So I am sure many of you are wondering, why do most blogs that talk about language learning tend to overemphasize self-development, increasing your locus of control, and conquering your ego rather just simply talking about the language. It would seem that coming from any beginner level of a foreign language that the main concern and focus should be on the basics: grammar, vocabulary, target language concepts, and pronunciation.
And to be honest, focusing on these concepts is not a mistake. Beginners and learners will naturally focus on the building blocks of fluency. But these acquisition fundamentals occur in stages which are predictable and independent of the stages in which children acquire their first language. What this means is that mass exposure of a language in different contexts and situations will grant the acquirer (or student) the basic skill set and fundamentals required to advance in that particular language.
That’s it. That is the method right there. Watch tons of target language television, listen to target language radio, make target language friends who mostly speak the target language and are willing to correct your pronunciation and read target language resources online. There are other tools, tips, tricks, and mentalities, but if you do your best to think, drink, eat, sleep, watch, read, and learn the target language you will, guess what, learn the target language.
So why are there so many methodologies, research, and ‘developments’ involving the target language? I’ll tell you why. The road to fluency is long, winding, and a pain in the a$*. It involves starting off with the language capacity of a baby and building up from there. However, since you are no longer a baby, you have the emotional and situational filter of an adult (plus an ego, no matter how many times you try to tell yourself that you don’t) and will want to ‘be an expert’ as fast as possible.
But it’s not fast. There is no quickness to truly mastering any skill. I’m sure that many people have heard of the 10,000 hour rule （中文) and might prescribe to it. But more important than this is just understanding that in order to become proficient at anything in life we all need to integrate it into our everyday lives. This equates to listening to Chinese in the car, reading Chinese websites daily, using Weibo (or other social messaging clients), and simply doing our best to integrate ourselves into Chinese material.
Since this is the method, now we need to focus on the procedure. This is where all of the ‘new age’ self-helpy (totally a word now) material takes effect. There are people out there who research, analyze, and develop procedures and methodologies for becoming more successful and changing bad habits in an effort to eliminate limiting beliefs and behaviors from our lives. It takes a change of habit to enact a change of lifestyle. These productivity or self-development behaviors will benefit your life, and if applied to your language learning life you will find it easier to immerse yourself and find yourself slowly growing into a more ‘successful’ language learner.
So do as Bruce Lee said, “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” Use good methods, immerse yourself and feel the Chinese begin to flow through your veins.
Until next time...