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15 Things You’ll Only Understand If You Studied A Foreign Language

15 Things You’ll Only Understand If You Studied A Foreign Language

Once you’ve learned a new language, it’s hard to go back. You develop a specific mindset and gain experiences that you can only have from learning a foreign language.

If you studied a foreign language, here are some things that you’ll immediately be able to relate to. If you’re only able to speak one language (English), these are references that you can look forward to.

1. It’s easy to get started. But so hard to master it.

Language learners understand that like any skill, getting started is the easy part. But to go from beginner to intermediate level, then intermediate level to advanced is another ball game. What’s the real secret to learning a language faster? Consistency, daily routines, and dedication.

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    2. Your private teacher becomes the highlight of your day

    Having a private teacher can accelerate your learning speed. When you start building a relationship with these teachers, it can become one of the best things to look forward to in your stressful day. There’s laughter, learning, and growth that happens with each session, and it can become addicting.

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      3. Going to the same ethnic restaurant again

      From sushi to Korean BBQ, we only find ourselves going to that same restaurant again, not only to enjoy the delicious food but to practice your target language.

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        4. That feeling when you’ve just had your first conversation with a native speaker

        Best feeling. Ever.

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          5. You now travel for a completely different reason

          When you can speak a new language, you can start building relationships with native speakers living in the country. Travel will never feel the same again.

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            6. The urge to start learning yet another language

            We’ve all had the desire to become a polyglot and being able to speak dozens of languages. But making sure we’ve established a solid foundation with one language before moving onto another is crucial.

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              7. Someone learns that you speak a foreign language, and now wants you to translate everything

              Then you realize how little you actually know, and how much more you need to practice.

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                8. The urge to hang out with anyone that speaks the language you’re learning

                When you’re first starting to learn a language, you either use it or lose it. It’s critical to find opportunities to practice your speaking skills with anyone that would speak with you in your target language. Find meetup events, conversation exchanges, online language teaching websites — anything!

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                  9. You’ve mistakenly greeted someone in a foreign language

                  Especially after you just finished speaking with your private teacher.

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                    10. Impress the people around you by ordering Tacos in Spanish

                    Even if you’re not President Obama.

                    President Obama orders lunch at Five Guys in Washington, D.C. during an unannounced lunch outing May 29, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way or used in materials, advertisements, products, or promotions that in any way suggest approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

                      11. When someone uses the “everybody speaks English” argument

                      While over 1 Billion people speak English as their first or second language, that’s still 85% of the world that do not. As the world becomes a more multicultural place by the day, the diversity of languages spoken will only continue to increase.

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                        12. When people talk about you in a foreign language… but you understand them

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                          13. When you learn how to speak Spanish, and realize that there are 10+ places that speak a different type of Spanish

                          From Argentina, Colombia, Spain, and Mexico – they all come with different slangs, accents, and even grammar rules that will continuously confuse you!

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                            14. The first things you want to learn are the dirty words in the language

                            Let’s face it, these are the best words to learn. It’s why I first learned all the dirty words in Spanish when I traveled to South America.

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                              15. You’ve studied the language for so long that you forget how to say something in your native language.

                              Hola? Bonjour? Hello? It happens to the best of us.

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                                Sean Kim

                                Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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                                Published on July 29, 2020

                                How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

                                How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

                                Have you been thinking of how you can be a more strategic leader during these uncertain times? Has the pandemic thrown a wrench at all your carefully laid out plans and initiatives?

                                You’re not alone. The truth is, we all want some stability in our careers and teams during this disruptive pandemic.

                                However, this now requires a bit more effort than before and making the leap from merely surviving to thriving means buckling down to some serious strategic thinking and maintaining a determined mindset.

                                Is There a Way to Thrive Despite These Disruptions?

                                Essentially – yes, although you need to be willing to put in the work. Every leader wants to develop strategic thinking skills so that they can enhance overall team performance and boost their company’s success, but what exactly does it mean to be strategic in the context of the times we live in?

                                If you happen to be in a leadership position in your organization right now, you are most probably navigating precarious waters given the disruptions caused by the pandemic. There’s a lot more pressure than before because your actions and decisions will have a much greater impact these days not just on you, but also to the people who are part of your team.

                                Companies often bring me in to coach executives on strategic thinking and planning. And while pre-pandemic I would usually start by highlighting the advantages of strategic thinking, nowadays, I always begin these Zoom coaching sessions by driving home the point that this pandemic has now made strategic thinking not just an option but an absolute must.

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                                Assessing and making plans through the lens of a good strategy might require significant work at first. Nevertheless, you can take comfort in the fact that the rewards will far outweigh the effort, as you’ll soon see after following the 8 strategic steps I have outlined below.

                                8 Steps to Strategic Thinking

                                As events unfold during these strange times, you’re bound to feel wrong-footed every now and then. Being a leader during this pandemic means preparing for more change not just for you, but for your whole team as well.

                                As states and cities go through a cycle of lockdowns and reopening, employees will experience the full gamut of human emotions in dizzying speed, and you will often be called on to provide insight and stability to your team and workplace.

                                Strategic thinking is all about anticipation and preparation. Rather than expending your energy merely helping your company put out fires and survive, you can put the time to better use by charting out a solid plan that can protect and help you and your company thrive.

                                Take the following steps to build solid initiatives and roll out successful projects:

                                Step 1: Step Back, Then Set the Scope

                                One of the things that leaders get wrong during their first attempt at strategic thinking is expecting that it is just another item on a checklist. The truth is, you need to take a good, long look at the bigger picture before anything else. This means decisively prioritizing and stepping away from tasks that can be delegated to others. Free up your schedule so you can focus on this crucial task at hand.

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                                Then, proceed with setting the scope and the strategic goals of the project or initiative you plan to build or execute. Ask yourself the bigger question of why you need to embark on a particular project and when would be the right time to do so.

                                You need to set a timeline as well, anywhere from 6 months to 5 years. Keep in mind that your projections will deteriorate the further out you go as you make longer-term plans.

                                For this reason, add extra resources, flexibility, and resilience if you have a longer timeline. You should also be making the goals less specific if you’re charting it out for the longer term.

                                Step 2: Make a List of Experts

                                Make and keep a list of credible people who can contribute solid insight and feedback to your initiative. This could range from key stakeholders to industry experts, mentors, and even colleagues who previously planned and rolled out similar projects.

                                Reach out to the people on this list regularly while you work through the steps to bring diverse insight into your planning process. This way, you will be able to approach any problem from every angle.

                                Bringing key stakeholders into this initial process will also display your willingness to listen and empathize with their issues. In return, this will build trust and potentially pave the way for smoother buy-in down the line.

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                                Step 3: Anticipate the Future

                                After identifying your goals and gathering feedback, it’s time to consider what the future would look like if everything goes as you intuitively anticipate. Then, lay out the kind and amount of resources (money, time, social capital) that might be needed to keep this anticipated future running.

                                Step 4: Brainstorm on Potential Internal and External Problems

                                Next, think of how the future would look if you encountered unexpected problems internal and external to the business activity that seriously jeopardize your expected vision of the future. Write out what kind of potential problems you might encounter, including low-probability ones.

                                Assess the likelihood that you will run into each problem. To gauge, multiply the likelihood by the number of resources needed to address the problem. Try to convert the resources into money if possible so that you can have a single unit of measurement.

                                Then, think of what steps you can take to address these internal and external problems before they even happen. Write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Lastly, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different possible problems and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

                                Step 5: Identify Potential Opportunities, Internal and External

                                Imagine how your expected plan would look if unexpected opportunities came up. Most of these will be external but consider internal ones as well. Then, gauge the likelihood of each scenario and the number of resources you would need to take advantage of each opportunity. Convert the resources into money if possible.

                                Then, think of what steps you can take in advance to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Finally, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different unexpected opportunities and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

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                                Step 6: Check for Cognitive Biases

                                Check for potential cognitive biases that are relevant to you personally or to the organization as a whole, and adjust the resources and plans to address such errors.[1] Make sure to at least check for loss aversion, status quo bias, confirmation bias, attentional bias, overconfidence, optimism bias, pessimism bias, and halo and horns effects.

                                Step 7: Account for Unknown Unknowns (Black Swans)

                                To have a more effective strategy, account for black swans as well. These are unknown unknowns -unpredictable events that have potentially severe consequences.

                                To account for these black swans, add 40 percent to the resources you anticipate. Also, consider ways to make your plans more flexible and secure than you intuitively feel is needed.

                                Step 8: Communicate and Take the Next Steps

                                Communicate the plan to your stakeholders, and give them a heads up about the additional resources needed. Then, take the next steps to address the unanticipated problems and take advantage of the opportunities you identified by improving your plans, as well as allocating and reserving resources.

                                Finally, take note that there will be cases when you’ll need to go back and forth these steps to make improvements, (a fix here, an improvement there) so be comfortable with revisiting your strategy and reaching out to your list of experts.

                                Conclusion

                                A great way to deal with feelings of uncertainty during this pandemic is to anticipate obstacles with a good plan – and a sure road to that is practicing strategic thinking.

                                In the coming months and years, you’ll need to continue navigating uncharted territory so that you can lead your team to safe waters. Regularly doing these 8 steps to strategic thinking will ensure that you can prepare for and adapt  to the coming changes with increasing clarity, perspective, and efficiency.[2]

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                                Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

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