“Are we nearly there yet?” Or as German children would shout “Sind wir bald da?” (Make sure you read this sentence in a really whiny voice!)
If you have ever been in a car with young children, you are most likely familiar with this cry, often after only a few minutes’ drive.
The same applies to language learning. People start learning a new language and often immediately – or even before they start – they ask “How long before I am fluent in the new language?”
Most people see language learning as a journey from A to B, where B is the end goal of a particular exam or level.
But language learning shouldn’t be like a race from A to B, it should be like a lovely walk in a beautiful area.
A few weeks ago my daughter told me about a hike she and her partner did. It was supposed to be a 3 hour walk, but it took them 5 hours, because they enjoyed the views so much and took so many photos.
And that’s how language learning should be. Not a quick run through the park but a walk where you stop all the time, come off the path, see some pretty flowers, hear some birds, stop for a coffee, find out what those flowers or trees are called.
For language learners that means to find other resources to complement your textbook or app (or whatever you are using to learn the new language). Watch a silly video, find easy texts to read, look up interesting words you’ve found, find some games or even extra grammar exercises to reinforce your newly learned grammar. Have that coffee break as well ☺
It also doesn’t mean that once you’ve walked through that park, you shouldn’t go there again. On the contrary, go again, take a different path and explore where that takes you. Or take the same route and enjoy that you know your way.
Of course, there are times when you might have to rush through your learning. Then you will need to race from A to B. But once you have reached your goal, don’t stop, because you are “there”. Take your time to reinforce what you have learned and then explore further. Use your new language to watch new films, read new books or websites, meet new people or whatever else you like to do.
Incorporate your new language and enjoy it!