I get to write another post on Monday, which I guess is a perfect habit to start off a new week. What I’ve noticed is that when I write I can reflect more precisely on what I’ve been thinking or doing lately. It also allows me to organise a number of scattered pieces of knowledge into one component that when applied, produces certain results. In this case it’s the ability of speaking a foreign language.
The right attitude
To start with, many people and friends have said that I have a talent for learning languages. I do not agree with that and I always tell them that they also have the talent but they are just not aware of it yet. To me learning languages is like brushing teeth or a daily newspaper. The former, each and everyone of us does repeatedly every day, because we have automated it to the degree that we do not even think whether we shall do it or not, it’s just done to us. Yes, you have read correctly “it’s done to us”, that’s how I label habituated mechanisms. If you remember something from grammar lessons at school, it’s the “passive voice” – the action, therefore, is not active anymore. However, the latter is a perfect analogy that the daily newspaper has to come out every day. There is no room for excuses and procrastination, it has to be released daily. Now as you know my own attitude for learning languages I could stop writing the post here and not really add anything more. However, the truth is that next to the proper attitude there are also tools and strategies that I use to help me.
In this instalment I will be focusing merely on to the strategies. For the inventory of tools I will write a separate article as it’s more elaborate and in this part I want to concentrate on the mental aspect of learning.
The perfect example here are children who learn without knowing about any strategy and they are the ones actually getting the results. You see, because I know people who have been learning a language in school for 10 years and they still cannot speak it. Yes, they have been told that they do not have the genetics to acquire another language. How ridiculous it sounds . . . Just stop for a moment and think about it, a child has an environment where he or she gets stimulated constantly. it’s not any different than a plant, which to grow needs to get the sun and water. So then, the first and most important strategy is to learn passively and create an environment because it’s your brain that is learning and not you.
Finally, last but not least is the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle. it says that roughly in 80% of the situations we would use 20% of the most common vocabulary. Let me illustrate it for you: if you are a lawyer, a doctor or an engineer. More often than not the odds are, you are using specific vocabulary to the respected field you are in. Nevertheless, for majority of the time you do not communicate with your friends or relatives using the specific jargon. Therefore, knowing the most common 1000 words is sufficient (from my own personal experience) to communicate on a social level. As a tip for you that saved me a lot of time. If you go to Google and type, i.e. “1000 most common Spanish words“, you are going to get plenty of results with such resources. Now, just put the words in to the context, listen to it and repeat every day and you will have already covered 80% of the language. Believe me, I know how to do it because I have my results. It’s that easy.
If I can help you with any other aspects of learning, please leave a comment below.
Good luck, stay strong and never give up.