What Sports Can Teach Us About Language Learning by Erika Kinast - Profesor de inglés

What Sports Can Teach Us About Language Learning

Although not a natural athlete, I have spent a good portion of my life playing sports, and I am a more confident and resilient person because of it. I have done everything from curling and golf, to figure skating and skateboarding, and I have learned so much from each of these activities.

I have also spent a significant part of my life coaching sports. I began coaching others when I was 12, and during the last twenty years, I have seen a lot of people make a lot of progress. This has made me believe that the basic tenets of sports training can be applied in multiple situations, including learning a language like English.

In particular there are three things from coaching I believe are essential to learning a new language: breaking down tasks into manageable chunks, turning learning tasks into habits, and developing resilience. Even if you don't like sports and never will, bare with me for this post, I know you'll still benefit from these learning tips.


Breaking down tasks:

You can break learning down into manageable chunks by simplifying an activity into stages, and by creating some sort of reward for yourself once you have achieved your learning goal. The key is to make the steps so small that they are impossible to fail at. For a good example, you can watch a young girl who has never high jumped before tackle the task. For your own learning, think about what rewards will motivate you, and how you can break down your learning into really small steps and you will begin to see results. 

Turning learning into a habit:

You can turn learning into a habit by continually positively reinforcing successes with positive incentives. This could be as simple as a high-five from a friend upon completing a task or allowing yourself access to something you enjoy like a TV programme or podcast. You can also make progress by turning learning into a habit by hooking it onto habits you already have. For example, if you want to learn English, you could attach learning to your daily cup of coffee. If you love coffee like me, this could be both hooking learning to an existing habit and attaching it to a reward. I'm currently using this technique when I'm not with my Spanish teacher and want to learn independently.


To build resilience, you have to try and fail, and try again. You have to commit to learning by doing, and never give up, no matter how hopeless it feels. Anytime you feel defeated, think again about how you can positively reward yourself for returning to the task. Skateboarding in particular taught me resilience. That is, falling and falling and falling again and continuing to try. This is perhaps the most important mindset you can take into learning a language, the courage to try and to fail, and to try again and fail again. I can't even tell you how many times I have been on the ground and have had to pick myself up again. I keep myself motivated by remembering how it feels to succeed, and with the positive reinforcement and comradery I share with friends during sessions. 

While it's always easier said than done, if you break down tasks and establish habits in a way that works for you, and you combine this with an attitude of resilience, I know you will succeed. Need an experienced coach to help guide you? Get in touch!  


19 April 2021

Registering as Autonomo in Spain: A Personal Experience

Olga O.

16 April 2021

Rabbit Holes

British English versus American English
Oliver Riddleston

15 April 2021

5 habits that can help improve your English

Learning a new language can be difficult, but there are some little habits that can make it easier and a lot more fun! In fact, if you’re already taking classes you might find these habits useful both for your learning and everyday life.
Samuel van den Nieuwenhof

15 April 2021

6 essential tips to learn a foreign language

In this article, we will look at 6 ways you can accelerate your language learning.
Megan Stewart

14 April 2021

Franquicia Academia Inglés Online

En este artículo os voy a explicar cómo crear una academia inglés / en la versión de franquicia de inglés. Hoy aprenderás cómo montar una escuela de idiomas online, te hablaré del plan de empresa para una academia de idiomas, te hablaré de lo rentable que es la formación online y si es rentable una academia de inglés.
Ana Elena Kramarenko

14 April 2021

Google Translate or Good Old Dictionaries?: Tips for English learners on using dictionaries

Olga O.

13 April 2021

Los 3 beneficios de una clase de media hora

En Oxinity, ofrecemos clases de media hora. Éstas son las más recomendadas. Aquí os explico por qué.
Blanca Sanchez Rocha Baldasano

13 April 2021

Is finding an online language teacher as easy as ABC?

When searching for an online language teacher should you choose native or non-native? What other factors should you consider? No, it is not as easy as ABC!
Bev Sisson
1ª Clase Gratis