Limiting Beliefs About Learning English

You have this idea “English is painful and boring.” And when you think of this belief, where does it come from? Well, you think of all these past experiences. You think of the time in middle school where your teacher corrected your mistake and you felt terrible. And you think of maybe the bad grades you got on the test or all the red marks on your English papers. And you start adding more and more and more memories, more of these negative experiences, these negative references. And if you get enough, you will develop a very, strong, deep, powerful belief “English is difficult. English is painful. I’m not good at English.” So to weaken these, you just have to question the references.

You have to question the experiences. Take the power away from the experiences. And an easy way to do that is just to ask questions about them. For example, let me ask this question. Your past English schools, were they excellent? Were they just fantastic English schools with fantastic, amazing, fun, positive English teachers? Did you have a great time every day? Well, I know for most of you the answer is no. So that’s interesting, so if your schools were not  excellent, maybe the school was the problem. Maybe it’s not you. Maybe your English is not great because you did not go to great schools. And did those schools that you went to, or the books you used, did they use proven methods?


Did they use researchbased methods? Did they know a lot about the research about English learning, English teaching? Did they only use the best methods? Or did they just use the textbook that everybody else uses? Well, I know from my experience as a teacher, most schools just use the same textbooks. They don’t know why. Maybe the boss tells them “We must use this book.” But they’re not choosing the very, very best methods. They’re not choosing the very, very best books. And so maybe the reason you believe English is difficult is because you used difficult methods in the past, or your teachers did.

Maybe you think English is boring because in the past you used boring methods. You went to boring schools. You had boring teachers. Maybe English isn’t the problem. Maybe it was these past experiences. Maybe it was the way you did it or where you did it. Ask yourself these questions. Think about them in detail. Weaken your limiting beliefs. Challenge your limiting beliefs.

Another question, in school did you learn deeply? For example, did you take one chapter in your book and learn it for a long time so that you totally mastered it, so that you knew it completely, 100% and never forgot it? Probably not, most schools I have seen and the ones I have taught in, it’s quite the opposite. The teachers go very, very, very quickly. You learn one chapter in your book, boom, after one week on to the next one, and the next one.

Each chapter has so many new words, so much new grammar. For example, my experience with Spanish in high school and university, I took Spanish, I’ve had a total of maybe two years of Spanish, but I forgot it all. Because we never learned deeply. They just tried to make us learn as many words as possible, a lot of words, a lot of words, a lot of grammar, very, very fast. And then, of course, I forgot everything. How about you? Did you learn deeply in your schools? If not, maybe that was one of the problems. Maybe English feels difficult because you never learned deeply. Maybe English is not the problem.

Finally, did you learn with a grammar translation method? Did you study a lot of grammar rules? Did you take a lot of tests? Did you feel good about that? Again, maybe the method was the problem. Maybe the school is the problem, not English. So think about these questions and think about them every day. Think about them a lot, especially this week. I want you to think about these questions again and again and again. And really be honest about it. And start to destroy these limiting beliefs. Get rid of them. They’re wrong. English is not difficult. English is not painful. English is not boring. It’s only a belief. It’s only a past experience. You can change that now and in the future.

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