How to “Learn” English – Part 2

We continue to look at the approach on how to learn English from Part 1.

Mikhail:
But non-English speakers in order for their English to improve, they had to get comfortable with speaking with native speakers. So, I think that’s also something to keep in mind for non-English speakers is that, if you really want to learn, you really want to improve. Then you really had to try to push yourself for this outcome. You really had to try to get over the discomfort to talk to a native speaker and yeah, a native speaker… I mean a lot of them just simply do not have that motivation, but a lot of them will try if you talk to them, they will try to understand you a little bit. They might give a faster than you have liked, but at a minimum, if you try with one, it doesn’t work out as well. You would try with a multiple, then chances are some of them will be more interested to talk to you.

And then the more you try, the more likely you’re going to come across that person who is interested to talk to you. So that way you can then spend more time with that person and hopefully be able to talk to them and get them to understand what you’re saying. And hopefully you can get them to help you along as well. Helps to say, Hey. Okay. So instead of saying what you’re saying, you want to say things a little bit different because that’s how we actually say it. Those are the type of people that… the type of native speakers that’ll be really beneficial, for the non-native speakers. So, we kind of getting into the wits there a little bit, but at a high level, let’s go back to the high level part. The high level is that you want to define a goal and then you want to be able to measure against goal.

Yinso:
Okay.

Mikhail:
And then obviously you had to overcome your own fear because speaking in many ways to somewhat fearful, there’s always the question of rejection that happens. And unfortunately there’s just no way to ensure that that doesn’t happen, unless you pay for the services. Right.

Yinso:
I can, let me just add something here. I think it’s very important that if you have this kind of experience of learning English without using it, for example, I do have this experience. And also I know a lot of people who do have the same experience. So once you start, once you have done it for many, many years that fear becomes a lot stronger. Why? Because maybe, initially you don’t have that kind of fear, but just by doing that for many, many years you reinforce that fear constantly. That’s why I would always advise to think about the years that we’re spending in school, just learning in English without using it. It might actually reinforce the fear. It might actually bring them- [crosstalk]

Mikhail:
That’s very true. Reinforcing the fear due to lack of use.

Yinso:
… So people get used to certain vocabulary. They are getting better in the vocabulary part, but the more vocabulary they acquire, the less confident they feel because like, Oh yeah, I know a lot of words, but I can not say any of those words so I can not understand what native speakers are saying-

Mikhail:
Yeah. In many ways. Let’s talk a little bit about how to overcome this fear. Okay. First thing I would say is this, slow down. I think of all the non-English speakers that I talked to, people who are not anywhere comfortable yet, one of the things that you would see a lot is that they speed up in the way that they talk. It’s almost like that they want to just make sure they dump out everything they’re talking at once, because they are afraid that the thoughts that they have does not get expressed well, I don’t know. I think that’s probably where this…

But the truth is that the faster you speak to harder this for others to understand you. You Probably find that sometimes I speak too fast, even though you’re nodding away. But the thing is that even when native speakers, when they speak fast, it becomes harder for people to understand. So this is a very key part, is that in order for you to overcome your fear, you have to be able to slow down. Now, the second part of overcoming your fear, obviously you just have to start to talk to another person, but assuming that you starting to do that, then it is to find ways. How do I say this? Find more words-

Yinso:
Find ways to use the language, find the context, find something useful, find something interesting, Find relevant words. I would say.

Mikhail:
That’s true. I think in the beginning though a lot of people are going to fumble around. So for example, until you’re getting used to how to use a particular word, you’re going to be spending time, like say, what’s the word that’s in my head. I don’t have to say this. Things like that. Right? So in many ways, what happens is that people are trying to express a concept at the same level as their native language. So they’re trying to find the equivalent words for another word. But the… When I say find more words, it’s kind of like this. So for example, instead of saying, I need a dictionary, maybe this word is very big. I don’t know. Some people might not have learned this word. And even if they have learned it, they might not necessarily use that immediately.

So instead of saying, I need a dictionary, they say something like, I need the book that has all the words inside and contains their meanings, right?

Yinso:
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:00:05:58].

Mikhail:
So, saying it like that using the phrase, instead of using words. Then others will understand that you are asking for dictionary, even though you don’t know what that word is yet. So a lot of time, this is how native speakers do it as well. Sometimes we want to say the word, but we had brain fart. So, that word doesn’t come out, then we will be like, Oh, what is that word? What am I trying to say? And-

Yinso:
This is yet another reason why school fails to actually to educate us on languages, because we’re usually given a set of phrases and we just keep reciting them. Okay. So this is the right phrase. Okay. Let’s recite it. But it doesn’t stick into the brain because just recital doesn’t mean much. But the second thing is, we are afraid of saying the same thing in a different words. And this is something that I learned from my experience. I started to improve my own English skills when I started to use this technique. Exactly. I just figured that out for myself that this is something I should be doing. Yeah.

Mikhail:
Yeah. I think a lot of time people really try to just… they try to be at the same level as they are in their own language and that’s it. That is too hard until you are there. So we talk about how to graduate, get there. And finally, it’s okay to be, I don’t want to, I mean-

Yinso:
Imperfect, not perfect.

Mikhail:
… that, imperfect. Whatever the word that is you want to criticize yourself with, because people who have fear are fearful of others giving the same criticism. But first you have to forgive yourself. You have to be ready to say, it’s okay I’m not that good. And it’s okay that I struggle. And it’s okay that I’m struggling in front of another person, but let me try to struggle. Let me try to get myself across. But to do that, you had to really forgive yourself for the non offense that is actually happening. So-

Yinso:
Yeah, I agree with that. But I always have like a slightly different perspective on this thing because not completely different, but I would say that I have a follow-up question. The follow-up idea. I think that it’s okay to be imperfect. It’s okay to be perfect, as long as your triumphs and improving yourself. For example, your focus is on improvement. Because I have actually seen a lot of people who assumed that we are bad, where they keep going around-

Mikhail:
That’s true.

Yinso:
… saying to everyone I’m bad, my English is bad, but I think that… If you can do it for a while, for a little time but at some point of time you might have to make a choice. For example, you can keep going and talking about your English is bad or you can actually start improving. So you are focus or you are trying, well it’s-

Mikhail:
That’s very fair. You do also need to guard yourself against self-indulgence.

You can not just always give yourself the break that you bad. Yes, you have to try to improve, but that’s hopefully dealing with other people who’s going to watch our program. Right?

Yinso:
Yeah, I hope so.

Mikhail:
So, okay. So I think that we will have Eddie answer some of the questions on how to learn English and hopefully you will help someone to try to get better at.

Yinso:
Yeah, I think it was a very good discussion.

Mikhail:
All right.

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