When we decide to learn a new language, we’re often encouraged by those who say, “It’s an easy language to learn” or “I picked up the language in just a month!”
Sadly, however, it’s not quite that simple. The ease and speed with which you’re able to “pick up” a new language all depends on your goals. If your only aim is to learn some basic “survival language” to function on the street, that’s certainly easy enough; you’ll likely be able to achieve your goal in a very short time with very little effort. But if your motivation is to truly master the language in order to enjoy authentic communication with those around you, then you’re embarking on a much longer and more arduous journey.
WHY IS THE JOURNEY TO TRUE LANGUAGE FLUENCY SLOW?
Because, as modern educational research has shown, mastery of a language requires more than just language lessons. It requires that you actively USE the language you learn – that you constantly PRACTICE your new language skills through one-on-one interaction outside the classroom - and that entails many more hours than those spent in the classroom.
A language teacher may be able to quickly ‘deliver information’ to you in a classroom, but it takes time for that information to become fully entrenched in your mind. If you expect your new language to “stick,” then you must be willing to take what you learn in each lesson and put it to IMMEDIATE USE in your daily social and business life outside of class time.
SO, WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO ACHIEVING LANGUAGE FLUENCY IN THE SHORTEST POSSIBLE TIME?
1. You need to commit to a FREQUENT and CONSISTENT lesson schedule.
FREQUENCY. If you can, we suggest that you commit to 5 lessons a week, Monday through Friday. If your working life makes this impossible, then 3 lessons per week is ideal. (Of course, you can take just 2 lessons per week, but this will substantially slow down your progress, so we recommend that this schedule only be considered if absolutely necessary.)
CONSISTENCY. Whatever the schedule you set up, it’s imperative that you commit to your lesson schedule and keep ‘missed lessons’ to a bare minimum. If you go weeks without studying and then cram hours of lessons into a short window, you’re only doing a disservice to yourself.
You won’t have sufficient time between classes to practice new language learned in each lesson, and, as a consequence, the information won’t “stick.” Moreover, when there are long lapses between your lessons, the majority of each lesson will be spent reviewing previously-taught lessons rather than learning new material.
If you’re like most students, this will result in little or no progress being made, and will lead to you losing your motivation and, perhaps, even giving up on the language.
2. You need to commit to USING the language every day.
Remember : your ability to attain language fluency quickly does NOT rest on the shoulders of your teacher. Acquiring a language rapidly is the sole responsibility of YOU, the student.
After each and every lesson, it’s YOUR JOB to put your new language skills to immediate use in your daily life, so that the language becomes fully entrenched in your mind. If you don’t do this, you’ll see little or no progress. Your lessons will come and go, with most of what you’ve learned being lost and forgotten.
If you commit to a consistent class regimen of lessons; and if, after each class, you commit to immediately USING all new language learned in your daily life; then you’ll reach your goals relatively quickly.
WHY SHOULD YOU PUT IN ALL THIS EFFORT AND SUBJECT YOURSELF TO OCCASIONAL FRUSTRATION? BECAUSE THE END RESULT IS WORTH IT!
To accomplish anything meaningful, we all must deal with the hard work and frustration that comes with it. If it were to come easily to us, then we wouldn’t be growing - we wouldn’t be challenging ourselves enough. This can certainly be said for language learning.
But the rewards for your labour will make it all worthwhile!
As we all know, a ‘language’ carries with it a ‘culture.’ The fundamental attitudes and philosophies of a culture are deeply embedded in the language used by its people to express themselves. It’s often been said that “Learning the language of a culture offers us a new way to look at the world.”
What greater joy could there possibly be than learning to truly communicate with – and truly enjoy - the people of another culture?
Selamat belajar, happy studying!