Monthly Archives: December 2015

Are you the owner or a hired hand?


This post might feel a bit heavy, so here is funny picture to get us started:


We’re all going to face challenges in language learning. The question is whether we’re going to persevere or give up. Here are the five best reasons I can think of to give up on language learning:

  1. I spend so much of my work day putting out fires that when I can actually do the work I came to do, it’s a treat. I’m not taking away from that time to study language!
  2. I don’t have a teacher I click with.
  3. I don’t have the right resources.
  4. I don’t need one more thing to be responsible for!
  5. I have to make dinner and I don’t recognize any of the vegetables in the bazaar.

If you’re looking for a reason to quit, go no further than those five! 

When you think about language learning, do you think of yourself as an employee of a business, or as the owner of the business? An employee has no commitment to the business. If there’s work to be done, the employee will do it—if instructed to do so! If the business fails, it doesn’t matter much to the employee, who can seek employment elsewhere.

The owner, on the other hand, is in a very different position. It’s his/her livelihood. It’s his/her way to move forward in life. If the business faces a difficulty—perhaps some crucial component is unavailable—the hireling throws up his/her hands and walks away. The owner, on the other hand, has to find a way to make things work, even in a less than ideal situation.

So which best describes you? In your language study, are you waiting around for someone to tell you what to do? Or are you taking the initiative to make things happen? When you come up with difficulties, is it an excuse to stop working, or does it prompt you to find alternate solutions?

These are of course rhetorical questions: the “right” answer is that we should all be owners. We’re all responsible for our own progress in language learning.

There are tips, techniques, learning strategies, and inventories that you can do to improve your situation, and to make it work. A little while ago I wrote about the importance of motivation. The next post—coming after the New Year—will address the issues of managing emotional energy.

Two weeks from today will be Christmas Eve, so the LCP Blog will give you the day off. Merry Christmas!