Photo by Massimo Sartirana on Unsplash
As an English teacher, I love the interaction with you, my students, on a weekly basis. It gives me energy and, I have to be honest, pleasure.
What I probably shouldn’t tell you, but I will anyway, is that I love to watch you struggle: finding the right words, the right structure, but mostly, the psychological and physical aspects of your fight. This is because I believe these may be the most difficult to overcome. Especially at the beginning.
Here are two “complaints” I especially love, because they are so common and they even happened to me.
I’m Too Tired
You are tired during class, yup, it happened to us all. Speaking a different language takes energy; speaking a foreign language for an extended period takes a lot of energy. How do I know? I live in Spain and I am a foreigner. I love it when people ask me: “have you no idea how difficult it is to speak English for so long time?” (Mistake is on purpose). My response? “What do you think.” and no, it’s not a question, it’s a confirmation. I live in a country that is not mine, where I don’t speak any of my native languages, so… “Yes, but you speak perfect Spanish, it’s easy for you.” This is a typical response many give to many similar topics. And let’s be clear, I did not wake up one morning and speak Spanish like this.
The bottom line is that it is normal to be tired. It doesn’t matter how much you speak the language you’re learning. I have called my mother often enough complaining about not wanting to speak any more Spanish. I even called and realise I didn’t want to speak any language. I had my moments during business meetings where my brain just stopped working and I had to stop, and I’ve seen this happen to other people as well. They are just saturated.
Here’s another cliche for you: it’s not easy, but anything worth doing is not easy. It takes time and you will build up your stamina. You don’t expect to break 100 (golf related) without any practice do you?
I know, you’re not able to find the words you want to use. But also here, I will need to employ some cliches: you will not speak English like me in 5 minutes. Practice, practice and more importantly: practice. “Ya, pero, es que no me salen las palabras”. Of course, and that is completely normal. If you don’t use your car for some months, it will also have some problems starting up. Would you expect anything else from your car? Then why do you expect that from your English.
Language doesn’t only need practice, it also needs maintenance. It will get rusty (yes, we say the same thing in English) if you don’t use it for a longer time and then, you need to find the words again, even if, probably, you understand everything you hear around you. Again, I have the same experiences. Sometimes it is not easy for me to find the words I would like to use and, frankly, my German is a disaster. But then again, I haven’t used it in ages.
There is, however, another skill that you need to be able to use in these situations, which is to go around these words. Being able to explain what you want to say, without loosing too much of your fluency.
This article is not based on scientific evidence, it is based on my experience as a language learner and teacher.
I hope this helps you a bit and I wish you good luck. Until the next article:
DON’T FORGET TO PRACTICE
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