Wednesday 3 October 2012

Learning Psychology & Methods: Learning Q & A

Image from

Everyone has their moments of confusion in life. 'Everyone' of course includes myself too. Normally if the trouble isn't serious, I might
  1. take a stroll
  2. look at the blue sky and some green trees, 
  3. close my eyes and feel the breeze, feel my own existence, 
  4. free myself from work and talk to myself in the head,
  5. tell myself that none of these matters to me because they aren't worth my time and energy,
  6. tell myself that I am not the first and won't be the last to face such trouble, thus there is nothing to fear,
  7. write a blog entry to share my feelings with all my friends and readers,
Sometimes, helping others to solve problems actually helps myself too, especially when I face similar situations.

Here are some of the questions my students have raised, and I shall read out my thoughts. Hopefully you can find your answers here too if you also feel the same.

Concern 1:
Being a non-native English speaker, I feel (for a while already) that no matter how hard I try, I still not as good as others, or quite far behind others (my colleagues studied overseas). Know its normal but its quite frustrating sometimes. Seems like completing with others on my weak area..haha! Not easy just like what you said. It really need patience and belief that it worths!

Suggestion: Here's the thing, you are right, it can be a bad bad feeling to be inferior. There are several ways to look at this. You can either try to let this difference settle peacefully in your mind, and continue your life as usual, or you can take a more optimistic approach, turn this weakness of yours into a power to continue learning. For me, I think the later one will help you more if you really cannot control that competitive sense in you.

Plus, being able to speak better isn't everything nowadays, knowing more is. Say you might not be as good in English compared with your colleagues, but you can learn many other things related or not related to work, just to pack that useful brain of yours with knowledge, like what this English Playground is about, then you will naturally feel stronger and have more confidence when dealing with your colleagues.

Remember, we can't always be better than others in everything, but we can always try to be better than ourselves continuously.

Concern 2:
I want to know how to find the topic that you will feel interesting on it. I feel hardly to find my interesting topic and stuff.

You just keep reading and exposing yourselves to everything to find what you like. If you don't see, how do you know? 

A girl might go window shopping for weeks until she finds one thing she likes. Finding a topic you like is no difference. Don't limit yourself by time, don't set a deadline, keep searching. Open your eyes and see more! If you stop at topics which you'll spend longer time reading up, that might just be the hint!

Concern 3:
I want to be able to hear every word of every TV show and understand them. How can I do that?

Well, that is very difficult task indeed. Even at my level now, I can't guarantee I can hear every single word of every TV show.

There are various reasons for us not to hear certain words, the video quality, the sound quality, the speakers dropping their volume as they speak, noises from background, etc. So I will say, no one can really hear 100%.

But for me, I don't keep track of words I don't hear, I just don't feel there are words I don't understand.

When students ask me for this word or that expression they don't hear in videos, I realised I don't actually HEAR them, I follow the story, the context, adding my experience of what people usually say in similar situations, adding with the tones, the answers just APPEAR in my head. In other words, I know the words without actually hearing them clearly as long as the tones are right. Thus my advice is, we can aim 100%, but don't be frustrated when we don't get 100%, just keep going, keep listening, as your experience builds up, you will be able to understand more even without your noticing.

Concern 4:
I have no money. Are there any free English speaking classes in Hong Kong?

Well of course, there are English Corners around the world, people who just want to learn English will gathering each other on social networks and then meet regularly in certain places. I'm not sure who you will meet and what kind of people you will meet, but for some safe suggestions, you can visit universities websites for their open forums, seminars and talks, such as the Big Mouth Corner organised by the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong, it is opened to the public and then meet once every Thursday from 7-8pm. For details, please see the link under Resources.

I have written another entry in August 2010, titled, Learning Methods: Have No Fear when Learning, and Learning Method & Psychology: Why Can't I Speak Fluent English?  you may be able to find more questions and hopefully answers from there.

Image from AArambh VIT (VASTRA-SAMAN)

"If you don't try, you won't know." -- Locky

stroll -- (vb)[I] to walk in a slow relaxed manner, especially for pleasure
inferior -- (adj) not good, or not as good as someone or something else


Learning Methods: Have No Fear when Learning @ Locky's English Playground

Learning Method & Psychology: Why Can't I Speak Fluent English? @ Locky's English Playground