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Tutor Lady Ayame 's Column

Are you in the "Learning" or "Perfomance" zone?

Jul 19, 2019

Dear Cafetalk Community,

how are you? Thank you very much to all the students and Cafetalk Support Staff for helping me win the "Best Kids Lesson Award!" I appreciate the great honor since I have become quite attached to not only my kid students but adult students as well! Watching my students learn and improve is the best and most rewarding feeling in the world! I hope you spent your time wisely during the raining season and took steps to improve your English. I am proud of you for working so hard and taking your English learning very seriously. Remember that every time you take action to learn English in any way, you are improving by "leaps and bounds."
[English Proverb: "Practice makes perfect!"] 

[Definition of Proverb:]
proverb (noun)
1. a short pithy saying in general use, stating a general truth or piece of advice.
synonyms: sayingadagesawmaximaxiommottoaphorismepigramgnomedictumprecept;
words of wisdom; 
bon mot

Today, I want to talk about the English proverb "Practice makes perfect!" If you have been studying English for some time, you have probably come across this proverb before. I wholeheartedly believe in the proverb, "Practice makes perfect." I honestly believe that the more you practice anything, the better you will get at it.

But how should you practice? Have you ever thought about what it means to practice? Do you feel as though you are working very hard studying English but you are not improving very much? Are you spending a lot of time learning but you feel stagnated?

In this TED Talks video, the speaker Eduardo Briceno explains the difference between the "Learning" and "Performance" zone.

[The speaker explains it in the following way:]
"The learning zone is when our goal is to improve. Then we do activities designed for improvement, concentrating on what we haven't mastered yet, which means we have to expect to make mistakes, knowing that we will learn from them. That is very different from what we do when we're in our performance zone, which is when our goal is to do something as best as we can, to execute. Then we concentrate on what we have already mastered and we try to minimize mistakes." (Brineco, E.)
Are you in the learning zone when you want to improve? Briceno advises practicing to improve, doing activities that enhance your abilities, and then concentrating on the identified task at hand. To do this, you have to be able to step out of your "comfort zone," consult with colleagues and domain experts, make mistakes and learn from them. "That's deliberate practice." 
(Brineco, E.)

If you are always in the performance zone, you will spend time practicing faster, minimizing mistakes, and acting in a high stake situation. Your teleconferences (on-camera or off-camera) Skype lesson should not be a high stake situation where you feel as though you have to perform or produce a particular outcome. It is better to be in the learning mindset to improve, so you are open to new ideas and concepts and feel free to make mistakes.

For example, speaking from my previous acting experience, we would always rehearse for many months to get the show ready for performances in a live theatre. During the rehearsals, actors explore many avenues, interpretations, and choices to develop their character. They extend their knowledge during rehearsals practicing many hours of not only learning their lines, knowing where to go on the stage, and maintain the inner-life of the character. Acting requires intense concentration for an extended period. In the same way, "we should know when we seek to learn and when we seek to perform." (Brineco, E.)

The speaker suggests that we have to have the learning mindset and let go of performing, concentrating on what we haven't mastered yet. Let me help you with "how to improve." Your activities in the learning zone should be significantly different than your performance zone.
[Attitudes and Beliefs that help you improve:]
You must want to improve
Spend more time exploring, becoming, improving, etc.
Do activities to improve
Fully concentrate on identifying abilities you want to improve
Feel free and safe to make mistakes
Identify mistakes and concentrate on dealing with them
You should create a low-stake situation while learning

He says we spend so much time in the performing zone that we put ourselves in unnecessarily high stake situations. No wonder you get stressed out when you feel as though you have to perform instead of learning, right? I would like to be your "low stake island in your high-stake sea" in my Skype lessons with you, so you can feel safe to make mistakes and learn from them. (Brineco, E.)

I hope I can also help you identify areas where you can be improving. I would like to guide you in a safe and comfortable environment, without any judgment, so you can grow. My philosophy is to recommend all areas of English learning including reading, writing, listening, speaking, and comprehension. Don't be stressed out in a performance mode where you feel you have to execute the perfect results in a short time. You can feel relaxed and comfortable because I think you will find that I'm pretty easy to talk to. 

First and foremost, according to Eduardo Briceno, it seems critical to be in the learning zone to make rapid improvement on the learning curve. So, take it easy and don't be so hard on yourself. Identify mistakes objectively and try to improve upon them, instead of beating yourself up over it. Be kind and patient with yourself. Whether it's fast or slow, you are always improving if you believe that you are. I hope the above helps you identify the difference between the learning and performance zone. I hope this new insight helps you improve and reach your goals to speak English fluently and properly. Thank you for reading my tutor's column post. I hope it helps! 

Hope to see you soon! Have a great day!

PS: The TED Talks video has a translation in Japanese under the video play button. Please choose "
日本語" from the drop-down menu.
[TED Talks Video:]
How to get better at the things you care about

Warmest regards,

Lady Ayame
(Patricia Ayame Thomson)

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