What can you do when you’re not where you want to be in your fluency?
As we go into a new year, you might be looking back at last year and feeling like you didn’t accomplish what you wanted to in English. No doubt, this is a discouraging feeling!
But have you ever stopped to ask yourself what exactly is holding you back from achieving your goals and being where you want to be? Or, maybe you have improved this year but you haven’t realized how much progress you’ve made!
No matter where you’re at, today, I’ll walk you through four different stages that could be causing this gap between where you are in your English, and where you want to be.
Here are the four stages I discuss in today’s video:
- Have you set high expectations that are unachievable?
- Have you shown up for your English and created a practice habit?
- Have you practiced, but not improved because you fell into the illusion of learning?
- Have you improved, but you can’t see it?
Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 282. And today we’re gonna talk about what to do if you are not where you want to be.
Hey, hey, thank you so much for tuning in for another episode of the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, your host. And today I wanna talk about something that I’m sure we all experience, whether it’s in English or in other areas of our lives. And that is when we don’t meet our expectations, when we are at a place in our lives, that is not where we hope to be.
And I see that a lot in English. I see that people share with me their experience and all the work they’ve put in. Or you know, “I’ve been living in the US for 14 years and this is where I’m at. I’m still struggling with English.” And I always see that theme of not being where I want to be. And to offer a new way to look at this, I’m gonna do that by asking you 4 questions that will give you clarity, as well as guide you as to what to do so that you are no longer there and you’re able to bridge that gap.
Now, this episode is also on YouTube, so you can watch it as a video, but there is nothing special about the video, I’m not gonna dance or anything like that. So you can totally listen to it as a podcast episode. But I wanna apologize in advance because this batch of videos that I recorded had some issues with the sound. And I actually wanted to rerecord this video cuz I do not like it when there are sound issues, but I feel like I was so on point with this video.
Sometimes I’m inspired and I say just the right things, and I think this is one of those videos. And sometimes there are videos where I’m like, um, it’s okay, but I could do better. And I felt that if I had to rerecord it, I would totally mess it up. I would just try to recreate what was created in this video, and I decided to just go with it. So forgive me for the sound issues. I promise to do better. I figured out why that was, so at least it’s not gonna happen again.
Also, if we’re speaking, before we listen to the full episode, I just wanted to say that if you enjoy the podcast, I would so appreciate it if you could rate and review the podcast or just rate it. Because it helps the podcast be seen and to be exposed more to people who need it, especially if you write a review. It’s not gonna take more than a few minutes, and I would be totally grateful for it. All right, let’s listen to today’s episode.
If you are an English learner and you feel like your fluency and your English are not where you want them to be, then this episode is for you. Because as a speaker of a second language, there’s always a gap – there is a gap between the English that you know and the English that you’re able to speak. But there is also a gap sometimes for some people between where you want to be and where you actually are.
When it comes to the first gap, it’s really natural and in a way we just need to accept it and do whatever we can to minimize that gap. And I have a lot of videos teaching you how to do that. The reason why that happens, by the way, is because we are exposed to English a lot more in a passive way than in an active way. And this is why this gap is created. Also, when we actually use the language, there are a lot of other components that get in the way, like fear and lack of speaking practice that will interfere with your ability to produce the language.
As for the gap between where you were hoping to be and where you actually are, well, that we actually really need to talk about. Because having this feeling is definitely not productive and is not motivating, and it’s not gonna get you excited about your English practice. You’re just going to feel not good enough and as if this is not working for you, and you might even give up. And I wanna break it down and show you why it’s okay to feel like that, and also what you can do about it to improve and start minimizing that gap.
First thing is expectations. Because maybe your expectations were a little too high for what you were able to achieve or accomplish in this time in your life. As I’m recording this, this is the end of 2022, and maybe you look back at the beginning of the year and you look at your New Year’s resolutions for 2022. And you say to yourself, “Well, I had a different plan for myself right now”. And that could be discouraging and defeating, and I don’t want you to go there.
And I want you to ask yourself, “Maybe I had really, really high expectations about where I wanna be in my fluency, but I didn’t take into consideration that I’m going to give birth to a new baby, or I’m going to start a new job, or I’m going to relocate to a new country”, or 110 other reasons why this was not possible for you. And maybe these were objectively just high expectations and almost impossible for a human being to accomplish within one year. Only you will know that. But this is an important question that I want you to ask yourself, and try to be honest with yourself. Was it too much to ask of yourself to accomplish within one year, or based on where you are today?
The second thing I want to talk about, and the second question you need to ask yourself, Did you do the work? Maybe you had certain expectations, but you didn’t build the necessary habits that allowed you to show up and practice your English daily. As you know, to be able to work on your second, third, or fourth language, a foreign language, and to be able to get fluent, you have to show up, you have to practice. Whether it’s working on your pronunciation or speaking as much as possible, or understanding the knowledge gaps that you might have and learning the things that you need to learn to build that confidence and build that fluency.
Maybe you did it sporadically. Maybe you did it just at the beginning of the year, and then you kind of left it and you felt like you were regressing or becoming rusty. It is all legit, but you cannot expect of yourself to be at a certain place without doing the work to get there. So, that is another thing that I want you to be honest with yourself and ask yourself, Was this me? Did I want to improve, but I didn’t put in the work, or I didn’t follow through with what I had said that I’m gonna follow through? Maybe you didn’t have the self-integrity to keep that promise and keep doing the things that you said that you’re gonna do. And this is such an important aspect of speaking a second language – being able to make a commitment to yourself to do the work and sticking with it.
The third thing that could be the reason why you are not where you want to be is maybe you have done the work, maybe you did show up and you did practice, but maybe it wasn’t effective. Maybe the work that you’ve done was not exactly what you needed, and that could be because you didn’t know exactly what you needed. Maybe you enjoyed learning in a certain way, but that way, let’s say watching videos or working on certain courses that don’t get you anywhere, that don’t get you to get out of your comfort zone, maybe that was not what you needed.
You know, practicing and learning English is not supposed to be comfortable all the time, it’s not supposed to be easy. It is supposed to be fun, don’t get me wrong. We want to have fun, we want to enjoy the practice. But it does need to feel uncomfortable almost all the time. Why? Because if you’re uncomfortable, it means that you’re doing something different. It means that you’re getting out of your comfort zone.
Now, not uncomfortable in the sense of, Oh, I need someone to constantly criticize me so that I know what I’m doing wrong. That is not the uncomfortable that I’m talking about. I’m talking about courage. I’m talking about doing things that you don’t usually do. I’m talking about speaking as much as possible and making videos and recording yourself and going to job interviews in English, even if you’re not really looking for a job, but just for the sake of practice.
So, this is how it’s supposed to feel. If it gets too comfortable and too repetitive and you keep doing more of the same, then you might not be improving. I talk about it a lot. It’s called the illusion of learning, where you are actually doing things, you’re learning, you’re practicing, you’re spending time on it, but you stay stuck on the same level so that you’re not improving. Now, I’m going to link to a few videos that talk just about that so you can learn more if that is the case for you.
But here is something important that you also need to know. Sometimes we are stuck in a plateau. And it does not mean that it’s a bad thing. It does not mean that we’re not learning. So, even if there is a gap and you feel like you’re stuck, if you’ve been doing things that you know are helpful and you still cannot see an impact and a difference, know that there are times where you might feel stuck, but something is working in the background. Okay?
It’s just like in winter when you don’t see the flowers on the ground. It doesn’t mean that the seeds are not inside the ground, growing and strengthening and waiting for the moment they can come out. Same thing for you. We do have seasons in our English as well, and it’s not always spring. So, I also want you to acknowledge that when you are considering this question.
The last question I want you to ask yourself if you feel like you’re not where you want to be, is maybe you have improved a lot and you’re just unable to see it. Maybe you haven’t set for yourself a way to measure your progress. Maybe you’re unable to celebrate your achievement, and you always feel like you’re not enough, so you’re not even able to see where you are today, and you just think that it’s not where you want to be. But in fact, looking back, you have made a huge progress.
So, I want you to take a minute, actually, and look back, look at where you were a year ago, and ask yourself, Have I improved? Am I doing things now that were not possible for me before? Have I made a lot of connections in English? Do I have more friends? Do I know more people now thanks to English? If the answer is yes, then maybe you need to reevaluate where you are today. Maybe you have been improving, maybe you have been improving a lot, you just can’t see it. So maybe you need to sit down and list all your achievements to see if that is the case.
So, to conclude, these are the questions that you want to ask yourself if you are not where you want to be. The first one is, Have you set high expectations that are unachievable? The second one, Have you showed up for your English and created a practice habit? Three, Have you practiced but haven’t seen an improvement because you have fell into the illusion of learning? Or four, Have you improved but you simply cannot see it?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you will know how to solve them. Plus, I have a lot of resources for you for each one of those stages, so make sure you check out the description below the video or on the website.
All right, that’s it. Now, here’s the thing. It does not matter if you are where you wanted to be or you’re not where you wanted to be. The most important thing is that tomorrow you can start over. Heck, you can start over right now. And you can make the changes that you’ve been wanting to make or that you now know that you need to make, and you can start instantly. So it doesn’t matter, don’t beat yourself up for what was, just focus on what will be and what is right now. And you are here, learning, which means that you’re already on the right track.
Now, I’m really curious to hear where you are at. Let me know if you are the person with high expectations or the lack of practice, or lack of effective practice, or maybe you are the one who cannot see their improvements and acknowledge their achievements. Let me know in the comments, and I’m really curious to see what is the type that is most common.
Thank you so, so much. Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day. Happy holidays if you’re celebrating. And I will see you next week in the next video. Bye.
Which of the stages do you identify the most with? Let me know in the comments!
Resources for each stage:
1. Have you set high expectations that are unachievable?
2. Have you shown up for your English and created a practice habit?
- 3 MUST HAVE habits to learn a language
- 15 Minute Morning Pronunciation Practice for English Learners
3. Have you practiced, but not improved because you fell into the illusion of learning?
4. Have you improved, but you can’t see it?