“The right mindset? What do you mean?”
Going back to the first language you have learned in this life, it wasn’t really your choice to learn it. At least not at the beginning. All the people around you used that particular language, so, this was your only option.
Let’s stay at this certain time of your life a little bit longer. How did you learn it? Where you reading books? Have you worked yourself through thousand of exercises? Did you visit a classroom program? I don’t know how you grew up, but during my first years, I definitely wasn’t attending language courses. For me, my parents, my sister and my relatives taught me it.
And how did they taught me the language?
They talked with me, they showed me things and repeated the words of those objects as often as possible. They corrected me when I was wrong, they tried to be creative, they wanted to make me smile! And you know that! You do not want to be that creepy person that can not hold on to the child for more than a minute until it is crying for her mother.
How did you learn your second language?
My second language is English. I had to learn it at school. I repeat: I HAD TO LEARN IT AT SCHOOL! SCHOOL. 30 pupils, one overstrained teacher, 31 tables, one board, a few windows and a door. Every room looks the same, the teaching methods are from before the war. Modern technology? What is that?
How do they tried to teach me the language? They gave me books, exercises, vocabulary tests in front of the class and a lot of homework. Well, sounds like a really good plan to motivate a child for learning a language! Good job, guys!
Do you see the difference already?
Why did it worked so well with my first language, but not with the second one?
Because of the approach? Because of my mindset? Because of my lack of motivation? Because it was just the wrong way? The wrong attitude towards language learning?
If you want to open a new chapter in your life and add a new language to your portfolio of skills, you should have the right mindset. Therefore, we will tackle this skillset today.
What is a language?
A language is a way of communication, if another human being or a computer “speaks” the same language as you do, you can have a conversation and actually “talk” with each other.
If you want to be able to speak a new language, you should focus on speaking, writing and listening. That is not new for you! Everybody speaks about that, but which mindset do you need? Nobody tells you that.
I personally struggled in English at school a lot, not because I am stupid, even though I was getting this feedback from school, but because nobody taught me that lesson on having the right mindset.
The mindset for acquiring a language
A language is more than the sum of it words. You shouldn’t just learn a language like they are teaching you at school! You should learn the language like you have learned your first language! You already did it once, it worked! Why don’t you stick to this method?
Learn a language like a child!
Word <–> Object
An apple is not an apple. An apple is a thing that grows on a tree, it can be green, it can be red, you can eat it and you can make juice out of it. If you want to learn the German word for an apple, then the word ist “Apfel”, “ein Apfel”. So, what are you doing next? If you have already read the second episode of this series, you would start with making a story for remembering it and making the connection to the English word. But how have you done this as a child? There was no word you already knew! Therefore, you made a connection between the object and the word. And this is the second thing you should remember from this episode. Do not make a primary connection between words, but between the word and the object. If “ein Apfel” is the object in your mind and not the “apple”, then you do not need to translate between languages. The advantages are obvious! You are much faster and you do not need the second language. But where is this leading to? This is leading to the possibility, to get into the “enter the language you want to learn” mode.
The hours count
Language learning is like going to work. The hours count! Going back into your youth, they didn’t stopped after 20 minutes of speaking. They pushed through! You pushed through! So, YOU NEED TO DO THIS AS WELL! Push through! 20 minutes a day is good, but not enough! I want you to understand that! If you really want to acquire a language! And we are talking about never ever forgetting it! We are not talking about doing Spanish for 3 years and losing 95 % of it in the first half year after stoping. Then you need to invest time!
But of course! You don’t have time! I know! So here is what I have done. You are old enough to decide on your own, if this language thing is really something for you, or not. I don’t care!
You like watching TV? Good news! Your homework is exactly that! You can watch as much TV as you want to! But, and this is the only rule! It needs to be in the language you are learning! Starting from today! You watch everything you are watching in this language! You are at the beginning and do not understand a single word? No problem, just watch it! Subtitels are not allowed, by the way! I want you to focus on the way of speaking, not following the text in your language and neither see what they are talking about, nor having a great time.
You like reading? Good news! From now on, you can read as much as you want to! But, and this is the only rule! It is in your new language! This is unfair? Well, its effective as well!
Do you like listening to podcasts? Good news! You are allowed to listen to as much podcasts as you can! But, and this is the only rule! It will be in your new language!
Discover the child in yourself!
Your learning strategy needs to look like the daily life of a little kid. The following points need to be considered!
- You are curious!
- You want to have fun!
- You are getting bored pretty fast!
- You are changing from one thing to the other in a split second!
- You are instinct driven!
- You life in the present!
- You play all day long!
- You cry if it is getting difficult, throw that stupid thing a way and go on doing something else!
Think in your new language!
If you dream in the new language, you are making it right! Your mind shouldn’t need to switch between different languages! You are creating a new language mode, that is activated every time you are hearing, reading, or talking that language. The goal is to get into the language mode a little bit quicker than the last time.
At the beginning I needed proper 20 minutes. Nowadays I do not even recognize the language change. If I watch something in German or in English while being distracted, I can not tell you which language it was. My mind is doing the change in an instant. And, let’s be really honest! You can ask my former English teachers if you want to, if I can do this, than you can do this as well! I am one of the most untalented guys if we are talking about classical “school” language learning.
The sky is the limit! You start today with what? With nothing! Today, you awake the child in yourself! And tomorrow, you start to learn the new language in the way, a child would learn it. If you be creative! And I mean, in the way I was talking about in episode 2. Than you can do this!
Let the new language become a part of yourself! Invite it into your life and you will see, it soon will become a part of you!
See you next time!