Weekly Tip: Think of language learning as you think of exercise

Weekly Tip: Think of language learning as you think of exercise

I often compare language learning to exercising. If you think of it in the same terms, it’s easier to figure out what to expect.

1 – Exercise, like language, is a lifelong process. It never ends. It needs to be a regular part of your life.

2 – Working out with a trainer (coming to class) once a week is a tremendous help, but if you don’t work out during the week, your progress will be excruciatingly slow.

3 – Your efforts are obvious to everyone. If you work out 5 times a week for an hour, others can see it in your physique, in your energy levels, etc. If you never work out, that’s obvious too. We (your teachers) can also tell how much effort you put into your Spanish 🙂

4 – If you wanted to build some muscle and get really strong, would you lift 5 lb. weights for 3 years or would you gradually add more weight? Same question for learning a language. Do you think that if you continue to do DuoLingo for 3 years that you’re ever going to become fluent? Maybe it’s time to move on to something else?

5 – When your trainer gives you exercises to do during the week and you don’t do them, you spend a lot of time going over things you’ve already done, rather than moving forward. The same goes for Spanish.

6 – If your trainer corrects your form (your teacher corrects your grammar/pronunciation, etc.) and you dismiss him, will you ever improve?

7 – When you take a break for a while, it’s really hard to come back to it and you lose a lot of muscle (vocabulary/fluidity). You don’t start from square 1 again, but you definitely take several steps back.

8 – To get the results you want you may have to do some exercises that you hate. But if you can find ones that you love 80% of the time, it’s worth it, right? And the other 20% of the time you should feel extreme satisfaction after doing something you really don’t like, knowing how much it’s helping you improve.

9 – To be in excellent shape, you need to do some cardio and some weight training. You can’t just do one and expect to be in the best shape possible. Same goes for language learning. If you listen, speak, read, write, etc., you will be much more well rounded than if all you do is listen and read or speak and write.

10 – If your trainer tells you he wants you to lift a 50 lb. weight and you say you can’t, do you maybe start with a 10 lb. weight and build up the 50 lbs? Or do you just not lift weights ever again? It’s the same with learning a language – “I don’t listen to podcast or watch tv because I don’t understand anything” is like saying “I can’t lift 50 lbs., so I’m not even going to try by starting with 5.”