Your Language-Learning Happy Place

Your Happy Place is a mental state or a physical setting in which you are most at ease or most energized. You may have a general Happy Place, or you may have a host of Happy Places for different activities or purposes.

Do you have a language-learning Happy Place?

Bailey Lilian Hampton CourtMine are

(a) just after breakfast, in a moderately comfy chair, with some kind of flavored coffee, preferably hazelnut or vanilla,
(b) during a prep period when everyone else is working,
(c) in the car, especially on long drives,
(d) late at night, if I’m the only one awake,
(e) sitting around a table with a few friends.

Sometimes my Happy Place includes instrumental Celtic or New Age music.

It can be hard to enter these Happy Places: just after breakfast, I’m usually helping kids off to school; during prep periods, there are emails to check and youtube videos to watch just one more of; I don’t drive much; if I read or study languages late at night, I’m often too energized to fall asleep; most of my friends who enjoy speaking languages other than English live in other states.  But I try to spend time in another language in at least one of these Happy Places every day, partly for the sake of consistency and partly because language-learning is itself a Happy Place of mine.

What do I do in my language-learning Happy Places? Mostly, I read, or reread. (In the car, this means listening to recordings in the target language.) Sometimes, I browse for new things to read. Sometimes, I follow a dictionary wherever it leads. Sometimes, I write a letter. Sometimes, I complete a lesson in a published language-learning program. Sometimes, I watch a video in the target language.

If you haven’t identified at least one language-learning Happy Place, I recommend that you do, and that you go there often.  If you can’t quite find or achieve a full-out Happy Place, sometimes you can at least create a Happy-er Place by introducing a certain feature, such as a favorite drink or soundtrack.  Experiment!


Can a classroom be a Happy Place?

This issue will get a post of its own, but it’s worth previewing: If you are a teacher, you have a duty to your students to make the setting as conducive to language acquisition as possible, which includes helping students identify and communicate what about the setting works for them and what doesn’t.

A school classroom isn’t the best setting for learning anything, including a language.  Ask your students to help you think about how to change or rise above the unideal elements of the classroom setting.  I recommend an ongoing group effort to Happify as many aspects as possible of your classroom and, indeed, of your entire program.

Here’s to happier language-learning-and-teaching!

See also: “Do What You Feel Like,” “What Is Your Favorite Thing to Do?

Posted in Learning, Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , .


  1. a) No flavors, just milk or hand-whipped cream.
    b) Best excuse for not grading.
    c) Favorite music (and yes, my terrible singing).
    d) This can get dangerously late.
    e) A rare adult conversation in L1.

    Other than that it’s a Happy Place match!

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