Skills Needed to Succeed as a Student

I’ve always wanted to teach. Well, not always, before that I wanted to be a soccer player just like any other Brazilian boy living in Rio, but that - obviously - didn’t work out. So, maybe a better way to phrase the first sentence of this blog post would be something along the lines of “my second option in life had always been teaching something”. Now, as you can imagine, teaching a topic well requires hours and hours of studying that specific subject. It also requires lots of practice and patience. So after more than 10 years of teaching the English language in two different countries (Brazil and the U.S.) I would say that I know a thing or two about, not only teaching English but studying the language as well. In this post, I would like you to consider three skills: motivation, focus, and patience

  1. Know your why (motivation) - The first skill is less practical and more theoretical. Have you ever started something and didn’t go all the way to the end of the line? Maybe you started a diet plan and gave up on the second day. Or maybe you started a new course in college and dropped it. The most likely reason why that happened is that you didn’t have your why sorted out. You probably didn’t know the reason you were doing that. Once you have your motive clear in your mind, for instance: I want to learn English so I can get a better job to better provide for my family, it will be easier to shake the bad situations off and keep grinding, and make no mistake about it, the bad situations will present themselves to you. For that reason, know your why! 
  2. Studying requires concentration (focus) - The second skill I have for you is totally practical. My students often ask me how long did it take for me to feel secure in what I was teaching and they get surprised when I say it took me a long time. Studying English is not an easy task. Especially because it requires the right environment. I’m not talking about comfort per se, but more about silence. There’s no way that you’ll be able to concentrate and put the right amount of focus if you have your TV on, your cellphone buzzing, your children running around, and so on. That’s why it’s necessary for you to have a place for you to concentrate. If you don’t have that at home (I didn’t for the longest time), then learn about the libraries close to you. If you’re here in Massachusetts where Approach is located, I’m sure you’ll find a library in the city you’re currently living in. A quiet place, a clean table, and no phones near you can do much more than you can imagine. 
  3. Patience is a virtue: English is hard. I’ll repeat that, make sure you read it again. English is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you “It’s so easy, I got fluent in 3 months.” - it’s probably a lie or the person is just boasting about it. Everyone has their time and way of learning. You have your own time and way of learning. Know your why, focus on what you want to learn, and be patient. I’m sure you’ll succeed. 
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