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English Learning Tips

This language school blog brings you our best English learning tips – and this blog in particular is all about letting go.

A Quick Question:

How easy do you find it to make a mistake in English?

This blog is to tell you why you should be making them!

Specifically, it will help you to find your ‘doesn’t matter Zone‘: and show you why that is so important to language learning.

We’re going to look at a visual discipline – life drawing – to demonstrate how this works, but trust me. It’s for language learning too!

Decide to Lose Control

The life drawing class I attended last night was full of quick sketches, including ones not looking at the page, non-dominant-handed drawing and an actual non-dominant-hand-not-looking-at-the-page sketch.

Some of the results aren’t even recognisably figures!

Why would you do that? Some folks wondered out loud. My drawing is such a mess.

Some felt disappointed. They wanted to go home with nice sketches.

Like always.

English Learning Tips | The Doesn’t Matter Zone

It can be hard to move past desiring perfect results into the ‘doesn’t matter’ zone.

in my experience, most language learners fear making mistakes.

‘I’m sorry‘ they say to me if they realise they made one.

(As if they were expected to turn up perfectly fluent for an immersion English course!)

What is it about language learning that creates such pressure?

I wonder if you would apologise to a yoga teacher if you cannot put your hands flat on the floor?

Or would you do your very best and feel proud of any discernable progress?

Because language learning should make you feel proud of every step you take, and NOT embarrassed or uncomfortable. 

the scoop - language learning tips

It’s Time to Rethink Making Errors

Fear of making errors can be so great that almost all of us need a push.

The premise of the ‘Doesn’t Matter Zone‘ is that it is better to make progress in a skill, and build trust in your instincts than regurgitate what you know, on repeat.

When you are in the ‘doesn’t matter’ zone, you take risks and are open to learning and good things happen:

That’s how you develop both skills and instincts.

That’s how you learn.

The Doesn’t Matter Zone is a Creative Zone

Now I’m not sure this works across all spheres of learning (maybe this is one of the opposites between science and art), but it does work for drawing.

And it really does work for language learning!

These drawing exercises were about chance, wonderful spontaneous marks that happened.

Even more, they were about accepting that they won’t always happen. (Or they might, and you wreck them two seconds later).

And it doesn’t matter.

Find Space to Experiment

Trying something new in a drawing can go well or badly. Non-results driven exercises train you to not let the fear of ‘badly’ stop you from experimenting.

Language learning environments need to create safe, fun places to practice too.

And they need well-designed exercises to extract results: not perfectly memorised, sentences, but better skills and instincts that follow you from context to context, wherever you go.

This is so under-prioritised in many course ‘systems’.

As a language learner, you can always supplement your learning by finding your own ‘doesn’t matter’ zone.

The Good, The Bad, The Unexpected

When you are open to possibilities, you never know what is going to happen.

This is one of my 10-minute sketches from last night. As you can see, the drawer opposite me (Lauren) tumbled into the scene. When I showed her, she reciprocated and drew me drawing in her next sketch:

Life drawing for doesn't matter zone - language learning tips

An Unexpected Bonus

At the end of the night we swapped sketches, which I call a brilliant result (I’m just about to put hers up on my wall).

This lovely exchange happened because I let go, followed my instincts and experimented.

This is one of my biggest language learning tips. Find the zone. Find the play space. 

 

Where is YOUR ‘Doesn’t Matter’ Zone?

Ruth, 2023

English Learning | Tips for Finding YOUR Zone

What’s your safe, experimental space for English language development? If you haven’t got one, try to find a group, class or teacher which can provide a safe ‘play’ environment AND some exercises to push you out of your comfort zone, and keep you company in the ‘doesn’t matter’ zone.

Remember, it can supplement other learning – one class or system cannot do everything. If you have been working hard on Duolingo all year – great! Now find a fun place to put your new skills into practice!

And if that might be an English language holiday, message me, we still have spaces for summer 2023!

Check out Blue Noun English Language Holidays here.

Further Information

Blue Noun Language Hub

Want to learn more about our English language Immersion Holidays? See here.

External links

Duolingo is an amazing and affordable lanugage learning system – find out more here.