Interview with a learner – learning for fun, and how do you find time to learn when you are busy?

Many of my customers are learning English because they have to. They need to be able to speak to customers and colleagues in English, and either they don’t want to tell their companies that this is proving difficult, or the training already on offer isn’t working for some reason.

But what about learning for fun?

Do people still learn languages for fun, even when there is no reason why they have to? Is there time for learning a language when you already have a busy job and a family?

I interviewed Harald from Austria, who started lessons with me earlier this year. We talked about his reasons for learning English, what he hopes to do with his new language skills, and how he finds time for everything. As Harald is a beginner, we carried out the interview in German and I translated it afterwards.

1. Why are you learning English, and what do you want to achieve?

I’d been wanting to learn English for a long time, but somehow I never got round to it. Being able to speak English would really help me though because I like to travel on holiday, and it would be good to speak with people – both when it comes to sorting things out in hotels or restaurants, and for talking with people whom we meet on our travels. I want to be able to chat to people, and to book hotels without any help.

I think learning is good for the brain. I’m 55 now. Previously I had a brain tumour. Now I want to train my memory and do things that will keep my brain active. Learning English is a way to do that, and to learn a new skill at the same time.

2. Why did you decide to take online lessons?

I’d already tried three English courses, but they didn’t work out well. Sometimes people say that they are beginners, but really they aren’t. They already know the basics, and if you go in there as a beginner, it’s hard to keep up if you’re further behind the others in your class, especially if there are 10 or 20 people in the group.

I left with so many questions.

I wanted to find a friend who could teach me, but because I’m a beginner, it would be harder to have a pen-pal in English because I need to learn the basics, and also they would need to speak good German.

When we found Kirsty’s lessons, I decided to give it a go. I liked the fact that I would be the only one there. The lessons are more expensive than the group courses, but it’s still better value for money because you don’t have to share the teacher’s attention and the talking time with so many other people. Also, as it’s online, I can do the lessons from my office, and I don’t have to spend any time or money travelling to a language school. The lessons are based around what I want to learn, and we can always repeat things if we need to.

3. What motivates you to learn on days when you don’t have time?

I’ve downloaded a vocabulary app onto my phone, which means I always have it with me. This means I can learn a few words, even if I don’t have much time. You often have a few minutes here and there when you’re waiting for someone before an appointment, waiting in the car park, waiting for food to cook, or things like that.

I’ve put all the worksheets from my lessons in a folder, so it’s easy to find what I want.

I’ve also copied out the new words and phrases onto cards, so I can learn even if I don’t want to learn online.

I use every opportunity – because sometimes you have to look for opportunities when you’re busy. So for example when I’m driving, I think about how I would describe the things that I see – in English. I think about how I would talk about my day or practice the things that I’ve learned.

Sometimes I don’t do as much as I would like to, particularly when things are really busy at work, but I still try to do something so that I keep the new words fresh in my mind. Also, my colleagues all know now that I have English on a Monday morning and this time is blocked out in the calendar. Knowing that I have the lesson coming up the same time every week reminds me to look over what we’ve learned.

My goal of being able to speak with people keeps me motivated.

4. Was it difficult for you to start learning again?

A bit, but not so much now that I’m learning in a way that works for me.

5. What would you say to someone who would like to learn a language?

Just do it, like I have. If you only think about it, you won’t get anywhere.

Don’t just look at the price, look around and see what you’re getting, and whether it’s what you need

And if you think Kirsty’s lessons are right for you, I’d say it’s excellent quality for a good price.

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Kirsty working with students