The Number One Cause of Language Learning Failure
Sometimes someone uses a bad method of language learning and succeeds anyway, while someone else uses a great method and fails. Why?
How can some people use very ineffective methods (and still make them work) while others can take great methods and fail miserably.
Your Emotional Response to Your Learning Method Determines if You Will Succeed or Fail
When I looked at the emotional responses of language students to their language learning opportunities, I think I found the answer.
Did the student get excited about learning grammar with only a dry textbook? If so, she probably went on to succeed.
If she felt neutral, bored, or stressed with great learning software like this web site, she probably failed.
Good Emotions Lead to Success
Do your emotions really affect how much you learn? Absolutely. But you still have to be using a method that really works. A lot of so called “learning” games are a lot of fun, but there isn’t much learning.
Once you have a method that really works, anything that you can do that helps you feel better will make it 10 times more effective.
Stressful Emotions Lead to Failure
Everyone who stresses out or worries about learning will either eventually get over their stress or fail. It’s that simple. There are no exceptions.
That’s why we put so much emphasis on feeling good whether you get the answer right or wrong.
If today’s study didn’t make you feel good, you probably won’t come back again and do it tomorrow!
So relax, take a deep breath, and learn to enjoy your mistakes.
I want to learn ….for sure Spanish, and maybe othere…if, IF I am successful. I met a young woman from Finland recently that could speak 5 languages (including English) very well. I had studied French in high school and cant remember much of it. There are some Spanish speakers around here so maybe I will actually use it and therefore remember it. Are you my best bet? Our family homeschools and I want the kids to learn it too. But I don’t want them to struggle and forget like I did with French! Help! Give me some advice, please. I did enjoy your free demo…and remember some of it!
The best bet for learning ANY language is regular use of it. Use it or lose it they say – that goes for muscles and brain alike!
As for getting right into learning a new language it is the general consensus of users on this system that it works, and well. Many homeschool parents and groups have recommended the software for use to other homeschool families. One of the benefits of the license is that each paid license is valid for four family accounts! This allows two adults and two children access to the software – more ability to communicate, more ability to use the language every day, more likelihood that memories will be permanently engaged.
I think you may have an advantage in homeschooling languages, When I lived in Germany I heard of a family that would speak a different each day of the week in their home, granted the parents were probably fluent in some combination of 6 languages, However a homeschool setting may be the perfect environment to run an experiment like that.
Isn’t it amazing how different people teach their kids in amazing ways! Speaking a different language each day of the week is certainly a clever and effective way to teach the kids all about language!
If you want to learn how to drive a car, you have to get in it, turn the key and go. It is a skill learned from experience and reading the auto manual is not very helpful. Similiarly, if you want to learn to communicate in a foreign language, you have to practice speaking, listening, reading and writing in that language. Studying grammar is not very helpful. In addition, there is a huge amount of information to be learned so studying a couple of times a week won’t get the job done. You have to work on it every day. Pick a method that emphasizes using the language and practice using the language every day. If you get caught up in the grammar trap, change to a different method. Be aware that there are a lot of people who are grammar experts but they cannot speak the language.
Day 1 just started I want it to speak to my spanish friends. Its not easy to retain each word as they come up on the screen. I”LL stay with it no matter what happens to the retain part of this learning.
Study faster! If you aren’t remembering what you see from one time to the next the problem is almost always that you aren’t studying fast enough. Our new speed bar timer should help you a lot with this.
I agree that good emotions lead to success, but I would argue that the emotions that matter are not the ones toward the language learning method, but rather ones toward the language being learned. (Like, do I really want to learn Spanish? Is there a strong motivating factor behind this? Or am I just doing it to try it out, or because I need it to graduate?) Once I am strongly motivated to learn a language, then I will be able to find/create methods that work for me and learn it well (I am quadrilingual).
As emotional beings it is challenging for us to start differentiating what emotional trigger is more important. For me there needs to be a strong emotional connection to my learning as a whole. I might find a horticulturist that has a strong emotional teaching method who cannot keep my attention for any reason because I am not interested in flower gardens. Contrarily I have been in many a class I was really excited about the subject and the teaching method was so dry I could barely fin joy in the material being presented and soon lost interest in learning any more. The best way for me to learn is to be excited about the presentation AND be passionate about the subject. If those two things don’t align it doesn’t matter what I want or what is happening, something more inspiring, such as looking at the beautiful scenery outside, will certainly take my attention and draw me away from the dryness of the learning situation.
i agree with you totally about finding and creating methods that work well for the individual. A lot of people need a structure to work within for their creativity to be sparked. That is why Language101.com has designed the software to be a more interactive tool than attractively presented dry information. It feels good to watch your own grading go up each study time, it feels empowering to be able to choose the next lessons or skip a seemingly inapplicable lesson (such as the Spanish lesson Tequila! for me).
I’ve been living in Prague for almost 1 1/2 years and am trying to learn Czech. To say it is hard for an English speaker is an understatement. I can understand the majority of basic speech, understand the sense of most newspaper articles, etc. so I’m far from a beginner, but the constant manipulation of the language in my head (like a pick ‘n’ mix of genders and cases) means that any speech is so stilted and, naturally, riddled with errors. Just a quick example of what I face: Coffee = Káva
But it can also be Kávu, Kávy, Kávě, Kávou and (possibly) Kávo, depending on what you want to say. This constant alteration of the endings of words happens with EVERY noun and adjective, and also with pronouns.
I know I’m not alone, almost every speaker of a Germanic language struggles with Czech.
Do you have any plans to start Czech?
Language101.com is currently very busy finishing up Italian and developing Mandarin Chinese and Japanese. Czech is currently off the radar. I undertand your struggle with learning how nouns and adjectives are modified. Each language has a unique way in which it handles syntax. Here’s a little information that I came across which you may find useful:
Czech nouns, adjectives, and pronouns show “case”; that is, they take different endings depending on how they’re used in a sentence. There are seven cases: nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, prepositional, instrumental, vocative. Each case can be used under a variety of circumstances, but as a rule of thumb nominative is used for the subject of a sentence; accusative for the direct object; dative for the indirect object; genitive shows possession; prepositional follows the prepositions “in” “at” “about” (though other prepositions can be followed by other cases); instrumental shows the thing “by means of which” something is done; and vocative is used for calling out to someone.
Nouns in Czech can be masculine, feminine, or neuter. The gender of nouns is either “natural”— they represent a person or animal (“father”, “sister”, “tomcat”) and the gender reflects their actual sex— or “grammatical”— they represent an object or an abstraction (“table”, “dignity”) and their gender is simply a matter of grammatical endings. Adjectives and the past tense forms of verbs agree in gender with the nouns they modify.
Pronouns in Czech are categorized according to “person” and “number”. First person singular is “I/já”, plural is “we/my” ; second person singular is “you/ty”, plural is “you/vy”; third person singular is “he, she, it/on, ona, ono”, plural is “they/oni, ony, ona”. Present-tense verbs agree with their subjects in person and number.
So, for instance, Kávy appears to be the plural, several coffees where Kávě is referring to the entire cup with the coffee in it (cup of coffee). I’ll bet you’ve already got that much figured out.
Hope I was able to help!
I read somewhere that the biggest determining factor in whether a person can learn another language is his willingness to make a fool out of himself – to laugh at his mistakes and just keep trying. I try to remember that often.
Absolutely! Making a fool has been such a misconstrued term. It really just means accepting our own folly and moving forwards guiltless and shame free.
It looks like you have a good handle on language learning. I’m guessing that two of the most complained about courses of study are languages and mathematics. Most people seem to either love ’em or hate ’em. Do you know of any courses similar to what you do with languages but designed to learn mathematics subjects, such as algebra or trigonometry?
Nothing like that has crossed our desks here at Language101.com yet. I’ll certainly keep my eyes open for anything like that and let you know if I find one!
Like Brian (comment 8 above), I am seeking a program for learning Czech–a central European language spoken by millions. Why is such a program so difficult to find?
There are quite a few ways to learn Czech. Googling ‘learn czech’ returns quite a few results. The main concern with most companies developing languages is gathering a market which will support the development. Although there are millions of Czech speaking people in the world Czech is not a top ten language for business and there is a very marginal tourism draw to learn that language as well. The single best way to learn Czech at this time is the tried and true Pimsleur method available here: Pimsleur Conversational Czech
I am learning French. I am on week 3 and I love it! I love French musicals, so learning the language helps me to understand them better. I have my favorite French artists and I long to understand what they are saying, spoken and in music. I want to be able to converse with other fans that like the same artists, not many English speakers know about them.
With every new thing I learn, everything else becomes clearer. I watch interviews with my favorite French artists, I don’t understand much yet but I want to so badly. This is my motivation to learn: I want to go to Paris and watch as many live shows as possible. I want to meet artists and fans and have fun there.
Thanks for the great report! We work hard to bring exciting lessons to help learn new languages. Watching the musicals and interviews is an excellent way to practice your new French skills and also learn new words! Keep up the good work!
hi there, i am interested in learning spanish. i live and grew up in texas, and actually learned to speak as a child, however, the environment that immersed me in spanish changed and i quit speaking it. i took spanish I through III in high school, did not do too much for me. but now that i am entering the field of prehospital and hospital care (paramedic/ER technician/RN) and not having any intentions on leaving my home state, i am close to urgent to learn spanish. my friends are mostly mexican, many emergency calls involve patients who do not speak english or have english as a second language, and it would be incredibly practical and fulfilling to learn a language that would help my career and expand my ability to communicate with friends families.
i am worried that this desire to learn spanish is temporary or not “pure” enough to consistently motivate me to really learn and use the programs available. not to mention, i am in between jobs, and most of these programs are very expensive. do you have any feedback on how i might approach this? though important, and a lifelong desire, i am certainly willing to admit that learning another language is not a top priority. does it need to be? dont want to come across as looking for a cheat or short cut, but i do need to be honest and understand the motivational “requirements” and prioritization.
thank you VERY much for your honesty. i always admire a business that points out its own shortcomings and explains the truth about what it is selling. and i must say, your reviews are thoughtful AND fair! looking forward to your feedback!
I wrote an article that I hope you will read called, Why you will never learn any Spanish tomorrow.
Our scholarship fund can help you with the price of learning Spanish, but you still have to study every day.
How do you do it? I focus on the emotional aspects of language learning. When it becomes something you do for love, then your love will pull you back to your daily study even when the study itself is not exciting.
What is exciting is “getting it” where you can suddenly make someone feel good by saying you like their country in their language. Then they feel good and you’ll feel good and pretty soon you get invited out for dinner and you have even more fun.
If you do things right this will happen a LOT. That’s why our lessons include a lot of compliments, and things like saying thank you for taking to me in Spanish.
Learn how to be disarming and complimentary right away. One of the first phrases you should learn is “I love Mexico.” And you should say that right away.
People will believe you, because it’s true and they will know it’s true.
I don’t care if you are unemployed, there is something you are now doing that you have to delete from your life in order to learn Spanish. Do that right away. I suggest quitting watching the news and other TV.
I noticed you have French and Canadian French.
I was wondering which Spanish you have and if it is very formal or regular conversational
The Spanish we offer is educated Mexican with a dialect of Mexico City. There is a good mix of formal and informal phrases so that speaking with friends and officials alike will lead to comfortable understanding.
You can see the entire list of available lessons and phrases by clicking ‘select your next lesson’ from the Spanish home page.