5 Ways to improve our concentration when learning a new language!
How can we improve our concentration when our mobile never stops ringing, or even worse beeping! And then there is this old friend, whom we haven’t seen for ages just texting us! Our unread emails are about 291 and the dog from the next balcony hasn’t stopped barking all day! Our books and note-books are right there in front of us, but our mind is still spinning…is that because we have just remembered that last time we ate was.. last night?
Does all that sound familiar? In contrast to an extremely limited number of people whose concentration ability can resist a rock band rehearsal in the other room, the rest of us are doomed to interrupt our attempt to focus every 7 minutes or so.
Here are 5 ways that guarantee to help you improve your concentration ability:
- Let’s organize our space….as well as our mind!
Frankly, no one can concentrate, sitting down next to all kinds of closed or half-open books, post-its, pens without ink and coffee stains all over the desk. I know it is a tedious task but the sooner we roll up our sleeves and tidy our working space, the quicker we will commit ourselves to accomplishing any potential project at hand. Especially, if one of them includes studying a foreign language, not only is an organized place vital for our effort while studying, but it will also accelerate the process of learning as minor distractions are eliminated in a substantial degree.
Now, let’s move on to the more difficult part…how can we remove the clutter from our mind? That’s a big question, I know… For the moment, we don’t need to resort to specialists. An effective way is to get a piece of paper and write down whatever goes through our mind that exact moment. Whatever we write does not need to be coherent, or gracefully written with beautiful handwriting. It doesn’t even need to be written straight or following the lines. Whatever it is just put it out there on the piece of paper in front of you and get it over with for the time being. In this way, at least you have freed your mind for a few minutes. There is nothing for you to think about now, other than completing your assignment.
- Say no to multi-tasking!
In a world as rushed as ours, multi-tasking is a must! or maybe a big mustn’t? Rarely will anyone see a person nowadays performing only one task at a time, no matter what line of work they are in or what kind of activity they engage in. Usually, more or less professional or simply mundane activities are conducted simultaneously by each of us. Yet, is that the key to saving time while at the same time ensuring accomplishing of tasks? or does it just distract our attention?
Our ability to learn or execute mental activities demands quite a high level of undivided concentration. Therefore, if we split our focus on more than one, phenomenally simple tasks then our concentration ability is only about to be reduced in the long run.
Especially when we decide to dedicate some time studying, let’s dedicate it only to that. Let’s not pick up our phone, text, watch the news or play with our dog. For as long as we have programmed to sit down and study, let’s just do that, no matter how difficult it might be!
- Let’s take your time!
Before deciding to learn a new language, we should bear in mind that learning is a process that takes time. On the one hand, setting specific attainable goals during learning is motivating, on the other hand we shouldn’t be too harsh on ourselves when it comes to the overall speed of learning.
We shouldn’t sit at our desks, all stressed out that in exactly one hour we need to have learned a new tense, for example, in the new language. This kind of thinking alone inhibits our capacity to concentrate. We function in such a hurry and pass from one small note to another, trying to go through all of our them, without actually paying true attention to what each of them explains.
So, no matter how much time we have for studying, we should confidently say to ourselves “Within the time that I can dedicate, my goal is to understand as much as possible a part of the lesson that I have to prepare, either small or big…My aim is not to go through quickly a lot of things but to learn well one thing.” This affirmation will improve your ability to concentrate on your learning.
- Log out!
I dare you! Can you go off line? And for how long? Who among us is strong enough to switch off our mobile phones even for a couple of minutes? Each and every one of us is constantly connected to this unlimited digital world that if for whatever reason, we can’t get on line we feel completely insecure. Obviously, our attention is distracted all the time by the immense flow of information, news, trends and communication. When we are continuously “available”, it is almost impossible to focus.
When we are trying to learn a new language or anything new that our mind should store in memory, the less distractions we have from the outer world, the easier it will be for us to enhance our concentration. A way to do that is to define, before we start studying, how much time we can dedicate to our studying this time and how many breaks we will include. During the short breaks, we can log back on, quickly catch up, with our attention staying intact for the rest of the time.
- Let’s set small goals!
Starting to learn anything new, we confidently let our progress in the hands of our teacher, following his advice, without paying attention to how many words we actually learn or how many grammatical structures we haven’t thoroughly apprehended. It is only after a test that we detect such gaps. This kind of attitude, waiting for a test to indicate our questions and the grey spots of our learning, will certainly not take us too far. The reason is that this is a passive way of learning, without actively motivating our mind towards it.
A simple, yet effective way to improve our concentration is to set small constructive goals per week. We can, for instance, set as a goal- always, taking into account, our level- to read one paragraph or a whole article in the new language, to solve two more exercises that were not included in our homework or to write five sentences made up of new words, which initially seemed difficult to retain.
Commitment towards achieving a small goal, especially when it has been set by ourselves, will keep our focus activated and will not allow us to be distracted as easily.
To sum up, the ability to concentrate is completely different for every person. Have you tried different ways to enhance your concentration? Have you tested other methods that proved to be effective towards improving your focus while learning something new? I can’t wait to hear from you!