Self-Awareness and ESL Learning: How Do You Learn Best?

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

ESL classroom

I have a friend who is in the process of learning Spanish in order to prepare for an upcoming move to Honduras, but her method of learning has left her uninspired and bored. Not to mention, she feels like she is not making any real progress.

I love talking about language learning, so I asked her, “How do you learn best?” She immediately, without hesitation, said, “I need to be in a classroom where other students are learning exactly what I am learning, and then I need to prove that I am the best in the class.”

Ah-ha! My friend is highly motivated by a strong sense of competition.

I was highly impressed by her acute sense of self-awareness. She knew exactly what she needed in order to take her language skills to the next level. Now, it’s simply a matter of finding a Spanish class with other motivated students.

Her answer inspired me to ask a client of mine what specifically motivates her to learn. Surprisingly, she said that she is also motivated to learn better when others around her have the same high standards that she has.

Most of us know at an intuitive level what will inspire us to be more invested language learners. Perhaps it’s time to take this self-knowledge and put it to practical use.

Take a minute and ask yourself the following questions:

1. When/Where do you learn best? With others in a classroom setting? One-on-one with a mentor or coach? Online using language games and technology? Or, in another way?

2. When is learning a language the most enjoyable for you?

3. When do you receive the most useful feedback and clarity on your specific problem areas?

4. At what time have you experienced the biggest improvement in your language skills? In what type of setting were you?

Now, does your current language learning program incorporate (use) the method that is best for you? If so, that’s great!

If not, it’s time to take responsibility for your language learning by turning it into something that motivates you to move to the next level. Ask your teacher to add some competitive games into the language lesson, so that you can show off your skills. Or, if you feel too shy to join a class, hire a private teacher who can help you reach your potential. If you like technology, try one of these fun apps.

Most likely, you will enjoy a combination of different learning methods, but knowing your primary learning method will help you to take better control of your language learning success.


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