One of my favorite authors is Timothy Ferriss. He writes on many topics, but the central theme in his books is how to become a master at a skill in the least amount of time. Timothy interviews masters in every skill imaginable and tries to “dissect” what specifically makes that person so amazing at his or her given sport, business, or skill.
Then he tries it himself.
He has won a Tango World Championship, a Chinese Kickboxing Championship, and owns a highly successful business, all thanks to his research and his willingness to jump right into the action.
But what does this have to do with language?
In just 4 hours...
In his book, The 4-Hour Chef, he talks about how to master any skill in 4 hours, including languages!
Using a specific method that he developed himself, he has learned Japanese, German, Spanish, and several other languages in record time!
It’s a little intimidating to be honest!
When I read his chapter on language learning, I thought, “It’s taken me years to speak a foreign language!”
It’s easy to compare myself with him. But then I remember: His goal is different than mine. His goal is to become conversational in a language as quickly as possible, just to see if he can accomplish it.
My goal is to enjoy the process of learning the language and to really absorb all of the nuances of the language.
In other words, language learning is a journey for me and not a destination.
Now, his methods might work for me.
But they might not.
In the same way, what works for you in terms of your English learning might not work for your friend.
Language Learning is Not One-Size-Fits-All
I have a student who loves working one-on-one, but she also supplements her intense work with me by attending the free ESL classes at her local library. This combination of one-on-one tutoring with a group class is a perfect blend for her. I can help her with the specifics, while the class gives her chance to practice what she has learned in a social setting.
On the other hand, I have some students who might be intimidated by a group class. Or, they feel more comfortable learning with other women.
And then there are some ESL learners that I will never meet because they prefer to learn English strictly by using technology. Programs like Rosetta Stone or DuoLingo provide a structured approach, and the student doesn’t have to leave the comfort of his or her home (which has some advantages and disadvantages, right?).
It’s great to “mix and match” language learning methods, as long as you find what works for YOU. If the challenge of becoming conversational in a language in 4 hours is motivating for you, then I say, give it a try! If it sounds too intimidating, then what methods do you use or plan to use to take your English to the next level?
I’d love to hear more about your experience learning English!