You need to nurture and apply many different skills when you’re learning a new language:
• Memory – to retain all those new words, sentence structures and grammar rules that the teacher taught you.
• Note-taking – to write down all those insights, tips and bits of knowledge you want to review later on.
• Intuition and critical thinking – to be able to sense tone, understand context and sometimes work out what words mean without having heard them before.
• And more…
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In our view, however, there are two skills which trump both of these. Without these two things you couldn’t possibly hope to master a new language; not even in your dizziest daydreams. What are they? Patience, and persistence.
⌛ “Patience” – What are we referring to?
We are sure you’re familiar at least with the notion of patience, but how does it apply to language learning? That’s a fair question.
Patience has become so important to emphasize in language learning because more and more people begin a second-language journey, only to grow exasperated by their apparent lack of progress. The problem lies with many learners’ expectations. They see people in TV shows and movies gaining fluency in quick fashion, sometimes supported with a good old-fashioned montage.
The reality of language learning is very different. It’s a long and sometimes wearing process that requires dozens, even hundreds of tiny steps taken a small number at a time over weeks, months, and years. It’s the process of finishing a 10,000-piece jigsaw, or assembling an intricate model of a ship or plane. It takes time, and it takes patience.
🤔 “Persistence” – What are we referring to?
Going hand in hand with the requirement of patience is persistence. What we mean is the sheer will and determination to go on. It is persistence that will help to fuel your patience, and as patience grows, so too does your capacity to persist.
Persistence in language learning means being able to carry on even when you’re making mistakes; to open your books every day and add some new words to your vocabulary; to try out new phrases with your native-speaker teacher; to use the language in a natural or everyday situation and feel good about it.
💡 Are these two things really the “most important”?
One might contend that memory is a more important skill since language learning involves a lot of recall. We don’t deny the importance of memory, but without the patience and determination to start the process of remembering things you’ve learned, what good is having a keen memory?
Patience and persistence will manifest in many forms in your second-language journey.
• They give you the ability to see your mistakes as learning opportunities. Patience allows you not to lose your cool, and persistence gives you the will to push forward past the error and to the valuable teachable moment.
• Patience is also the ability to learn and re-learn the same words and sentence structures over and over again without losing it. It’s very rare for new words to just stick the first time you study them. Some points of the language you may forget along the way, and that means reviewing and refreshing vocabulary knowledge to help keep it at the forefront of your mind.
• Persistence is what keeps you on your path to a foreign language. Unlike its depiction in media, language learning is laborious and ongoing. The fact is that you’re never truly “done” with the experience. You may evolve past the need for formal classes, but you’re always learning and absorbing new turns of phrase, little linguistic insights and more. You have to maintain that slow burn of motivation for your entire life, lest you allow your newly acquired skills to slip back into nothing.
👋 Good teachers help you along the way!
These two qualities don’t have to be entirely self-generated. One good way to nurture patience and persistence is to enjoy learning with a professional and skilled native speaker teacher --- much like the ones you can find right here with us at LanguageConvo.
🎉 Get started!
Are you interested in really, finally learning a new language? Here at LanguageConvo we connect you with a professional, native-speaking teacher for affordable, customized private lessons. Get started with a 100% free trial lesson by clicking here.