by Robbie Kunz
Many people believe that learning a language has to be painful. The truth is, it’s possible to learn a language in a fun manner and also, learning a language in a fun way will bring you a lot further than forcing yourself to do things that are painful.
I have tried to do things the painful route. When I was learning French, I thought that if I bought a textbook, sat down and went through each chapter in a linear manner doing every exercise afterwards, that I would soon be fluent. What actually happened was that I soon grew bored and tired from having to complete every exercise at the end of the chapter, many of which were highly repetitive.
Even when I decided that I would only do every other exercise, it was still painful. Soon enough, I was dreading having to go through the next part in the textbook or having to do the next exercise since it was just too boring.
As a result, I began to study less and less and grew more and more disheartened with French. Clearly, forcing yourself to do something not fun will result in these types of feelings. Nobody wants to do something they don’t like.
So, what is the solution? The solution is simply to do only fun things in the language. What do I mean by fun things? For each person, what is “fun” is, of course, different but what I mean is, studying a language shouldn’t be going through a boring textbook.
Instead, studying a language could mean watching movies in the foreign language or reading novels that one already enjoys reading in English. It could mean listening to music, playing video games, talking to speakers of the foreign language, watching TV or even reading comic books.
The point is, as long as it’s fun to you, you will want to continue doing it. The longer you continue to “work” in your foreign language, the more practice you will get and the more you will learn. This is the key to making great gains in a foreign language.
If you force yourself to sit down with a boring textbook or even an audio program, you will soon run out of steam, become bored and will find yourself studying less and less and at more infrequent intervals. Soon enough, your language learning materials will find themselves at the back of your closet and in some months, you will have forgotten all the progress you had made!
If, on the other hand, you continue to do things that interest you and make you want to continue, it will be more likely that you continue to “study” day after day. As long as you keep at it, your ability in the language will begin to grow.
By mining new words from these activities and doing the repetitions in your note card program, you will be sure to learn new words and gain the new structure in the language.
At no point should you be forcing yourself into doing anything painful like reading grammar explanations or doing repetitive exercises in the back of a book. This will only lead to you wanting to stop. Watching your favorite movies in the foreign language, on the other hand, will make you want to continue.
If you’re a beginner in a new language, you might be wondering how to start this process. It may feel a bit daunting to just jump into a new language looking at materials that native speakers use such as full novels.
Jump into the next lesson to learn how to use textbooks to your advantage as a beginner learner!
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