“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” — Shunryu Suzuki.
Do you remember the period at the very start of your language learning journey?
Everything was fun, intriguing, and new.
Every noun has a gender? What! How do you pronounce the ‘ll’? Bizarre! But most of all: “I will be able to speak with and meet people I could never have otherwise.” Awesome!!!
When I first started learning Spanish, I had a crazy level of motivation to practice. I would practice for at least an hour every day, and I did so for weeks and weeks.
But, what can happen over time, at least it did with me, was the reality set in that learning a language requires work. Work that can be boring.
And I worry that for some it may be easier to move on to other things than to build to a level where language learning becomes incredibly rewarding.
If you have been learning Spanish for a while, and need to rediscover your love, excitement, and inspiration to continue to grow your skills, then it may be worthwhile reconnecting with the feeling of being a beginner again.
In this post, you’ll learn how you can rediscover the power of the beginner’s mindset with four simple techniques.
1. Explore new hobbies and passions using your Spanish
In my interview with John Fotheringham (listen to the episode here), John suggested that one of the best ways to stay motivated is to explore passion areas using your language skills.
If you travel to a Spanish-speaking country you could go to cooking classes. You could learn the Tango in Argentina or the Flamenco in Spain. You could explore art, or music, or wine, or football.
When we were in Madrid my girlfriend used her Spanish to do a class on local cooking. She learned how to make croquetas and tortilla de patatas. We also used our Spanish to go on a winery tour when we were in La Rioja region of Spain.
These experiences reminded us of why we started learning Spanish, which helps with finding the motivation to continue to improve.
2. Help a beginner
Like any parent who infectiously catches the excitement of Christmas morning from their children, you too can use this same idea to rekindle your excitement for Spanish.
Search for someone who is starting their own language journey. Ask them why they are doing it, and what they are looking forward to the most.
Let yourself be swept away with their emotions, and use these infectious feelings to find your inspiration again.
Listen for their excitement as they start talking about simple things such as asking how to find the bathroom, or ordering a beer.
Better yet, encourage someone to start learning a foreign language yourself. Tell them how they can get started, and how learning a language has changed your life.
Just the simple act of explaining what you have gotten out of the journey will help to rediscover your own internal drive.
3. Find a group of language enthusiasts
Ask around your existing network of friends or family, or take to the social inter-webs to see if you can find a group of people interested in language learning.
If you aren’t too shy to go to a meetup with people you don’t know, check out www.meetup.com. On there you can find meetups in almost every major city in the world, on almost any topic.
There is often incredible energy that can be created when people come together to discuss shared interests.
You may walk away from a gathering like this ready to practice and develop your Spanish again.
4. Start something new in general
If all else fails, you may just simply need a short break from your Spanish. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?
Start a new hobby. You can look to reconnect with the beginner’s mindset in other fields or pursuits outside of language learning.
Try rock climbing, or chess, or standup paddleboarding, or even Ultimate Frisbee (if you do, please email me, I would love to hear about your experience, as this a big passion of mine).
Allow yourself to get swept up in those beginner feelings. The kinds of feelings that remind you that don’t know everything, but in a good way.
There is so much to explore, see, and do. And every time you are reminded of this, it can help you find the beginner’s mind, which can then be transferred into everything that you do.
The beginner’s mindset is powerful. It provides tons of energy that you can use as inspiration to push your Spanish forward.
Even simply thinking about what it feels like to be a beginner again can help you find motivation.
But, there is more you can do.
I challenge you to try one of the techniques in this post to rekindle your inner drive and find your excitement for exploring something new.
Try using your Spanish to explore areas of interest. Help a beginner get their start in Spanish. Find other language enthusiasts. Or, try a new hobby.
It may be just the thing you need to get your Spanish moving forward again.
How else can you rediscover your beginner’s mindset?