This article covers a variety of considerations which can influence the success of language coaching. If you are a manager or HR professional recommending such training to an employee, the following information can help shed light on the factors involved in successful language learning.
It’s true – some people have more facility at learning a language and improving their pronunciation than others. But there are many things you can do – and should do – to support your learning.
MAKE YOUR TRAINING A PRIORITY
The first thing is to prioritize your language coaching. Without prioritizing your learning, it is unlikely your language coaching will have much impact. Whether you have chosen to take this training yourself or your manager or HR department have offered it to you, your commitment is vital to taking advantage of it.
I regularly hear the following:
- “I was so busy – I had no time to practice this week.”
- “I just don’t have the time to focus on this.”
- “I make the time to attend the session but really can’t do any practicing at home.”
The reality is that most executives are busy people. Regardless, if you are receiving one-on-one language training, you need to dedicate some time and energy to working on your own.
DEVELOP A PRACTICE HABIT
The second thing is to develop a practice habit. Because of the inevitable “too busy this week” excuse – and because we want our clients to become independent and continue learning even after we stop coaching them – we recommend including a daily 5-minute morning practice regardless of the other times dedicated to study outside of class.
This does not preclude spending more time on more detailed practice, but it does assure you continue to move forward and take advantage of the training. It keeps the focus present in your mind. It keeps the muscular movements in the body. It sets up your day and develops awareness.
Habits take 2 months to consolidate. According to recent research, it takes an average of 66 days to make a habit automatic, in contrast to the common belief of 21 days. We start encouraging this daily habit at the start of our interactions with the client. By the time we are finalizing the sessions, clients who commit to the training have already established this habit and aren’t taken off track when they get particularly busy.
MAXIMIZE YOUR LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
In addition to the above, there are a variety of factors that can enhance your learning process:
- Have clear goals and use signposts to measure progress – Language skill can be difficult to measure and so much of how we can judge progress is subjective. We can objectively measure aspects such as daily practice, review sessions, the ability to pronounce certain sounds clearly, being asked to repeat yourself less frequently, etc. Other signposts can be feelings of greater confidence, the ability to understand more easily, feedback from co-workers, etc.
- Immerse yourself in English – Many of our clients live and socialize exclusively in their native language. Speaking the language you were raised in with your children is an important way to share your native culture and your skill at communicating. However, to develop greater skill in a language, exposure is vital. Watch English movies, listen to English audio books, socialize outside of your community and follow English media. Practice imitating media professionals that you like to improve your English rhythm.
- Practice and review regularly – Make sure you look at any class notes right after class if possible. If not, at least review them the same or following day and then off and on. To get material into your long-term memory, regular review is vital. You can completely forget something within the week without review. And when you practice, do so with attention, not mindlessly. Rather than aiming to complete homework, we suggest setting a timer (according to your schedule) and totally focusing. This way you are not worried about the time and your focus is entirely on perfecting your skill rather than completing a task.
- Consider finding a language accountability partner – Checking in regularly with someone and setting commitments can increase the chances of you moving forward and spending time practicing. If you don’t have someone who is also studying, find co-workers and/or friends who can provide encouragement, give you feedback and suggest ways to improve your learning process.