Nowadays we hear a lot about the importance of being “greener” in our daily lives and many of us are actively thinking about how we can be more environmentally-friendly and sustainable in order to make a difference in our community, countries and ultimately our planet.
So, why don’t we apply this ecological approach to other areas of our lives, such as the way we learn a language?
What if you, as a learner, followed a « you–friendly » system?
- You could achieve a healthier, high performance
- You could create a ripple effect in your personal and professional growth
So let’s look at 9 different ways to make your learning more ecological:
Make it organic
Ever been to lessons where the content is so general that the material or activities have no relevance or interest to you? Yawn…
We need to be learning with meaningful content, rooted in who we are (ourselves, our life, our work, our business, challenges, projects, communication…). Any part of our life can be transformed into a language-learning opportunity and we grow as a result.
In short, we want the language to come alive, which means no artificial additives.
Recycle your vocabulary
Maybe the vocabulary you’ve learned up until now doesn’t resonate with you. Perhaps your word bank is full of “fast food”: business jargon and buzzwords or expressions you think you should use to impress.
Now is the time to slow down and think about what really matters: do you want ready-made heard-before conversations that make your listener’s eyes glaze over or do you want uniquely-improvised meaningful connection?
Make a regular review and throw out those words that feel fake and prevent you from connecting. Then you can upcycle the rest by transforming the expressions you have into something that feels more like you.
I often have clients who come up with their own expressions that are a sensory combo of their mother tongue and the foreign language and, by allowing themselves the freedom to play like that, they often add a deeper sense to what they’re trying to express and delight their listeners.
We want to explore the words, expressions and metaphors in our own way, so that the language rises up from the inside and becomes our own, an expression of us. Learning “off-grid” like this enables our authenticity to shine through and connection becomes easy. We become more self-sufficient.
Language is our tool and, like any tool, it’s there to help, not hinder, if we allow it.
We need to remember that there is no one way or right way, there is just our own way.
Check your communication footprint
Similarly, what effect are you having on your environment when you’re communicating in the language?
Are you connecting, making a positive impact, or are you only half-listening and getting caught up in the weeds of the details? Is your message forgotten as soon as you’ve spoken or does it continue to resonate with your listeners for hours after?
What mindful process do you have in place to ensure that you and your listeners are exchanging value and connecting?
Ensure zero waste
Minimalism is key. We need to stay lean and simple in our language so that our communication remains clear and effective.
This means that we need to reflect before we start. We need to know our point… and stick to it whilst focusing on key words, visual images, powerful metaphors. We don’t want any cumbersome packaging that weighs our message down.
When we focus on the essential and filter out the rest, it’s easier to stay specific, succinct and sincere.
Reduce consumption & simplify
We can set aside those complex grammar books and traditional learning materials (except for a handy dictionary app on our phone if we want to check something) and focus on authentic content of our own.
As tidying expert, Marie Kondo, says, keep what sparks joy or at least define how we can make it more joyful. She explains the importance of listening closely to the feelings in our body to become more aware of these sparks. Her example uses clothes but it can also apply to language-learning content and tools.
Make it ethical and sustainable
It’s also important that we feel at ease talking about our personal and professional life in our coaching sessions. Learning with a certified coach who respects an established code of ethics helps to create this confidential and safe environment. When we feel more at ease, humour and fun can blossom and insights about ourselves, the language, our challenges, can thrive.
Because, when you think about it, becoming more self-aware and improving our communication is socially-responsible.
Ensure your goal setting is bio-degradable
Having a goal in our language-learning is essential because it gives us direction. Otherwise, it’s like going on a trip without choosing a destination, we end up just driving around in circles.
Once we’ve set our goal, then it needs to be reverse-engineered and broken down into little chunks, in other words, bite-sized pieces that are easy for us to digest and perform on a daily basis. If we don’t do this, our goal will seem too far off and overwhelming. We need to reduce it to the tiniest step we can easily take today.
See it as a growing process
As Mark Manson pinpoints, you need to make language learning “a personal, life experience, or else you’re going to be in for a long, unenjoyable process which will likely end up in you forgetting everything you learned”.
Being “green” in our learning implies having a growth mindset. As I said, we need goals for direction but we also want to enjoy cultivating our English words and seeing them flourish day by day. Like any plant, our English doesn’t grow in a day. To become a master gardener, we need fertile foundations and regular and consistent care.
And we can look to nature for inspiration. Nature isn’t worrying about “getting somewhere” or “being something”. It doesn’t judge. It just is. It lives in the moment.
Avoid the greenhouse effect
Burning fossil fuels like coal and oil puts more carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, causing it to trap more and more heat and resulting in the Earth’s temperatures increasing.
On a much smaller scale, we can liken this to the effect that worrying about making mistakes and what others might think of us has on our communication. We have a tendency to go up into our head and get trapped in a negative loop of overthinking. Our stress levels increase and we end up blocking our desire to speak and losing the opportunity to connect.
Our real power lies in the present moment where we are able to truly listen to others. When we’re totally focused on the person we’re talking to, there is no room for self-consciousness, no thoughts about mistakes.
So, let’s recap. To enjoy a happier and healthier high performance in your learning that will have a ripple effect in your life, you need to make it “green” by:
- making it organic
- recycling your vocabulary
- checking your communication footprint
- ensuring zero waste
- reducing consumption & simplifying
- making it ethical and sustainable
- ensuring your goal setting is bio-degradable
- seeing it as a growing process
- avoiding the greenhouse effect
Just like life, a language is never “done”. It’s a continual exploration and adventure.
If you choose to make it so…
If you want a “greener” way of improving your English and achieving a healthier high performance, I offer a 3-in-1 learning approach that is energy-efficient, sustainable and “you-friendly”.