Challenge Yourself When Learning Another Language

Do you find English learning to be an incredibly slow process??? 

If you’re anything like me, you probably get impatient with the process of learning a foreign language sometimes because you long to be better and better.

However, the process often seems slow. Some days it can even feel like you’ve lost progress.

Well there is no magic pill that will make you fluent overnight, but there are many ways that you can make the learning process faster without actually spending a lot of time.

Sound too good to be true? Well check out the video and transcript below to learn more!

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Hey Real Lifers, what’s going on?

This is Ethan, with a special video for you.

So, today I’m gonna talk about why it’s important to challenge yourself when you’re learning another language.

Is this Real Life?

Challenge Yourself When Learning Another Language

So all of us are looking for the easiest way to learn another language. And, although there are shortcuts, there are ways to make it easier, at some point we have to realize that it’s not an easy process. Learning a language is difficult and it takes a lot of time.

And it’s important to challenge ourselves because challenging ourselves is going to make it go a little bit faster, and it’s also going to make it a little bit more fun process.

So, just like if you want to get stronger, you have to lift heavier weights or do more reps, if you want to get better at a language you also have to find ways to challenge yourself, to use heavier weights.

Challenging yourself the right amount can increase your fluency, it can help you  build your vocabulary, and learn gramatical structures through context, which is obviously much better than studying, believe me. It can help you understand native speakers better, and it can certainly help you achieve fluency in speaking.

All right. So, maybe you need some advice on how to get started challenging yourself in English, maybe you don’t have an idea of how you can do this.

Change Your Mentality

So, first you need to CHANGE YOUR MINDSET a little bit. You need to realize that you’re not going to understand a hundred percent and that mistakes are ok. That you’re going to make a lot of mistakes and that they’re actually a good thing.

We need to break this mentality most of us have learned going to traditional school systems that mistakes are really bad. You know, on our tests they mark us with big red marks every time we get a question wrong.

But when you’re learning a language, it’s all about communication. So, making mistakes is the only way to get any better, because if you don’t make mistakes, how can you ever correct them?

So, it’s ok that you don’t understand everything and that you’re making mistakes, and… Just realize that, little by little, this will get better. In just a few weeks, if you really challenge yourself, you’ll even be able to notice it getting better.

Ok, so what are some things that we can start doing to challenge ourselves more?

Watch TV

So, first, it’d be really good if you could get hooked on, or get addicted to, a really good TV show in English. Once you can understand about 60% or more, that’s good enough. You’re ready to get started.

So, you can start by using English subtitles if you need to, as a crutch, or something to help you make it a little bit easier, but the best thing is going to be if you can just watch the plain original version with no subtitles.

I know it seems a little bit scary, or it may even seem a little bit boring but, trust me, if you start little by little watching it, you’re going to get the big picture, even if you don’t understand one hundred percent. You might not understand what’s going on in every scene but you’ll get what’s going on in every episode.

One of the good things about watching a TV show is that over time there’s usually a developing storyline. You get to know the characters, and you’re, also, you’re watching it. So, through the actions, through the body language, it makes it a lot easier to understand it.

Right now, I’m learning Catalan, and a few weeks ago I started watching a Catalan television program called “Plats Bruts” . So, a friend had recommended this to me and we actually started watching it together. At first, I didn’t understand really much. He had to pretty much explain to me every scene, what was going on. But little by little I started watching it more, I started watching it on my own, and now I understand about 80 to 90% or sometimes even more, and this is enough to understand everything that’s going on in an episode.

So, if you start challenging yourself like this, little by little, you’re going to notice  that you can get quite a bit of growth in a relatively short amount of time, and it’s really going to help you understand English a lot better.

Listen to Native Speakers

So, next would be listening to podcasts or to the radio. So, you know, there are of course podcasts for English learners, particularly for English learners, but I would really recommend that you challenge yourself and download a podcast that is meant for native English speakers. This is very easy to find, there are thousands of these, just go on iTunes and go on to the little search box and look for something that’s interesting to you. Download a few, try out some different ones, experimentation is always good when you’re learning English, or learning any language, and start listening to these all the time, when you’re walking around somewhere, when you’re on the bus, when you’re driving, when you’re at the grocery store, whenever.

You don’t have to understand everything, it’s just important that you listen to the language. Little by little, you’re going to see yourself getting better and you’re going to get used to the intonation and the rhythm of the language.

It can even be a good idea, if you feel comfortable doing this, to listen and to try to repeat what they’re saying with the same rhythm, the same intonation in the sentences, because this is going to help you build those sounds that change your accent from sounding very non-natural to sounding natural and even like a native speaker.


The next thing would be reading a book. So, reading a book is going to be very much like watching a television program or a movie. You’re not going to understand every sentence but you’re going to understand every paragraph, or every chapter. You’re going to get the whole big picture.

This is a really great way to learn vocabulary and to learn gramatical structures through the context, and this is going to show even in your speaking. This is a really good way to start building your vocabulary. You can just go through with a pencil. I don’t recommend reading with a dictionary, because it makes it much longer and a more boring process. So, just go through with a pencil, underline words you don’t know or maybe something gramatical that you don’t know, a conjugation that is kind of weird. And then, at the end of each chapter, for example, then you can stop and look those things up. This will make the process a lot easier and you won’t lose the flow of the book.


And then last, of course, is speaking. So, what is a language for, it’s for speaking, it’s for communicating, it’s for having a conversation with someone. This is why you’re learning English.

So, if you live in a big city, most likely there’s some sort of group, exchange, or conversation club that you can go meet with and speak English. Hopefully, there will be some native speakers, but even if there’re not, it’s ok to be communicating with non-native speakers.

The important thing is that you’re getting out there, you’re speaking, you’re making mistakes and correcting.

So, there are groups like CouchSurfing, and Meetup that are really great places to find event that are going on in your city, to find groups of native speakers, or different things that will allow you to get out of the house and speak English with real people.

If you live in a smaller town or at the moment you’re unable to find anything like this in your city, then there’s still no excuse. You can use the internet to find lots of people to speak to you.

And there are programs that are specifically based for language learners to connect and start speaking online. One is called Verbling and one is called italki. I would recommend either of these two.

Verbling has it’s own platform, and you can just go in there and start talking to someone right away. You talk for five minutes in your native language to someone who’s learning it and then they speak to you 5 minutes in English.

So, this is a really great way to help someone else out and to, also, build your own skills. If you don’t like the person after the ten minutes you’re speaking you can click a button and it will connect you with someone else.

You can also get on italki and there you can search for different people’s profiles and, of couse, create your own, and find people to set up a Skype date with.

Revolutionize Your English Learning

All right guys. So I hope that you will go out there right now, after this video and find some way to challenge yourself with your English learning.

It’s a brand new year, it’s time to start really building your English and it’s a great opportunity for you to get to that next level of fluency you’re trying to achieve.

Remember, if you enjoyed this video, to subscribe and to comment. Let us know if you have any ideas for other sorts of videos you’d like to see us make.

All right guys, have a great day. Later!

Free E-book: 101 Words You Will Never Learn in School

  • Unfortunately, this video doesn't work.

  • Ethan Zinho says:

    Hmm, it works for me. Maybe try viewing it directly on YouTube.

  • Really inspiring! Thanks Ethan 🙂

  • Hilal Khan says:

    this methodology for learning English as a secondary language is very productive and the best one

  • Zulmira Andrade Rabelo says:

    The ideas are so important but the best one is the opportunity to learn english and get fun. Thank so much, Ethan.

  • Ethan Zinho says:

    That's great to hear!

  • Ethan Zinho says:


  • Ethan Zinho says:

    Thank you for your feedback Zulmira!

  • Khalid Hawli says:

    It sounds pretty good idea when the ones having fun while leaning the language.

  • Sure, YouTube is great and useful tool.

  • […] remember, it’s not important that you understand everything. You’ll still get the big idea, and you’ll be […]

  • […] you want to get better at anything (not just English), then you have to do it. If you challenge yourself to try to speak a little bit (even if you only know basic English), you’ll realize that people […]

  • […] The same is true for watching or listening to anything in a foreign language: Patience is crucial! Just like a baby needs to get comfortable crawling before he can walk, so must you be ok not understanding 100%, until little-by-little it becomes effortless. To learn more, I’d highly recommend this video. […]

  • Hajar says:

    I like it ,great ideas