Our approach to learning a language
part 1: Learning Style, Perfectionism = Stress, Focus on needs
Every individual is different and has a particular learning style. Some need music, others absolute silence and concentration. Some think better sitting down, others whilst out strolling in the park. There is no one perfect method that fits all. Personally, I get my inspiration whilst out walking. I have had some of my best and most imaginative and very profitable marketing ideas spring to mind whilst out enjoying the fresh air and sunshine.
Ask yourself; when you were three years old, did you have a dictionary at your side? Or did you ever ask your parents whether that last sentence should have included a direct or indirect object pronoun? No, of course not. What is, indeed, communication? A simple smile speaks louder than words. However, as a call-centre sales coach, I know body language isn’t visible when phoning clients. That just leaves content (grammar and vocabulary) and delivery style (clarity, tone, pitch and speed) at your disposal.
Perfectionism = Stress
Professionals want to be perfectionists, and here lies the problem. The desire to speak without making a mistake leads to stress and, often, silence (not to mention illness).
Better to be just 70% perfect and talk with mistakes than to remain in the background afraid of using the wrong verb, feeling embarrassed or inadequate in front of your colleagues. As a child you had no such inhibitions. You probably sang nursery rhymes you would never dream of singing now during that boardroom meeting. Yet, when no one is listening, you probably sing along quite happily to Robbie Williams on your iPod. The subject here is not grammar, but self-confidence.
Focus on needs
There is no point in re-learning what you already know, especially if you are paying for the session. We shall, therefore, focus on your core needs in order to save valuable time. This may include pronunciation and fluency, amplification of vocabulary and verbs specific to your line of work, awareness of structures, business-letter writing skills, rehearsing for a vital interview, fine-tuning of an important speech, or translation and formatting of documents. The list is endless and the time is yours. So let’s work on it together in order to maximize your potential.
part 2: Prioritizing, Memory, Motivation
In your one-to-one session it’s up to you what you want to learn and practice. You have realistic expectations. Together, we will set a time-scale to achieve your objective.
Using the Eisenhower Matrix, we can establish what is urgent, what is important, and what is both urgent and important. This is often a big oversight of managers and busy people. For example, if you need to get that PowerPoint presentation translated, learnt and perfected by Monday morning, an option could be to delegate the translation task to me. Afterwards, we can concentrate on perfecting the content and delivery style together. Two business-heads are, after all, better than one.
There are many tricks available to help you improve your language skills. Memory enhancement techniques, including the use of scientific revision-frequency, mind-maps, sketches, pictures and colours, as well as utilization of as many of the senses as possible (sound, smell, sight, taste and touch), is the key.
Intrinsic – you want to. Extrinsic – you have to.
If you are motivated, you can learn a language so much more pleasantly and quickly. If you need English for the job (extrinsic motivation) but don’t have much time and energy, or are not a fan of classroom grammar lessons, then we need to find out what learning style generates maximum enthusiasm. Maybe you are a morning person and digest information at ease over breakfast. Perhaps you think better standing up or whilst on the move. Or, maybe, a strong coffee is the solution. Somebody wanting to learn a language successfully, needs to find the appropriate medium (book, DVD, learning software,..) and the right teacher (methodology and temperament), as well as an adequate learning environment (office, home or café atmosphere) to reach that optimal level of motivation.
Music and humour are both very important components in the learning and memory-enhancing process.