Learner’s Inspiration

“The expert in anything was once a beginner.”

Helen Hayes, an American actress

I would like to dedicate this article to language learners first of all. But it may be interesting not only to this type of lucky ones… That’s right, lucky ones. For isn’t it sheer luck and happiness to have an opportunity and strive to learn something new? But we sometimes run out of steam, lose sight of our goal and put off till tomorrow what we can do today… I’ve been using we because I’m a learner too, just like any teacher, I think. Do you remember the words of Robert A. Heinlein “When one teaches, two learn”? It’s really true…

In addition to daily English learning and almost daily English teaching, I indulge in learning the beautiful Japanese language. I am a beginner at the moment. But I’ll certainly soar to this new height!  I’ll reach an advanced level and be able to read, write (using kanji – not just hiragana and katakana), listen and understand, and of course speak accurately and fluently!

I would like all language learners to think this way. While the language is such a complex system, it should be treated as primarily an interesting one! Any language is fabulously rich, being full of nuances and colors! Only yesterday, after a lengthy but interesting discussion about the difference between above all and primarily, my student said, “It’s impossible to achieve a complete mastery of the language! There are so many things to know!” Perhaps, she was right. Still it makes it all the more exciting! The language never ceases to amaze; a curious student always has something to think about. The complexity and multifaceted nature of the language is no reason to say “If there is no way I can achieve excellence, what’s the point in working so hard?” There IS a good point! Besides, what is an ideal? Who has ever achieved it? Do all native speakers really have a perfect command of their language?  As a native Ukrainian and Russian speaker, I can say that some people conjugate verbs incorrectly and if it comes to writing… Anyway, paper is patient… Many Japanese people cannot write rose (薔薇) or melancholy (憂鬱) using kanji. As for English, recently I heard someone saying I’m guessing over and over again, meaning their opinion… On the other hand, this may be language development is action… But that’s another story. What I would like to point out here is that the ideal is elusive and can hardly be attained. We shouldn’t be setting traps of perfectionism for ourselves. It’s too hard to get out of them! We need to enjoy learning, loving the very process!

The following are 10 quotes which can energize and inspire any learner towards new achievements. I hope you will like them:

  1. The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice (Brian Herbert, an American writer);
  2. The most important attitude that can be found is the desire to go on learning (John Dewey, an American philosopher and psychologist);
  3. Knowledge will bring you the opportunity to make a difference (Claire Fagin, an American nurse and educator);
  4. Education of the mind without education of the heart is no education at all (Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist);
  5. If you develop a passion for learning, you’ll never cease to grow (Anthony J. D’Angelo, an American writer);
  6. Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young (Henry Ford, an American business magnate);
  7. I am still learning (Michelangelo, an Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet);
  8. Education isn’t something you can finish (Isaac Asimov, an American writer and professor);
  9. If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you (Zig Ziglar, an American motivational teacher);
  10. Learning is the treasure that will follow its owner everywhere (Chinese proverb).

On this note, I’d like to finish. Stay inspired and never stop learning!