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Hello lovely language learners! This academic year, I have the privilege of being enrolled in a whole body wellness class that, rather shockingly, focuses alot on mindfulness.
I’ve always been one of those students who just wants to get things done. So while I’ve never had an issue with procrastination, I’ve really developed an inclination towards rushing.
I hadn’t realized how toxic rushing could be on someone’s mind until my wellness teacher mentioned the importance of “setting an intention to live slowly.”
As in savoring each and every moment and actually being present in the present.
The struggle of being a busybody
If you’re a busy body, you probably know the struggle of not thinking about what you’re going to do later.
While you’re working, you think about what you’re going to eat. While you’re eating, you think about what you’re going to watch. And while you’re watching TV, you think about when you’re going to bed.
And it’s just this constant process of literally waiting for the future. I get it though– I too love planning out my future to a certain degree.
There’s something so relieving about writing plans and to-do lists in a planner. Or in my case, a bullet journal (Check out the SMART way to use your bullet journal for language learning).
And I’m not saying to stop doing that. However, you’ve got to leave that ‘futuristic’ mindset behind when it comes to language learning.
Why is mindfulness so important for learning languages?
One of the beautiful things about language learning is that it’s a skill you can’t ever truly “master.”
You can reach fluency, but you won’t ever be done learning it. As a native English speaker who still learns new English words on the daily, I know that for a fact.
So it doesn’t make sense to rush the language learning process.
Earlier this week, I watched this wonderful video by polyglot, Robin MacPherson, about the necessity of “impermanence” in language learning.
I’ll be real with you– I wasn’t at all familiar with that word when he first mentioned it. To me, impermanence just sounded like a fancy word for “temporary.”
However, it’s a lot deeper than that. Defined as “the philosophical problem of change,” impermanence is about embracing the fact that you’re never going to be at the exact same level as you are right now.
And it applies to every single thing in life. You are constantly changing, even subconsciously, every single second.
So you won’t ever have an identical experience or be in an identical situation to one you’ve been in before.
It may be similar, but it won’t be the same. No wonder right now is called “present.” Because it’s the gift of an experience that isn’t a recollection or a speculation.
When you apply that mindset to language learning, you embrace the reality that learning a language is a journey.
An adventure. And no matter where you are in that adventure, you’ll never be there again.
That specific level of proficiency that you’re currently at is unique to this moment. Ideally, you’ll be forever getting better.
But even if you one day “lose” the language, the process of relearning will still be different from this initial journey. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Accepting that truth will make language learning feel so much more enjoyable.
Setting an intention to focus on the now instead of that future “fluent you” will add so much value to your study sessions.
How to practice mindfulness while language learning?
It really boils down to setting an intention to be present in the moment.
I know that studying is not the most enjoyable thing in the world. But you can’t allow yourself to wander towards the things you’d rather be doing.
Really try and appreciate the process. Embrace the knowledge. Savor that feeling of learning something new.
I definitely encourage tracking and planning (Check out 10 simple ways to use your planner for language learning) your goals– but don’t do so solely with the focus of cramming in information just so you’ll reach a self-set goal by a deadline.
Use your goals as motivation; not as means to tear yourself down when they’re not met.
You have to remember that learning takes time. Exercising mindfulness will allow you to find peace at your own pace.
So during your study sessions, try your hardest to really focus on what you’re learning.
To actively apply and engage with the language.
Don’t sit there thinking about dinner, watching TV, going to the store, or anything else. Be present throughout the time you’ve set aside to learn a language.
If you’re willing to give up a portion of something as precious as your time, then you might as well use it wisely.
Simple ways to incorporate mindfulness in your language study routine
Mindfulness tip #1: Cut out distractions
If you know anything about meditation, then you know how essential a quiet space is.
How can you expect to quiet your mind if your surroundings aren’t quiet?Of course, you can eventually do so with practice, but it’s just a lot easier if you find a space with little noise.
You’re taking that time for yourself, so you deserve to study in peace.
If you’re an online self-study student, be sure to check out the 5 major traps to avoid as an online student! ‘Cause trust me when I say that the internet is full of distractions.
Mindfulness tip #2: Organize your space
It’s extremely hard to organize your thoughts if you’re staring at a literal mess.
Your desk, table, or other study space should be tidy and if possible, aesthetically pleasing.
I talk more about the importance of a clean study space in the top 10 reasons you don’t enjoy language learning.
Mindfulness tip #3: Set the mood for mindful learning
You know how you would set the mood before a date? Yeah, that mentality applies to language learning as well.
If your mind is a mess from whatever’s going that day, you shouldn’t hop straight into learning a language just to get it done.
You’ll need to calm down first. My number one tip?
Take a deep breath. And then take a few more.
You may even opt to meditate a bit prior to starting your study session. Meditation is a great way to put your mind as ease and mentally prep you for taking on your next task.
Even some nice scents may be in call. Essential oil diffusers are perfect for stimulating certain emotions and overall making your space smell wonderful.
I’ll have an article coming out on essential oils and language learning soon, so stay tuned!
If you don’t have essential oils or even febreze, then candles are amazing for setting the mood.
They smell great and they really make your study atmosphere nice and cozy.
Mindfulness tip #4: Get Comfortable
After all that, I suggest getting comfortable. Not too comfortable, as in making you want to go to sleep.
But comfortable enough to look forward to getting started. Especially if you’re study sessions last longer than thirty minutes.
Before you go!
I’ll have an article coming out in about two weeks on my 30-day review on using Pimsleur for learning Spanish.
So far it’s been an extremely fascinating process, so make sure you bookmark my page, pin this article, or follow my socials to stay updated!
My love for language learning expands to multiple platforms so you can also find me cranking out DIY language learning inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest. Don’t hesitate to direct message me or comment on one of my posts! I’d love to get to know you beyond this blog.
Aside from that fun, if you’re still here then I want to make sure you don’t miss out on your free language learning toolkit.
All exclusive content curated specifically for atypical language learners looking to make their D.I.Y. language acquisition process as fun and creative as possible.
Equipped with a 4-week checklist, 100 fun learning ideas (read the first 50 here!), a rapid acquisition 2-week plan, memory-based guides to creating a language journal, and free language progress tracking printables. All straight to your inbox. And trust me– I never spam.
Keep learning languages my friend! And I look forward to seeing you again real soon.