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I was talking to a young school leaver recently who was talking about what he wanted to do for his career. He said that he wanted to be a computer programmer because all you had to do was code and you got paid a fortune.
A few things hit me with this comment. Firstly how out of touch he was with what work was, and also how on-track he was as a typical 18 year old!
Some people say that the young generation today don’t know hard work. I’d reply that most young people historically don’t know hard work. To them they see the adults around them driving fast cars, living in big homes, spending money here there and everywhere and they don’t seem to do much for it. It’s easy to think that when you are a teenager. But, of course, us mature adults know better.
To try to convince an 18 year old, that hard work is going to get you wherever you want to be isn’t easy. Particularly when it comes to learning a language. Most young people would say – oh I’ll just buy a translation app or something.
Translation apps do exist and are becoming increasingly sophisticated, yes, but there are some limitations to these too. The best thing to do (and always will be no matter what you want to do in life), is to jump right in and take the topic by the neck and work it as hard as you can so you can get whatever you need every which way you can imagine and more. Learning just a few things here and there to get you by isn’t going to cut it long term. The truth is that the harder you work, in fact the easier it all gets.
Knowing this principle deep inside you is the key, so how do you get an 18 year old to turn this around? The best thing to do is to not describe it as hard work for a start, but to describe it as ‘finding your passion for learning English’. That can be triggered by a great teacher a great mentor or even finding someone who you respect whether locally or a celebrity and realising what they went through to get to where they wanted to go. Some famous people had to learn English too, and had to do it on top of all their other hard work in the desired profession.
If someone can’t find their passion, the hard work will be truly gruelling and verging on impossible, but as soon as that light gets switched on, the path opens and it’s just about going on the journey, enjoying it and doing whatever is necessary to get to their destination, no matter what.
That’s hard work.