Classes are the engine, something that helps you, guides you and pushes you forward. Classes help you to stay on track, they guide you when you get lost or puzzled, they show you a shorter way. But if you don’t add the fuel on your side, it can get you so far. Doing things outside the class is crucial for a fast progress. Just like in the gym: no training program can outweigh horrible eating habits and undo the damage done in the kitchen, outside the gym. And if you’ve eaten the whole cake every day before bedtime, the mirror will reflect it!
But what’s the analogue of a good diet when it co.mes to learning a language?
Do not underestimate the power of the songs sung in the language in question. I remind you that originally the poetry and all that bards phenomenon appeared as a tool to transmit and preserve the information, legends, stories and so on. The rhythm is very powerful, and from the songs you will pick up the whole structures, useful sentences, and verbal tenses.
And well, this is the only case when i may even approve the horrible pop music and its sticky everything, haha!
Seriously. Get some books for kids. They’re very good when it comes to explaining difficult things in a simple way. Children don’t think of the grammar or how silly they sound or about the mistakes they’ll make. They just speak. They just pick up the language. And they just state some questions, like “Why is the grass of a green colour?”. And they manage to learn much more about the world around them than the adults do.
And what do these folks read? You got that: books for children.
These books use some basic language that is easy to pick up and that will allow you to hold a basic conversation, and they also speak of some very common and ubiquitous things, which means that it will cover the basic range of subjects you may need to talk about.
Buy a bunch of post-its and flood your living space with them. Open a dictionary, find the definitions of everything in your place and stick a sticker saying “Chair” at your chair, “Fridge” on your fridge and so on. Don’t underestimate the power of repetition and visuals around you. It’s for a reason the PR agents get so annoying and don’t really care if you just skip their ads, right?
Find movies, YouTube channels, podcasts and so on of your interest. Surround yourself with the language. I strongly recommend watching the movies you already know in the language in question. Because you already know what’s gonna happen, it is a good way to concentrate on the language itself. And I wouldn’t suggest you to turn on the subs. Really. It deteriorates your progress, if you ask me.
I’ve managed to learn 7 languages, so trust me, I know what I’m talking about: 10 minutes a day can
do much more than 2 hours a week. Do at least SOMETHING daily. Something is always better than nothing. Just something! It will be MUCH more efficient than sitting 2 hours in a row once per week.
This is how the human brain works: you have to annoy it with repetitions, otherwise that lazy
bastard won’t make an effort to retain the information.
There will be times when you’ll think that this is impossible and when you’ll want to quit.
Just keep going. It doesn’t happen overnight, and a hard effort always pays off.
Remind yourself all the benefits a new language will give you. Always remember WHY you started learning a new language. Set a tangible goal. Maybe you want to move to London? Or The Sweet California? Or your dream job requires these language skills?
Don’t try to embrace everything at once, you will collapse. Break the amount of work you need to do into smaller blocks. One step at a time, this is the main key to success in pretty much everything. Remember that today you know a bit more than yesterday, and don’t get upset that you still can’t produce a complex speech for the courtroom.
Any big and impressive building is built of a lot of small bricks.