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. 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 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 cars...like 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 student who realized that she didn't know the vocabulary for playing guitar, despite the fact that it was one of her favorite hobbies. She's been studying English for years, and traditional English textbooks and ESL classes never discussed vocabulary for playing musical instruments. So, guess what vocabulary we will be working on during the upcoming weeks? You guessed it! So, what is “near and dear” to you? What are the interests, values, and beliefs that make up YOU?
Immerse yourself in the English vocabulary of your favorite things, and you will be able to better express a large part of who you are.
Then, you can say good-bye to feeling like two people!