DISRUPTIVE living speeds up ENGLISH learning

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(Photo credit: http://bit.ly/2hdOyxl)

Imagine a life with no disruptions. Would it be paradise? Is it a dream state we always wish for? Some may think so, but ultimately it isn’t realistic and also isn’t useful for you if you are learning a language.

Sit back and consider now your last 24 hours. Perhaps your day was straight forward, perhaps you had a clear focus on what you were going to do and achieved it. But what you need to do is to think of what really happened to you. Somehow somewhere you were disrupted. Perhaps it was something as simple as wanting to sit somewhere on the train but someone got to that seat before you, or you were going to cross the road at these lights, but decided to move onto the next part of the road so you could get across quicker. These are probably the kinds of disruptions you haven’t considered, but these are still disruptions and actually often very important ones.

The next thing to realise is that in fact we spend most of our day trying to avoid disruptions. If we wanted to sit on a certain seat we would speed up our walk to get there quicker, or if we wanted to cross the road faster we would have a reason or that. All these changes in behavior do relate to overcoming disruption.

So what does this have to do with learning a language. Well, a language is in itself a disruptor. Right from the start we are disrupting our own first language to learn this second one. We may still be thinking in our first language, but something enters our mind to disrupt this process of communication and replace it with English. This is one way of looking at it.

But the most important thing to realise is that communication is happening all the time. The whole reason why you are learning English is so that you will be able shift yourself to a different place whether that be for your education or business or just travel, it is important to you. But the key point in all this is that once you start using English, no two pieces of communication will ever be the same. You will be speaking to different people, for different reasons, and are expecting different outcomes on every occasion.  Every time you get the unexpected, you have been disrupted.

In the classroom your teacher should be doing the same to you. Yes, you need to understand the grammar, the vocabulary, the phrasing, the correct chunks of conversation to get by, but also they should be constantly disrupting your learning, why?, so you can feel the real process of communication. Your teacher may suddenly place you in a vulnerable situation/role play and you have to talk your way out, or perhaps you are being asked something unexpected and you need to answer. The most interesting one is the general conversation. You know you can’t make a conversation with someone but simply asking them ‘how are you?’ every 5 minutes. You know you need to go deeper and in a more interesting and unexpected way. Here you are disrupting all by yourself and the other person is disrupting you also.

The key to communication is to be able to say what you mean and ask for what you want and understand what you are getting. Each of these changes over time and will give you different answers.

The more you disrupt a conversation, the faster you learn! So, keep on disrupting and pushing yourself to the unexpected.

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