Learning a foreign language is all about time!
Today I have the pleasure of publishing a guest post from Wojtek Ryrych, a long-time reader of my blog and a frequent commenter. He already contributed an article to the blog a few weeks ago when I published an e-mail from him about a great dual language Polish-English reader that he had recently bought.
Wojtek is a web developer and designer. You can visit his website at ryrych.pl, which is still under construction but he hopes something will appear there soon. As the saying goes, "The cobbler's children have no shoes." :-)
In this short article I would like to share some things with you that many of you probably haven't thought about. I'll tell you a particular truism.
Here it is:
To achieve success you have to practice.
Practice a lot. Some people claim that you have to devote 10,000 hours.
Is it true? Read on!
What? I have to spend 10 years to learn?!
10,000 hours is a lot of time. It's 3 hours a day for 10 years.
The 10,000 hour principle, let's call it "from zero to hero," was described among other things in the book "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell. The principle is nothing but putting the old adage "practice makes perfect" into a specific time frame.
An amateur is different from a professional in that, the latter put enough time into the study of his field. The field actually doesn't matter. And everyone can achieve a success! Even you.
But there is no escape. There is no shortcut. There is no such thing as "3 months to fluency" – at least not from zero.
But I have some good news for you! 80% of the desired goal can be achieved faster than you think.
The Pareto Principle
80/20 – remember this principle well! It will surely come in handy in many fields of your life.
Not going into the details, the principle says that 80% of a goal can be achieved with 20% of the effort. Commerce is the classic example – 20% of our customers provide us with 80% of our income. Simple? Simple! And how true!
It becomes very interesting in our case. You can achieve 80% of language fluency - not in 10 thousand hours - but in what seems achievable to everyone: in 2-3 years, depending on the time you put in.
Want proof? Here you go! David Snopek. :)
Wait, wait, I’ve been learning for 10 years and don't know anything!
I gave up after two weeks!
There is also one thing you must know. You have to know how to start. If you've just begun and have decided to spend 2-3 hours a day to learn a new skill (not only language), know that there's a 90% chance that you'll give up after a short time.
This is natural and I have been through it many times. But I have a solution for you.
Small steps - even smaller steps than you're thinking - can make a big impact. :)
It's an old and reliable method. Used by the masters. There is also one and important virtue that relates to this principle: patience.
I know that it's rather difficult to have patience nowadays, in the era of the internet and Google. I'm still learning it. But it is patience that will help you to slow down because the temptation to achieve success faster will be huge.
The matter is simple. Even when it comes to languages. Because if you're starting from zero you will not last 2 hours a day (unless you have experience). Spend half an hour, or 20 minutes.
Choose a goal. I will learn these 2000 basic words not in 3, but in 6 months. Took 8? No problem! Later you can gradually increase the time.
To achieve success in life, changes have to be introduced gradually. Slower than you were just thinking. :)
This is another matter. They are professionals. If you think that they have supernatural skills, you are wrong. It's the huge amount of time they have put in that differentiates them from ordinary language enthusiasts. It is their whole life and way of earning money.
Could I learn 10 languages? Of course! And so could you! But I won't do it because I don't want to.
Languages are not my only hobby. If I stopped developing as a web designer/developer, gave up my interest in politics and other hobbies and spent my whole day on languages, I could become one of them!
Everyone has a choice. There is only one day. It is all about time.
I trust I didn't discourage you. In fact, I believe I've raised your spirits!
Because everyone can learn a foreign language, irrespective of age. Any of us can achieve success. Success is practice and requires time.
Don't you sometimes think it would be good to put aside that television show or movie at night and do something that will bring you closer to success?
About the author
Wojciech Ryrych is a self-directed learner who loves learning new things. Although he's still brushing up on his English, he would like to learn at least German and Russian.
Today he would like to tell you: read language blogs, cause it's not worth reinventing the wheel!
What do you think of Wojtek's article? Do you agree? How important has time been in your language learning? Write a comment below!