Generally speaking, most foreign language learners or enthusiasts want to learn languages as quickly as possible. Although there are ways to do this, it all depends on your timeline. It is not a good idea to rush through language courses, because the rate of retention decreases greatly when you’re not feeling relaxed and rushing learning can also cause frustration, in the way that you’re not remembering words and grammar constructs.
I have learned many lesser-known languages and creoles by relaxing and enjoying the process. Why not make language learning an enjoyable activity like watching a show, or listening to live music downtown?
Luca Lampariello uses a similar approach in that he takes his time to really absorb the language little-by-little to become one with it. Doing language study by enjoying the process of language acquisition will make you much more proficient and confident in the long run than rushing to finish courses and feeling like you can’t speak it properly or like you missed many parts.
Here are the main steps you should take before you begin stamping out a language:
Have a goal, or some kind of motivation beforehand
a. Ask yourself why you want to learn a language. This could be for an upcoming trip where you want to be able to hold at least basic conversation with the locals (which makes trips much more worthwhile and fun than resorting to English or a global language, saving for another article :D), immersion trip, talking to a friend exclusively in a language, for a relationship or other cause.
b. Nonetheless, it is paramount to make sure it is something that truly motivates you to go the whole nine yards and give the language all you’ve got. Or maybe you just really enjoy learning languages 🙂
Be patient with yourself and do not get mad or flustered
a. Everyone is going to make mistakes in a language and/or get frustrated when something doesn’t make sense. It’s more than likely that when you make a mistake, that a native speaker will still understand the gist of what you said.
b. A trick in solving problems in programming/software development is to let the problem be, leave for a while and come back later with a fresh mind. If you sense yourself getting frustrated or you’ve lost patience, take some time out and step away for a while.
c. Sometimes our minds just need time to process the concept, or think of some way to understand or solve the problem, other times, the solution comes in your sleep and you wake up knowing it or not long after waking up with a fresh mind. But by no means get mad, it does nothing good for your language knowledge and can derail motivation.
Take your time, no stress, no rush
a. Unless you’ve got a tight deadline to know a language, or are literally on the plane to a destination, you really shouldn’t worry, because the moment you do, it’s hard for words to be your friends. It is important to take your time and get to know each concept, word and conversation or text intimately. Seven (7) appears to be the secret number that you need to see something to make most things, and words stick. This could be done through flashcards, games, reading over and over, over a seven-day period, or however you pick up new things. This does depend on your learning style (tactile/hands-on, audio, or visual) though.
b. When you relax while learning, oftentimes you can learn faster. If you’re having fun with the language, you can almost always learn even faster than faster. Once you’ve spent enough time absorbing enough of the language and know the sounds and basic structure like a good friend, then new words stick very easily.
c. No matter who you are, you can learn any language you wish! No matter what age you are, you can learn, 70+ year old people have learned thousands of Chinese and Japanese characters, people diagnosed with any kind of learning disorder or autism-spectrum (like myself) have been known to be language sponges. It’s no secret that anyone with real motivation in a relaxed state of mind can pick up any language.
Personally, I find speaking or even studying foreign languages to be absolutely relaxing, like a mini-version of meditation, but more like a really fun activity that I can detox from work with, for example. Lately, I’ve been getting back into studying languages intensely, this time with Maya, the kind they speak in Yucatan, Mexico. I will show you how I “get dirty with a language” through intense analysis in a future video.