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It’s not learning it theoretically from a book. It’s gradually getting used to it, that it sort of layers on to you and with each layer certain things become clear and because these things become clear some other things become clear. But you have to have the confidence that this process, this layering process, this exposing yourself to the language is going to lead to your desired result because if you don’t have that confidence then I guess it can be a frustrating experience.

People who have learned a number of languages, therefore, have become accustomed to the process, have developed their own techniques and so forth and so on.

So what do you do with that beginner learner, the person who is learning their first new language? Well, it’s a matter of having confidence that you can do it because others have done it, others in different countries, different cultural backgrounds, different ages. It’s not a matter of having some unique talent. Anyone can do it at whatever age, so you have to accept that.

I think the other thing is to do things that are enjoyable so that the frustration of forgetting, the frustration of making mistakes, the frustration of feeling that you’re very clumsy when you speak, that those things don’t become the dominant experience. You have to do things that are enjoyable so that the enjoyable aspect of language learning becomes the dominant experience so that you put in the time, that you get enough exposure, that you become accustomed to a language.

If you can focus on doing things you enjoy so that the journey itself is enjoyable, if you can accept the fact that implied in language learning is forgetting, is making mistakes, is being clumsy, is not understanding and that it’s just the process of exposing yourself rather than trying to nail down a table of declensions of endings or conjugations, but rather if you spend the time with the language, gradually, your brain will get used to it and your ability to notice things will improve.

You’ve got to like the language. You’ve got to be determined. You’ve got to think you can do it. You can’t resist the language. People understand that. Spend the time, they understand that. You’ve got to spend an hour or two a day, that everyone understands. But learning to notice, people don’t seem to understand.
So a lot of people experience frustration in language learning because they have never achieved success in language learning. But success breeds success and once you’ve done it once and you’ve realized that objective of becoming fluent in another language and you realize how wonderful it is to do that, then you have the confidence that you can do it again. Success breeds success.
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