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Today I took some time to reflect on the language coaching that I do. I have been privileged to work with a great group of individuals over the last year, helping them become better language learners who are more effective, more efficient and are having more fun on the language learning journey.
I was working to rewrite my coaching page to better reflect what I do and how I do it as a language coach. Using a new mind-mapping program that I recently discovered and love, I began to think of the main themes or ideas of my coaching.
You can see my simple mind map below.
As I worked through simplifying and thinking about how each of these categories works out in my coaching, I realized that these six ideas are the core of what I want to be doing with The Everyday Language Learner blog and I feel are really at the core of what every language learner needs in order to be successful.
I’ve recently been reading Stephen King’s book On Writing, which is, you guessed it, about becoming a better writer. He shares how he writes his first draft and then, after it is done, he goes back and tries to discover the themes and symbols that exist within the story.
I feel as though my reflection process has done the same for me. As I look back at my coaching, at the writing I’ve done here at the blog and in my guides and at my own language learning journey, I realize that these are the main themes that come up again and again. And of course they should be. They are above the nuts and bolts of a specific language and so apply to the learning of every language. In many ways they seem to be the pillars that support any successful language learning journey.
The Six Pillars of Success
These six pillars of success have been at the core of my own journey to master Turkish and as I reflect on the last four years, I realize that I have done best when all six have been a part of the process. As I go back through everything that I have written here at the blog, the same pattern emerges – I consistently write about these six ideas.
They are at the core of the guides I’ve written, are scattered throughout my free course, The Ten Week Journey, and make up the prime components of nearly every coaching session I have. I don’t think one is any more or less important than any other but I do think that most who find success have all of them working for them. They may not always realize it, but they do.
Of all the work I do through The Everyday Language Learner, teaching is perhaps the one aspect that I love the most. Sharing information that will help you become self-directed, independent language learners is one of my top goals. As a learner, becoming knowledgable about the process of learning a new language, about the methods and activities with which we can learn new languages and about all that goes into the language learning journey is one of the most empowering steps you can take toward success. You can find this pillar working its way into The Everyday Language Learner in:
- The Ten Week Journey course (free)
- The Everyday Language Learner’s Guide to Getting Started
- The Language Learning Activities page
- Language Learning Tips blog posts
- Blog Category: Knowledge
What have you done recently to grow in your knowledge of the language learning process?
All the desire in the world adds up to very little if you do not have the resources available to actually make your dream happen. In the past, available resources for learning other languages were fairly limited. Today however, resources for learning nearly every language in the world are available and often in great quantity because of the Internet.
You can build a house with a hammer and a hand saw, but it will go faster, be easier and a lot more fun if you have the best tools for the job. Learning a new language is the same. Finding the best resources for your learning style and life situation will inevitably make the journey more effective and efficient and you will find more success.
I’ve introduced you to new resources here at EDLL through:
- The Getting Started Resource page
- The Language Specific Resource Page
- The Other Great Bloggers page
- The Ten Week Journey course
- Blog Category: Resources
What resource have you recently begun using to learn a new language?
If teaching is what I love to do most, encouragement is perhaps what I am best at in my writing. Sustaining motivation is one of the most important aspects of the language learning journey. As a language learner, you just have to put in the time day in and day out in order to learn. There is no way around this and it will not happen if you are not motivated to make it happen. Creating, maintaining and protecting your motivation, commitment and a positive attitude toward learning the language then should be a serious consideration in your day to day interaction with the language. If you haven’t yet, be sure and read Sustaining. It is a power packed guide to help you win the battle of motivation that you can read in 20 minutes or less.
What do you do to help sustain motivation on the language learning journey?
Setting a goal and then creating a plan to reach that goal is at the core of any successful endeavor and learning another language is no different. For most everyday language learners though, it is tough to develop a plan because we know so little about what makes for an effective language learning program – don’t we just sign up for a class and let someone else teach us? That would be one easy route to learn the language, but in my writing I am not so much interested in finding the easiest way as I am in helping you find the best way. And in my experience, the best way is when YOU take charge of your language learning journey. This could of course include signing up for a class, but it should involve much more and it will involve planning. Planning it is said is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it. In my writing and coaching I want to give learners the tools and information to develop a plan that will be the most effective, efficient and productive route forward toward fluency in the language they are learning.
Have you sat down and written out a plan for how you will reach your language learning goal?
Accountability is the process through which we make sure we stick to our plan. There are many forms of accountability and individual learners all need to figure out for themselves what they need to stick to the plans that they have created to learn the language. For some, there is sufficient internal will power to keep at it. Others are having so much fun that accountability is a mute point. For most of us though, we need a host of accountability strategies in order to follow through with our plans. Without these most of us quickly fade away and find ourselves floundering in a sea of mediocrity wishing we could do better. It is important that you know yourself, that you know what you need to succeed and are able to put sufficient accountability in place to see you through to the achievement of your goal. More ideas about accountability can be found in:
How have you added accountability to your language learning journey?
If planning helps us develop the path toward our goal and accountability helps keep us on that path, assessment is the tool that tells is if our path is actually going in the right direction. And this, as you can imagine, is extremely important.
Traditionally, language assessment has been primarily focused on assessing a learners ability in the language. Periodic assessments of this nature are important because they show us if we are moving forward or not. But assessments of language proficiency used alone are limited and there is much we can do to create a more robust assessment process.
A better assessment will also evaluate what you are doing to learn the language – the activities and methods you are using – and help you to make adjustments on the journey to become more effective and efficient in what you are doing.
I created the Guide to Self-Assessment tool in order to give everyday language learners the ability to do just this, to take control of the assessment of not only their ability to use the language, but also of their personal plan for learning the language. By evaluating both, language learners can maximize their ability to learn the language as fast and as fluently as they can.
What has been your experience with language assessment?
So there you have it, the six pillars to successful language learning. It is my opinion that if you can build each of these into your language learning journey, you will be more successful. It is my goal in all I do here at the blog and in my coaching to help you understand how these six ideas can be practically applied to all you do as you learn a new language.
Which of these six seems most important to you right now?
I would love to be able to help more language learners and so ask if you would be willing to help me spread the word with one of the share buttons at the bottom or side of this post. It would be a tremendous help. Thanks so much!
Ready to get serious about learning another language?
"Aaron consistenly pumps out top quality language learning advice and motivational posts,
and is probably one of the best sources of encouragement you'll come across."
-Donovan Nagel, The Mezzofanti Guild