Learning a new skill is hard, time consuming work. Whether you’re learning a new language, learning to play guitar or learning to breakdance – it all takes a lot of effort. Luckily, we can make it an easier and more efficient process if we understand our comfort zones. Few people do, and I see the same problem coming up again and again in people learning all sorts of different skills. They either don’t understand their comfort zones, or they understand them but don’t know where to focus their efforts to maximize learning. As a result, they either sit at a standstill and never progress, or they drive themselves into the ground and never make any progress. So how do they fix it?
Archive for the Topic: Language Learning
There are a lot of opinions out there on how to learn a second (or third, or fourth) language. While there are likely some that are a bit more misguided than they are helpful, for the most part they’re all valid as long as they help you reach your goal. In all my time researching languages, studying all the ways people acquire languages, talking to successful polyglots and becoming one myself, I’ve noticed a common thread that runs alongside all the success stories – including my own.
The common denominator was that regardless of the learning methods people used, all of them adhered in one way or another to these six key principles. No matter what your personal study method is applying these six pieces of advice will go a long way to making you another one of the success stories.
Benny the Irish Polyglot from over at Fluent in 3 Months has just announced a new, free, open-source tool called Learning With Texts or LWT. I could explain exactly what it is, but Benny does it better, so go ahead and check out the demo video below.
“Don’t think. Feel. It is like a finger pointing out to the Moon, don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” – Bruce Lee
It might surprise some to learn that, in addition to arguably being the greatest martial artist that ever lived, Bruce Lee was a philosophy major. His writings, heavily reflecting both his love of martial arts and his love of philosophy, are widely regarded as some of the best on martial philosophy. However, for some reason people often fail to see the applications outside of martial arts.
So what other areas of life can we apply this to?
Tons of people every year decide they want to learn to speak a second language and every year they inevitably decide to do the one thing that will guarantee that they’ll never be successful – they study that language. I’ll pause for a second to allow for shocked gasps….
I know it seems counter-intuitive – particularly in a culture that forces everyone to spend at least the first 18 years of their lives constantly studying things – but the only way you can do more harm to your goal of fluently speaking a language than studying it is to never start learning at all. Thankfully, there is an easy way to reach fluency and it doesn’t involve countless hours slaving over a textbook, slamming your forehead into mile long vocab lists or parroting back sentences off of a CD.
What is it? We’ll get to that shortly. First, I want you to meet Maria.
Maria was a student I had as an ESL teacher a while back. To be polite I’ve changed her name, but Maria held a very high position in the Venezuelan branch of a large international corporation and had been studying English for years. The problem was, she still couldn’t speak it.
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