You must apply a lot of effort effortlessly

Many students get confused by the message that’s sent to beginners. Beginners find it hard to begin. They can’t begin for years. That’s why everyone is trying to give them an entertaining method to get started and stay on track even for a little while. Every program has a deadline and an expiration date exactly for this reason. Beginners need to be told when to focus, work, and stop. They look for signs to begin and permission to quit.

When a program, training, or course ends, beginners often take it as permission to stop putting in effort.

The most difficult part of learning is moving past the beginner stage while maintaining a beginner’s mindset.

You need to become an independent practitioner while actively relying on others for their wisdom, feedback, knowledge, guidance, support, inspiration, and practical help.

It’s essential to learn both: practicing solo and in a group, learning from feedback given by others and feedback given to self, becoming skilled and giving and receiving feedback, helping and actively seeking help.

We can achieve only so much on our own. Everything else requires practicing interdependence with others.

I want to empower people, which means helping them take their power back rather than giving it away to experts. However, I am often misunderstood when I say I don’t want you to depend on other people’s programs, YouTube channels, or paid courses. Yes, you can progress continuously on your own without more online courses, but this doesn’t mean making progress “alone”, without people.

Self-empowerment doesn’t exclude having your needs met by others.

I advocate for empowerment because I feel powerless in traditional language schools or around those who teach the traditional communicative approach. I can’t create more. I can’t learn more with them. I can’t achieve more because nobody in that environment wants, values, or needs more.

This does not mean I should quit working with people or learning from others. This means I need different people. I need more people who practice and value the same things I do.

Sometimes it’s hard because it means creating a community for like-minded people. It means building a place for them to share and collaborate. Sometimes it means building a ship to travel across the Atlantic. Sometimes it means building a new city, and sometimes - a website.

I bring great professionals to this community because I am not the teacher here. I am a learner too, albeit with decades more experience. We learn from and with each other. I need feedback from my accent coach, and he needs the opportunity to share his knowledge. We both need the trustworthy connection we’re building because it brings out the best in each of us. To deny needing other people is to deny our humanity.

Individual effort doesn’t exclude reliance on mutual and collective effort. In fact, to achieve anything collectively, each member of the collective must have the necessary skills rather that hope that someone else did the homework and knows what to do. For example, we can play volleyball as a team only if each member knows how to play. To have a strong team, each member must practice their footwork individually and spend solo hours practicing with the ball.

You move “effortlessly” only if you have devoted many, many hours to effortful practice.

Others might say that you speak English “effortlessly”, and that’s exactly what we want others to experience. However, “effortlessly” does not mean “without effort”. It means applying a lot of effort effortlessly. That’s why we focus on developing our skills as learners and humans rather than acquiring more information about the language. Consuming information is easy today; applying conscious effort is not. We live in a culture that is driven by distractions and has no relationship with challenge. As soon as it gets difficult, people take it as a sign to stop trying. In this community, we cultivate the opposite: the ability to focus on what matters and build a healthy relationship with challenge. This means owing and using our power to create the wanted change, despite difficulties, most of which are internal.

The goal is to apply effort effortlessly, not to avoid effort. This requires uninterrupted practice. Practicing correctly means doing exercises that challenge your learning skills, which you won’t find in textbooks, but you will find in this community. At first glance, they might seem impractical, especially to those who want to learn new 100 new words every day.But the ripple effect of doing them systematically and correctly is huge. This is why people stay. And if they leave for a while, they come back.

Practicing correctly means maintaining sharp focus.

I practice complicated moves in my workouts because they require intense concentration and help me get out of autopilot every day.

We do almost everything on autopilot. We speak on autopilot, especially in our first language.

When people expect to speak a foreign language with zero effort, as they do in their native language, I ask: "Are you happy living on autopilot?" They speak English or any foreign language inadequately because they rely too much on autopilot.

The goal is to develop a new language identity, meaning you will end up sounding speaking, and maybe even thinking differently in another language.

You can’t apply the same automaticity from your first language to a new one. First, recognize your automatic behaviors. Then question each and every one of them. Do you want to keep them when speaking another language? Do you want to continue repeating these behaviors effortlessly and unconsciously? Or do you want to develop new ones consciously?

People hurry. I get it. But the truth is, the more advanced you get, the more your progress slows. You need to do a lot more inner work to develop native-like fluency than if you need to pass a language test.

Self-remembering on a daily basis and questioning automatic behaviors you see in yourself is a life-long practice.

You will make significant progress when you surrender to the realization that it's a lifelong practice.

When people say, "I want to speak English as effortlessly as my native language. Please take me there as fast as possible", I tell them: "Do you think this acrobatic move that you see in the video can be done as effortlessly and quickly as sitting down on a chair and standing back up?"

Sitting down on a chair is a metaphor for speaking your first language. It requires zero thought. Doing what I do in the video is a metaphor for speaking a foreign language. You must slow down and consciously perform every move. You need to be conscious of every word you say, even in your first language.

Try that. It's damn hard.