I made just about every possible mistake when starting out in languages. I used terribly inefficient methods, slogged through boring materials I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, and almost gave up more than a few times. But this is good news for you: struggling so much in the beginning and later correcting course makes me a much better language coach. You never want to learn from a “natural” who picks up new skills easily. As Tim Ferriss points out in the The 4-Hour Chef:
“The top 1% often succeed despite how they train, not because of it. Superior genetics, or a luxurious full-time schedule, make up for a lot. Career specialists can’t externalize what they’ve internalized. Second nature is hard to teach.”
Those that are naturally good at something:
- Will not know how to explain what they did and how they did it.
- Will not be able to empathize with people who are struggling along in the dark.
I know your pain because I’ve felt it, too. I struggled along in languages just like most folks until I figured out that the traditional “tried and true” methods and materials used in most schools are anything but true.
I don’t have all the answers, but I do know how to climb the language learning mountain. I’ve written this blog and my language guides to show you the way. I can’t promise you an easy hike up, but I can guarantee that you’ll reach the top if you follow these basic principles:
- Spend your time actually immersed in a language, not learning information about it.
- Spend your time, money, and effort on materials and tools you love, not things you think you should use.
- Use fun, modern, relevant materials like podcasts, YouTube, etc., not boring textbooks.
- Figure out what methods fit your learning style, schedule, and personality.
- Understand that where you live is not a limitation; you can connect with native speakers via Skype and create an immersion environment no mater where you live using technology and discipline.
- Maximize your exposure to the language everyday through listening and reading input.
- Maximize your active practice everyday through speaking and writing output.