This is the second lesson in a series called “Top 10 Tips to Pick Up a New Language“!
Today we look at the infamous FLUENCY myth, that so many get caught in when starting a new language.
Ideas such as “I want to be fluent in Italian in 2 years” don't serve you, because no human has that much endurance when doing something new.
We tend to check upon our progress way too often and what happens when you check two months in, six months in or 9 months in?
We are not fluent yet.
We want to minimize the risk that we might give up on our goal to speak that new language.
We should divide our big (scary) goal into smaller and very tangible goals with shorter time frames.
– By month 1 I want to be able to meet someone who speaks that language and exchange basic into and pleasantries.
– By month 3 I want to be able to talk about my passion (sports, fashion, whatever)
– By month 6 I want to be able to tell stories about my past, my childhood etc
and so on.
These smaller and achievable goals are vital for us to keep our motivation.
And they are simply better goals to have,anyway!
Well, that is the source of all problems for a language student. We tend to have this unrealistic notion of fluency that does not serve us.
No one is actually even “fluent” in their own native language, since there will always be fields and words that a person doesn't know.
And that's OK!
Our goal as language learners is to know and be good at the things that matter to us, the things that we are likely to talk about the most.
For native English speakers, languages have been divided into 5 categories (by the US Defence Institute), Category 1 languages being the easiest and quickest to learn, and Category 5 being the hardest and most time consuming.
According to this study, each category is paired with a number of hours of focused study needed to be able to hold a job in that language (that's a very high level) .
Regardless of the Category of your language, you can see that all languages are achievable.
For Italian this number is between 500 and 600 hours (depending on the student).
That's just 2 hours a day for a full year.
One hour a day for less than 2 years.
Not bad, right?
I've been studying for more than a year and my level is nowhere near that.
I hear you.
My challenge to you is, were you putting in two hours of focused study?
Were you being exposed to a variety of interesting materials that helped you develop the necessary skills to both express yourself and understand the foreign language?
In most cases, it is our method that fails us. Not our commitment.
But that's for another lesson!
You too can learn and master a foreign language. I am 100% sure of that.
I hope I can help you with the Italian language.