Stop Trying To Learn Languages Faster! (Seriously…)

This post is long overdue, but it is certainly necessary. If you are reading this post, I am assuming you are what I call a ‘long-haul’ language learner. This means that you have committed to a long term relationship with your language either for several years or till you’re buried in the ground.

“Why are you telling me this?!” asks the slightly confused reader.

Well, I say this because I want long haul language learners to understand something important.

There are essentially two major kinds of language learners, those who are learning a language for a short term purpose (like short term travel) and those who learn for long term purposes (like to work as a translator or moving to a new country). First category language learners are the learners who have no long term interest in the language. Their main interest is to learn as much of the language they need to survive for a short period of time, then when they return home they will promptly forget the language

These are the only language learners who have legitimate cause to learn a language quickly. Let me say that again. These are the ONLY language learners who have a good reason to learn a language quickly. If you are a long haul learner, you do not have any reason to learn a language or languages quickly.

Learning a language fast implies that there is an end. If you are a long haul learner and speak to some translators, they will tell you there is no definitive point where they  became a fluent speaker, they are constantly learning and growing their language skills everyday, and always encounter some new material they must learn. Just like in your native language, your language learning didn’t stop after you learned to speak fluent English around the age of 5 or 6 and it doesn’t end at 20 or eve 30. You are always learning even your own language. There is no end to language learning, so STOP RUSHING! You’re only crippling yourself.

If you really want to learn a language more efficiently focus on improving your language learning methods to increase RETENTION not speed. If you half-ass your way through your studies (not saying that all of you do) then you will forget what you learn, causing your language acquisition to take longer. You’ll have to keep going back to review what you forgot everytime. Who has time for that foolishness?! Despite what is being marketed to you all over the internet, you can’t really become fluent in a language in three months (especially Asian languages). Unless, of course, it is your job to learn languages and you don’t do much of anything else with your time. That rules out more than half the population there! Language learning is a skill, and like any other skill, it takes more than 5 minutes a day to get good at. You must work hard, toil at understanding grammar and vocabulary and learn through mistakes.

Language learning is a journey and there is no end. So stop rushing yourself, comparing yourself and putting yourself down because there are still things you cannot express. This is normal and even expected. So take your time, learn things deeply and make the most out of your language learning instead of trying to race to the bottom.

 

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