Making Your Personality a Priority with ESL

Updated: Jun 28

Successful ESL Student

You might know my story, and you might not. I’ll try to keep it short. I’ve lived in Germany twice in my life—one time for 7 months and another time for a summer. My heart has always been attracted to Germany and the German language for reasons unknown to me. Yet, during each of my visits there, I oftentimes felt depressed and like I was two separate people. First, there was my “English-speaking” self. This person loved good conversation, learning new skills, and sharing insights and ideas with others. But my “German-speaking” self was quite the opposite. She felt like an introvert and avoided people and conversations because she couldn’t express herself like she wanted to. She couldn’t adequately translate all of those thoughts and ideas into words that reflected who she really was. It was like language-induced schizophrenia, meaning I felt like two different people, and it was demoralizing.

But We Can Learn and Grow

Fast forward 15 years… Now I understand that there are ways in which I can learn a language that will help me to be the best reflection of my personality, and I want to teach you one of those tricks today. First of all, what makes up your personality? Here are some ideas:

  • Your hobbies

  • Your values

  • Your work

  • Your sense of humor

  • Your spiritual beliefs

Now, choose a category.

Let’s choose “hobbies,” for example. What do you love to do? I have a client who loves exotic cars (think Ferrari and Lamborghini). This interest is a deep part of who he is, so wouldn’t it make perfect sense to master the vocabulary that is needed to describe cars, car parts, and the process of driving a car? The quicker he can learn, master, and put into use this specific vocabulary, the quicker he will feel more like his authentic self when speaking English. He will be able to converse on a topic that is “near and dear” to him, and that feels deeply satisfying.

I have another client who realized that she didn't know the vocabulary for playing guitar, despite the f