Hiking is like language learning, part 1

The year was 2013. My best friend and I hiked 93 miles of the Appalachian Trail.

For those of you who know about the trail, that might not sound like much. The trail connects 14 of the Eastern United States and is over 2000 miles. Our challenge was to hike the 93 miles that our hiking club maintains.

For me, this was something new and I wasn’t sure that I could do it. 

Our shortest hike was 6.2 miles and our longest was 13.5 miles. That long hike was very difficult for me.

I remember thinking that it was the uphill climb that would never end. I would focus all my energy on getting to what I thought was the top of the hill. When I reached it, I saw that it turned and kept going up and up!

Do you ever feel that way in your language studies?

You decide to buy a series of 1:1 lessons or something for self-study. You focus so much energy on the work and when you finish, you realize that you still have a long, hard way to go.

Each day that we attempted a hike, I kept going until I made it to the end. Over time, this experience taught me that I can persevere and go the distance!

Do you pat yourself on the back and say “Yay! Look how much better my English is becoming?” You can stick with it!

When we completed all 93 miles of our hiking challenge we celebrated with a special dinner with friends. We received recognition from our hiking club but the most important thing for me was learning that I really could do long hikes and I enjoyed the challenge.  It also opened up a new world to me. 
  • I saw wildflowers and views on the Appalachian Trail that I would never have seen if I had stuck with shorter, easier hikes.
  • I learned more about the trail and met people who had hiked the whole trail, some of them more than once.
  • I was able to share my experiences with others so that they, too, became interested in the trail and how to preserve it for future generations.

The same is true for my language studies. I have so much more appreciation for the people and cultures of Germany and Poland because I have studied the languages. I met people in these countries that have changed my life.

  • When was the last time that you celebrated your progress in English language learning?
  • Do you focus more on your mistakes and how difficult it seems or do you notice your progress and how good it feels to communicate and make a connection?
  • Do you see your English learning as something to accomplish or a journey with pleasant experiences along the way?
As a fellow language learner, I’m here to share ideas and encouragement. You can find short, interesting videos on my Facebook page. You can sign up for my email list to receive notifications of new blog posts and upcoming programs. You can always send me a message using this form or Facebook messenger.

Just because things are difficult doesn’t mean that we can’t do them. With the support of others and a plan, we can go beyond our expectations and discover things in life that we have yet to imagine.

Hiking is like language learning, part 2