A madman's guide to learning languages
If anyone is interested, here are a few tips I've learned from learning multiple languages.
Don't be afraid to make mistakes!! Being a perfectionist, this is a tough one to follow.
Try not to continually stress about the micro details and let your natural cognition do the work for you. I'm not saying not to research or understand grammar. Eventually the language will "sound" right after hearing it enough times.
Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice,... If you're like me and have a touch of OCD, this is feels very natural to do. But again, try not to beat yourself up if you don't get it right the first time (or the second, third, fourth...)
Try not to choose a language based difficultly. Instead choose one on how much you are interested in the culture and/or history of the language. I assure you this will sustain motivation better than difficulty.
Combine listening, writing and reading exercises. I've simultaneously been doing Pimsleur's French and it's been really helpful to solidify the concepts introduced by Duolingo. I've also been reading French children's books (Le Petit Prince!) and French news. These will help expose you to current vocabulary. And finally, of course, find a native speaker that has patience. :-)
Remember, this is only the beginning! Now I LOVE Duolingo, but it's not a complete picture of these languages. It's only an introduction to concepts. Learning a language takes a lifetime! So no need to stress about rushing to that trophy at the end. Pace yourself and enjoy the process!
Good luck! And most importantly (in my opinion), have fun!!
I'm officially "recovered" from OCD. But, I still have flare ups. I wish it helped my learning. I find mainly that it is a big hindrance and hardly let's me get anything of value done (my hands don't cooperate when I'm under pressure to get something just right.) That anxiety in turn clouds my ability to remember what I am trying to methodically write down.
Any tips for how you manage on the bad days?
I can relate with all of that. On my bad days I am really hard on myself for making careless mistakes (and I make lots of them). I usually have to, with force, tear myself away from learning and give myself a break. I'll go for a walk, eat some peanuts, watch cat videos, play with rocks, stare into space, etc. I'm continually reminding myself that there is not real trophy in the end and that I am learning for enjoyment. It sounds silly I know. In the end, I find it incredibly rewarding when I understand a foreign conversation, can read a foreign text or even pick out which languages is spoken/written. That is what keeps me going! (And to be able to one day order Pannenkoeken (Dutch pancakes) in Dutch.)
Thank you. That sounds like a wonderful system.
I was trying to make Japanese conjugation cards yesterday. I ended up making 8 compact little glossaries before giving up studying that day. (It was after finding a mistake part way through inking the 8th one. It was a lot of information to keep trying to rewrite :P)
I found your reply to be very encouraging. I think I will make another one today, but if I make an error, I will ignore it. I already know how to spot and correct them at this stage. I just need a kitchen reminder card to make up sentences utilizing different conjugations.
Ps i love throwing rocks and skipping them too :D
Pannenkoeken? All of the N's make me imagine a lot of honey xD!! yum.
It was from the Japanese that I got my most comforting advice during the years that I was busy with crafts (sewing, knitting, painting etc.) Apparently, Japanese artists and craftspeople purposely make a mistake in their work, to give it an authentic "human" touch. So, if I made a mistake in a pattern or something, I would silently thank the Japanese for their wisdom, and just leave it alone. No-one but me ever really noticed it. I could add some American advice, "Try for excellence, not perfection."
That's really beautiful, and helpful. Thank you for sharing that. I plan to keep that on my mind. :)
Yes to all of this! Once I let go of the need to get everything perfect first time, my Italian really started improving at a massive rate. You can't get upset over every little mistake because they will definitely happen.
I also can't stress how important the role of personal motivation in language learning is. You must find out what can change your state of mind into one where you want to learn or at least revise. In my case this involves drinking a lot of water (I have no idea why).
The very first time I put on skis, I climbed to the top of the baby slope, carrying the new wooden skis, put them on, faced down the hill and went whoosh straight down and through the fence at the bottom breaking a ski. But what a fabulous feeling, and as I took those first tottering steps it stayed with me. But once I learnt to ski that intense sense of excitement disappeared. Whenever I am learning something new I now know, you can never replicate that sense of excitement and achievement that comes with the first faltering steps, the first time you can read a public sign, that you ask for information, that you understand the person in the ticket office. So now I really enjoy those first steps knowing that once mastered that particular joy and sense of achievement will disappear.