Monday, June 18, 2012

Find your pace


Find Your Pace

If you are learning another language outside of the structure of a classroom, one important rule to remember is that you should proceed at your own pace. This does not mean that you should not schedule your time and follow that schedule! This does not mean that you should study whenever you feel like it! It means that you should not feel pressured into thinking that you only have one chance to digest the information in the lessons before moving on to the next lesson.

Allow me to explain this in further detail.


I listened to Pimsleur Mastering Mandarin Chinese, lesson one about seven times before moving on to lesson two. You read correctly SEVEN TIMES. Take into consideration that I already learned three languages before trying Chinese. So I am not a novice when it comes to language learning. The words, tones and sounds were so different from what I am used to, that it took me a very long time just to get it. Do I feel bad about myself? Do I feel like there is something wrong with me because I had to listen to lesson one SEVEN times before feeling comfortable enough to move on to lesson two? Hell No! If others can get it once or twice, good for them.  I do what is right for me.
 Never jump into the following lesson without having mastered the previous lesson. It will be a waste of your time. Follow the protocol. Do the lessons in order. Put one foot in front of the other. But do each lesson as many times as you need to before you feel comfortable moving on to the next lesson. That is what I mean by move at your own pace.

Do Not - I repeat – do not take this advice to mean, “Oh, Naomi says work at your own pace, therefore I will study whenever I feel like it.”

The key to language learning is regular repetition. I cannot count how many times I repeated French verb conjugations, articles and nouns. I cannot count every time I conjugated the same Italian verb in the Passato Prossimo or Future Anterior. It can be a laborious process. Do it in bursts, schedule your time, follow the plan – but do not be ashamed to repeat the same lesson until you feel confident that you know it. That is part of the process. The best language learners in the world understand this. In a previous post, I wrote about whether or not polyglots were smarter than other people. I do not think that they are. They do not have any magical ability to listen to a lesson one time, and remember everything instantly. They have to work at it to. Some people like myself, have to work harder than others. Things do not come as easily to me as they do for others. I am not a brilliant person. I am an average person. If a person of average intelligence like me can master other languages, then there is no reason you cannot do the same thing.

Do not let any person, or yourself say, “Oh, I listened to lesson five a total of three times, I should know it by now, let’s move on to lesson six.” If you do not really feel comfortable with lesson five – do the lesson another five times and make sure you know it before moving on. THAT is what I mean by find your pace.

Today I will listen to Mandarin Chinese, lesson three, while working out in the gym. The lesson is thirty minutes long. And guess what – I lost count of how many times I have listened to lesson three. It has been more than five times, that is for sure.
To sum it all up, move through the lessons at your own pace. If you do not get it, go over it. If you feel bad about not getting it the third time around, remember what I said to you. This is about hard work – not magical superpowers.

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