Have you ever heard another language student speak and thought to yourself you will never reach their level?
I have. I have met language students who have achieved an almost native level. And what’s worse, some of them have done it in a number of different languages.
If I compare myself to these students, I feel lost, jealous, defeated and overwhelmed.
So is the idea of competition in language acquisition healthy?
Before we consider that question, we have to review the idea of competition in general.
The merits of competition has been debated in the school system for many years. It may affect some of us in a negative way and therefore be more of a hinderance than a help.
But in today’s podcast, I consider that competition can be healthy or unhealthy depending on the circumstances.
When we are pushed by our peers in healthy competition we get better. It’s almost that simple.
When we compete with an opponent of almost equivalent skill, we face two possible outcomes. Sometimes we win and other times we lose. When we are in healthy competition and we win we gain confidence and when we lose we gain motivation.
Here you can see that both winning and losing can be beneficial in healthy competition.
So what is unhealthy competition?
If our rivals are too fast, too strong or too good, we may be intimidated, jealous or overwhelmed.
If we don’t feel we can compete then we may give up before the race has even begun. Here we are comparing ourselves to an opponent that is not of equivalent skill. And I would argue that whenever you try to compete against someone of vastly different skill you are in unhealthy competition.
This is true for opponents that are far worse than us as well as far better.
How do we find healthy competition in language acquisition?
If healthy competition is about competing against an opponent of equivalent skill, then the best opponent is yourself.
The main idea in this mindset podcast is you should always be competing to better your best.
You won’t ever feel overconfident or intimidated by yourself. You are you. And you can do what you can currently do. And you only have to step it up a little bit to better your best. And every time you do this your best moves in the right direction.
How can you compete against yourself?
Imagine another version of yourself. Now imagine that person was standing there right now next to you. Then ask yourself, could you beat that person? Could you speak better Spanish than them? What would you need to do to out perform that person with your Spanish skills?
There are two big benefits of trying to better your best:
- It encourages certainty in improvement. From personal experience when people have certainty in their goals they achieve them. It’s great to set big loft goals but when they get too difficult – doubt creeps in.
- It puts you in a place of gratitude and satisfaction because instead of looking to the horizon, instead of looking to how much more work you have to do. You start to look at where you are now and where you have come from.
When you start thinking like this you can start to enjoy the journey. You can improve and you can enjoy improving as you compete with yourself because you can win regularly. You won’t win everyday but you will win regularly.
Other episodes mentioned in today’s podcast:
The quote for today:
“I am in competition with no one, I run my own race, I have no desire to play the game of being better than anyone, in any way, shape, or form. I just aim to improve, to be better than I was before. That’s me and I’m free.” – Unknown.
How can you better your best? What do you need to do to be better than you ever have been before?