How do you learn a language? This question begs another question. Why have some many people tried to learn a language and failed? To me, the answer is obvious. I have learned and taught languages in Europe for years. The answer is twofold.
• The most important reason why people do not learn language is self perception.
• The second reason is an efficient method.
motivation and Self perception
People do not think they themselves have language ability. This is the idea that some people are gifted in languages and some are not. Further, there are those gifted that can just meet a language.
This is wrong.
I have taught 100s and 100s s of students in classes and one on one, for many years. There sometimes is a difference in language ability but it is marginal at best, really in my view there are no differences. In the 1000s of students I have taught I have never, ever once met someone who just picked up a language. Not once.
motivation and two false heroes
Two people initially impressed me. I met this Scotsman who claimed he just picked up Polish because it was in the air. He told all the girls this as well as others. Many were impressed. I checked the facts. Well I found out he studied Russian for 15 years and had a PhD in Slavic languages, further he lived in Poland for 5 years worked at a language school, taking classes off and on. To me that is not picking up a language because he has a gift, that was 20 years of study. I met a Polish girl who claimed she was gifted in languages because her English was quite good and better than those in her class. I asked her when she started studying. She said she started private lessons at age 5. She was 25. That is not a gift that is 20 years of study.
What older Polish truck drivers can teach you about languages
One group of students was older Polish truck drivers. They wanted to learn English and French to drive in the EU. Jobs were better paid then in Poland. Most of these guys finished high school 20 years before. They were not thinking so abstractly like, I can learn or I cannot learn. They knew they had to learn to put bread on the tables for their families. You know what. They were able to learn English. If they can learn English you can learn the language of your choice. It’s all about motivation and the belief you can. If you think you can you can. If you think you cannot, you cannot.
Musically gifted people and Language learning motivation
Some people are gifted in music, usually musicians, they just have an ear for it.
Ok I will tell you about two friends of mine. Both equally talented musicians. They are married. Mark and Marta. Marta is a gifted musician, but can barely form an English sentence. Her husband Mark is equally gifted in music but is fluent in English. They are both non native speakers of English. The only difference is Mark studies English and Marta does only from time to time. Both are musicians with a natural ear for music, but again neither one can meet languages because it’s in the air. One studies and learns the other does not study and does not learn. Learning a language is about studying.
How to learn a language and Language learning motivation
To learn a language set you expectations low. In one year you can speak a language to a reasonable degree if you study hard, but no one just picks up a language. Even little children are only saying a few words after 2 years of immersion in a language.
What is my point. You have the gift to learn languages, even if you are dyslexic or, cannot spell, bad with languages or really think you are . You do not.
Language is something different then say a talent for basketball or physics.
How? Language is something ever human was built to do. It is part of our brain hardware. Physics and basketball is not. Even those who struggle with bellow average IQ or intelligence speak languages. Our brains were not built for basketball, but all of us can speak a language.
A friend of mine had an IQ measured in high school at 89. Yes his IQ was 89. However, he was fluent in 5 languages and spoke another 5 language at a good level. He also had language and speech problems. He spoke slow and people called him names growing up. He was my personal friend. And he did speak 10 languages. He just loved languages. If he could do this , you can learn one language.