Archive for October, 2007

Is complacency hurting your English learning?

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

“Complacency” is the feeling you have when you are satisfied with your current level or ability in some area of your life. This feeling can cause you to stop putting in 100% effort to improve. It makes you feel relaxed and unmotivated. Complacency is a big reason why so many people achieve an ok level at something, and then stop improving.

This can happen in any area of your life, but let’s take a look at your English level. As I’ve said many times before, if you can use this website, it means your English level is already fairly good. You can “get by” in life using English. You know that you should improve, you say that you want to improve, but in a lot of ways there is no real pressure for you to improve. Let’s face it; you can already communicate with people in English at a reasonable level. You also are starting to realize that the more you study, the less noticeable your improvement is. You could probably spend an entire day studying English, and neither you, nor anyone else would notice that you improved. That’s a sad thought and that feeling certainly makes it difficult to find the motivation to study.

I believe that complacency is one of the biggest differences between highly successful people and regular people.  The most successful people are always trying to improve. They want to be the best they can be. Regular people get satisfied easily. Think about Roger Federer. He still practices tennis everyday, even though it is almost impossible for him to improve because he is already so good.

Here is the truth: There are literally millions of other people like you around the world who speak English as a second language and have reached an ok level. Most people in this group reach an ok level and then stop improving. They get lazy. Very few people reach the next level because of complacency. Just because your English level is ok, don’t let that stop you from studying really hard. Reaching that next level will give you better job opportunities and the ability to interact with more people. You will feel comfortable reading anything, and speaking to anyone about any topic easily and with no stress. The hard work will eventually pay off, and deep down you know that too. Keep focused and don’t let the disease of complacency get to you.

I’m interested in hearing about anytime in your life where you’ve let complacency take over and prevent you from giving a 100% effort. I really hope that if this is happening with your current English study habits, you will STOP IT!


To “pigeonhole” someone

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

A pigeon is a type of bird, and a pigeon hole is a very small hole made in a piece of wood for pigeons to stay in. This hole is only slightly bigger than the pigeon, so the pigeon has little room to move.

If you “pigeon hole” someone, it means that you make too many generalizations about that person based on a steriotype. It’s a bad thing to “pigeonhole” people. For example, a common steriotype is that accountants are a little boring. If you meet an accountant and think that he must be boring just because he is an accountant, you are pigeonholing him.

You could say to someone, “You shouldn’t pigeonhole all accountants as being boring. I know a few accountants who are a lot of fun to hang out with.”

Taking something in stride

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

If you “take something in stride” it means that you didn’t allow a bad situation to make you too stressed or depressed.   It means that you handled the bad news well.  It’s a good thing to be able to take something in stride.

Here’s a possible dialog:

A: Hey, did you hear that Jim got fired from his job?

B: Ya, he called me last night and told me.

A: How’s he doing?

B: He seems to be taking it in stride.

This means that Jim is doing a good job at handling the disappointment of getting fired. He’s not getting stressed out and going crazy about it.

Here’s another example:

A: Hey, I’m really sorry to hear that your girlfriend left you. How are you feeling?

B: I’m doing ok. I think this breakup might actually make us both happier.

A: I’m glad to hear you are taking it in stride.


“You snooze you lose”

Monday, October 15th, 2007

This phrase is an old and fun one.
Snoozing means sleeping, or napping. The idea of this phrase is that if you are snoozing, ie. not paying attention, then you lose.

Imagine that there is one slice of pizza left in the box. Then you take the last piece of pizza and your friend beside you says, “hey, I was planning on eating that”. You can make fun of him by saying, “you snooze, you lose”. It basically means, “you were too slow and not paying attention, so too bad, you lose, and I get to eat the pizza.”


Being “Out of your element”

Friday, October 12th, 2007

This is a phrase that I’d like to share with you. It’s fun to use in a slang setting.

If you are “in your element” it means that you are in a situation that you are comfortable and familiar with. Roger Federer is “in his element” on the tennis court.

You could also say, “He’s really outgoing and seems to be in his element when meeting new people.”

If you are “out of your element” it means that you feel awkward and uncomfortable in the situation. Sometimes you can say you “feel like a fish out of water” in that situation. You could say, “His mom feels really out of her element when she is in a strange place. That’s the reason she never travels.”

The fun way to use this expression is to tell someone that they are “totally out of their element”. This means that they don’t know what they are talking about. It can be used during an argument when you believe the other person is talking about a topic that they know nothing about.

My dad doesn’t know any Chinese for example. If he started arguing with me about the language, I could say, “Dad, how can you be arguing about this. You don’t know anything about it. You are way out of your element here”. I would say it in a friendly way of course.

Let me know if you have any questions about using this fun phrase.