For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Lorraine, and I am the Founder of Intrepid English.
What most of you might not know is that I started Intrepid English seven years ago from my parents’ spare room. In fact, I taught my first online English lesson sitting at a desk that my lovely parents had fashioned for me out of two bedside tables and an old door. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was a little bit nervous.
I had just spent several years travelling around the world, so how did I wind up at a makeshift desk in my parents’ home in the South of England starting a business at the age of 29? To answer that question, I need to go a little further back.
When I was at school, I hated learning German. I couldn’t understand why I would possibly need to know the difference between ‘nominative’ and ‘accusative’. I didn’t have any German friends or family. I had never visited Germany, in fact, other than a few rather depressing facts about Deutschland that I’d picked up in history class, I didn’t know much about it at all.
After trying my hardest to improve my German test results, I came to the conclusion that I just wasn’t a ‘foreign languages person’. I gave up and spent my energy focusing on my favourite subject, English Literature.
Fast forward ten years. I’d been backpacking around the world when I ended up in… you guessed it… Germany.
It didn’t take me long to regret my teenage attitude to studying the German language. Why hadn’t I taken it more seriously? It would have made it much easier to integrate into my new environment. Well, it couldn’t have been helped… I just wasn’t the ‘foreign languages’ type.
Then I noticed something surprising was happening; I started to pick up phrases quite quickly. I became quite curious about the expressions I was overhearing. I was excited to meet new people and I was even told, more than once, that my German accent was actually quite good.
What had changed?
I wanted to learn. I had a reason to learn. I had a community of friends who wanted me to succeed.
I discovered how satisfying it was to have a whole conversation in a language other than my mother tongue. I could meet people who had a different outlook, culture and mindset to mine. I made friends and I learned ridiculous words like Freundschaftsbezeugung (which means ‘demonstrations of friendship’, if you’re interested). I was having fun!
The moral of this story is that it’s hard to be enthusiastic about something that seems a bit pointless. Learning a language is hard, so if there’s no purpose to it, it’s likely that you’ll give up when you encounter a complicated grammar structure or have trouble understanding native speakers.
When you have a reason to learn, you are less likely to give up. When you have a community of people around you who know how you feel, who encourage you to keep going, and congratulate you when you make progress, you will reach your goals faster and have fun in the process.
There are many types of language learner, from those who struggle to find the time for English to regular once-a-week-every-week students. From those who love to improve their English for pleasure to those who have to pass an English exam in one month!
Whatever your experience of learning English in the past, we’re here to help. You might even start to enjoy it so much that your attitude to language-learning changes, like mine did. Once I found a reason to learn and a community to encourage me, I started to succeed.
At school, I thought I just wasn’t the ‘foreign language type‘. Not only did I discover that I am, but I also started a company which has helped thousands of other language learners do the same.
This blog was written by Intrepid English Teacher and Founder, Lorraine.
Find out more about Lorraine on her Intrepid English Teacher profile page.