If I asked you to tell me why you want to be fluent in English, would you be able to?
Perhaps you’re interested in having conversations in English when you travel, or you need stronger communication skills to succeed professionally or get a promotion.
Maybe you want to watch your favorite TV show or movie or learn more about a hobby where all the latest, most up-to-date information is in English.
Maybe you haven’t identified your “why” yet.
Don’t worry – deep inside you, you know the reasons you have this goal, but you just need some help uncovering your true motivation.
Lucky for you, I know someone who can help you. Join me for an in-depth conversation with Sabrina from Calm English.
Sabrina is a fluency coach who works with learners who want and need to advance their professional English.
She helps guide non-native speakers along the journey to fluency by working with them to create an effective system that combines their internal motivation with learning approaches that get them results.
The Journey to Fluency
We discuss our own personal journeys to fluency and how fluency shifts and changes over time.
You may actually temporarily “lose” your fluency when you’re not immersed in the language or not following your system, rituals, and routines that keep your language skills active and growing.
But don’t despair – your fluency will return to you as your life circumstances change and as you discover different reasons that you need to be fluent.
The Secret of Fluency
Despite what you might read, the only secret to achieving fluency is the one you discover for yourself.
Once you identify the primary thing that motivates you, you’ll be able to create the system and identify the path ahead of you.
But just like our life’s journey, the path to fluency will change and shift.
When I first worked towards fluency in Spanish, I wanted to have fascinating conversations with other people and make friends. I knew I’d achieved fluency when I was able to tell stories and make other people laugh. This was enough for many years.
But then I moved to Chile and realized I needed to learn how to use Spanish in professional environments. It was fascinating to discover that I still had room for growth.
Following Your Why and Finding Focus
In order to achieve fluency, Sabrina suggests focusing on fluency in a specific field of work or study so that you can interact with a specific type of person. By concentrating your attention on your highest priority needs, you will improve more quickly.
In the end, you end up improving your overall English by focusing on one aspect.
This is why you need to identify the deeper why – why are you learning English, right now, at this moment, for this month?
As Sabrina explains, what’s fun is not always what’s going to help you achieve your goals. As a coach, she encourages people to go to that harder, more uncomfortable place.
This is where the growth will come from. This is what will get you from where you are now to where you want to be.
Remember: We sometimes feel resistance to learning the things that we most need. Staying focused on your why will keep you moving forward.
Mindfulness While Learning English
Besides guiding you towards your why on the journey to fluency, Sabrina brings the practice of mindfulness into her work.
She encourages you to notice how you feel in your body when you have to do something in English.
Pay attention to how you feel before you meet in the conference room or connect on Skype, and really experience how that feeling shows up in your body.
All you have to do is notice the sensations and maybe name them.
Are you nervous? Are you resisting studying? Do you feel joy when reading or studying certain articles? Do you feel happy when listening to English podcasts while exercising? Do you feel tired because it’s early in the morning or after work?
Bring awareness to these feelings in the moment, and pay attention to what clues they give you.
When you know what learning activities bring you joy, you can add more of them into your learning routines and create systems to support them.
Although this technique may sound simple, it requires you to do actually do it.
The practice of mindfulness will empower you to discover your own joy and listen to your own inner guidance in order to stay motivated, rather than listening to what someone else told you that works.
Over time, your system for becoming and staying fluent in English will grow and change. You’ll continue to uncover what works best for you.
When you notice that things seem too easy or too hard, you can adapt your system.
In the end, you are in charge of your own learning.
Small Steps Lead to Big Progress
Sabrina points out that it easy to get overwhelmed on the journey to fluency. When you want to become completely fluent, you want to learn all of the words and speak all of the English, but no one actually needs to learn all of the words.
(She talks more about this in her free guide, which you can download by clicking here.)
Instead, relax your expectations and calm the monkey mind, that part of you that is easily distracted by all the possibilities.
Choose what you are going to do to improve your English right now, in the moment, for the next 30 or 90 days.
After all, it’s the small steps that you take over a long period of time that lead to the greatest success.
Sabrina suggests creating a system that focuses on your central why because these small steps will move you forward along your journey, even as your needs shift.
Your fluency goal is a moving target that constantly changes, but you’ll always be able to use the skills you’ve already developed.
When your goal is important to you, then you’re absolutely headed in the right direction.
Now it’s your turn! Which insight from this conversation was most useful for you? Did Sabrina’s approach help you consider or uncover your why?
We want to know: Why do you want to achieve fluency in English? Leave a comment below and share it with us.
Please be sure to download Sabrina’s free guide with her top tips to improve your spoken English and learn the effective fluency strategies that she teaches her students.
And don’t forget to tell us how your why will guide you on the journey to English fluency!