I have been trying to learn several foreign languages and I have failed miserably over the last 13 years since I was 18-year-old. I can communicate effectively in Mandarin and English as I was exposed to these 2 languages since I was born. However, I have not been able to master a new tongue at a conversational level to date.
The desire to persist in the journey was reignited by a 70-year-old retired doctor who shared that he had read the bible in 4 foreign languages since his retirement. If he can do it at 70-year-old, I have 30+ years ahead of him to start learning more languages, that was what I thought to myself. Another impetus that I had in learning a foreign language is to better empathise with the struggles of my students whom I am teaching mandarin to.
Over the years, I have reflected upon the reasons why my language acquisition plans had not panned out and I think I am equipped with better self-awareness to make this plan a success eventually.
I am really happy that I chanced upon this video on YouTube which I think is an excellent resource to help one stays on track in learning a foreign language. I have come across other YouTube videos by other teachers but I think this is my favourite thus far.
The following are the notes that I have summarised from watching the YouTube video 3 times. I am also glad to share that the teacher has a blog post that is the transcript of his video here.
1. Imagine your way to fluency
- “If you know your whys, you can discover your hows.” – Luca Lampariello
- However, the why can be inaccessible to beginner language learners at the early stage. Therefore, we have to borrow the whys from the Power of Visualisation.
- Visualise how you can use your target language when u master it months or years down the road.
- Visualise the deep connections that you can form with native speakers.
- Think of the things you want to do when you become a skilled user of the new language. Visualise it every day before you hit the books.
- Summarise how you see yourself using the new language and write it down in 250-300 words. Put this descriptive visualisation paragraph beside u whenever you are studying the new language.
2. Focus on the systems rather than goals / Focus on the process rather than the reward/ Focus on getting things done!
- Ask yourself system based questions rather than goal-based questions
- E.g. Goal-Based Questions= When am I going to be fluent in that language? When can I start speaking it?
- E.g. System-Based Questions = When (which time of the day?) can I start learning the language? How much time can I devote to each session? How can I make it easier to start learning? How can I increase my motivation to learn the language?
- A system will lead to a schedule (e.g. learn the language for 30-45 mins every day) to get it done!
3. Aim for the Goldilock zone (not too hot, not too cold)/ The Al Dente Zone
- The learning materials should not be too easy or too difficult.
- Learning should be FUN and CHALLENGING. (On the topic of fun, it is something that I have been thinking about as my student had written an opinion piece recently here.)
4. Connect with Native Speakers
I like what the teacher had shared because he is a much more experienced learner of foreign languages than me. I was experiencing a lull period in practising the foreign language and his video caught my eyes on YouTube. After watching his video, I felt a renewed sense of energy to reinstate my learning plan again. He mentioned to re-assess the learning plan every 3 to 6 months and I think this was my biggest takeaway today!