My first contact with positive self-affirmations was with the fictional character Stuart Smalley, created by American comedian Al Franken. This fictional unlicensed therapist would look at himself in the mirror with a strangely gleeful smile and say, I’m good enough; I’m smart enough and, doggon’ it, PEOPLE LIKE ME! Needless to say, my perception of self affirmations was not very good. Later on I read Awaken the Giant Within, written by self-motivationalist Tony Robbins who taught that self-affirmations are good but only if you have a plan to achieve whatever it is you are affirming. You can tell yourself that you are handsome all you want but buying some new clothes, losing 10 pounds (or gaining 10 pounds as the case may be) and combing your hair every day isn’t such a bad idea either. That made sense and was more convincing. Lately I’ve had another contact with self-affirmations. Two very competent autodidactical linguists who I respect also use self-affirmations.
In this video you can see that Luca is trying very hard to explain his language learning methods in a way that will help others to be able to learn the languages that interest them. You’ll notice that one of the things he does is remind himself when he has to relearn a word or grammar principal multiple times over the course of several weeks that eventually these things will be very easy and that he will be surprised at how they ever seemed difficult. I think that this is very sound advice. I remember feeling like learning the Spanish language was like trying to drink a swimming pool full of apple juice with a spoon. I liked it and tried to get as much as I could but even after a month of drinking the pool still looked pretty full. Many foreign language students get stuck in between a basic knowledge of their target language and an intermediate knowledge. Instead of forging ahead they give up. It’s important to remember Luca’s advice: what is brutally difficult now will seem ridiculously easy in the future.
Steve the Linguist‘s method includes a full blown self affirmation for learning foreign languages. Here it is:
Have you studied Language X for many years? Are you still afraid to speak Language X? Please study this and repeat it to yourself daily.
I can be FLUENT in Language X. My goal is to be FLUENT. My goal is not to be perfect. My goal is just to be FLUENT. I can be FLUENT and still make mistakes.
FIRST I must FORGET what I learned in school. I will make a FRESH start. I will FORGET the rules of grammar. I will FORGET the quizzes and tests. I will FORGET all the times I made mistakes. I will FORGET what my teachers taught me. I will FORGET my native language. I will FORGET who I am. I am a new person. I am a Language X speaker. I will make a FRESH start. I will have FUN! I will FOCUS on things that are FUN and interesting. I will learn.
I will LEARN how to LEARN. I will LISTEN a lot. I will LET myself go. I will LISTEN and LET Language X enter my mind. I will LISTEN often. I will LISTEN every day. I will LISTEN to the same content many times. I will LISTEN to the meaning. I will LISTEN to hear the words and phrases. I will LISTEN early in the morning. I will LISTEN late at night.
I will UNDERSTAND the language. I will UNDERSTAND what I hear and read. If I UNDERSTAND what I hear and read I will be able to speak and write. UNTIL I can UNDERSTAND what I hear and read, I will not be able to speak and write well. But there is no hurry. I will work on UNDERSTANDING. I will read a lot and especially, listen a lot. I want to UNDERSTAND the meaning of Language X. I do not want to UNDERSTAND the rules of grammar.
EVERY day is a learning day. EVERY day the language is ENTERING my brain. I ENJOY reading and listening EVERY day. I study with ENERGY and ENTHUSIASM. I study interesting things and ENJOY the language. If I ENJOY the language I will improve. Let the language ENTER my mind. There is no need to push myself. I am getting better EVERY day.
I will NEVER say that I am NO GOOD. When I read and listen I will tell myself “NICE GOING”! I will learn NATURALLY and easily. I will be NICE to myself. I will NOT BE NERVOUS. If I make a mistake I will say “NEVER MIND”. If I cannot understand something I will say “NEVER MIND.” If I forget a word I will say “NEVER MIND.” If I have trouble saying what I want to say, “NO PROBLEM”. I will continue.
I will TRUST myself. I will be confident. Confident learners improve quickly. I will TREAT myself with respect. I will TELL myself that I am doing well. I just need to keep going, no matter what. The more I listen and read using THE LINGUIST, the more I will understand. The more words and phrases I save the more I will know. Soon I will be ready to speak and write well. I will take it easy. I know I will succeed. I will TRUST myself and TRUST THE LINGUIST.
The fact that two people taught themselves over seven languages using self-affirmations, among other things, seems like more than just a simple coincidence. Do you think that these attitudes or affirmations would help you to learn a language? Have any of you tried self-affirmations before? Would you consider sharing your experiences with the rest of us?