Member Profile: Laura, from Spain

Published on
June 14, 2021
|
Updated on
October 15, 2021
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📖
10
min read
This article may contain affiliate links
Written by
Alastair Budge

Meet Laura, "The Hungry Learner", and learn about her recipe for successful language learning. She has also been kind enough to provide a 7 day planner for how to maximise your use of podcasts to learn English, and how to build your own daily habit.

Member Profile: Laura, from Spain

My name is Laura, I’m 36 years old and my friends call me “The Hungry Learner” since I always find something new to learn. I never get bored!

I’m from Spain so my mother tongue is Spanish (Castilian).

I was born in Madrid and lived there all my life, but 3 years ago I decided to move out to a coastal town near Santander City (north of Spain). This movement implied changing jobs plus a professional reinvention since my goal was running an online business while helping Spanish students improve their Spanish in a more meaningful and enjoyable way thanks to my personal experience of learning English.

As I said earlier, I am called “The Hungry Learner” because learning runs through my veins, and getting new knowledge on different topics makes me very happy. 

There is a term called “Multipotential” which explains quite well what this implies. Multipotential folks are curious people with many interests, which leads them to want to learn from each and every one of them, even if they don’t always have a connection among them. 

So maybe that’s why my training is a mishmash:  I hold a Business Management degree plus a master's in Taxation & Accounting, and 3 more masters’ in; Professional English, Personal Development & Leadership, and Digital Marketing. I’ve taken courses in photography, drawing, cooking, mindfulness, yoga, and some sports such as paddle tennis, skiing, or surfing.

Concerning my more personal side, I love nature trips where I have the opportunity to do trekking and explore new landscapes just walking.

I have a dog (Merthin) that I love like crazy. Merthin is an English name from the Middle Ages, chance or causality?

It all started with me failing English. Although I was always hard-working and responsible at school I must admit that I was not okay with English. I devoted time and effort to it, however, it didn't bear fruit later. 

What happened? Well, I ended up having it in for it and when I finished school I threw in the towel, but just for a while. 

In a nutshell, at school they made me believe that I would never be good at English. That fact marked me in a positive way as you can see now.

I spent my first 2 years at college without opening an English book. Until it was time to look for a job and in all job interviews there were a few questions in English. So I had to get cracking if I wanted to get a job. And again, I got back to the same place. Me in front of a hellish book trying to learn something, going to a language school to follow another hellish textbook, and having banal conversations with the one next to me. Okay, I improved a little but it was torture for me.

In 2011 I decided to take a sabbatical year in order to get some fresh air, but I wanted to do something worth it. I wanted to overcome a challenge and there, English made a comeback. I studied for a Master’s in Professional English and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Those 10 months were incredible. Not only did I improve my English once and for all, but also, I was aware for the first time that I could learn and have fun at the same time. This fact led me to build a daily habit, which I keep today since it gives me tons of energy & motivation.

The hardest thing I have found about learning English is keeping yourself motivated in time. Traditional English learning is boring from my point of view because it tries to teach us English like if we were robots. The key point here is that each one of us is unique, so you must find your way on your own. 

My Achilles heel has always been my listening and therefore my speaking as a result. Now I am aware that listening is key to setting you up for success. After all, I could say I got an advanced level of English, however, I didn't feel comfortable speaking with native speakers and I still had trouble understanding them, until I discovered podcasts 3 years ago and built a daily habit around them.

My main goal when it comes to improving my English is to have fun all the way around and learn new stuff about topics, I have a passion for at the same time.

If I were a chef instead of an English learner, these would the essential ingredients to make every dish yummy:

  • Daily Habit: achieve tangible and lasting results thanks to tiny daily increments. Two key points on developing habits over time:

─ DESIGN to carry out the habit as simply as possible (Human beings tend to apply the “Minimum Effort Law”).

─ ENERGY is supplied by the habit itself since how we get our energy is mostly what makes the habit endure.

  • Fun: it’s scientifically proven that our brain needs to get excited to learn. 

And what better way to thrill your brain than through your interests?

My learning motto says: turn English into a hobby and keep it for the rest of your life.

I like to work on one episode per week. I have created an editable template in pdf which I use with each episode as both planner and worksheet. I work seven days a week since for me it’s a hobby and I love doing it day in, day out. 

My planner would be something like this:

  • DAY 1: Listening (just audio)
  • DAY 2: Listening & Reading (audio + subtitles)
  • DAY 3: Reading transcript aloud + highlighting vocabulary to learn
  • DAY 4: Shadowing + Writing (summary + personal opinion / 150 -180 words)
  • DAY 5: Shadowing + Speaking (summary + personal opinion / Recording)
  • DAY 6: Creating flashcards with vocabulary on QUIZLET APP (free version)
  • DAY 7: Listening (just audio)

Once I discovered podcasts, I knew they were my source to improve all language skills. I have learned through podcasts for English native speakers on the topics I have an interest in such as personal growth, digital business, entrepreneurship, healthy lifestyle or culture in general among others. However, sometimes it's difficult to learn from podcasts for native speakers since you spend a lot of time looking up new words, and not all of them have transcripts available for listeners (far less subtitles to read along while you listen).

I am on an early stage of my journey since I have only had the opportunity to listen to two or three episodes. In general, I find the topics that Alastair speaks about quite interesting. That's one of the reasons I made the decision to become a member. I can improve my English in an enjoyable and meaningful way at the same time I can learn something new about exciting topics such as history, culture, current events, environment, economy, etc.

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Alastair from Leonardo English says: "Laura's motivation is fantastic, and it was amazing to hear about her routine that she keeps up. I would encourage anyone reading this to try it out - as Laura is evidence of, the results are brilliant".