Being Realistic About Language

Let’s be realistic about learning a language shall we. And this post is not meant to smash your dreams, but like anything you need to work hard to learn any language. This takes time. There is no quick fix to learning a language.

Much like getting a six pack or building muscle, you need to put the work in at the gym, eat right and graft.

Language is the same, its going to take months and months (usually years) of consistent training your brain to recognize words, pronunciation practice, native speaker interaction, private lessons, surrounding yourself with the language and most of all passion and motivation to learn.

This is why love is such a good motivator to learn a language. Mine and my now wife’s ability to communicate at the beginning was a journey. But a rapid journey of development. We needed to communicate with each other to understand and learn and grow.

It was imperative we understood what we wanted to say, so our learning was switched all the way on. Her English was improving dramatically and so was my Chinese.

After studying Chinese for a number of years and trying to get to conversational fluency, while teaching English everyday all day AND having to converse with my children in English when I get home isn’t ideal but has still lead me to know you cannot reach conversational fluency in a couple of months. It doesn’t matter what people online tell you.

As mentioned, studying and becoming good at something takes hard work. People promising you will be able to speak fluently to a native speaker level in 3-6 months are outright lying.

You may find the exceptional person or savant who can pick up basic conversation in a few weeks but for most of us, it’s going to take a plan.

Learning a language doesn’t have a set in stone formula, it’s different for everyone. I, for example, don’t like learning from text books, I feel tired and cannot concentrate whilst reading through horrendously boring grammar texts. Some people though, love that way of learning. Some prefer (like me) being talked to, finding out new things through experimentation and mistakes.

Here’s what you do -:

  1. Choose a language
  2. Find how you like to learn through experimenting
  3. Keep doing that until you feel you cannot ‘learn anymore’ (hit a plateau)
  4. Change your approach
  5. Rinse & repeat.

This sequence of activities could continue for months or years, sometimes decades with people who don’t fully commit to learning. But you WILL learn it. It WILL happen. Just got to keep going.

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