Don’t NIBBLE at your English like a mouse – take a big BITE!


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Ever seen a small mouse nibbling on the edge of a piece of cheese, then suddenly running away because it heard something and got scared?  Are you that person when it comes to learning English?

Are you going to spend the rest of your life like that mouse – constantly sniffing around looking for bits of cheese to nibble? NO! I hope not. When English is set in your curriculum to study – you must jump into that great big bowl of English soup and swim in it, drink it, eat the chunky bits, and basically get used to the smell because it is going to be with you for life.

Nibbling at the edge of something comes down to two reasons:

  1. You are too scared to move further into it.
  2. You are not committed and are only doing it because someone told you you had to.

The first one is easy to solve, that takes some courage and confidence or understanding the reason why you need to learn it. Some good mentoring, guidance and nurturing from someone who cares can help you. But it is the second one that is more interesting.

I had a situation when I was in Kazakhstan once. I met a Kazakh friend who introduced me to her brother. I tried to talk to him in basic English but every single attempt hit a road block. He suddenly turned to his sister and said something in Kazakh to her. She blushed a little and then turned to me and said ‘My brother has asked me to stop you talking in English with him as he doesn’t have any desire to speak English and no attempt on your part to nurture him is going to make him reply to me in any form of English he may know’.

Well that was a slap in the face. But it was a reality check. I realized he was obviously one of the mice at high school who only nibbled at the edge of the piece of cheese until the teacher told his parents…take this guy out of learning English – he has no desire to learn it – he doesn’t see the reason for it for him, and just as we are forcing someone to eat something they don’t want, they will eventually throw it up later….

If you are that person – you are probably not even reading this post – because ….it is in English! But if you are not sure which person you are…..the scared mouse or the disinterested mouse.

Ask yourself which one you think you are, and then you will be clear of where to go from here. Either take that extra big bite or move away and let someone else take your spot who really wants to eat!


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