I recently read a book, "Ungifted," by Scott Kaufman who is a psychologist that works in the field of intelligence. One of the chapters in the book dealt with passion and had a subsection on inspiration. This led me to starting thinking about various ways for both my students and myself to become more inspired about language learning.
Looking at the "Pros"
One of the easiest ways for me to get inspired in other realms of my life is by reading or watching videos about the "pros" in that field. I put pros inside quotation marks because not all of the people I get inspiration from are actually paid or hold a license in their field. For example, the sport of powerlifting doesn't really have professionals in the same sense as baseball or football, but their are elite lifters that regularly write and post videos about the sport.
These videos are huge sources of inspiration for me. Whenever I do not feel like going to the gym or eating another bowl of food, I can always open YouTube or my RSS reader and find something to get inspired from. The videos in particular are an easy way to get enthusiastic about training. A quick search on YouTube will find you thousands of videos of the top level powerlifters in the world lifting inhuman weights that top out over 1,000 pounds. Just try watching a video of a person lifting 1,000 pounds and tell me don't get a jolt of energy.
However, this is exactly the aspect of language learning that is difficult to capture on video. The actual performance of speaking or writing in a foreign language by the world's best polyglots does not give the same lightning bolt of energy. This is because they are so good at using their languages that it seems normal. Watching someone speak is an everyday occurrence. There is nothing out of the ordinary about it the way watching someone lift 1,000 pounds is.
This represents a fundamental difference between language demonstration and other complex skills being demonstrated. The expert demonstration of language is simply not as inspiring as an expert performance of an instrument, athletics, or even race car driving. Millions of people tune into these sorts of demonstrations every week because of the visual awe they instill in the audience. There is no such corollary with language speaking.
As I think more and more about the topic, I keep going back to the ideas in "Ungifted". The author makes the point that inspiration is about possibility. This occurs in three stages: evocation, transcendence, and motivation. The first step occurs when something evokes a new possibility. A role model, such as what I described above, is a perfect way for evocation to happen. This evocation leads directly to the feeling of transcendence, which includes the feeling of being able to surpass current ability levels. The new possibility sheds light on your current limitations and provides evidence that further growth is possible. Finally, by seeing and experiencing the fact that new possibilities are available, you feel a strong sense of motivation to actualize these potentials. According to the Thrash and Elliot who are quoted in the book, "inspiration involves both being inspired by something and acting on that inspiration."
So where does this lead me in my thoughts on language inspiration? First, we are doing it wrong in classrooms. There is very little evocation of possibilities and hence difficulty in gaining transcendence and motivation. What possibilities do we invoke as teachers? The possibility of doing more grammar, uninteresting readings, and some mock conversations. This are hardly inspiring.
When I watch the "pros" I mentioned earlier, I am inspired because of the high level of performance they demonstrate, not the practice endured to get there. However, most of classroom work is entirely practice oriented with little to no focus on performance. This is why the idea of communicative language teaching has caught like fire in the teaching community. It attempts to inspire transcendence and motivation through communicative performance, rather than practice. However, much of this teaching style is still isolated from the real world.
I believe focusing on more real world performances of "peer" language learners would be much inspiring than the current state of language classrooms. In this sense, peers would be anyone learning a language at a level only slightly beyond current students. Watching a polyglot spout off 20 languages on YouTube is too far fetched a performance for most students and they wind up believing that the polyglot is "gifted" or "talented", rather than the product of hard deliberate practice over many thousands of hours.
Instead, showing students the possibility of the next level only could work better. Watching a series of YouTube videos as a learner goes from complete novice to intermediate. Seeing him or her make countless mistakes and errors, but gradually get better over the course of the series. These are sources of inspiration that show real possibilities for most learners.
The same is true for writing. Showing several written products of learners that have come before could work very well as a source of writing inspiration. A series of five to ten written products that show short, broken, error riddled texts that gradually turn into well written and organized texts over time can help to evoke that possibility that perhaps it is possible to improve gradually throughout the course of a quarter, semester, or year.
If inspiration is truly about the evocation of possibilities and the transcendence that you too are capable of growing outside current limitations, then we as language teachers needs to do a far better job of providing those possibilities in engaging formats. There is little we can do as teachers to directly motivate students, however, inspiring them can indirectly lead to a sense of strong motivation as detailed by Thrash and Elliot above.
One source of inspiration that never fails to induce motivation in myself is watching a peer perform an action just beyond what I have done myself. While watching a pro complete a 1,000 pound squat is awesome to watch on YouTube, seeing my best friend lift five pounds more than I was able is an even greater source of motivation. I am able to relate myself to my friends and peers. I am able to sit back and wonder, "If he can do it, why not me?" The real truth is usually that I am able to do it, it just takes a little bit more time and hard work. With enough peer "competition" over time, the pros become more and more attainable as well. Suddenly they don't look like impossibly high benchmarks, but just the next step in the further development of my own expertise.
I firmly believe there are only two possible actions you can take in life. You can develop and add more energy to the world, or you can use up and subtract energy from the world. This isn't about spirituality or magic either. This is literal.
Chemistry defines energy as the capacity to perform work. This is the same definition I am using above. You can develop yours and others capacity to perform work in the world, you can destroy and subtract from that same capacity. Every choice you make results in one or the other.
Understanding this provides greater meaning and clarity in everyday living and choices. Below we will discuss some specific options.
I tend to think of energy in three main domains: mind, body, and soul. However, there are undoubtedly as any domains as you choose to focus on. You could also choose to focus on your finances, emotions, social relationships, local and global environment, or even specific domains like cooking, writing, or running. However, the three big ones of mind, body and soul have served me well and seem to capture the majority of my life in a holistic way.
Mind. When I think about ways to increase my mental energy, I mainly think about learning. This can include learning a new subject like string theory or something else crazy, or simply learning new skills in old subjects like writing and reading. There is always information and knowledge you can find in a good book or teacher that you don't currently know. Find them, read them, talk to them, and watch your mental capacity to do work increase.
Body. This includes physical strength, conditioning, mobility, and nutrition. I can exercise in the gym, at the park, in the ocean, or even at home. It doesn't really matter where, but the important thing is to make your body better. The same goes with food choices. Choosing to eat healthy gives you more energy. Of course, deciding what is healthy can be difficult, but at the end of the day it comes down to listening to your body. If you feel like crap after you eat salmon, then don't eat salmon even if it is touted as a super food! Find what gives you more physical energy through trial and error. Not everyone is the same.
Soul. To me, this category includes social relationships, emotions, and my sense of mindfulness and being engaged with the present. I find that if I am increasing my energy in the other two domains of mind and body, my spiritual energy usually seems pretty high as well. However, they are not completely overlapping. I can become better learned and better conditioned both mentally and physically and still feel awful loneliness if I have no friends and family to share it with. Developing more energy is ultimately about sharing it with the world, especially those around you.
Like the idea of developing energy, I tend to break this up into the three categories listed above. Again, if those don't work for you, choose different ones. I know that James Altucher of The Altucher Confidential chooses to use four: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Whatever works for you is fine.
Mind. There are lots of ways to subtract energy from your mind. All learning is temporary. Eventually you forget how to do something or the facts you spent hours memorizing for the test at school. If you aren't developing your mind through learning and new experiences, then you are most likely going backwards. The other more obvious ways are connected to the "body" category, such as, drinking, drugs, and other harmful activities like high impact sports that result in multiple concussions. None of these categories are completely isolated from one another and the effect on your mind from the other two categories is huge!
Body. Everyone knows how to lose energy. This is no secret. Eat bad food, don't exercise, overwork yourself, sleep one hour every night and rely on lots of stimulants like coffee and nicotine. Do this for a day or two and you can probably recover fairly quickly. However, make this a habit and you will need a very long time to reverse the effects, Make smart decisions with your physical energy, it is literally the foundation for the rest of your life's energy sources.
Soul. I find this category to a little more subtle than the rest. Sometimes the same things that add energy to our spiritual lives in moderation are the same things that take away from our spiritual energy in abundance. Social relationships are a great example of this in my life. As noted above, I don't feel complete unless I have social interaction with close friends. On the other hand, many friends, even my closest ones, love to party, drink, gossip, and eat poorly. While the social bond gives me nourishment in many ways, especially when we are laughing and relaxing, the other habits can be really draining. I often find myself alternating between periods of social isolation that allow me to really build up my levels of physical and mental energy, but drain my spiritual energy from the lack of human connection and periods of high social interaction that tend to be a bit draining on my physical and mental energy, but extremely filling in many spiritual ways.
As you can hopefully see by now, adding energy to your life is a constant process. It is something you can take part in every moment of your life. When you start to view life through this lens, you can see each moment as an opportunity to actualize your own potential and become more capable of doing positive work in the world. This is extremely motivating and gives an exciting reason to get up every morning and start the day.
I hope this article has given you a little more energy as well. If it did, please stop for a moment and ask yourself, "What can I do to increase my energy right now?"
Second the question that i have for you is how can I work on my writhing to avoid writhing the way that I think,write or saying it in my language "Farsi",I mean how can I improve myself? Or what kind of method you can advise me to solve my bad habit?Finally I like to ask you why we should go to school in your experience? because in my understanding looks like you spend lots of your time at school
If you want to start thinking in English, you must read and listen to a lot of English! I mean a lot. The more you read the better you will get, but remember it takes a long time. If you feel comfortable, I would start reading real, full-length English books now. Non-fiction would be easier to start with than fiction because the language isn't as difficult. Pick a topic you are interested in and spend time with it.
To answer the second question, I do spend a lot of time at school! School is a great environment, because everyone is trying to improve themselves just like you. Everyone comes to make themselves better in some way. It could be English, math, or history, but everyone gets better. Of course, some jobs also require a degree, so it's not just about the environment, but also giving yourself the best future possible.
I need some help on grammar to write a better essay and I would be appreciate if you help me.
Sometimes I need to use a passive sentence in a paragraph. Should I write all the paragraph in the passive manner? May I use just one sentence in passive and continue the paragraph in active manner?
It is fine to just write one sentence in the passive voice. You do not have to write the whole paragraph in just the passive. You use it when you want to emphasize the object of the sentence or the subject is not important. If the subject should be emphasized or is more important, use the active. There is no reason to use just one or the other.
I have question about “Forms of Other”. For example, exercise 30 page 151 sentence number 4 wrote that: “No, let’s not use this printer. Let’s use _____ one.” I can put “the other” or “another” in the blank. Both answers are correct, but how can I be sure which one should I use?
You need to know more information to choose only one answer. Both are possible, but have different meanings. If there are only two computers, then you would choose "the other", but if there are many computers "another" is better. Saying "Let's use the other one," means it is on the only computer in the room you can choose. Saying "Let's use another one," means there are many computers in the room you can choose.
I have never done any essay before. I have some questions on essays. I don't really sure about of structure or form of essay. Would you please help me by giving me some example essays, and some websites that I can look at.
Essays can be difficult the first time, but they get much easier after a couple times practicing. Here is a link to an example. The essay is on the right and the structure is on the left. The colors in the structure on the left match the example on the right.
I had problems with some specific grammer, and it is the the way to use phrase 'has had' and 'had had'. I used to be always curious when I saw those phrase in the sentences. It was funny when I first saw ' has had ' in the sentence, because I never thought that phrase exists. So I looked up a lot of sites that talks about ' has had' thing, but I couldn't understnad those explanations clearly. So, I am emailing you with question, and I really appreciate for your help.
“Has had” and “had had” are both part of the perfect aspect. You should know English has three tenses (past, present, and future) and four aspects (simple, progressive, perfect, and perfect progressive). “Has had” is the present perfect for the third person (he, she, it) and “had had” is the past perfect. Some examples:
A: Has John ever had a motorcycle before now? (This is talking about the present)
B: Yes, he has had a motorcycle.
A: Did John have a motorcycle before college? (This is talking about the past)
B: Yes, he had had a motorcycle.
The following excerpt is from Harry Selkow at EliteFTS who has been a strength and athletic coach for longer than I've been alive. If you know me at all, it's no secret that I take many of my best ideas about teaching and education from strength coaches and strength programming. The following is just one good example.
Question this morning was about the difference between "Programming", Being a "Trainer" and "Coaching"
If you're a teacher a don't see the clear analogies to our profession then I will explain. The word programming as he uses it is essentially curriculum design. The role of trainer is the same as instructor and that of coach is an educator.
There are many roles required to be a successful educator, but Harry nailed it on the head with his last few paragraphs about being a coach. A good educator or teacher should have the exact same sentiments toward their students.