This is a follow-up to Monday’s article ‘Make a new plan, Stan‘.
First things first, I am no perfect student, neither am I a language-learning genius, nor (fortunately) an idiot savant.
However, experience helps a lot.
Suppose you’ve already got your driver’s license for a car/automobile?
Then passing your motorcycle test is likely to be easier for you than it might be for a teenager who’s just begun with the Highway Code.
You already know the rules of the road, for one.
Also, you have experience in different traffic conditions.
If you lack such experience though, don’t let that put you off.
Everyone has to start somewhere, and your brain has the necessary language-learning software pre-installed.
The problems, of course, are time and motivation.
Actually, just motivation.
I refuse to believe that anyone, anywhere in the world, has NO time whatsoever.
It’s simply that people spend their available time doing other things, whether for fun (social media, TV series, reading about Trump and Brexit) or work, including work done at home such as chores.
Find the motivation and you’ll find the time, has been my experience.
For example, I listen to the radio in Swedish while I’m washing up after a meal.
Lack motivation, and no matter how many hours a day you have available, you’ll achieve nothing.
So, that makes me Mr. Motivated, then?
We’re back to experience, again.
Many years of NOT ACHIEVING STUFF have taught me which motivational traps to avoid.
For example, setting ambitious goals such as ‘speak Italian fluently’.
That’s a distant and ever-receding, objective, and one which, sooner or later is almost guaranteed to demotivate you.
Each time you stumble over a word or hesitate, you’ll doubt yourself.
Dumb choice, then.
‘Easy’, achievable goals are better.
For example, listen to and read yesterday’s EasyItalianNews.com bulletin, all the way through to the end, at least twice, and without looking in the dictionary.
There’s nothing hard about that, especially as you don’t have to actually understand what you read/hear – just get through to the end, and repeat.
In twenty minutes you’ll be done, after which you’ll be able to feel good about yourself all day!
Do that simple thing today, do it again tomorrow, do it on Saturday, and repeat it three times next week.
Before you know it, you’ll have a language-learning habit which is like…
A MILLION DOLLARS IN THE BANK!
Once you’ve saved the cash (built the habit), as long as you can avoid spending it on Ducatis and Italian courses in Bologna, it’ll keep accumulating interest.
That is to say, your Italian will continue to improve as a result of an initial investment in creating a useful habit.
“But”, you object, “I prefer to spend my time reading/listening in my OWN language!”
“The time I spend each day with The New York Times / The Guardian / Fox News / the BBC is essential to my sense of self!”
“I couldn’t give that up, or even reduce it.”
“It’s part of who I am.”
You make them (or often you don’t – you’re just in the habit of doing certain things)…
…you live with the consequences.
Ditch the liberal or frothy-mouthed media completely and sure, you’ll be adrift for a while.
Unmoored and uncertain, isolated and alone.
Which sounds really horrible.
But EXPERIENCE suggests that it’s a necessary step if you want to create NEW habits.
Out with the old, in with the new, as they say.
What is, after all, the point of learning Italian (or any language) if, once you’ve acquired a basic ability in it, you then refuse to let go, even partially, of your existing attachments?
“I don’t have time” = “I refuse to choose a different way”
“I’m just messing about here and don’t actually expect to achieve much. Have sympathy for me!”
Better than sympathy, here’s a simple strategy to employ:
change one small thing at a time!
Once a minor modification is safely made (say, replacing reading in English during your break with reading in Italian), once your new habit is safely banked and earning interest, then repeat.
Go change something else.
Make ‘small’ choices to reach easily achievable goals and so create sustainable habits.
Allow time to pass while your million dollars earns interest.
While that’s happening, save a second million, and a third!
At some future point – in a year, in five years, in ten – look back to see how the small, easily-achievable choices you made have changed your life.
I doubt it will be for the worse.
P.S. Don’t forget the ‘eBook of the Week’
Three friends decide to spend a weekend trekking in the mountains, as they used to do when they were younger…
‘La montagna‘ is an A2-level .pdf ebook, a simplified text plus online audio.
This ebook usually sells for £7.99, but during this half-price offer, it’s available for just £3.99.
Check out the free sample chapter (.pdf) to get an idea of the level and format.
Or if your level is higher or lower than A2, select something more suitable from our Catalog, which lists everything by type (easy readers, parallel texts, grammar workbooks, etc.) and in level order.