The Key to Language Learning is the Method, Not the Individual

I'm not good at language learning. It's the method. And that method can be copied.  

I’m really good at writing my own bio. It seems really impressive and all – speaks five languages on a good day depending on where I am.  But I was never good at languages.  When I was 12 to 14, 15, I had to study Spanish and I was terrible.  I couldn’t string sentences together.  I couldn’t have any type of conversation and I concluded that I was bad at languages, like everybody else on the planet just about.  


And it wasn’t until I was forced as an exchange student in Japan – my first time abroad – to learn Japanese using comic books and judo textbooks because I had no choice.  Then I started looking at language learning differently.  And then Japanese, because it was my grand experiment – I was just throwing everything against the wall to see what stuck – took me a year to get to the point where I could speak, read and write Japanese fluently.  

Then the second time I applied the method that I thought I’d figured out it took six months with Mandarin Chinese.  Again, speaking, reading, writing.  Then with German – refined, refined, refined – took three months.  And then refined, refined, refined – ended up in Argentina and I met my arch nemesis again, Spanish, and it took eight weeks to get the most advanced level of the University of Buenos Aires testing.  So it’s not because – I don’t want to impress people by saying that.  I want to impress upon them that it is the method; it’s not me.  And that method can be copied.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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