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Learning independently

By Miss Geraldine Choquehuanca - Free Academic English

It happens to many of us. We lack the discipline to study by ourselves. It seems impossible to follow a schedule and to finish something we have started. Nevertheless, you will not have that problem with English. Trust me. You will NEVER finish studying English. However, that is not terrible; on the contrary, I think of it as a good thing. The fact that we will always study English makes us feel humble people, young students, and above all, independent learners.

To be honest, I did “finish” studying English, but only to discover that I had to continue studying and practicing if I didn’t want to lose everything I had gained. Also, there were many things left to learn! It is like in life: you are done with a stage, you are at the top of the world, and when you go a step further, you discover that you are starting all over again with a new stage of life. This brings humbleness, youth, and independence. Learning makes you feel humble because there is always something new. Being conscious that we do not know it all is a humbling lesson. Learning also makes you feel young since you see yourself like a child whose life is basically learning. It is true that when we grow up and school is over, we start feeling old, but if there is always something new to learn, like English, you will always feel young. Finally, when you know that you have to continue learning, you also know that your life may not allow you to take a formal class, so you develop the skill of learning independently.

Learning independently has to do a lot with enjoying the process, so you should learn with a book, if it is what you prefer, or without it, if you are not in the mood for a class. Luckily, our digital world gives us infinite opportunities to learn. You can choose a self-paced course to enhance a particular skill, like writing, or you can join a speaking club that discusses different topics every week. The important thing is that you enjoy the process. If you plan to practice English watching a boring movie because someone said it was good for studying English, you are probably not going to learn much. If, on the other hand, you choose to play a video game you are keen on in English, your mind will be ready to learn. The idea is to have fun and learn at the same time, so you can choose what you like, and set realistic goals about improving your English with it. But how?

Learning independently is about finding learning opportunities in the activities you enjoy: listening to music, reading magazines, or watching your favorite sport! If turning the radio on is not enough to practice your listening, you can look for the lyrics of the songs. In fact, there are apps that show you the lyrics as you hear a song, just like a karaoke. There are also karaoke videos for every song on YouTube, as well as videos with the songs and the lyrics, with and without translations. But if music is not your thing, and you are interested in, for example, cars, you will find endless websites and facebook groups -in English- where people chat about the latest models, the problems they have with their cars and how to fix them, and even about cars that do not exist yet. Maybe you are not interested in music or cars; perhaps it is playing or watching sports where you feel yourself. If the best part of your week is watching the matches of the Premier League, you can just watch those games with the narrator speaking in English, and you can dive into their website. Regardless of your favorite activity, you will find content in English about it.

Setting small goals and sharing them are useful strategies to make learning a habit. Just like you, millions of people around the world are eager to learn and find learning partners. Thanks to the Internet, you can easily join a reading club and share the goal of reading a book in English this month. Likewise, your favorite videogame can transform into a learning challenge. Tell other gamers to set English as the default language of the game for, let’s say, a week, and share your experience playing that way. Naturally, social media will be our ally in this matter: create hashtags and share your experience on Facebook, comment on twitter, post your progress on Instagram, and have fun sharing your learning experience using TikTok!

Whatever you do, do not stop learning!

Miss Geraldine Choquehuanca - Free Academic English

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