«It is better to walk 10,000 miles than to study 10,000 books«
In my last post I dealt with how much money you would need to become bilingual and I showed you how that amount could be 6,000$.
Of course, besides having that money ready you need to devote some time and follow some guidelines to acquire your foreign language. And today I will explain how I believe that, at least for some languages, anyone can learn to speak fluently a second language in 6 months or less.
As you know already from my Bilingual You program section, in my opinion there are four fundamental steps that you need to go through if you want to learn a foreign language in a fun, efficient and long-lasting manner.
- Intensive language course in home country
- Immersion language course abroad
So now I will explain briefly each of these necessary steps.
Step 1: Commitment
As with anything you want to do in life, without this obligatory step it will be extremely hard for anyone to become bilingual.
The basic rule is: unless you´re a child or early teenager who hears the language frequently and learns relatively effortlessly, usually if there is no commitment there is no language acquisition.
So for young adults and more mature learners, without this first step the other steps are not as powerful.
How do you know you´re committed? Well, this is the same as someone asking you if you´re in love. You´ll know, as acquiring your foreign language will be your top priority.
However, if you really want to know exactly what I mean by commitment, please read this language manifesto. If you´re truly committed, you should be excited to sign it.
In addition, to prove your engagement book your intensive language course abroad for a 6 to 8 weeks duration.
It seems too much to ask from you at this point, but believe me now, you´ll thank me later.
Step 2: Intensive language course in home country
Some people are autodidacts, and this is a wonderful thing. However, if you are just like me, a regular person, it would be better to count on the expertise of someone who knows the language in question well. Either because that expert is a native speaker or because such person has devoted years of his/her life to learn it or teach it. Although, ideally both.
I recommend looking for a local or online language school to see which one would be your best option. As for the number of hours required, I recommend a minimum of 10 hours per week scattered through the week as much as possible. If you´re thinking that this is too much you either haven´t read what´s coming next on step three or you don´t like the language you´re learning and should choose a different one.
The idea behind this second step is to prepare you linguistically, culturally and psychologically to take the next step.
Step 3: Immersion language course abroad
This step would be equivalent for a doctor to start working in a hospital or for a pilot to fly an airplane for the first time.
There is something everyone needs to understand: a language is meant to be used as much as possible. What´s the point of learning a foreign language and never use it? Why would a pilot go through hundreds of simulations in order to never fly a plane? Why would a person study medicine for years if there is no intention whatsoever to heal anyone?
Going abroad might not be an option for some people for different reasons, but for those who can there´s no excuse. Would you get on a plane if the pilot was flying a plane for the first time? Would you go through a medical procedure with a doctor who has never performed surgery before?
´´WOULD YOU GET ON A PLANE IF THE PILOT WAS FLYING A PLANE FOR THE FIRST TIME?´´
In the same manner the turning point for language learners is to apply and develop their skills on site. That is, in a country where that language is used as a means of communication on a daily basis.
Step 4: Immersion language course abroad
Congratulations!! If you managed to reach this stage that means that you are already bilingual. Be proud of yourself and take your life to the next level!!
As you might have realized by now, success is mainly up to you. Practice makes perfect at every profession, but for foreign languages it is a must.
Learning a new language is like getting education: the more you have, the better it is. And applied to foreign languages I would radically employ the saying ´use it or lose it´.
In the same way that your health, your income or any other area of your life needs to be taken care of, if you want to keep the same level you have attained so far you should practice with certain frequency.
The minimum I recommend is 10 minutes per day. Of course, more time would be much better.
Finally, the one take away: If you follow these 4 steps, you can be certain of one thing:
YOU´LL BE BILINGUAL FOR THE REST OF YOU LIFE!!!
Enjoy a great Happilingual week, tie your shoes and step up!
Today I share Michelle Obama´s speech on the importance of studying abroad. It goes way beyond learning the language well. (Just skip the first couple of minutes if you want to get to the core of her speech).
P.S.: Please keep in mind that these steps are based on my own personal experience as a language learner and teacher for the past 25 years. I am sure that there are other ways to acquire a foreign language and if you have your own technique, I encourage you to share it in the comments below. Thank you in advance for your contributions!
Picture taken from https://pixabay.com/es/photos/éxito-escaleras-tablero-dibujo-4168389/