Mindfulness for Improved English Communication and Language Learning
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We explore how mindfulness can help you improve your English. From reading mindfully to actively engaging with the material, learn how to take your English skills to the next level. By focusing on the present and paying attention you'll become a more confident English speaker. Discover the power of mindfulness!

Hello, Advanced English learners. Welcome back. So today I'm going to share with you how mindfulness can help you improve your English communication and your English language learning. If you're ready, let's get into it.

So you may have heard the term mindfulness, which is a big buzzword these days. In the media, or maybe you have a meditation practice of your own, in which case you are very well acquainted and familiar with mindfulness. For those of you who may not be as familiar with this term, mindfulness, in a nutshell, it's the idea and the practice of grounding yourself in the present.

As opposed to focusing on past worries and ruminating over things that have happened, replaying them over and over in our minds, or worrying about something in the future that has not occurred and might not ever occur. So a lot of these have to do with figuring out how to overcome worry, but in an English language learning way, the way we can apply mindfulness to English language learning is in the following strategies that I'm going to share with you. So maybe have some pen and paper handy. If not, you can watch this video again, you can read the blog post and you can listen to the podcast episode again if you would like to revisit the strategies that I'm going to share with you.

Alright, so without further ado, let's get into those strategies.

The first one is with reading. As you are improving your reading skills, I would like for you to be mindful of how you are reading. What are your reading first of all, what is the general gist of it? What are the specifics? So the micro level understanding of every little specific thing that you're learning and what is the macro level? What is the gist of it? What is generally speaking, what is going on? Then I want you to pay attention to the grammar, the syntax, the verb tenses, the word choice, and really starting to understand paragraph structure, sentence structure, punctuation. 

If you're reading a book and there's dialogue in there, understanding the dialogue, how they're using the quotations as well. Believe it or not, people who are good readers are oftentimes good writers as well. And if you're doing reading mindfully and you're doing it actively, being proactive as you read, which is what we're talking about right now. Paying attention to all of those things. If you're mindfully doing reading, then you are doing it actively as opposed to just reading, but not really grasping the words, not thinking about the word choice, not understanding the general sense of it, the general understanding, but also the very specifics of it, then you're not really practicing reading. You're not really going to get better at reading, and you're certainly not going to get better at writing in that sense. 

But on the flip side, the positive aspect of being really mindful when you read is that you're going to get better at writing as well. Because if you're focusing on not just understanding it really well, but thinking about what words they're using, why did they use that word? Why didn't they use the synonym to this word and having that conversation with yourself as you read. Or maybe you spend time at the end of the page or at the end of the chapter and you go through these thoughts, you maybe underline it. I'm a big fan of writing in books and writing in the margins, and I really, I've always loved doing that, and especially if it's a book that I'm going to read again and revisit, and there are chapters that I'm going to go back into, or if I'm teaching a book, if I'm going through the concepts with students, this is a great way to interact with the book and to interact with your inner monologue as well, because you start to get all these questions that you have about things like word choice and phrases, and, different literary devices and the metaphors that are used.

And as you're doing that you start to activate the part of your brain that also helps you with writing. So it's a really beautiful phenomenon that happens. And if people who read a lot growing up as kids, if they were avid readers or voracious readers, they read a lot in a lot. A lot of times. Most of the time, those very same people are going to be really good at writing and really good at speaking as well.

So as you can see, there's so many overlaps here, and that's just with that first skill of reading. All right, let's move on to the next skill.

So the second skill is listening. As you are listening, listening as mindfully as you can, thinking about how things are said. What is the tone of voice that the speaker is using? What's their intonation like? What is the intonation at the end of their sentence looking like? Do they use uptalk where they're rising at the end of their sentence, instead of lowering their pitch?

What's their prosody? What are the dynamics in their sentence, in their utterance? What are the words that they emphasize? Why do they get emphasized in that way? Are they using emphatic stress? Are they emphasizing words just to make a point? What is being done there with all of the things that surround pronunciation as well?

So when you start noticing this, you might also take note, and it could be a mental note or it can be an actual physical note that you jot on your phone or you jot down on a piece of paper if you have some handy. And start to then think about, okay, how can I replicate this? How can I use that type of tone in my communication?

Or when I'm being assertive, how can I adopt that assertive tone? Or when I'm trying to be persuasive, what does my tone of voice look like? Then what am I emphasizing. So really thinking about then how you can apply what you learn into your own communication style as well. And there's going to be a slightly different communication style depending on the speech act, depending on what you are doing.

What is the purpose of that communication and that message in that social setting? It's going to vary. So having as many examples as you can, with a variety of speakers is something I highly encourage you to do. 

This listening activity can also be done when you're watching a Netflix series or a movie. It's not just something that you can do with people in real, in person interactions. They can be done in Zoom calls. Maybe a way to get yourself more motivated to do your Zoom calls is to pay attention to how the other speakers are engaging, how they're listening, how they're speaking, how they're presenting themselves. Same with meetings. A lot of times, people are not that excited to go to a work meeting, but if you make it a cool, fun exercise, like the one I'm sharing with you to focus on the listening, suddenly , you want to go to all the meetings that you can.

You don't want the meetings to end because you're being active about it. You're really being proactive and you're taking matters into your own hands with your language learning and your communication training. So this is a great thing to do, and making sure that you also try it out yourself. Try on the language, try on the different ways of speaking based on what you've learned from the different speakers that you've listened to. 

For watching. For when you are watching something, I want you to think about the nonverbal communication that they're using. What are they doing with their gestures? Some people are more expressive with their gestures than others. We call this gesticulating. When you use your hand movements. Sometimes people are more reserved, so you might not see that much hand movement on their behalf.

Sometimes people are really animated and they use hand gestures a lot. I'm more so on the animated side. I do use hand gestures and that's just the natural way I speak. It's the way I communicate, and so, it's a really fun activity to do both with people in person, but it could also be in my own videos and lessons.

It could be in TED Talks, it can be with people you have meetings with, and it can also be in movies and in film and in television. Pay attention to their nonverbal communication. What is their hand gesture game about what are they doing with their gestures and their facial expressions and their microexpressions, those really quick expressions that flash across our faces within a matter of seconds. What is happening with that as well? 

And then the next step here is to understand what did they pair that nonverbal with, right? So when did they make that gesture? With, what words did they use that gesture, or when did they make their facial expression that way? With what words or with what emotion? What is the emotion behind it? 

So you see, there's so many layers to the nonverbal aspects of communication that are very important for being effective communicators, particularly in a language that might not be your L1 if it's your L2 or your L3. We say L2 even if it's your fifth language, it's still your next language. Your second language. And You could technically call it your L5, but you get the idea here with your language that you're learning. 

So in this case, in our case here on this channel, it's advanced English. And so what in English is being said and paired with that gesture. And do you have a similar gesture? Is it the same gesture or is it a different gesture? When you show excitement? How do you do that in your L1? How are people doing it in your L2? Try it out. So that is always the next step. I want you to try it out for yourself. How does it feel on you?

Are you someone who likes to be more animated? Are you someone who likes to be more reserved? What social settings call for the animation or the more reserved nature of your expressions. And based on your L2 identity, you might be more reserved in your L1 than you are in your L2 or vice versa. You might be more animated in your L1 and you might be more reserved in your L2, or you might be more animated in your L2.

So try it out. It's really fun because it allows you to tap into that different identity that you're building and forming in addition to your L1 that never goes away, but you're adding it to the onion that is, so to speak, our identities. Adding a layer of it to really enrich ourselves and broaden our worldview and expand our horizons.

And lastly speaking. So with speaking, and I put this as the last step, I want you to now take in everything you've done with your reading, your watching, your listening, put it all together and start trying it out in your own speaking. Working on your intonation, how you're saying things, why you're saying things. When you're saying things in what? Social situations with what communication participants meaning who are the people that you're interacting with? Are these colleagues? Are these clients? Are these your best friends? Are they family members? Who are you interacting with? That is going to change the way you communicate ever so slightly.

You don't interact the same way with your sister as you do with your boss, right? You don't interact the same way you do with your clients as you do with your best friends. So again, keeping all of these in mind, making sure that you are honoring the different selves that you have, your work self, your family self, your, personal self and trying out different communication styles for each of those mini identities, so to speak, and it's really fun. 

I want you to have fun with it. That's the most important thing because the journey is quite long and we need to enjoy the journey to ensure that we're going to stick with it. That serves as some intrinsic motivation because it allows us to enjoy the process as opposed to being focused on the destination.

We really want to enjoy the journey of the learning and the working on the communication training that we're doing. And so if you keep with it and you make it in a way that is fun for you, the steps that I've outlined here today, I've done for the languages I speak as well. I follow my own advice.

I put into practice the things that I've learned in school as a linguist and as a communicator. So you are in good hands, you are in good company, and it's just a matter of practicing and being consistent about it and persevering. 

All right, so try that out. Let me know how it goes, and I look forward to hearing from you and receiving the feedback from you about your own journeys and how this is going for yourself as well.

All right. Thank you so much for joining me, Advanced English Learners. I will see you in the next one, and before you leave, I also encourage you to check out our communication channel and website Explearning. So go to explearning.co. Sign up for the newsletter and you'll enjoy lessons from me over there as well.

I will see you in the next one where we're going to continue advancing your English together. Until then, keep up the awesome work and I will see you very soon. Bye for now.

About the Author and the Explearning Academy:

Mary Daphne is an expert in communication, executive skills and professional development. She is the founder of the Explearning Academy, a platform dedicated to helping individuals enhance their social fluency, boost their careers, and elevate their social game. Through immersive group coaching programs like the Executive Communication Lab and self-guided journeys, participants gain the social superpowers and career catapults they've been searching for. If you're ready to take your negotiation skills to the next level and connect with like-minded individuals, visit academy.explearning.co and explore the various plans available. Join the Explearning Academy community and unlock your full potential.

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