Let’s Play Ball
In almost every civilization in history, athletes have been prized above all. There is something about their strength, their power, their ability to make difficult physical fetes appear easy that leaves us in awe, and we eat it up.
While we can’t all be athletes, there are some traits that athletes have that we can imitate to improve our own lives, and when it comes to language learning, we should definitely seek to take a page out of the book of our favorite athletes.
Commitment: No athlete becomes great without a commitment to their sport. LeBron James didn’t step onto the basketball court for the first time and hit a 3-point shot. Likewise, Tom Brady didn’t throw a 50-yard pass for a game winning touchdown when he first strapped on his pads in little league. At some point, athletes have to decide that this sport is for them, and then they have to stick with it.
Language learners need to do the same thing. You have to decide that you want to learn that language and expect that you can do it. Everyone who has ever achieved something great has started as a beginner, and your language learning experience is no different.
Persistence: Once you’re ready to commit, the next step is persistence. There is a reason that baseball and softball players go into a batting cage and hit ball after ball, and it’s not because it’s always fun to do. Rather, they persist in their practice in order to fine-tune their skills.
You will need to find ways to fine-tune your studies in order to improve your language ability. It won’t be easy, but practice and persistence, day in and day out, will be crucial to achieving success.
Drive: Gabby Davis’ gymnastics coach said that she was always like an Energizer Bunny when she came to the gym: she was so excited to be there that you couldn’t contain her energy or challenge her quickly enough. It is because her drive to be the best gymnast in the world was unparalleled. She was excited about doing something she loved so much, and that drive led her to become the winningest gymnast of all time.
Discovering your drive to learn a language might be difficult some days, but it will be essential in finding success. How can you motivate yourself? What do you need to do to infuse your language learning routine with excitement?
Time Management: Professional athletes are obviously paid to dedicate their time to their craft, but all athletes have put in countless numbers of hours toward playing at that high level before they became superstars. On a daily basis, they will have incorporated appropriate exercise and nutrition, practiced playing their sport, and taken time after to cool down.
If you want to become fluent in a language, you must make it a priority in your daily schedule. There are so many ways to immerse yourself in your new language on a daily basis, like reading newspapers or watching YouTube channels. Once it becomes a part of your daily routine, your new language will become a part of who you are, giving you the confidence that athletes show when playing their sport.
Teamwork: Even in individual sports like running or swimming, no man is an island. It takes a team of people to train athletes to the highest level. Athletes need the support, encouragement, and teaching of those who have come before them, counting on those people to hone their skills.
Language learning is not a one-man event either. You need to find people with whom you can speak your new language. You need a good teacher to show you how to correctly pronounce words and structure your sentences. You need to be challenged to set goals, then be given the tools to achieve them.
Fluency is not a finish line, but it also cannot be achieved if you never start the race. It’s time to start flexing those brain muscles! Sign up today for a free trial with one of UpVerb’s native-speaking teachers. Let us be part of your team. See you in the classroom!