Matt Harding is a video game developer and an internet celebrity. His 2008 video of him dancing has been watched over 45 million times. He dances his way through 42 countries over the course of 14 months.
In each video he does the same goofy dance and people love it. He’s a self-admitted bad dancer, but you can see that he doesn’t care at all. His joy is infectious. Almost everywhere he does his silly dance, he’s greeted with smiles. When asked, “What’s the message of your videos?” Matt says, it’s “Up to you. I’m just dancing.”
The message for me is being comfortable looking foolish is a path to greater freedom and happiness in your life. This is especially important for language learners, because everyone makes mistakes and everyone looks foolish sometimes. The people who are comfortable with those mistakes, and don’t care what other people think, are the ones who will learn the fastest.
After 14 months of dancing, Matt Harding was still a bad dancer, but his goal was to travel and have fun, not to improve his dancing. Karen Cheng on the other hand, had a clear goal. She wanted to be a good dancer, so she practiced every day. She practiced alone and she took classes. Every day she took a video to record her progress. At the end of the year, she edited it down to an amazing 2-minute video that shows how far you can go when you put your mind to it, and keep working towards your goal every day.
Karen says that passion was the key to her success at learning to dance. Watch the 2 minute video below to see her transformation.
Just like learning dancing, learning a language quickly requires fearlessness, clear goals, daily effort and passion. As we start to approach the New Year, think about how you can reach your goal of English fluency more quickly in 2014. How can you increase the amount of time you spend using English, and what kind of shift in attitude will get you there quickest?