The narrower, the better…

For some reason, my son and I were left home with just the two of us. My son recovered from his cold on the previous day, and I didn’t want him to play actively with his friends in the park, but still he needed something special to do to keep himself busy (Children would die when they have nothing to do!), so I decided to take him to a large local supermarket and let him play with the toys and games available on the fifth floor of the building.

Hey, we were in the middle of the Golden Week holidays! Whoever would go to a supermarket?!

That’s exactly what I thought, but in a positive way.

Just as I had expected, there were only a few people on the kids’ floor (it was still early, that’s why). My son had no difficulty occupying the games and toys for as long as he wanted. Adjacent to this toy department was a small bookshop, so I decided to browse while my son was absorbed in cars and dolls (Oddly he shows interest in dolls, which, from my viewpoint, are for girls).

Now you’ve arrived at what I wanted to say today. This bookshop was small. After all, it takes 10% of the entire floor, whose main goods are children’s toys. However, I found it very comfortable and easy to browse some good books there. Since it is small, the shop cannot house all the books that come out every minute, obviously. The second best policy of the bookshop (what would you do if you were the shop owner?) is to display best-sellers, and other books that are really interesting and worth taking a look at. They should make the best of what little space they have to maximize the profits.

I actually bought five books there.

As I browsed there, it just dawned on me that this could apply to learning a foreign language. If you try to learn English to achieve plural objectives (watching a movie without the subtitles, using English to cut business deals, reading novels written in English, speaking at a natural speed in a native-like manner, texting in English…), it would be as if you went to a huge book shop and spend 30 minutes. You don’t know what to start with, going upstairs and downstairs, ending up with no particular book in your hand. You would just come out from the entrance, feeling tired.

Going to a small bookshop, in that sense, can be compared to studying English for a limited purpose (like taking 80 in TOEFL, not 90 or IELTS or TOEIC, just 80 in TOEFL). What you have to do, then, will become clearer and it would be easy to eliminate what does not directly contribute to this end.

You may get much more than what you want, just as I bought five books there, even though I had not expect myself to buy one book.

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