From Desire Comes Passion

There are times when I like to sit and watch people choose a language book or course at the bookstore. I see those who go through the books, casually looking through them, flipping through the pages, not sure if they will be able to do it. And I see those who are looking for a specific book with an air of determination and purpose – they need to do this. No matter what the person is thinking about the language or how to go about learning it, it’s really not the books or CDs. It’s not the classes you go to or the teacher you choose. The motivation and success in language learning comes down to two things: 1) Desire and 2) Passion

If you say “Oh, yes, I really want to learn this language – I have to!” that’s a good attitude to have. There’s your desire. You are going through like the people I watch at the bookstore. The desire to learn is there so they’re looking for the best and most for their dollar. And now that you have the desire, there’s one more thing you need.

Getting and keeping the passion alive

What are you willing to do to learn another language? If you are truly passionate about learning that language, there are some sacrifices you’ll have to make. You already have the desire by purchasing the books and language courses, or signing up for a class. That’s the first part of learning a language.

The second part is the passion. Do you have what it takes, and can you do what you need to in order to go on with your studies, even after reaching that plateau? To stay with your goal of mastering a language and get to the finish line is going to be a challenge. So how do you keep that passion going? Think of learning a language as a relationship with someone you love.

Spend as much time with it as you can.
If you think you’re too busy and don’t have time to learn, then look for the time to learn. Are you waiting in line for something? Or are you sitting in the waiting room of your doctor’s office? Those are great times to review the YLCStudents Power Charts, or listen to the audio sections of your lesson books. I like to print out a short, one page summary of a lesson’s main points or what I need to really work on and take it with me. There are lots of missed minutes just waiting to be filled with learning.

Listen to it talk to you.
Talking to you? Yes, a language actually talks to you. It tells you the secrets and shortcuts to make it easier to learn. And I’m not just talking about the cognates; there are lots of spellings, sound changes, prefixes and suffixes that expand your vocabulary without all the tedium of learning a whole new word.

Make plans for it.
No matter what your loved ones say or insist, they love when you make the plans to wine and dine them, showing them how much you care. A language is the same way. Plan a time to learn a lesson and stick to that plan. Also plan a time to do some review later in the day. This way you’re keeping your “date” with the language and letting it know how much you care about learning it.

Another great way to keep your passion for the language going is by learning about the culture of those who learn the language. The culture of a people influences how a language and is used and spoken. Cook something from that country, watch TV programs, or if there’s a sizable community of those language speakers near you, go in and mingle with them. Live their lives, talk their language, no matter how little you speak. Keep that passion going.

Another thing you may want to do is write down your goals and put them where you can see them and check them off once you’ve accomplished them. Talk to people who have learned the same language and ask them how they did it and what advice they can give you.

The success of learning a language is measured only by you. The more passionate you are about the language, the easier it will be for you to learn it and keep going to the end.

Originally Published 27 July, 2012

Finding Your Own Learning Style

Everyone has their own style for learning how to do something. It could be a job skill, how to care for their lawn, hobbies and crafts, etc. Each individual has a preferred way to learn, a way that helps them see how things are done clearly and makes sense in their minds so they can get the job accomplished. Do you know your preferred learning style? Here’s a simple exercise to help you find your style by the way you interact at a party. You are surrounded by people who look, act, and speak differently from you. Which one of these situations would apply to you?

  • Do you sit back, observe, listen carefully, take your time, and learn from watching what others say and how they act?
  • Do you ask yourself questions and make guesses about what is going on based on what you see and hear?
  • Do you wait to say something until you are pretty sure you will not make any errors?
  • Do you experiment with things you have learned in other situations in an attempt to communicate in this new situation?
  • Do you wish you could see the new words you are hearing in writing?
  • Do you jump right in and begin talking to the people at the party and sharing in the activity even if your language is pretty minimal?

Each of the above questions represents a different learning style. Language learning styles are the general approaches that we use to learn a new language. Each of us is unique and learns in the way that suits us best. However, by being aware of how we prefer to learn and of other possible ways, we may be able to capitalize on our strengths to improve our weaknesses. There are no right or wrong answers to the above questions, there are just different ways people learn through interaction.

Let’s use a few more questions to break things down a little more and identify your preferred learning style. Ask yourself the following:

  • Do I focus on details or on the “big picture”?
  • Do I have a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic preference?
  • Is my preferred style more abstract, random, and intuitive or is it more concrete, organized, and sequential?
  • Is language learning a game or a task for me?

How Do You Learn?

Learning can be broken down into seven major categories. Once you identify which category you belong to, you will be able to enhance your language learning capabilities and see some amazing results.

  1. Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  2. Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
  3. Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  4. Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
  5. Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
  6. Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
  7. Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

Intuitive or Sequential?

Once you’ve figured out how you learn, the next thing is, how do you prefer your lessons?

Intuitive learners prefer to jump right into a new situation and accomplish what they’ve set out to do. They like to figure out the main principles of how the language works without benefit of the rules.

Sequential learners prefer to learn in a set order, slowly and steadily. They like to be told facts about the language and learn from lists and charts.

A Game or a Task?

Learners who look language it as a game prefer open–ended communication. They don’t worry about making mistakes or paying conscious attention to what they are learning. They enjoy learning and any obstacles are seen as a challenge to overcome.

Other learners approach language learning as completing a task; they prefer to plan and organize their learning and then evaluate what they have learned. Sometimes critical of themselves, they prefer to make sure they know their lessons thoroughly before moving on.

Find Out For Yourself

If you’re interested in seeing for yourself what your learning style is, you can fill out an online questionnaire that determines your personal learning style. It has 70 questions that will then calculate your results and give you a better understanding of what your style is, and you can go from there. A series of different learning styles will be posted here so you can find how to use any language method to fit your needs.