EDITING : 2019.7.31 수 18:51
The Gachon Herald
Make English a Daily Workout: Getting fit and learning a language have a lot in common!
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Updated : 2019.03.25  19:53:08
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 These days, many people are using fitness tracking apps, smart watches, and other wearables to make sure they are getting enough exercise and eating right. Whether you are counting steps or calories, quantifying your habits can be an excellent way to reach your personal health goals. Sure, you say, but what does this have to do with learning a foreign language? What does conversation have to do with calorie counting? Indeed, these are very different areas of our lives, but they have some important underlying similarities. In fact, the fitness tracker craze can teach us three key skills to help anyone become noticeably better at learning a language.

 Step 1: Set a realistic daily goal! The first thing you’ll notice about a fitness tracker is that it sets for you a milestone to reach everyday. For those who are counting the number of steps to take each day, a goal of 10,000 is quite popular. Of course, more is always better, so why set a number? Why not just do as much as you possibly can? The key to this is setting a goal that maximizes your chance of keeping it up and doing it again the next day. If you want to make a healthy habit, you need to be able to repeat the behavior reliably and regularly. To achieve this, it’s best to set achievable daily milestones. When applying this idea to studying English, give yourself a modest target that can be finished in an hour or less. If you’re working on vocabulary, don’t try to memorize 100 new words. Pick an amount that you can really let sink in. Of course, this also applies to areas beyond learning new words. If you’re learning a new grammar point or doing listening practice, be sure not to bite off more than you can chew. Now, once you’ve reached that daily goal, stop! Don’t push yourself beyond your goal and risk getting exhausted with your practice. Instead, if you find that you’ve set a goal that’s a bit too easy, increase what you’ll cover just a small amount the next day (think, baby steps!). Once you have begun to get in the rhythm of having this kind of daily success, you will find it gets much easier to keep it up in the long term.

 Step 2: Practice IRL! One of the greatest things about using your Fitbit or other step counting wearable, is that every move you make is part of your training program. Whether you’re running to catch the bus or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, your fitness tracker is adding every little bit toward your goal. No need to head to the gym or health club, just get moving anyway you can. Similarly, incorporating English into our daily lives can be a great way to reach our goal. Put an excellent language training app on your phone (I recommend “Memories” and “Drops” for this). Listen to a new song in English or get caught up on your favorite English language TV show while you’re on the subway. Most important of all when making your practice really IRL (in real life), is meeting face-to-face with other people. Because language is all about communicating, we can’t forget that being social is really at the heart of great daily practice. Challenge your friends and family to help you achieve your daily English goal and work together, step by step. Remember, you don’t need to move abroad or meet with a special tutor to gain valuable experience. Instead, try to help create a community focused on achieving small, tangible daily goals.

 Step 3: Reflect on your progress! My favorite fitness app lets me look back over time and check out the longer terms trends in my health behavior. My smart scale doesn’t just show me what I weigh now, but it can also help me look at the general direction things are headed. Stepping back and getting the “big picture” can help us make needed adjustments to our practice, as well as keep us motivated when we know we’re on the right path. To do this when learning a language, keep a daily journal or diary. Write down your goal, what you did that day to achieve it, and how you felt about the process. Keeping a daily record of your efforts will give you special insight into what’s really working and what’s not. It can also be very satisfying to look back at all you’ve done and know just exactly how hard you’ve been working.

 With these three key concepts, you’ll not only improve your language practice but also you will have a solid record of where you’ve been and where your going. It’s been said that, “if you can’t measure something, you can’t control it.” So, with this in mind, take better control of your English practice by quantifying the effort you have made. Share your goals and achievements with other like-minded friends and you’ll be a real language athlete before you know it!
   
GILC Program Coordinator,  Assistant Professor
 
Patrick Thomas Artz

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