Having now spent several months learning Dutch, I think it is time to review what I have learned is essential for learning, so I will no longer be focusing solely on Dutch, but rather on language learning that can be applied to all languages.
People often ask me for the best way to learn languages, and it's not something I've often considered. However, having thought back over my studies with Dutch, and looked back over my learning of other languages, I believe I now can identify several elements which are essential for learning a language, and I'll run through them here in an occasional series here on the website, so stay tuned for further hints and tips.
Today, we look at the enthusiasm that can be found with....
Love is essential for learning. By love, I don't necessarily mean you have to have a girlfriend, boyfriend, lover, partner or spouse who speaks that language (although it can help!), rather you must find passion within yourself to drive yourself forward to study it each week, to get you out the door in bleak and dreary November (presuming you're in the Northern Hemisphere), or on an even colder January evening to your evening class, to ensure you are getting the most from your learning. Without the love or passion for your chosen subject, you will not actually care if you progress, and without caring, there is little chance for actual progress. Love your chosen language, and embrace all that there is to learn about it, language and culture.
Love will also drive you to go above and beyond, to start looking at other sources for material beyond those prescribed by whichever book you may be reading, or whichever course you may be studying. When speaking another language, you would not stick to one speaker only, so why stick to just one text book or course? Your love for the language and culture will drive you forward to explore this. I currently dip in and out of several text books for Dutch, the Michel Thomas Dutch audio course, as well as studying an evening class with an enthusiastic, vibrant, knowledgeable, BRILLIANT teacher. There is, however, so much more I can do for my learning, and my love and enthusiasm will drive me to find more ways.
Right now, I'm listening to Dutch radio, thans to the website www.radio-via-internet.nl. Just a bit of music in the background, it gets me accustomed to the Dutch language. They just played an advertisement on the radio for an internet supplier, and although I didn't catch many details, I'm rather pleased to have recognised what it was about, at least.
So, ask yourself, before buying the books, signing up for the course, or clicking online to download the MP3s, just one very simple question:
Will I still give a damn about this language in three months' time to still be learning it?
Be very honest with yourself. It might sound harsh, but only continue if the answer is:
Yes, I will still have the love and the enthusiasm for the chosen language.
If you've answered YES!, you have the right mindset to go ahead! Love will find a way, love will overcome.
Congratulations and best wishes in your language learning.