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“You can learn at any age if you’re willing to be a beginner” – Barbara Sher

Are you an absolute beginner at something (or do you ever feel that way)? You know, that totally green feeling that can affect your enjoyment of an activity?
Well, I think motivational coach Barbara Sher makes an excellent point – we need to be willing to be beginners to learn.  (I also don’t buy the “I’m too old” argument for learning anything).
I’m sure you’ve seen the viral video on famous people who made it big when they were older than most? I couldn’t seem to find the video today (feel free to comment at the end of the post if you have it!), but check out this list of 33 celebrities who made it big later in life.
Oh, and check out this guy who ran his first marathon at over 80. Makes you think twice about the “I’m too old” argument, doesn’t it?

How To Be A Good Beginner

love learning new things. I’m sure as most of you are teachers, you do, too.  You know that feeling of total greenness though?

How can you overcome that and still have fun learning something? It’s importance to enjoy the process of learning, not only the milestones and accomplishments.
If you can get competitive like I can, it may be a challenge to focus on enjoying the process.
Here are a few tips:


Step 1: Patience

Okay, so patience is not my strongest point – but it’s definitely a work in progress for me.  Without patience, being a beginner with a positive attitude is almost impossible.Motivational Monday 39 Patience

For example:

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know that swimming is one part of my training routine I added in the last year. One of my goals is to be comfortable in the ocean one day, but I’m not a strong swimmer.  Well, I took three weeks off swimming to visit family in Canada – and wow was returning to it tough!

I felt like I’d completely lost the level I had just a month before.   Breathe. Remember that you are a beginner, and give yourself a break. 

That last one is important to me. I find constantly reminding myself that as a beginner, I don’t need to be anywhere near perfect helps a lot.



Step 2: Training & Practice

:Motivational Monday 84 Expectations Training

Of course, practice is the obvious next step, but it goes hand-in-hand with patience. As frustrating as it is to be behind on a goal you want to achieve, it’s difficult to reach your goals without the proper training and practice 

It’s so de-motivating to practice when you’re bad at something, isn’t it?  Focusing on the present really helps here. Remember that we’re not perfect – and not every day you practice will be perfectly as planned, either.  Give yourself a break and recognize this – and then keep practicing!




Step 3: A Positive Outlook

Even if you’re not improving, stay positive.  What?! How is that supposed to happen?

I hear you!  All I can say is that imagining the future and the end goal works well for me. It’s a delicate balance though, between enjoying the current moment and looking towards the future.

What strategies do you use to keep that balance in check?  Stephan James suggests a few key strategies, including doing what you love and keeping the “shiny object syndrome” in check.  (It’s not all aboutthe end goal).


How To Teach Beginners Languages

I know it’s summer, but I couldn’t resist putting in a bit about beginner language learners for all you teachers out there! (For all you second language learners out there too, actually!)

Now I’ll post a dedicated language learning tips post soon, but here are 3 tips to get beginners to enjoy the process.

Speak With Locals

Even if your students are just starting out, get them involved in local activities. Or, activities with native speakers who also speak their language.  I’d save non-intensive language exchanges for the intermediate level, but it never hurts to have your students make friends from the culture of the language they’re studying.

5 Grammar Games for Kids and Adults


Mix Beginner Grammar with Vocab Activities

Many beginners get caught up in studying the grammar, but remind them how important vocabulary is, too! Simple activities like taking a block of sticky notes and labelling items in their home in a different language can help students remember basic vocabulary.

Watch Foreign Films

Of course, your beginner students will need subtitles!  Start them off with subtitles in their own language, and slowly work them up to watching with English subtitles. Even exposure while listening to a foreign language has helped me learn and remember vocabulary when I encounter it later.  Choose short videos, clips, films and documentaries first, and work your way to feature films.

I’d love to hear about activities you are beginning this summer, or plan to begin this fall. Please comment below!

Have a lovely and relaxing summer-fun filled week!


P.S.  Photo fans, the main image from this week’s post (and poster!) is one I took in the German part of Switzerland in May

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