How to learn a language
How to learn a language

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How to learn a language

4 Your ‘future language self’

Now that you have an idea of what a portrait of a future language self might look like, it’s time to do your own. In order to do this, you are going to do a visualisation exercise.

Activity 1 Visualising the future

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes

Find a nice, quiet place where you are not going to be disturbed or interrupted for ten to fifteen minutes, and get ready to do the visualisation exercise below. It’s a good idea to sit comfortably in a quiet place, take a few deep breaths to relax yourself, and close your eyes as you listen to the visualisation audio (adapted from Hadfield and Dörnyei, 2013, pp. 35–7). You might be rather sceptical about this sort of exercise, but do give it a try.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: boc_lll_1_audio_week1_section3.mp3
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Imagine yourself in the future. You have studied the language you want to learn and now you can speak it well.
Imagine yourself. How old are you? What do you look like now? Where are you living? What is your house like? who lives with you? What job are you doing? Why do you enjoy it? What makes you happy about your life?
How is your new language useful to you? What can you do in that language? Do you use it in your work? Do you use it to study? Do you have friends who speak that language? Do you use it when you travel as a tourist?
Imagine the one that is the most important to you: work, study, friends, travel. Now imagine yourself in that situation. Where are you? In an office, at a meeting, on the phone, with friends, in a university, in the foreign country? In a cafe? In a shop? In the street? At the station? Choose one. Where are you? What does the place look like? What can you see around you? How many people are there? What do they look like? What are they wearing? What can you hear? What are you doing? What are you wearing? You are speaking the language to someone. Who is it? What do they look like? Imagine that you are speaking the language very well. What are you talking about? What kind of things can you say? How do you feel talking in that language? How do people react to you?
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How did you find that? Did you manage to imagine yourself in the future speaking the language you are learning? Now spend some time writing up how you imagine your future language self, in the same sort of format as I provided for myself earlier. It is important that you do this now, as you will need to look back at your description of your future language self in the next activities. You will also find that this written record of how you imagine your future language self is a useful document to return to in the future, especially at times when you are struggling with your motivation.

Laura says:

I wish I had done this activity when I first started studying languages! I think doing something like this and (more importantly) having a written record of it that I could look back on when I was feeling demotivated would have been beneficial to me. I would also suggest that you repeat this exercise at regular intervals as you progress in your language learning, particularly when you start feeling demotivated.


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