You may have heard about the power of positive affirmations in improving personal effectiveness but how can this technique help you in becoming a successful language learner? Read this article to find out how to learn a language with positive affirmations!
What are affirmations?
Affirmations, or positive affirmations, are short powerful statements that you make to yourself to reinforce your belief in your ability to achieve something. You can repeat them every morning or every evening, or write them down and come back to them on a regular basis.
When learning a language, it could, for example, be the following statements:
- I am confident about introducing myself in my target language and holding a five-minute fluent conversation about what I do.
- My pronunciation of infinitives in my target language is already very good, and I feel confident about my ability to learn how to pronounce other verb forms as well.
- I’ve made enormous progress in understanding song lyrics in my target language. I feel confident and strongly believe in my ability to understand film dialogues better.
- I choose to take every opportunity to speak in my target language and I’m impressed by my courage to do so.
I included some more examples of affirmations in my article about how to learn a language by maximising your time in the morning.
What’s the point of using affirmations?
Positive affirmations essentially programme your brain to focus on the positive and to recognise the strengths that you already have rather than focusing on the negatives and the things you don’t yet have. You can use the technique to boost your self-esteem, improve your internal motivation and strengthen your ambition.
When used for language learning, positive affirmations can help you eliminate the fear that’s holding you back when trying to reach a higher level of proficiency in your target language. They can also help you open up to opportunities that you’ve so far felt were not possible or even non-existent.
Below, I give you some advice on how to use your affirmations to make them as effective as possible.
1. Affirmations should be believable for the subconscious mind
There’s no point doing your affirmations if you don’t believe in them. You also need to make sure they are believable for your subconscious mind. For example, if you’ve only just started learning Japanese, the following affirmation would be quite hard for your mind to believe:
I’m confident in my ability to speak Japanese fluently next week.
Instead, you should be realistic and also provide some proof to your subconscious mind. For example:
I’m already really good at talking about what I do in Japanese. I’m confident in my ability to introduce myself when I next meet a Japanese person.
2. Formulate your affirmations in the present tense
As you can see, the examples I’ve given you so far are in the present, rather than the future tense. This makes them more real and encourages you to think about your language learning project as something that’s happening now rather than waiting for a future to come.
3. Activate feelings with your affirmations
Your affirmations will be more effective if you put some feeling into them. Think about how you’re feeling about the things you’re saying about yourself. Do they make you proud, passionate, excited, empowered? Define the feelings and try to feel them while doing your affirmations. This will make you more committed and more motivated.
4. Use visualisation alongside your affirmations
Another useful way of making your affirmations more real and more believable for the subconscious mind is to use visualisation alongside them. I mentioned this briefly in my other post about visualisation for language learning.
Essentially, the idea is for you to imagine yourself in a situation where you’re using your target language. Try to visualise it in as much detail as possible. For example: what are you talking about? How does it feel? How are the people you’re talking to reacting to what you’re saying? How does that make you feel? The more you visualise, the more you will get yourself used to the idea of doing it in real life.
5. Put them on paper to make them more real
Writing down your affirmations is another way of making them more believable for your subconscious mind. The action of writing involves focus and presence, which increases your level of commitment to your affirmations. By writing your affirmations down, you can also get some more clarity in your head around what it is that you’re working towards.
6. Formulate your affirmations by using active language
What I mean by this is that you should have control over your affirmations. You are at the centre of your learning and you are the only person that can make it happen. Make sure that your affirmations reflect this. Instead of saying ‘Other people will understand me when I’m speaking in my target language’ say something along the lines of ‘I choose to be brave when I speak in my target language’.
7. Make your affirmations into a habit and learn to spot negative patterns
As you become more familiar with the idea of doing your positive affirmations, they become more of a habit. This allows you spot negative thinking patterns as soon as they appear in your head. For example, whenever you begin to hear a voice telling you not to speak when having a group conversation with native speakers, activate your affirmations and remind yourself how good you are already and how confident you feel about certain aspects of the language you’re learning.
8. Create affirmations in your target language
If you’d like to take your positive affirmations to the next level, try doing them in your target language. If you’re a beginner, don’t worry – you can use this task as an opportunity to learn some new vocabulary.
When to do your positive affirmations
You can do them anytime that works for you. I personally like to do them in the morning when I first wake up, and in the evening just before I go to sleep. The morning ones help me set my focus for the day and give me more confidence, and the evening ones sum up my day nicely and help me celebrate what I’ve achieved.
As I said before, it’s also worth remembering to use your affirmations whenever a little bit of doubt in your language ability creeps into your head.
Good luck with your positive affirmations and let me know how you get on in the comments below!
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