Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

How do you learn career English?

When you learn something new, do you dive in 100% or do you take baby steps to get started?

In this episode, Lindsay and Michelle discuss the importance of taking baby steps when you learn something new.

Whether at work or in your daily life, these small steps will lead to success.

Listen to today’s episode to learn how you can start slowly when you learn anything.

This will help you fully absorb everything that you need to learn in order to move faster later.

Plus, today’s tips will help you avoid burnout and build a more successful career.

Bonus vocabulary

You need phrases to talk about speeding up and slowing down.

  • Ramp it up: Increase speed
  • Reel it in: Take a step back and slow down

Today we’ll share four new ways to talk about pacing yourself in English at work.

Start small

When you embark on a new learning journey, it’s tempting to dive in headfirst and immerse yourself completely.

However, starting small can be more effective in the long run.

By taking small, manageable steps, we avoid burnout and ensure consistent progress.

When you start any new job it can be overwhelming.

Start small to avoid feeling intense pressure at work.

“Baby steps”

Crawling before we can walk is a necessary part of the learning process.

It’s crucial to set realistic expectations and focus on achieving smaller goals.

By doing so, we lay the foundation for success and build upon it with each step forward.

Sample sentence: “You don’t have to learn everything on the first day. Baby steps.”

“Dip your toe in the water”

The expression “dip your toe in the water” perfectly captures the idea of testing the waters before fully committing.

Just as we wouldn’t jump into a swimming pool without checking the temperature, it’s wise to gather a little experience and get a taste of what we’re learning before diving in completely.

Sample sentence: “I’m not that comfortable going all in on this but I’d like to learn a little. You know, dip my toe in the water.”

“Get your feet wet”

Similar to dipping your toe in the water, getting your feet wet means gaining practical experience and gradually familiarizing yourself with a new skill or field.

This approach is especially useful for career transitions or when starting a new job.

Internships, for example, provide opportunities to learn, gain experience, and decide whether a particular industry is the right fit.

Sample sentence: “I’m going in to meet my coworkers on Tuesday just to get my feet wet.”


Lindsay and Michelle share a roleplay to show how these phrases are used in daily conversations.

In this conversation, Lindsay is frustrated that she isn’t learning a design program faster at work.

Lindsay: I just don’t get it. I’m working three hours a day, after hours, to learn this. Why can’t I get it?

Michelle: Lindsay, you have to just start small. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Lindsay: I know. I have to crawl before I can walk, but I just want to be good at this already.

Michelle: Baby steps, one thing at a time. Can you just focus on getting good at the first activity before you move on?

Lindsay: Yeah, I could do that. Get my feet wet.

Michelle: Exactly. Dip your toe in the water. You’ll get there.

Lindsay: Thanks, Michelle.


The best way to learn career English is taking small steps.

In this fast-paced era of social media and instant gratification, you need to take a step back and start small if you want to learn things well.

Whether you’re learning a language, mastering an instrument, or tackling a new program at work, taking baby steps can lead to more sustainable growth and long-term success.

The next time you’re learning something new, don’t be afraid to start small, taking it one step at a time.

This will help you enjoy conquering each milestone along the way.

With patience and perseverance, you’ll be amazed at the progress you can achieve.

Remember, baby steps may seem small, but they can lead to giant leaps in your personal and professional development.

So, go ahead, start small, and always focus on Connection NOT Perfection!

Do you tend to start small or do you go into something at full speed from the start?

Leave us a comment below to let us know.

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