Learning Something New?
DON’T make this mistake.
When I was studying Arabic in London in 2014 I had such a horrible time.
Why? Because of the teacher? The course? The other students? No.
Because I was too shy and burning with embarrassment whenever I made a mistake.
This Crippled My Learning Progress
Every week our teacher would give us 20 sentences to translate from Arabic to English and another 20 to translate from English to Arabic.
In total: 40.
In the class, he would randomly select someone to translate a sentence from the homework given. He would hand us the board marker and say ‘come up and translate the sentence and show us your method’.
Here is where I’d shit myself
I had to stand in front of the class and scribble in Arabic or English my translation. The teacher would then ask me to explain to the class how I managed to translate the sentence and demonstrate my grammatical method.
Even when I knew how to explain my method I was so scared that it may be wrong or I may sound stupid or that my class mates would judge me and think of me as an incompetent learner.
We have a voice in our head that sometimes criticises us a lot. We think this voice is our friend and is protecting us from humiliating ourselves but when it comes to learning, this voice can work AGAINST us.
Every time I stood in front of my class to demonstrate how I was using grammar I made a lot of mistakes. It was painful. I was so embarrassed that I sometimes froze when I was being asked a question. All the information stored in my head from revision vanished as soon as I had eyes on me.
But guess what?
This also happened to some of my other class mates. They would make a mistake. Forget a grammar rule. Do something stupid where we could all laugh sympathetically and…. simply fail to translate the sentence entirely.
What was wrong with that? Nothing. In my mind I was not judging them or feeling pity for them or thinking that they are embarrassing themselves. I just wished I was that confident.
Failure = Feedback
If you don’t expose yourself to failure, how will you know what is correct and what is incorrect?
When the teacher asked who wanted to volunteer to demonstrate something or answer a question… I was never ever up for it. I was too shy to do it.
I knew I would make a mistake and that the embarrassment would burn so much that I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything there is to learn.
I got stuck when I had a question I wanted to ask because I thought it might be silly or that it was not important to the rest of the class…… but it was important to ME! And I ignored my own needs.
Challenge your Ego
When you enter a room where you are the person learning something new, your sense of shyness will not be your friend. Confidence is your friend.
But confidence in what though?
Your newly learned skill?
Your silly questions?
Being confused about something?
That classroom is your space to practice learning in which ever style/method/pace that is comfortable for you.
(You paid a lot of money for that opportunity, don’t waste it like I once did)
Now I ask all the questions in the world
After a 15 week intensive course on Arabic grammar I realised my lack of confidence and excessive shyness stopped me from achieving my potential. I decided this experience must never repeat itself again and promised myself:
– I will never ever sit through another class in my life and hold back what is in my mind.
– I will not be afraid to make a mistake.
– If I am nervous, I will be honest and say that I am nervous.
– If I am confused when everyone else is not, I will still confess my confusion and ask everyone else to please have some patience with me while I try my best to understand something and GET IT RIGHT.
– If something is funny about the way I learn, I won’t be afraid to laugh at myself and let others laugh with me in sympathy.