to lead you through the course book. You can be doing that kind of thing on your own. The tutor then needs to be guiding you in the right direction and testing where you’re at. So if you have… Sorry did you want it from the tutor’s perspective or the students?
GABRIEL: Give me both. Let’s start with the students. Like I want to find a tutor and how should I… Because the tutor can`t do all the work for me right?
LINDSAY: Yes, this is key, the tutor is like a guide who’s going to direct you and give you the information and what you choose to do with it is up to you. so that’s something important to remember and this isn’t just true for getting a tutor, it’s also true if you kind of buy a language course and you say right, I’ve got that book now on my shelf so it’s going to happen, I’m going to be fluent but it’s not that simple.
So I think as a student understanding that first of all and accepting that you’ve got the tutor and book for an hour and you’ve got the course but you also need to put the work in because it’s down to you at the end of the day. Accepting and understanding that. And second, also accepting and understanding that it’s okay to tell your tutor what to do. And the difference I think between a tutor and a teacher in a traditional sense is that a teacher is someone who would stand in front of the room and tell you the stuff. I think that’s what we kind of expect from a teacher where as a tutor is kind of a personal relation.
You can say to the tutor I learned this and I want to start at this particular ground point or I want to talk about this topic today and you can navigate those lessons yourself and I think as a student understanding that and being confident enough to tell your teacher what you want to learn is key and that’s how you’re going to get the most out of it as well. From a tutor’s point of view, it’s about giving that particular student what they need and so having the resources and methods in place and adapting them on an individual one hour basis. The example I always give is I have a student who likes Dr. Who so from time to time, he’s learning Spanish, and from time to time, I’ll find a Dr. Who Clip on Youtube in Spanish or find a review of a recent episode in Spanish online or something and we’ll use that as a stimulus for the lesson, because even though I have no other students that would care about that I’ll take the time to use that to kind of pick the ground-points that we can build upon from in a different session. So we can use that and begin with that and say let’s take a look at our session again, how does he use that, how does that work and then go and explain a grammar point from that rather than grammar, let’s do this, test.
I think that’s important to remember as a tutor. Every student is an individual and should be treated that way. Don’t be afraid to spend time creating individual resources for students as many as you need, because that’s what’s going to make them go further as well. Like you mentioned, something that you love, right, taking advantage of those things that you enjoy but what I deal with reflects onto the tutor using Dr. Who in Spanish, whatever it may be. So I think that’s the key.
GABRIEL: Alright, so you touched already on the topic of being a good tutor, looking at it from the student’s perspective. That student likes Dr. Who so I’m going to motivate him to like Spanish by Dr. Who in Spanish. What other traits are important for a good tutor, for instance, if I want to choose a tutor, how can I find out whether someone’s a good tutor? What do you think makes a good tutor?
LINDSAY: I think there’s a few things. It’s about being patient is crucial and about being flexible. Those would be the two key words. Patient and flexible. In terms of patience, having someone out there when you’re trying to pronounce a word for example going no this and you’re like I don’t understand. Someone going you’re almost there, maybe just try changing this and you’re like I understand. Being patient and then giving guidance with stuff as you go is also really key, and then in terms of flexibility like I mentioned that idea of not just thinking okay, we need to cover future tense so here’s my future tense worksheet, here we go, done. Being flexible and thinking here’s my future-tense work-sheet but this person also really loves Dr. Who. How can I incorporate that into teaching them future-tense. How can I adapt this for that particular student so being flexible enough in that sense but also in the sense that you may plan and prepare a perfect lesson.
You turn up and she says I have home-work that’s due tomorrow, can you help me quick? Okay lesson is shelved, let’s focus on the homework, so being flexible in that sense. Patience flexible and being creative is useful because there plenty of tutors and teachers who tend to stick but this is also a difference, if you’re in a school setting you have to stick to curriculum where as if you’re a tutor and you’re teaching online and it’s one on one situation and it is that more flexible, being creative is really key because there’s no reason for you to be like we’re on page 52 this week, let’s go.
And so I think that’s also crucial and if you’re looking for a tutor and if you’re trying to decide is my tutor flexible, patient and creative and do they have any other qualities that’s right for me. I would recommend seeing if they have any other content available online. Do they blog or have videos that you can check out and see I like how this person speaks, I like what they have to say. That could be a really good indicator if a tutor is right for you because the thing is not every tutor will be right for you. It’s that idea of if you find somebody on Hello Talk for example and you’re like this person speaks Spanish so now they’re going to teach me Spanish, you can’t assume that everybody that speaks Spanish is A a tutor and B going to be willing to teach you Spanish.
So it also applies to tutors, even when you narrow down that group to just people that are tutors specifically and say you’re a Spanish tutor, you’ll do not necessarily because they may not be the Spanish tutor for you, they may not be the right person to teach you, and I think a good tutor will be honest in that sense where either you’re not a good fit for each other but also when you’re ready to move on. So there might come a point where you know what actually, you don’t need me anymore what you need now is xyz and being able to tell a student that is really crucial. But Patience, flexibility and creativity are three key things to look for and then see if they have any content around, see if there’s something you can use as an example to see if they do have the qualities that you are looking for in a tutor.
GABRIEL: Alright, so now I started with the tutor I started learning Spanish for instance with you and as you said that’s not going to be enough, I’m not going to learn Spanish by having a one hour lesson with you. What would you tell me to do for the rest of the week to improve my Spanish.
LINDSAY: This is also crucial, having a tutor that doesn’t just say alright, see you later, bye but actually encouraging you to go and do something beyond because you’re never going to be fluent with that one session you have like we said you sometimes think I’ve got my hour booked with the tutor I don’t need to do any other work for the week. I’m set, it’s all good. Not necessarily. So a tutor that recommends things you can do is really important.
So maybe it’s that they have ten minutes in a lesson plan that they dedicate in the lesson plan. Maybe it’s even five minutes at the start and five minutes at the end and say okay, what did you do last week? Did you do everything that we discussed? Did you get any work done every day, did you learn any new words, whatever it would be and then they would say, okay, next week, what’s your plan of action so you’ve got this kind of review and goal-setting each time that you meet can be really beneficial and perhaps with some students they may need a kick up the bum each week. An email or a text message or whatever to say hey, how’s it going, have you done what you were supposed to do?
But again it’s that personal thing of deciding what’s right for the student. Does that student need that in particular, so in terms of what you can do in between, there are so many things.
GABRIEL: Some common advice you give?
LINDSAY: Yeah, I think I tend to say coming back to the idea of finding something that you love so finding something that you can enjoy every day so it could be that you’re trying to incorporate the music in your life and maybe you found the YouTube channel, a YouTuber that shares videos in that language so you say right when I’m washing up I’m watching that person’s video or you find a Podcast and say right, when I’m driving to work every morning, I’m going to listen to that Podcast and it’s something really simple that can be easily incorporated into your life so it’s about creating a habit.
That would come down to the second thing that I would also encourage. So finding something that you enjoy, you don’t have to focus on and can just be integrated to get extra exposure and second, making something a habit. It could be something that’s the same or different so for example, it could be a daily habit. So every day you learn five new words and memorize them. It could be that you have duo-lingo app. You choose to use every day. It could be that you’re choosing to write five sentences every day.
It can be quite a flexible thing but having something that can become a daily habit really easily like while you’re getting dressed, while you’re brushing your teeth, while you’re walking the dog, whatever it is, those two things so finding something that’s kind of going to increase your passive exposure to language that you enjoy and also finding something that can become a habit and like I said it could be the same thing. It could be that there’s a cross-over there or it could be that it’s two separate things. Both of those are really important because I think saying okay right we’ve finished that lesson, go off for the week and study two hours every day. That’s not great advice because number one you’re not saying what they have to study and two hours a day is a long time. It’s the kind of commitment that maybe you’ll do for a day or two and then after that you miss a day and you feel like a failure. Maybe I’m not cut out for this. I’ll just ignore it and pretend it’s not there and never going to catch up now because I’ll forget it.
And that can be quite damaging because then it feels like a chore and it has this negative connotation and we don’t want that. We want it to be positive and enjoyable so rather than saying study for an hour a day or study for two hours a day. I would tend to say make something a daily habit even if that daily habit’s five minutes and then you have an hour on Wednesday evening where you’re free where you do most of your stuff. As long as you have something daily that keeps you ticking over that can be really beneficial and I think that’s crucial as well. Just a daily habit whether it’s five minutes or fifty, it doesn’t matter, I think it’s really important to get a routine because it makes you feel good and feel like a little bit of language today. Even if it’s just a little bit. It’s all good.
GABRIEL: I think habits are great as well but I think many people struggle developing those habits. I sometimes struggle myself so I want to use that app for ten minutes a day but then I do that tomorrow and the day after and then I forget. I remember so how do you actually build habits that stick?
LINDSAY: Good question, so I think the idea of starting small is key. So start with memorizing that you want to make it a habit. Start with just watering one session. And so that’s going to take you a minute maximum and set yourself a time where this is going to happen every day. So rather than thinking at some point today I’m going to find a minute and go on my phone and memorize this and that. Rather than thinking it’ going to happen at some point make the time to sit down. As for me I tend to memorize while having my tea with breakfast so I’ll eat. Well the weird thing is I don’t actually drink black tea like the English. It’s mint tea. It’s weird.
But it sounds very English. So I’ll drink my tea and then I’ll memorize. When I’m eating I’m a bit hands full. So that’s the way it happened because that was always the time I was available as well. I’m a slow eater as well. So by that point my husband’s gone and he’s getting ready for work so I’m on my own so I’m not being anti-social. So find the time when you’re on your own where it’s regular as well and begin to incorporate it. Like I said, start small so start with, okay, I’m going to do one little session each day and then after day, I think I’ll memorize, the smallest goal is five words a day, I’ll set my goals of memorizing to get the streak and then you’ve got that to keep you going.
And then if you want you can go a step further. You can print out a habit tracker where you can just have on your wall somewhere so you can see this visual representation and you can color in every day the box and memorize today. You can visually see how you’re doing. That can be quite motivating for some people to have it actually there rather than in our head like I’ll do it today so that would be the step beyond which is having a physical piece of paper on the wall somewhere that you can see. I think digital is great. There are certainly apps and stuff you can use to keep track but I think sometimes just going a bit old school if you like with a piece of paper can be quite useful.
GABRIEL: I also think that if you have all those colored boxes, the more there are the more motivated you are to not have one not colored in.
LINDSAY: Exactly because you see on your dual and you memorize and you say 23 days, okay, that’s good but you only see that when you go in but if you don’t go into your app in the first place you’re not going to see your streak is there where as you got it and see all the colors and 23 days, I don’t want to miss a day. You know? It’s going to be quite helpful.
GABRIEL: That’s true. And also another thing you mentioned about the tea. It’s basically two things at the same time, it’s not only that you learn but you also couple it with another habit makes it like a part of your daily routine a lot quicker than if you only study at twelve thirty every day.
LINDSAY: This is so true because let’s say you work shifts on one day your lunch isn’t at 12h30 so then all of a sudden it’s out of Kilter and you feel like hang on a minute, what am I going to fit this in now. For me having it early in the day is also very helpful and like you say, having it coupled with doing something else so you don’t feel like language time, here we go. It’s more a case of I’m going to do my language but I’m also multi-tasking because I’m drinking my tea at the same time. That can be very beneficial to keep it going. Absolutely.
GABRIEL: And I want to go to a new topic now. You say that blogging is a good way to motivate yourself to learn a language and I think that’s absolutely true but it’s also a little bit overkill for some people I know that many people aren’t able to do that. So what other advice would you have that maybe activates the same brain wave or something that isn’t as difficult as motivating yourself to learn a language?
LINDSAY: Absolutely. So the reason that I tend to say that blogging’s great for language learning is that before I blogged I was learning languages primarily for academic purposes. Going to school, College and University, extra. And then when I started blogging I was like what am I going to write about and it gave me a good reason to start another language so I did that and it actually helped because I was like it’s out there in public even though it was brand new and no-one was reading it, it was like if someone sees I need to be learning and so it had to keep me going.
And so it can be quite time consuming perhaps and a bit bigger than some people would like but what I would recommend is taking that down a scale because it’s really beneficial for your accountability in that sense. Holding yourself accountable is a great way to keep going. You have your track record on the wall. You’ve got your blog shall we say for the moment online, you thinking I can see how well I’ve done, people are reading how well I’ve done, I need to keep going.
So they kind of go hand in hand in terms of holding you accountable and therefore keeping you motivated. But you can bring it down a scale and the thing I would recommend is then going down to social media perhaps. We all have a Facebook account I’m sure if nothing else and it’s really easy. I read about this last week on my Blog about using Facebook for language learning. It’s really easy to tweak your Facebook and make it into this language machine if you like, you have the chance to unfollow people, you know, like the people you knew ten years ago that you don’t know now. You can unfollow them but stay friends and then you can fill your feed with relevant stuff from like pages and groups that are kind of creating content in the language you’re learning.
You can then enable the ability to write in multiple languages which can be a really beneficial way to do so that you can kind of produce language as well as absorb it if you like which is really useful. So that’s what I recommend. Turning then to social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever it is and with Instagram in fact, I actually posted something called the Instagram language challenge which is a daily chance to practice a little language. There’s 28 prompts each month so you’ve got a few days off if it happens so you’ve got a few months to catch up except for in February.
But the idea is that you can then take the prompts so let’s say that the prompt is red, you don’t have to go red dictionary, red this word and just say it or write it down. You can just say it. So let’s say that you know the word red because your English is amazing, do you know what red-handed means or [cross-talk] 34:00 so you can take it and you can be like I’m going to learn an expression or an idiom or a whole phrase around this word so you can use the prompts however you wish and then share a photo or video and then kind of explain in the description and then what this does as well as holding you accountable, you’re also creating some kind of documentary documenting your language learning process so you can then go back. Like I’m doing this right now with an Indonesian. I’m speaking almost every day except for today because I can’t speak today. but I’m speaking every day I’ll go on and say something and then at the end of the month, I’ll go back to the beginning and I’ll see actually, I was really bad. I’ve improved a lot and so it’s a really motivating way to hold yourself accountable and to be documenting your language study too which is another crucial thing in my mind.
GABRIEL: Yeah, you’re able to track your progress and you’re not like I didn’t progress at all and you’re able to look at it back like you said and then you see I’m so much better than I used to be so that’s definitely a great way.
GABRIEL: Let’s stick to the realm of motivation. I know that you were quite easily motivated to learn French with Croissants and Spanish with Shakira, now that’s probably not as most people are not motivated as quickly to learn a certain language. What do you think are other ways to learn a language or maybe interested in that impulse is missing and you need a stronger impulse to learn their language. What do you think are some good ways.
LINDSAY: There has to be something I think and it varies whether or not you’re learning a language for or you have to learn a language that could be kind of school work, like immigration if you have to move to a country for example or whether or not you want to learn the language and if you want to learn a language in theory the motivation to keep going should be easier, not necessarily always, but in theory that’s kind of like well I want to do this so it’s there but then of course on the other side of wanting to learn a language is the idea of dreaming if you like about learning a language, that sort of wouldn’t it be cool if I could speak Korean fluently. That would be fun. That kind of floaty image of it where actually you want to have the end result. You want to be able to say I speak Korean fluently but you actually don’t want the process, you don’t care about the language enough to want the process.
So generally you think that should be easier for motivation but it’s not always whereas with the other side of things where it’s a necessity, I think it can be harder. It can be easier if you like the country you’re living in or the language but it can also be harder if you´re being forced to or if it is a must, you have to do this, we’re moving to this country or we’re going to send your job to that country so you have to learn. It can be harder.
So I think in all the situations, I guess it comes back to finding something that you love because there’s always going to be something and you need that kind of charm and intrigue to keep you going. Maybe if you’re learning English for example, you’re in luck, if you hate the way that I speak and you hate the tv and the films and the books that my country produces, you can look over to America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, you’ve got so much choice. So if you’re learning another language maybe there’s not so much choice then it can be more difficult. But there will still be something to hook you and get you involved and then once you’ve found that, it can act as motivation and then also enjoy that process of finding things so even if you listen to loads of K-Pop because you really want to be fluent in Korean but nothing is grabbing you, keep going until you find that thing because chances are it’s out there.
GABRIEL: The hook is important, it’s great, that hook that gets you to learn their language and I know that for some people that hook is strong, that commitment or what they think, how difficult they think it will be to learn their language is stronger. I can give you an example, I have, my family’s mostly from the Soviet Union and we all moved to Germany and now speak Russian so some of them married Germans and so their spouses want to learn Russian and they have the motivation because there’s always birthdays where all speak Russian but they think it’s so hard that they don’t even start. They say yes, I need to and want to and it would be great if I could speak Russian to my spouse or children, it would be great but it’s just too difficult. I see how that’s their internal thinking. It’s just too difficult to learn Russian so what would be your suggestion to learn if the hook is very strong but the project itself is stronger?
LINDSAY: Interesting question. I think sometimes it’s almost like, this is probably going to be a pretty disappointing answer but sometimes I feel like it can’t be forced. Learning a language won’t be for everyone although I wish it could be and I think it should be. It won’t necessarily be what everyone wants to do and even if you have that really strong hook, you really love K-Pop, you have that connection to Russian in your family and you’re still feeling like it’s too hard then maybe it’s not going to happen because that’s something you have to overcome I think before you can get to that point where there will be motivation.
And I think that there’s so much that I could say to try and convince someone that learning a language doesn’t have to be hard but if people are not prepared to knock that belief down then it’s probably not going to happen which is the unfortunate truth but I think it can be knocked down, I think language learning, if someone says to me, it must be so hard, how have you studied so many languages? I say to them, well you’re talking to me in a language, we’ve all learned a language, even if we’ve learned our native language in a different way to how you then go on to learn a second, fourth or whatever language, you’ve still done it, you’ve still gone through that process. This is something you can do. It’s not like you’re learning to play a musical instrument and you’ve never even touched a triangle let alone a guitar or Saxophone.
This is something that you have done. If you’re asking me the question how do you learn a language and so I think that’s something I tend to say to people whether, I don’t think it’s the answer they want when they say that. I say you’ve done it so you can do it again. But I think it’s unfortunate if some people feel it’s too hard and they’re never going to do it, unless they’re willing to get passed that thought and move past it then they’ll find the motivation and hook of something they love then it’s not going to happen. That’s the limiting belief that will stop it unfortunately.
GABRIEL: True there is no magic pill. Alright so another topic, I know you learned a few scripts. That’s something that people struggle with and once you understand how to learn a script, it’s quite easy actually and you can do it quickly so say tomorrow I come with a gun to your head and tell you to learn a completely new script within that day, what would you do?
LINDSAY: First of all I’d call the police, second of all in that case I think what I would do is depends because they’re all so different. There are these common themes of things that I learned so I think what you’re talking about is 2015 maybe. Yeah, 2015 is when I did that project where I went way into language skips and go over it and what was interesting was that I began to see patterns. I began to see that a lot of languages from this Indian sub-continent and that region of the world. It’s not ABCDE, it’s K G K G. There’s different patterns of how they work and then you’ve got the idea of diacritics. Some scripts maybe Hebrew for example where you have the vowels that are ended around the letter.
And so there’s that element too and then you then begin to see this language has both. I know what that is now. So where to begin with that. I would have to ask you to get done, because it’s hard to stay concentrated. But for me what’s important with that is having a pen and being able to write them and just copy in that kind of very repetitive and monotonous style but for me it helps as I’m quite physical, if I’m just looking at it going nope not going to go in my brain. I need to do it myself and write it down a few times. Maybe write it in other ways like if there’s sand in this room, write it in sand or in the air or where ever it is just to sort of picture it up.
Also, what I’ve heard some people try with this is to try to picture it, I don’t know if you’ve heard of Chine easy. It’s like very visual. It’s art really so I forget her name, I think it’s Shan Lee and she’s created this huge amazing set of images so it’s like, person for example looks like this but then she’s drawn around the character so you can see that it is a person so having that visual clue can be helpful as well so maybe think about some of those so you can remember like oh this one looks like a word that begins with that sound so yeah, there’s a few different ways. In reality, I’d probably just panic and not be able to learn a thing.
GABRIEL: Well alright. It was so great. Is there anything you want to add?
LINDSAY: I don’t think so. I mean if you’d like to learn more if you’re watching feel free to visit Lindsay’slanguages.com and that’s where you can reach me and get in touch and found videos and all that stuff.
GABRIEL: Alright, well thank you so much for participating, was great to have you on.
LINDSAY: You’re welcome, thank you