Imagine you want to start learning a new hobby, whether it’s fishing or photography, oil painting or restoring antiques, what makes the difference between a fleeting and forgotten try over the course of a weekend and a taste that grows into a life-long passion? It’s not just the challenge and it’s not just because you’re good at it. It’s both!
When the difficulty of a task matches the level of your skill, you’re in the “flow channel” – a place where you can be fully engaged in what you’re doing. You’re using all your resources and you’re reaping the rewards in real time. Here, you’re at your best and you’re getting better at it. Like a well-oiled machine churning away at what it was built to do, it can be hard work, but you won’t notice.
The “flow channel” can be found in any activity you choose to do – like learning English! No matter what your level is, you can get there. And you need to take care not wander outside of it. When you’re studying, always try to keep the challenge around the same level as your skills. Too difficult? You’ll get stressed. Too easy? You’ll get bored. In both cases, you risk losing motivation and giving up entirely.
So, you want to speak like Shakespeare? OK, keep your eye on the prize, but you also have to know where you are now and adapt the tasks in front of you accordingly. Keep it interesting and you might not even notice you’re learning English!