Today I am graciously presenting you with 7 ways through which you can make your life miserable learning languages. The best thing is that you don’t need to follow all 7 pieces of advice to begin hating learning languages, usually only 1 or 2 will suffice.
Look up every single word you don’t know (or are unsure of) in the dictionary, and never try to understand or guess the meaning of words from context. Don’t bother just looking up words that are crucial to the general understanding of a particular text; rather, look for every definition you possibly can and make sure reading one page of a book takes at least half an hour.
Everybody knows that rote learning is the way to go. You should memorize word-for-word every single dialogue included in textbooks you get your hands on, because this will invariably make you sound natural and fluent when you’ll be finally faced with native speakers to talk with.
Also make sure to have long lists of decontextualized and useless vocabulary to memorize every day. If you’re learning English, for example, you should have lists including words such as tendentious, propitious, jocose, coruscating, and antediluvian. Plugging those in when conversing with native speakers will leave them in awe.
Never meet any native speakers until you’re absolutely sure that you won’t make any mistakes when speaking their language, otherwise you’re sure to die in embarrassment. It’s common knowledge that natives will laugh at you in unison for every mistake you make. Therefore you should bury yourself in books in isolation because that’s the only way you’ll ever reach fluency.
Movies? Blogs? Music? Forget about it. Everybody knows learning a language—I mean studying a language—has to be a painfully dreadful process. Forget about interesting stuff like movies or music, or learning about the culture of the people that speak your target language. Learning a language has to be boring and hard, so you should never stray away from 1950s-style textbooks telling you that the dative is used to mark the indirect object of a sentence.
By now you should’ve guessed that buying the thickest grammar book out there and spending months studying through its content is the only possible way of mastering a language. Do not bother learning rules inductively and do not use your reasoning power or common sense to draw inferences by listening to how real people speak.
Don’t bother learning a language for its own sake, or even for things such as traveling or making friends. Learn a language to pass exams, because they are the only meaningful benchmark of a person’s fluency in a language, and people will be really impressed upon hearing you got JLPT N2 in Japanese. Plus, language exams usually test you on your grammar knowledge, and as we have seen above, learning every single grammatical rule in a language is a sure win.
You’re stuck in a rut and feel like you’re not making any progress because you’ve been using the same old method for the past 3 years? Do not, under any circumstances, try a different way of learning. Rather, keep studying the same way, just harder and longer. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is by far the superior way to go.
I hope these short and sweet pieces of advice will prove to be useful to the attainment of your goals, yet somehow I’m sure I’ve missed a few. Could you help fellow language learners by pointing out additional ways they can make their life miserable learning languages? Don’t hesitate to share your own stories
Waiting to hear from you!
Grammatical rules kill! Ok, not literally, but these were the biggest hangup from my high school Spanish years. We seemed to only focus on that garbage with very little discussions in the language. What a horrid approach that was! Hell, people generally don't put too much real concern into grammar anyway. I have a few foreign acquaintances that can barely speak English, but we can communicate well enough to understand each other without stressing over everything being perfect.
dont forget to constantly compare yourself to people who are much more advanced in their language study. Every time they say something you don't understand, remember to despair, because you should know it too. Its a good habit to remind yourself that you suck extraordinarily at learning languages, and that where you are now is as good as its going to get. In fact, you'll soon find yourself applying these valuable lessons to other aspects of your life. Nothing like being in touch with reality.
Great post. Brings back fond memories of high school japanese.
A lot of you who have been following Tynan for a while probably understand by now that Tynan loves traveling and he's also learning Japanese these days. I'm sure a lot of Tynan's readers share a common passion for travel, and I'm sure a lot of you are either studying or planning to study a foreign language.
Every time someone sees me studying Japanese Kanji（漢字), characters the Japanese borrowed from the Chinese, and then used to represent Japanese ideas and pronunciation, I always get one or both of the following responses
1. Are you studying Chinese?
2. Is it hard?
In response to the first I always teach them and let them know that Chinese is significantly different than Japanese because Japanese people use three "alphabets" (they are in fact more like syllabaries), katakana, hiragana, and kanji, and because the grammar is substantially different.
The second though, is always a mixed bag. The U.S. Government states That Japanese, along with Arabic, and Chinese (and some other languages I forgot) are the languages that require the most time to learn for English speakers. But in my opinion, after having spent years studying on and off, Japanese is definitely one of the the World's toughest languages (at least considering it is actually spoken by over 100 million people) to become really fluent at (watch comedians, read adult-level literature, understand and differentiate slang and homonyms),but one of the easier languages to learn the basics to ( denoting location, modifiers, people, adjectives)