The Importance Of Confidence For Language Learning

_A few weeks ago I was asked to do an online interview by the author of a Bulgarian blog called TrueLady.

I don't speak Bulgarian, and I suspect most of you probably don't either, so I've reposted the English questions and answers here._ You can see the Bulgarian version here.

1. What is your daily routine? How do you spend your day?

I don't have much of a routine. I wake up when the sun rises, I go to the office when I feel ready, and I leave when I feel that I've completed my work for the day. Sometimes I exercise in the afternoon. Some days I run in the morning. I like consistency, but I don't like routine... if that makes any sense. 🙂

2. What motivates you?

Life is short. My brother died at 27 years old. I was just 18 at the time, so that made it clear at an early age just how unpredictable and short life can be for any of us. I plan for the future, but I don't obsess over it. The most important thing we can do for the future is simply to not waste the present. If I have an opportunity to do something crazy today, I will probably give it a try. I take risks. Some people believe in a heaven and an afterlife, but I'm just not willing to risk my short life gambling on such things.

3. Do you feel lucky? What is the secret of happiness by your opinion?

Yes. In the lottery of life, I've already won. I was the sperm that fertilized an egg. I was the fetus that was born healthy. I have two arms and two legs, ten fingers and ten toes. I see and hear without trouble. So my hair isn't perfect or my face isn't shaped like Brad Pitt... who cares? I have all the tools anyone could ask for in life, and that's all the luck I need. The rest of my life is only what I make it. In my opinion, that is the secret of happiness — being satisfied that the opportunities in front of you are sufficient and that you have the potential to do amazing things, whomever you are.

4. People say that a happy man doesn’t wear a watch. Do you have a watch?

Great question! I haven't worn a watch in many years. In fact, two years ago, I put all of my clocks in the trash can. I don't wear a watch, I don't wake up to an alarm, and I don't follow a schedule. Some might say I am fortunate to have a job where that is possible, but they're wrong — the truth is, I refuse to accept any job where my time must be so scheduled.

Recently, I was dressing nicely for an event and I put on a watch because I thought it was a necessary accessory for the outfit. It felt strange to have this thing on my arm. At some point during the evening, someone asked me the time, and I looked at the watch only to find that the battery was dead! I had been wearing this watch and never even considered whether or not it was working correctly. 🙂

5. Is it easy to achieve your dreams?

If it's easy, you're not dreaming big enough. I dream big. I want things that other people call impossible. There's no point to doing the easy things. No one is impressed. No one respects you for doing what everyone can do. People respect you for doing the things they can't do... or won't do.

6. What about difficulties in life?

Difficulties in life are what make us who we are. I am not the product of my success or my luck. I am the sum of my pains. I have experienced more difficulties in my life than most people I know, but I wouldn't trade them for anything. I learned valuable things from every experience — these are the things that make me who I am.

7. Tell us about old and new friends? Do you have any time (desire) to see old friends, when you live in way that suggests meeting of new and interesting people?

New and interesting friends are fun and exciting. I am blessed to meet so many people from whom I can learn so many new and interesting things, but it's important to keep some old friends around. True friends survive the test of time. When I want to share some exciting news, or when I need advice on some important decision in my life, it's not the fresh new friends whom I call... I call the old friends — those who know me best.

8. What is the last thing that you have learned?

The most recent thing I learned — actually, I am still learning — is the importance of letting other people know that I hear them, before I try to make them hear me. People don't listen to someone when they feel that person is not listening to them, so it's important to make sure that you're not just listening, but that you're showing people your attention.

9. What are the most important things about the process of learning languages?

The most important thing about learning *anything* is to be interested. This is true about languages, but it applies to everything in life. When you are truly interested... when you are truly curious... when you truly have a desire to know about something, it is easy to learn! You ask questions, you seek teachers. You find ways to get to the knowledge you want.

With languages, this is not a problem for me, because more than anything else, I love communication. I want to learn about other people, and I want to tell people about myself. There's nothing more exciting for me than connecting with other people, and with every new language I learn, I increase my ability to do that! Just this week I had an online chat with someone in Greek, and in spite of my poor Greek skills we were able to connect in a meaningful way. Last week I made a new friend at work because I speak Spanish. A few weeks ago, I received a postcard from Irkutsk, Russia. I am touching people's lives, and allowing them to touch mine, all as a result of the (relatively small) investment of learning some foreign languages!

10. What do you wish to happen to you?

That's the most difficult question yet! I am happy. I am healthy. I have a good life, good friends, and a good job. I live in a nice home and I have everything I need. Only a greedy person could ask for more. I don't need money or fame or power. If there was one thing that I wish I could have, it would be the ability to help other people in a more significant way than I do now. I wish I could motivate other people to do the things they think are impossible. I wish I could give people the confidence to follow their dreams, to let go of their worries, and to feel comfortable with themselves the way I feel with myself.

So... what do I wish would happen to me? Simply: I wish I could be a better person, more capable of inspiring others. But I know that I can, and with every new day, I am sure that I will get closer to that. This is clear every time I receive an email such as yours, inviting me to share my experiences. I thank you for the opportunity, and I hope you find some value in the responses I give to your questions.


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  • Do you start off saying these small words and phrases and then slowly build up from there, until you are saying just about everything to yourself in your target language? The problem I have is I believe that I can only start thinking in the language when I know enough.

  • Talk to myself as much as I can, and as soon as I can.

    I have a lot of "alone time" in my schedule (when I'm at the gym, when I'm on the bus, when I'm walking here or there) and I try to fill this alone time up with as much useful language practice as possible.

    In the first days or weeks, that might only amount to constructing different "hi, how are you" dialogues in as many random configurations as I can. Later, when I've learned a few basic nouns and verbs, that turns into "I see a man. A man is crossing the street. I see the man crossing the street. What is that man doing? He is crossing the street. Which man is crossing the street? That man." Etc.

    The biggest key to what I'm trying to do, even at the very start, is changing it up. Changing the subject, changing the predicate, changing the order in which the information is asked and answered. It may be the simplest of vocabulary, but I try to think about it in as many different contexts as possible.

    Naturally, when you learn more, the ability to be more elaborate increases. But there's no reason you should have to wait.

    Start with "man" and "street". Learn to say "walk, walks, walking". Learn to say "a", "the", "that". There's a lot you can do with very few words.

    Thinking in a new language comes as a result of applying many contexts, so that your brain is able to properly file the concept of a word. That's why tons of input and output are so necessary, and why the limited context of a flashcard is so bad.

    Or, another way to think about it... is your cup half empty or half full? The scarcity mindset says "I don't know enough", whereas the abundance mindset says "wow, just look at all the things I can do with these few words!" :)

  • "Yes. In the lottery of life, I’ve already won. I was the sperm that fertilized an egg. I was the fetus that was born healthy. I have two arms and two legs, ten fingers and ten toes."Favorite answer in this interview. Sometimes we think we have a lot of problems in our life, but really we should be grateful that we were lucky enough to be born healthy.Thanks for posting this interview.

  • Those were shockingly well-chosen questions.  Most people don't ask the right questions.Definitely agree with you about learning anything: you have to want to.  Now, you could 'want' to because your job requires it and you don't want to get fired, and this can work, but the best type of 'wanting' is when you want to learn something because it's fun and you personally enjoy doing it, that is communicating with people in foreign countries is fun therefore I want to learn languages.Cheers,
    Andrew

  • confidence is always important but you need to remember not to hurt other people :) You should get a lot of motivation to learn something new like languages.

  • so hi, your 'fans' may not like my thoughts about you, and since the comment box in your flash cards are bad blog entry i am just gonna post it here and i would really appriciate it if you didn't erase it. the system depends on the person and you CAN NOT tell someone that a method is wrong. i have learned more than 6 thousand words with the flash card method and you can not say that it doesn't work. If you learn them from the cards and use them in real life, you won't have a problem. I'm just bothering to comment to say stop it to you. your method is not the only one, and you know it. you cant tell anyone to stop the method they like to do and help them to learn a language, and that is what counts. So don't make definite claims like '' Stop learning with flash cards, it creates extra steps...'' its just bogus! And if you are as clever as you claim to be(i doubt it), you should at least think about this before you write another entry. and please, dont be so self centered you are not always the one who is or will be right so you better get used to it. 

  • I think you are already enough good person! if more people think like you, this world was much better place to live in...
    People some how neglect to learn the importance of communication, keep the good work and wishing you the best!Benhttps://www.lingolearn.com

  • Very in interesting post Randy! I liked the part about the "lottery of life". After thinking about that for a while, I realized that the hardest part (actually becoming alive) is already over. "Smooth sailing" from here on out!

  • Yeah, making sure people know you're listening is great thing to be learning. I'm learning that too, to hear what people are saying before I'm ready to plaster them with my own knowledge. (as if I were that smart anyway)>

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  • this guy's way of living and thinking is inspiring. It reminds me of Tony Robbins... where did you find about him? :)

  • Thanks!

  • Indeed!

  • Thanks!

  • This is very awesome article of how to confident in interview. there are some tricks and tips in here.
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  • thanks, this interwiev is very perfect

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