Do you prefer to master one skill or would you rather learn a variety of skills (like a “Jack-of-all-trades” as it is called in English)?
Personally, I absolutely love learning about many different subjects. According to author Barbara Sher, this makes me a “Scanner”—a person who has many passions.
Conversely, she describes people who want to learn everything about one specific subject as “Deep Divers.” They prefer to delve completely into a subject instead of just learning a little about a lot of topics.
Of course, one way is not better than the other. There are advantages to being a Scanner and a Deep Diver.
In recent years, I’ve come to realize that—although I am a Scanner at heart—it is important to take a “Deep Dive” approach with some topics that truly matter to me.
For example, when I became a parent, I became committed to learning everything I could about compassionate parenting. Or, when I decided to teach English, I read many books and participated in many training workshops. I continue to learn about parenting and teaching because I am committed to excellence.
How about you? In what subject have you become an expert or aspire to become an expert? Where are you “diving deep”? Why are you “diving deep”?
My guess is you are doing it to help others. You are doing it because when you make the decision to master a skill, you give yourself the opportunity to feel a sense of satisfaction that comes with fulfilling your potential.
But what does this have to do with learning English?
In order to learn a language, you have to be a Scanner at some level. You have to learn about grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, speaking, and culture (to name a few things). You must become a Jack-of-all-trades, and this might leave you feeling scattered and overwhelmed at times.
But what would happen if you took one small part of the language and “dove deep”?
Does this sound scary or exhilarating to you? There are no wrong feelings. Simply consider the possibilities.
Here are some ways that you can dive deep and commit to excellence in English one step at a time:
Practice a 5-minute speech until you have mastered it
Tell a story from your childhood until you get every past tense verb form right
Memorize the past participles of the most often used irregular verbs
Learn the vocabulary that is necessary to pass your driver’s exam
Memorize the spelling of the 100 most common words in English
I know from experience that it can be hard to fully learn a language. However, you can still experience the feeling of completion and satisfaction that comes from mastering one specific ESL goal at a time. Even though it might be tempting to “pull up short” when learning a skill, consider following through with it until mastery. You won’t regret the feeling of gratification that is sure to come.