5 Ways A Second Language Boosts Your Creativity

Everybody knows how important it is to learn new languages. Your brain activity improves, the risk of getting dementia or Alzheimers decreases, new opportunities for career growth arise, traveling becomes easier and more fun. I could enumerate many more but we will focus on one crucial reason – creativity development. If we choose the skill that’s in the biggest demand in the world right now, creativity will definitely be the one.

So, what are the ways learning a second language can help you boost your creativity?

  1. Leave your comfort zone.

We all understand that new ideas arrive as soon as we start doing something unusual for us. I’m sure you heard phrases “think outside the box” and “get out of your comfort zone”. Why does our brain require new information and fresh circumstances for creative juices to start flowing? Well, tell me, do you like eating the same food every day for months? I can eat the same dish for a few days, but not more. Our creative brain also gets tired of the same food and will appreciate new challenges. Learning a new language will force you to leave your comfort zone. It’s something new and unusual, it’s challenging and fun!

     2. See the world differently.

If we want to develop creativity, it’s important to open our eyes to new things. When I started working on this skill, one of the tasks was to pay attention to the world around me. And that’s when an amazing thing happened – I started seeing details, noticing places that I have never seen before. Learning a second language teaches us to pay attention, discovers a totally new world for us. It gives us new eyes for structures that we’ve never used before in our native language.

     3. Learn about new cultures.

One of the ways to learn the language faster is to immerse yourself into the culture of your target language. Read about the traditions and the history of that particular nation. Travel to the countries where people speak the language you’re learning. Communicate with native speakers and try to learn about their culture as much as possible. All of this will not only help you master the language, but will also create new pathways in your brain and help develop creativity.

     4. Change the way you think.

When we’re in the process of learning a second language, we encounter a lot of new structures and words that make us think differently. I always encourage my students to start thinking in their target language. When they do that, it changes the way their brain works and the way they think. For our creativity to flourish we also need to learn how to think differently. Is it hard? I don’t think so. It’s just something we’re not used to.

     5. Use memory techniques.

Have you ever learnt new words in a second language? It can be pretty challenging. If you want to make this process easier and more fun, you will start using various memorisation techniques: finding associations, creating images, making up sentences and stories with them. All these and many other techniques involve our creative muscle. The more you use your creativity, the stronger it becomes. Just like with everything else – the more you practice, the better you get at it.

Let’s bring it all together. The conclusion is obvious: learning a new language will help you boost your creativity, develop your brain and achieve more in life. The next step is to decide what language to learn!

If you could learn any language in the world in three months, which language would you choose?

 

 

3 Best Ways To Start Thinking In A Foreign Language

Are you currently learning any foreign language? Do you think in that language or still translate every sentence in your head?

I have been an English learner for more than 30 years and an English teacher for more than 17 years. At first, of course, it was impossible to think in English. However, the more time I spent learning it, the easier it became to make English my second native language. Now I think mostly in English, and my dreams are often in English too.

So, I do believe it’s possible to start thinking in a foreign language if your goal is to master it and not just learn a few phrases for traveling. Here are a few ways to do that:

1. Every day spend at least 30 min doing something in your target language.

You may do your hometask, read or write something, watch a movie or communicate with a native speaker. I am saying “30 min”, but the main thing here is consistency. The more time you spend doing something in your target language, the faster you will master it. Start small and increase the time as you go.

2. Whenever you put your thoughts on paper, do it in your target language.

If you like journaling, do it in a language that you’re learning. If you like to make plans, write down your goals, do it in your target language. You will be sending signals to your brain saying that this is the language you want to start thinking in.

3. Whenever you are trying to express your thoughts, choose the easiest words and structures.

Don’t take me wrong, I think to say that you’ve mastered the language, means you can use complex structures and advanced vocabulary. Although, don’t forget a very important universal rule, my friends: baby-steps! You can achieve a lot if you take small steps but regularly and consistently. I’ve seen it so often when people start translating complicated sentences from their native language and get stuck because they don’t have enough vocabulary and don’t know all grammar structures. Give yourself a break! Choose simple words that come to your mind for now. There will be times after you have read tons of books in your target language when your speech will become sophisticated and you will be able to impress your audience!

These are the main rules. I will continue this topic later and will be adding more ideas and methods for you. We could definitely add the importance of reading and watching movies in your target language, but it seems too obvious. So, let’s just stop at these three for now. Baby-steps :)! Enjoy!

 

 

 

How to Effectively Combine Work and Rest

If you’re an achiever like me, you will understand this obsessive need to always stay productive. We all know that relaxation and distraction are important for our brain. Although, a lot of us keep feeling guilty when we’re not doing something related to work or personal development.

So, there are solutions for people like us. We can combine rest and work. You might tell me it doesn’t work because we should completely focus whether on one thing or on another for them to be effective. And I will disagree. It’s pretty easy to do both things if your work doesn’t require a lot of thinking and your entertainment is not too distracting.

Here are a few ideas:
1. You are watching a movie with your friends, family or by yourself. You have seen this movie before or it’s so light that it doesn’t require a lot of attention to keep track. So, you find some work to do that also doesn’t require too much thought. It could be typing in some information, ironing, folding, cleaning your inbox, reorganizing your desktop or folders in your computer, editing pictures, etc.
2. You’re out with friends or family and have to wait for someone in the car or at the lobby – get a piece of paper and a pen or open your smartphone. But don’t go to Facebook or Instagram. This is the time for brainstorming ideas, writing to-do lists or making preliminary plans. You will have to review everything you’ve written later, but this will be a great start.
3. Are you flying internationally or waiting at the airport for your next flight? Reading is a great and a very productive way of spending this precious time. You can also write blogs or make notes for future projects if you’ve got a few hours of uninterrupted time. I am actually writing this on the plane from Minneapolis to Amsterdam.
4. There are a few applications for smartphones that I consider very useful. They can be entertaining as well as very helpful for our personal growth and development. My favorite ones are Lumosity and Elevate. You can use any game that helps learn a language or develop some skill. It’s fun and productive!
5. And the last one is really important because it requires a change of our mindset. When you’re watching a movie, traveling to another country, resting on a beach, eating at a restaurant, be always on the watch for ideas. They are all around you, you just need to open your eyes and be ready to see them. Keep record of all ideas that come to your mind even if they seem crazy or mundane. One day you might get back to them and find a genius one that you discarded before.

See? Our vacation time can be very productive and effective. Don’t waste your time in life, we haven’t got that much of it. Having said that I’ll add that it’s absolutely crucial to find some time for relaxation, distraction and unwinding. Our brain needs that to be able to function normally and generate ideas.

Enjoy all your weekends and vacation time, and learn how to put off work and just rest sometimes.

7 Rules for Running In Cold Weather

7679767b-f6c7-4e0e-b557-8c8b2b5eba37If you’re interested in running, I bet you also like to do that in different places of the world and in the variety of weather. It makes it more exciting, challenging and unique. One of the best things about traveling is that you get to run in all these wonderful countries, cities and states that can be pretty diverse and absolutely fascinating!

Recently, I had a chance to travel from cold Ukraine to warm and sunny Arizona and then five days later to snowy Minnesota. It’s an incredible experience to be able to run in just a T-shirt and then almost right away to have to put on tons of cloths and endure minus 15 F which is minus 26 C.

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So, here are some tips for those who don’t want to wait for spring and are ready to run in cold weather. And when I say “cold”, I mean below zero whether in C or in F.

  1. First of all, make sure you don’t dress too warmly. A lot of people think that because it’s cold they have to put on warm jackets or a lot of sweaters underneath. Big mistake! You will start running and very soon it will be unbearable. You’ll get too hot and too uncomfortable.
  2. It’s better to put on layers, and nothing should be too warm. Pick a base layer, a fleece and a running jacket or another very light kind of jacket.
  3. If you’ve always been wearing tights for running, make sure you have special ones for winter or be ready to put on shorts underneath or on top of them. Another choice would be to put on sweat pants on top of your tights. When the temperature is below freezing, your legs might get too cold especially if the wind is strong.
  4. I assume everybody knows it’s important to wear gloves, although if the temperature is below -10 F, you might want to wear two pairs of gloves.
  5. The same goes for a hat. A few days ago I ran in only one hat and got extremely cold. Of course it was about -17 F or -28 C with windchill. It felt like my head was going to explode. So, don’t forget to put on two hats and two pairs of gloves.
  6. I always wear a buff around my neck and usually pull it up on my nose when running in a freezing cold weather. Although, a few days ago it was not enough anymore. I had to also put on a scarf which made quite a bit of a difference.
  7. A lot of times when it’s this cold, the sun rays are extremely bright. So, a pair of sunglasses would be a must. The combination of sun and snow have the potential to burn the surface of our eyes, causing a temporary but painful condition known as photokeratitis.

One more additional rule would be to put on extra lotion on your face before getting out of the door. Last week I made a mistake of forgetting to do that. The result was horrendous – my face got covered with red spots because of extremely cold wind and for two days I looked like I had just eaten tons of chocolate.

So, if you are not afraid of challenges and love to test your level of endurance, if you’re a strong personality ready to take it to another level, try this amazing experience of running in cold weather. It’s usually incredibly beautiful when it’s this cold! You will love it! And I am sure, you’ll feel really good about yourself afterwards.

Challenges Can Be Fun!

Don’t you just love  challenges? Life would be so boring without having to overcome obstacles and coming up with creative ways of solving problems. Think about your favorite movies and books. Every hero in a great story has to go through hardships and endure all kinds of difficulties to finally achieve the ultimate goal of their life.

Did you know that it costs about $60,000 to climb Mount Everest? It’s deadly dangerous too. And still there are lots of people every year that want to challenge themselves to that. Why? I think it’s in our nature to always strive for the heights, to have a constant desire for growth. And there is usually no growth without tests and trials.

Don’t be afraid of challenges. Embrace them. Understand them. Overcome them. Use them for your growth and future success. They are for sure our blessings in disguise!