Real English Conversation

Are you a Passive or an Active Language Learner?

Is there really a way to reach fluency ‘quickly’?

Thousands of websites on the internet make this claim…

But yet, millions of hopeful students are stuck at a certain English level where no matter what they try, the progress seems slow.

In this article, I’m going to explain a skill that will change the way you think about language learning and finally get you focusing on the most important skills you need to develop to reach your goals sooner.

Ready to get started? 

Watch the video below or keep reading!

Try Our Lessons Now and Put this Advice into Action!

Who Taught You “How to Learn”?

As children, we went to school, sat in a class and did what the teacher told us to do. If we listened to the teacher, did our homework and passed the tests, we were pushed through to the next grade.

We were taught from a very young age that this is the way to learn.

This is what it looks like to learn passively.

Looking back now as an adult, I can see clearly that most of the things that I was taught in school were not useful to my real-life knowledge or career.

Even thought, I spent a lot of time learning different things at school, the things I learned were not particularly impactful or helpful in my life.

Who Taught You ‘How to Learn’?

As children, we went to school, sat in a class and did what the teacher told us to do. If we listened to the teacher, did our homework and passed the tests, we were pushed through to the next grade.

We were taught from a very young age that this is the way to learn.

This is what it looks like to learn passively.

Looking back now as an adult, I can see clearly that most of the things that I was taught in school were not useful to my real-life knowledge or career.

Even thought, I spent a lot of time learning different things at school, the things I learned were not particularly impactful or helpful in my life.

The ‘Struggle’ to Reach Fluency is Real

The ‘Struggle’ to Reach Fluency is Real

It’s a bit embarrassing for me to admit that I was studying a foreign language (Spanish) for 14 years.

I was stuck at a low-intermediate level and no matter how much I studied, I didn’t improve much.

I couldn’t speak and I didn’t understand ANYTHING that was said to me.

It was like I was stuck behind a wall that I couldn’t find a way to climb over.

english conversation

Developing Critical Thinking

The way to get over that big wall was realizing the system I was taught to use when I wanted to learn didn’t work.

After deeply thinking about:

  • HOW I was studying
  • WHICH skills those activities were improving
  • And WHAT actually wanted to achieve…

Finally, it was obvious why I was stuck.

Becoming an active, independent learner means that you take control of your learning experience. It’s taking full responsibility for your learning. Identifying your needs, strengths, weaknesses, learning style and goals.

Learning Self-Evaluation

Take a moment right now to identify the top 3 things that you typically do when you study.

  1. The first thing I like to study is…
  2. After I’m finished with that activity I like to…
  3. I also do this ____ to practice English

Great. You’ve identified your study habits.

Next, let’s look at which skills each of those activities helps:

  1. Activity #1 helps me improve ____ .
  2. Activity #2 helps me to ______ and ______.
  3. Activity #3 helps ________.

Do you see a pattern in your study tendencies, yet?

english conversation

As a Teacher, This is What I See and Hear Daily

Let me give you a common example of what I heard from a student:

Student: “Amy, I can’t speak well and it’s hard to understand real people speaking”

Amy: “What are the things you do to improve your English?”

The Student’s Favorite Activities:

  1. I listen to a podcast on my way to work
  2. I’m watching a TV series (but I can’t understand everything)
  3. I read some articles or a book when I have time

As a teacher I see this:

  1. You listen to new audio only ONCE
  2. You watch a TV series but you are dependent on reading the subtitles to understand
  3. You read a book or an article without taking any notes, looking up words (likely)

My analysis:

You like to do activities that allow you to sit back and be exposed to English. All the activities you like to do are very passive and none of them focus on helping you to improve your speaking. This is why your speaking skills are weak.

Furthermore, you only listen to the new audio once, whether it is a podcast or a TV series. These activities ‘test’ your listening skills, but to improve your listening you need more repetition and to use a transcription or subtitles to help you understand what you can’t hear the first time.

My Recommendations:

If you want to improve your speaking, start doing activities that make you speak.

Take private lessons with a teacher, try speaking practice activities you can do alone (see video below). 

Find other people you can practice with (like our community!)

To improve your listening, you need to be more detailed and active. Take notes while listening to audio, stop and repeat audio that is hard to understand, learn words you don’t know…

Those suggestions turn ‘passive’ learning activities into ‘active’ ones.

Be a Proactive Learner and Get to Your Goals

At an intermediate level, you realize the goal of learning a language is to communicate: Start speaking and understanding the language.

Compared to the goals of a beginner: Learn grammar, vocabulary and structure. 

When your goals change, the way you practice needs to change to.

Our lessons show you how to practice the English language to improve and reach speaking fluency and have better listening comprehension for real-world communication.

Additionally, we teach you how to become a “Proactive Learner” to find the lessons you need to spend your time wisely, learn efficiently and get to your goals faster.

Ready to Try the Ideas from this Article?

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