Why learning English is like BAKING a CAKE


(Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1Sq0Q2M)

I’d like to just jump right off the cliff right here and talk about something completely contrary to any kind of English learning post. It’s called – ‘there are times when you just have to stop trying to learn English and let it just come’.

Let’s take a moment to think about the English that you are starting to learn. It is exciting isn’t it? You have a great teacher, you have some good fellow students in your class, a classroom and you have already noticed some people interested in trying to talk to you in english. That is a great start. The urge right now is to …… mess with it!

Resist that urge! Stop now!

The right thing to do when you are in this situation is to simply sit back and listen. Listen to what the teacher is saying but don’t just react immediately. If the teacher is satisfied with you but there could be some minor improvements, yes after a short while if you feel there is something to pick up and learn here, make those small amendments. These are good actions to take.

But the teacher has many ideas to help you, and also doesn’t want to overwhelm you either. They may say, you are doing so well, you need to expand your vocabulary, or have you thought about developing your writing more or speaking etc, or worse still you suddenly find yourself actually doing really well and want to add some more vocabulary exercises or speaking tasks etc. All of this sounds like a good idea but really you may be overwhelming yourself here.

The truth is that these are all good ideas, and some you may even implement but not now. The first thing right now you need to think about is simply letting yourself learn at the pace your teacher is setting you. Let it run and see what happens over time. For sure after the English course has finished and you have sat your first exam, you will know and appreciate where you are at and be ready for the next level.

To compare your English to a cake is quite interesting. If any of you have ever baked a cake you will know what I mean. You put all the ingredients in the bowl, mix it up, put the oven on and heat up and then put the cake in the oven. This is the most impatient time. It is just at this time when you want to open that oven door, poke it and prod it and play with the temperature and make it into the best cake possible. But ultimately this very thing can damage its’ growth and before long you have a flat, tough, and rock hard and you sigh ‘I just don’t know how to make a great cake’.  Put simply, sometimes a cake just needs to be left and let it do what it does well….rise.

Learning a language is the same. Too much nervousness or interference can destroy something brilliant that could have ended up making fast progress, instead you ruined it by not letting it do what it needs to do…..bake.

Our brain is huge in its capacity and the learning we made sits only on a very small percentage of it. What goes on under that is still very unknown, but all we do know is that human learning needs time. You need time for your unconscious mind to digest what you have just consumed. No amount of fast tracking yourself will do anything until that learning is deep inside you. This depth comes from taking things slow and sure, and doing what you feel is right on a daily basis. If you try to move too fast or take on too much information at once, you will end up frustrated and giving up.

Trust your learning, trust your mind, and just do what needs to be done. If you feel you can handle a little more learning, do so, but take it slowly and carefully. We don’t want you to destroy that cake you are baking.


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