Guest post by Alberto Alonso

 

UPDATE! Alberto really cares about helping people learn English, so he’s gone the extra mile for you guys.

For the first time ever on this blog, you can listen to the post in addition to reading it! If this helps you, please make sure to go over to Alberto’s Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram page and thank him!

 

 

Do you want to get in shape once and for all? Well there are a lot of methods, shortcuts, fly-by-night theories, etc. on how to do so. I’m no exercise pro, just a guy looking for the best way to stay healthy and keep getting stronger with age. My aim was to find the old-fashioned way of getting in shape, no fads, no gimmicks, no BS. Here’s what I came up with:

 

1.   You must be active, proactive, and constant: keep moving.

2.   Inform yourself and replace bad habits with good ones.

3.   Set goals to keep motivated, and abandon your comfort zone.

4.   It’s a lifelong decision. Be patient and enjoy the process.

 

I know you’re probably thinking: getting in shape? I thought this was a blog to help you learn English. And you’re right. What I’ve come to realize is it takes the same mindset to get your English “in shape” as your body.

 

1. You must be active, proactive, and constant: keep moving.

 

The number one comment I hear is: I need to improve my lousy English. So, my next question is naturally: What are you doing to improve it? Classes? Reading? Listening? Chatting? When they answer: nothing, no, no, no. Then my next question is: were you hoping for osmosis?

 

There is no way to improve your English without being exposed to it and using it on a daily basis. You have to actively look for ways to expose yourself to English. Find things that motivate you and start there. If you like theatre: read articles, watch documentaries, go to plays in English.

 

Just like exercise, if you do a little every day it’ll get easier. I remember when I could barely run 1 km and now I can do 10k in relatively good time. Start small, a little every day at first, be constant. As with the gym, it’s better to go for ten minutes than not at all. Slow and steady wins the race.

 

The key is to keep moving forward, be constant and consistent, and you are sure to see results. And seeing results is a great way to stay motivated.

 

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2. Inform yourself and replace bad habits with good ones.

 

In the case of food, it’s replacing sugary, salty, processed foods with healthier foods such as fruits, veggies and grains. When we apply this to English it means identifying our problem areas—be it pronunciation, comprehension, etc.—and concentrating our efforts on those areas that need it most.

 

That doesn’t mean we should only tackle our mistakes, but at least we are conscious of the fact that we must tread with caution and be wary in this potentially treacherous territory.

 

It reminds me of those people you see at the gym that have HUGE upper bodies and then when you look down at their legs you realize they have chicken legs. Totally off-balance and I don’t have to tell you the importance of balance in our lives.

 

Switch it up. Variety is the spice of life. Your workout should be balanced too, whether in the gym working out your arms, legs, abs, chest; or with your English, only with pronunciation, speaking, reading, writing.

 

3. Set goals to keep motivated, and abandon your comfort zone.

 

Why are you working out and/or learning English? What’s your ultimate goal? Daily goal? Weekly goal? Yearly goal?

 

Something we have to avoid, both in the process of working out and learning a language, is the plateau. This is a period of stagnancy that we can reach if it becomes too routine and we stop challenging ourselves. We want to avoid this comfort zone, as there’s nothing good that can come out of being in limbo.

 

So set realistic goals and then get to work, and you will reach higher plateaus. As with the attaining of any objective, it will take hard work and discipline. What we call it: blood, sweat, and tears.

 

Nevertheless, we tend to move faster and more steadfast when we keep our long, short, and midterm goals in sight. Your goal for tomorrow is to be better than the you of today. Carefully thought-out change is called evolution.

 

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4. It’s a lifelong decision. Be patient and enjoy the process.

 

We already know that fad diets don’t work. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to commit to a healthy diet and active lifestyle from that moment on. There has to be a turning point. A crossing of the Rubicon, where you say to yourself: I’m going to make this a priority. I can and will do this.

 

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This is also when the aforementioned blood, sweat and tears comes into play. The same is true with language learning.

 

I’m always wary of these “language schools” that promise you mastery of a language in 6 months, 1000 words, etc. It doesn’t work like that. Trust me, I’ve been speaking Spanish for my entire 40-year life and I’m still learning new things every day. To be honest, I’m still learning new things in English, my mother tongue, too.

 

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I hate to be clichéd, but this is a journey, not a destination, as life itself. Mastery of anything is a lifelong process. Even if you are “in good shape”, just to maintain your figure/English level you need to make a minimum effort. So why not enjoy it and see it for what it is: a lifelong process full of discoveries, breakthroughs, and wonder.

 

If you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong. Enjoy the ride.

 

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Born of a Spanish dad and an American mom in New York, where I studied a BFA in Acting, also where I later worked professionally as an actor. A natural born communicator, since I was a child I knew that performing was my thing. Throughout my long professional career, I’ve worked as a director, writer, actor, singer, presenter, teacher, and voice-over artist. I’ve also written the hit books: English Everywhere, This Book Is The Milk & This Book is the ReMilk, and English On The Go.

 

Tireless and always in search of new adventures, I know no other way of seeing life except loving it and living every moment to the max. You’ll feel this energy in each of my radio programs, which have been on the air for around a decade now! I’m so lucky because I found a way to mix my two loves—languages and performing—to create an engaging learning experience.

 

You can join the party, I mean… English class on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and my website.

 

 

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