We all know the advantages of technology when it comes to language learning. YOU’RE USING IT NOW! But have you ever considered the disadvantages?
You see, technology has allowed us to learn languages much more easily. Everything is accessible, literally at the tip of our fingers. The flip side of it is it has made us dependent. We sometimes don’t try to figure things out on our own, and then – they don’t stick or sink in. Why? Because we were on autopilot, we haven’t created those important new connections in our brain. We didn’t TRAIN our brain to remember the meaning of that word, its pronunciation, or even how to use it in a sentence.
How do you avoid that? First, you need to be aware of this trap. Then, you need to have a better system for remembering new things.
In this episode I’ll talk about how to be more aware, and what to do so you can enjoy the advantages of technology – .and what to do so you can enjoy the advantages of the technology, without letting the disadvantages stop you from learning.
Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 86. And today we’re going to talk about how technology screws up your English.
Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the InFluency Podcast. I am so thrilled to have you here. Now, I know I always say that, but I always do mean that because I don’t take it for granted. Every time someone says that they listened to my podcast, I’m like, “What, really? That is so cool!”
Because unlike YouTube, where I can see the views and I can see the comments, and I have interactions with people, when it comes to the podcast, I speak to the mic and then we package it in an audio file and we put it on the website and we send it to the world. And I have no idea what’s happening with it after.
So, every time I get a DM on Instagram or over email or in our Facebook group – our Facebook community – the InFluency community; if you’re not a part of it, then join – I get a comment or a message saying, “I listen to your podcast every day.” I’m like, “Oh my God. That is incredible!” So, keep on sending me those messages.
If you’ve been listening to my podcast and you keep it to yourself and you want to let me know that you do, then just send me a DM. Find me on Instagram at @hadar.accentsway, just so you know, cause it gets me very, very motivated to keep going. And it’s also a great way for us to connect and interact. Interact. Interact. A – there is the A as in cat there. Say it out loud with me – interact.
And, actually, what I’m saying now, you know, “Oh, yeah, connect with me on Instagram.” And Instagram is a platform that we use and it’s a result of technology. I mean, all of that is so incredibly amazing. Even me recording my podcasts now, using a certain software and sharing it. That’s all technology. And it’s amazing.
Because think about it, it made it easier for us to connect, right? It made English a lot more accessible for you to learn, for me to learn, for me to teach, for me to talk to you about English, to talk about how to learn English. Which is my new thing, by the way: rather than just teaching English, it’s like all about teaching how to learn English. Which is what this podcast is all about.
And technology has a huge part in it, right? Because without technology, we wouldn’t have YouTube and podcasts and audio books and Google translate. But at the same time, while we have this incredible privilege of, you know, living in an era where everything is just at the tip of our fingers, literally, I also think it has some downsides.
And that’s what I’m going to discuss with you today. Just to let you know that if things haven’t been working for you on your English learning journey, then this might be it. And it doesn’t mean that we need to say bye-bye to technology. No, not at all, on the contrary. But we need to understand when it serves us and when it doesn’t serve us.
And so we can prepare differently or practice differently in a way that will make things stick and help us put what we learn into practice, like to really put it into practice. So it doesn’t go in from one side and comes out of the other. Does that make sense? I think I just translated a phrase we use in Hebrew. It’s like go in through one ear and come out through the other, right. Like it doesn’t register in the brain. Can I say that in English? I don’t know, but I just did. So I hope you got it, whether you know this expression or not.
Okay. So let’s listen to the full episode. And if you liked this podcast, then consider subscribing to the pod on your favorite platform. And you can even go crazy and rate and review the podcast.
I would be forever grateful. Let’s listen.
Hey, everyone. What’s up? Today we’re going to talk about something very, very important. And that is how technology screws up your English.
Okay. Just a sec. Let’s all agree that we love technology. Let’s all agree that technology has made English more accessible. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here watching this and I wouldn’t be here making this video for you. And imagine like a world where we would have never met. That would be a horrible world. So thank God for technology, because it’s such a incredible tool for learning languages.
However, it can also make you very, very lazy. Actually, not you because I know you’re a hard worker. I know it. I see you. I see you every day. Here, watching my videos, practicing with me. I get it. You are not lazy. But your brain can be a little lazy. So we’re going to talk about that.
But before we talk about English, let me tell you a little story that will illustrate what I’m trying to say here. When I was 17 and a half, I got my driver’s license. And at first I just drove around town. And then I started driving to my friends that lived outside of the city that I used to live in. And I didn’t have a phone, didn’t have a cell phone. Yes, I’m that old. And no GPS.
I don’t want to put any labels or anything, but let’s just say that when it comes to navigating through space, I’m not the most oriented person. Okay? I’m not going to be the one that you put in the desert telling her. “Okay. Find home.” It’s just not going to work for me. I mean, I’m much better with speaking to you right now. Right? Every person has their own strengths. This is not my strength.
So, when I had to learn how to navigate through the roads and the streets and the cities, I had this really big book, spiral book, with lots of maps of all the area, right. Because it wasn’t just in the city, it was all around the area where I lived. And I remember that I had to kind of like find where I am and then to find that place exactly, to see what street that is, to look it up, and then to try to figure out how to go from point A to point B simply by looking at the map.
Now, doing it again and again and again, I had to figure it out, so my brain had to work really hard to kind of like wire all those connections and to figure out how to navigate through my area. And soon enough, I really got familiar with the roads and the streets, and I didn’t have to use the map all the time.
And then we have reached the era of the GPS. And, even more so, Waze. Now, Waze is my best friend, honestly. I get in the car and no matter where I go, I use Waze. I have gotten so dependent on Waze and Google maps or GPS, that I don’t think for myself anymore. I don’t try to figure out the roads. I don’t try to figure out, you know, how should I get from point A to point B, right? Like what I used to do before technology. Right now, I don’t do that anymore. So that muscle in my brain has become so weak. And I’m taking care of that I feel helpless when I’m without my phone.
So, because I don’t have that skill of remembering roads or streets because I haven’t been practicing it, then I have become really bad at navigating without a GPS. So, technology has simplified my life significantly. Believe me, I do not want to go back to that map book that I had to look into every time I got lost. No, I don’t want that.
However, at the same time, it would be nice to have the freedom, to know the roads. Because once I get directed by Waze, my brain is like, “Okay, I’m not responsible anymore. I don’t have to think, I’m on autopilot.” And when your brain is on autopilot, you’re not creating new connections. You’re not wiring all those new, you know, streets that you’re seeing or new ways that you’re taking and paths.
So, there is a positive aspect to simplifying your life through technology, but there is also a negative aspect. Because it doesn’t matter how many times I would go to a place, if I don’t navigate there on my own – I am very likely to forget how to get there.
Now, why am I telling you all this? Because when it comes to learning a language, technology has made it really easy for us to learn or to search for things that we don’t know. In particular, words. Right? So when you want to come up with a word or when you write an email and you need to think of a word, you go to Google translate, or you go to your favorite translator, and you look a word up. And then you put it in the email, or then you might even use it.
But just like with the GPS, because your brain is like, “I don’t need to work hard here. We can access Google anytime”, the brain is less likely to remember it. So you’re not creating those new connections in your brain. Because it doesn’t sync, it just floats through your brain. It goes from your eyes to your brain, and then it goes out through the ears or something, or the nose, maybe.
But it doesn’t stay because you haven’t branded it in your brain. So while it’s easy to retrieve information, it’s hard to retain it. Because your brain is not used to it, there is no need. Right? So even if you think that you got it, you’re less likely to remember it.
And then starts the frustration: “I’ve looked up this word before, how come I can’t remember it? How come I can’t use it?” I mean, your inner critic is just sitting there waiting for an opportunity to get all judgmental and annoying, and to say all those negative things about you. Right? So, here’s a good reason. You didn’t remember something that you looked up just yesterday. But again, your brain is not trained to remember those words.
So, what you need to remember is, first: to become aware that that’s the situation and not to get pissed off at yourself, but to be patient and to understand that if you truly want to remember, you need to create those connections. So this is what we’re doing here, we are raising this issue. And to recognize that, every time you go and look up a certain word, right, it’s not going to stick unless you do something active with it. Okay? It’s not going to stick. Your brain is not capable of retaining it, if you’ve looked it up and you kind of like moved it along.
Same thing with grammar, right? Sometimes, you’re like, “Oh, ‘open doors to’ or ‘open doors for’? To or for?” And you can’t decide on the preposition, so you go to an English forum and you find the answer. And you’re like, “Great, I’m going to use it.” And then you forget it next time. Right? Because something in the process of receiving that information has not registered, right? The part where it registers and sinks in, we skip it because we move it forward.
And also, we haven’t built that muscle, the brain is a muscle. So we haven’t built that muscle to help you understand how to take that information and to make it useful. So, developing awareness. Now you’re aware. And you’re welcome.
The second thing is to recognize if there is something that you truly need to retain, to remember, that you want to use in the future. Because sometimes it’s okay to look up for a word and to be like, “I mean, it’s not a word that I would use every single day or once a week. It’s a word that I might use, you know, when I write emails every six months.” Then you can be like, “Okay, I don’t have to do the whole learning process with this word”, but words that you need or grammar structures that you need, and you keep looking up for them. And even though you know them, you need to understand that you need to do something differently with them.
And that is where the whole idea of building pronunciation confidence comes into play. So, I’ve told you before – when it comes to speaking, it’s basically, speaking is just a collection of habits: pronunciation habits, the words you use, the grammar structures that you use. So, if you want to take a word, a new word, and make it more available, you need to get into the habit of using it consistently and confidently.
So, confidently, confidence comes from the ability to pronounce it clearly, right? Like first you need to know that you know how to say the word, so your brain is not tricking you because you’re afraid that you might mispronounce the word. So your brain is like, “Don’t, don’t use this word, don’t use this word. You don’t know how to pronounce it. Don’t use it.” Right? Sometimes the subconscious brain will tell you that. And this is why the word is not going to be available.
So you want to have the confidence that you know how to say the word clearly. Okay? That is the first step. So learn how to pronounce the word. A simple Google search. You’ve already looked up for this word, right? So, look up at how to pronounce it – ‘how to pronounce X’, just google it. You’ll see it. And then you repeat it 10, 20, 30 times.
Now, I’ve outlined this process in this video right here. And you can watch it there. I’m just going to do a little recap here for those of you who haven’t watched it or have forgotten about it.
Okay. So, you have to learn how to say it. So you learn how to pronounce it again and again and again, and again and again. Right? Just the word, again and again, and again. Develop the pronunciation confidence of saying the word. Okay? So, it starts, you say it, you hear it, you see it. Okay. Now we’re starting to do something there, in the brain, right? What fires together, wires together.
And when you say the word and you don’t just read it on Google and then, you know, move it along to your email or to your Google doc, and you think about it, right, and you see it and you say it and you hear yourself saying it. And you hear maybe someone else saying it, whether it’s Google translate or you look it up on YouGlish. Whatever that is. But you make it a fuller experience of you using the word. But then it’s not enough. Okay?
So, if you know how to use the word, great. The next step would be to put it in context. Always put it in context. Words never come alone. You cannot remember a word alone. I mean, you could, but it’s not going to be as effective. But if you think of this word and you think of the context that this word might appear in, and you make it personal, right, context that you might actually use it: context, I mean a sentence – you would use it in a certain sentence that you might actually say it to a friend, to a colleague, to a student, to a teacher.
So, you want to use it in the right context, and something that is very personal and relevant. And even visualize it, right? Because the subconscious brain works on feelings and imageries, right, not logic, not words. So the words alone are not enough, but if you think of the word and you put it in context and you visualize that context and maybe that generates positive feelings – try to keep it positive, right – then all of that together is going to help you retain this new information. Okay?
Remember the word. Because it’s not just the word, it’s the word after you have learned how to pronounce it confidently. So, you know you’re good. And then you put it in context that is not like someone else’s sentence that has invented it and you have no idea what that even means. No, you put it in certain context that works for you, right. And you have attached to it an imagery, an image, or you visualize something that is just yours. It’s so personal. Maybe you even associate certain feeling to it.
And all of that together makes it a lot more probable that you’ll remember the word. Instead of, you know, googling a word saying, “Okay, how do you say the word? Oh, okay. ‘Diligent’. That’s the word I need to learn – ‘diligent’. Okay.” How are you expected to remember that next time?
But if you take the word ‘diligent’ and you say it 10 times: diligent, diligent – this is the meaning – diligent, diligent, diligent, diligent, diligent, diligent, diligent, diligent, diligent, diligent, diligent, diligent. And you think about, “Okay, what can I say about my experience that would like, how can I use the word ‘diligent’ when I talk about myself?”
“I’m such a diligent English learner because I do the work, and I listen to what Hadar has to say.” Right? “I’m a diligent English learner.” And you say it again. “I’m a diligent English learner.” “I’m a diligent and proud English learner.” And you say it again: “I’m a diligent and proud.” Okay, so ‘proud’ starts to give you like this good, positive feeling, right? “I’m a diligent and proud English learner.”
And then you think to yourself, “What does it look like?” And you see yourself like sitting and speaking to people because that’s the result of you being a diligent and proud English learner. “I’m a diligent and proud English learner.” So now you have that visualization of, you know, the result of what it is that you’re saying. And you’re saying it, and the emotion is positive. Say it a few times. And then tomorrow, try to remember this word and see if you remember it, and see if you can use it. You are more likely to remember it that way. Okay?
Now. I’m going to pass it on to you. First of all: do you relate, does that make sense to you? Do you feel that you have become more dependent on technology, and as a result, you feel a little less in control when it comes to your language skills? That is the first question. You can totally say, “Hadar, you are talking [email protected]#$%”. Right? I can take it, don’t worry. But I want to hear. So that’s the first thing I want you to add.
The second thing is, what is one word that you are going to try to practice the way I’ve taught you? So, your job now is to think of a word in your native language, and then to look it up – a word that you don’t know how to say – and then to look it up and then write it in the comments. And then do the process that I’ve taught you. Okay?
Also, check out the other video I have about building pronunciation confidence to build your vocabulary. And if you’re really into vocabulary, there is also my philosophy around what you should even focus on when it comes to building your vocabulary, or expanding your speaking vocabulary.
Cause let me tell you this – it is not about learning new words. I’m going to say it as it is. It’s not about learning words that you don’t know. And part of what I’m talking about is the reason why. But you’ll have to go and watch it. I’m going to put all the links in the description below.
And finally, if you love that idea of building pronunciation confidence, check out my sprint master, which is a 10-minute drill for 30 days. So these are 30 drills – I call them sprints – of building pronunciation confidence of words, sounds, and grammatical structures. Highly effective and a lot of fun. So, you can check it out as well in the description.
Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate you and your work. I know you’re a diligent student and I respect you for that so very much.
Have a beautiful, beautiful week, and day, an hour. And I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.