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My Secret Tips for Learning a Foreign Language

I shall limit my secret tips to only two for now, just to keep it simple:

1) Constancy is my first secret. Daily practice is the right way!

2) The second one is fluidity of the brain ~ let your mind flow undisturbed.

The most important factor is constancy. Find the time for your practice every day and just do it. Once you have established a daily pattern, then take your time and let it sink in. It's true what they say, that you can learn a language in your sleep and, no... it doesn't help if you put your book underneath your pillow. Your brain carries on working for you while you sleep by sifting through what you've learned during the day and selecting and sedimenting the useful information in your memory banks, for you to readily have access to it in the future. When you don't work on your new language one day, your brain gets busy with other things during that night and so you lose touch with your practice.


it's a myth that older people can't learn foreign languages, because their brain doesn't work just as well as a young brain. Yes, it does work differently, but it can be trained to work properly by creating the correct routines and then the result will be very similar with that of younger learners. My next secret explains this point in more detail.

I shall put my second point across in a comparison between older and younger learners. The second important aspect is what one may call fluidity of the brain. In this cotext, let your brain flow with what comes to it, rather than float, clutching what's in it as a 'safety ring'.

The older learners tend to make this mistake: the more we lose touch with our routine and we realise that we can't remember things so easily, we form a convenient belief that our memory is failing us, due to age or whatever other reason...and gradually give up trying.

This belief is what we're 'clutching' when we find ourselves in a situation where we need to be fluid in our thinking so that we can grab the right word from our memory bank and put it into the right shape for that conversation. This is when your brain freezes on the thought that 'oh, I can't do this, I'm too old' or whatever else your inner chatter tells you.

If at that moment you make the extra mistake and say these words out loud,  you basically reinforce those thoughts and beliefs! If you're really unlucky and have another person nearby who'd agree with you in response... there's the clutching of a mistaken belief, almost like a safety ring to avoid drowning. Did I make my point clear?

The younger learners on the other hand, tend to go along with what comes and face the situation without fear. Take the example of surfing waves on the sea. The wave comes anyway - it's up to you to face it or go under... simple as that.

In a live conversation (we call it an 'authentic practice' in grammatical terms), when it comes to your turn it's like the ocean wave - if you then bend down to 'clutch' your board you won't surf the wave, you'll go under! Because your brain isn't fluid, working together with the wave. If you leave the 'I can't do it' thought behind and instead, get your mind to send you an 'I must do it and come out standing' than you're giving yourself a chance!

The more you do this, the better you become at it, just like surfers. Just imagine how many times a good surfer tried and tried and practiced his 'I must do it and come out standing' thought before (s)he became good at it. If you've managed to change your outlook, share your success here.

A good conclusion to draw from these two points

You cannot understand English well until you listen to it regularly. Join My English Club and ask for interesting material.

Let your brain be fluid, don't boycott it with your rigid beliefs. Don't trust your inner chatter, think positively and it will change.

I do have other secret tips, but let's keep it simple for now. If you can make amendments to your thinking and your daily routine, based on the ideas above, you can consider yourself many steps in front of other people who are still rigid in their ways.

Keep an eye on this page in the future. Use My English Club and have fun learning!

A final reminder, for those of you who are still hesitating:

“Make mistakes this year! Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, do it! Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

Neil Gaiman

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